Front Page Titles (by Subject) Note to Chapter 61: EXPLANATION (BY MR. G. BRADFORD) OF THE NOMINATING MACHINERY AND ITS PROCEDURE IN THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS 1 - The American Commonwealth, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Note to Chapter 61: EXPLANATION (BY MR. G. BRADFORD) OF THE NOMINATING MACHINERY AND ITS PROCEDURE IN THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS 1 - Viscount James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 2 
The American Commonwealth, with an Introduction by Gary L. McDowell (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995). Vol. 2.
Part of: The American Commonwealth, 2 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Note to Chapter 61
By an Act of the Massachusetts legislature of 1909, the whole elective organization of the City of Boston was changed. The two branches of twelve aldermen elected at large and seventy-five councilmen elected by wards and precincts, as well as the system of ward primaries and ward and city committees, were abolished. In place of a mayor elected for two years, he was to be elected for four years, subject to recall at the end of two years by not less than a majority of all the voters in the city. The new city council was to consist of nine members elected at large for three years, renewable by three members elected in each year.
The sweeping character of the change may be best described by two Sections of the new Act:
Section 52. No primary election or caucus for municipal offices shall be held hereafter in the city of Boston, and all laws relating to primary elections and caucuses for such offices in said city are hereby repealed.
Section 53. Any male qualified registered voter in said city may be nominated for any municipal elective office in said city, and his name as such candidate shall be printed on the official ballot to be used at the municipal election: provided, that at or before five o’clock p.m. of the twenty-fifth day prior to such election nomination papers prepared and issued by the election commissioners, signed in person by at least five thousand registered voters in said city qualified to vote for such candidate at said election, shall be filed with said election commissioners, and the signatures on the same to the number required to make a nomination are subsequently certified by the election commissioners as hereinafter provided.
The Act is mandatory in Boston, and its acceptance optional with other cities and towns of which thirteen have thus far been reported as voting in favor of it.
The county is much less important in New England than in any other part of the country. There are to be chosen, however, county commissioners (three in number, one retiring each year, having charge of roads, jails, houses of correction, registry of deeds, and, in part of the courts), county treasurer, registrar of deeds, registrar of probate, and sheriff. These candidates are nominated by party conventions of the county, called by a committee elected by the last county convention. The delegates are selected by ward and town primaries at the same time with other delegates.
First as to representatives to State legislature, 240 in number. The State is districted as nearly as may be in proportion to population. If a ward of a city, or a single town, is entitled to a representative, the party candidate is nominated in the primary, and must be by the Constitution (of the State) a resident in the district. If two or more towns, or two or more wards send a representative in common, the candidate is nominated in cities by a joint caucus of the wards interested called by the ward and city committee, and in towns by a convention called by a committee elected by the previous convention. The tendency in such cases is that each of these towns or wards shall have the privilege of making nomination in turn of one of its residents.
As regards senators the State is divided into forty districts. The district convention to nominate candidates is called by a committee elected by the preceding convention, and consists of delegates elected by ward and town primaries at the same time with those for State, county, and councillor conventions. Each senatorial district convention elects one member of the State central committee, and, among the Democrats, fifteen members at large are added to this central committee by the last preceding State convention.
The convention for nominating members of the governor’s council (eight in number) also appoints a committee to call the next convention.
The State convention consists of delegates from ward and town primaries in proportion to their party votes at last elections, and is summoned by the State central committee, consisting of forty members, elected in October by senatorial convention, and taking office on 1st January. The State committee organizes by choice of chairman, secretary, treasurer, and executive committee, who oversee the whole State campaign. The State convention nominates the party candidates for governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, attorney-general.
First, representatives to Congress. Massachusetts is now (1910) entitled to fourteen, and is divided into fourteen districts. The convention in each district to nominate party candidates is called every two years by a committee elected by the last convention. The delegates from wards and primaries are elected at the same time with the other delegates. As United States senators are chosen by the State legislatures, no nominating convention is needed, though it has been suggested that the nominations might with advantage be made in the State convention, and be morally binding on the party in the legislature. Next are to be chosen, every four years, delegates to the National convention,—that is, under present party customs, two for each senator and representative of the State in Congress. For Massachusetts, therefore, at the present time, thirty-two. The delegates corresponding to the representative districts are nominated by a convention in each district, called in the spring by the same committee which calls the congressional representative nominating convention in the autumn. The delegates corresponding to senators are chosen at a general convention in the spring, called by the State central committee from wards and primaries, as always; and the thirty-two delegates at the meeting of the National convention choose the State members of the National committee.
The National convention for nominating party candidates for President, called by a National committee, elected one member by the delegates of each State at the last National convention. The National convention (and this is true in general of all conventions) may make rules for its own procedure and election—as, for example, that all State delegates shall be chosen at large instead of by districts. At the National conventions, especially of the Republicans, complaint has been frequently made, as in the case of city committees, that parts of the country in which there are very few members of the party have yet an undue share of representation in the conventions; but no successful plan has yet been devised for overcoming the difficulty. The National committee manage the party campaign, sending money and speakers to the weaker States, issue documents, collect subscriptions, and dispense general advice.