Monday, November 4, 2019

John A. Quitman to James Fenwick Brent, March 22, 1845

New Orleans, March 22d, 1845.

dear Sir,—I have received your letter of the 19th instant, requesting my views upon the operation in the State of Mississippi of the system adopted there of electing judges by the direct votes of the people, and asking my attention particularly to the objections urged against the system, that such elections would generally, if not always, turn upon party or political questions.

Having no objections to the public avowal of either my former opinions or present views upon this interesting subject, I will cheerfully comply with your request.

At the time of the adoption of this system in Mississippi, in 1832, I opposed it as a new and hazardous experiment; not that I doubted the capacity or intelligence of the people, but that I feared that the judiciary would be too much influenced by sudden popular excitement. As a member of the convention that revised the Constitution I used my best influence against it, or, rather, to confine the experiment to the selection of the judges of the inferior courts by a direct vote of the people. The experience and observation of twelve years have, however, convinced me and many others who were opposed to the experiment, that our fears were not well founded; and, so far, our system has not been attended with any of the serious evils which were apprehended. I have looked upon its operation in our state for twelve years with peculiar interest, and, from my former opposition to the measure, without any bias; and candor compels me to say that I now regard it as the best mode of selecting judicial officers.

SOURCES: John F. H. Quitman, Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman, Volume 1, p. 127-8

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