Pennsylvania 1809 Constable, Pittsburgh Borough

Constable (Borough)
Pennsylvania 1809 Constable, Pittsburgh Borough
First Ballot
John Aiken, Joseph Bell
Candidates: John AikenJoseph Bell
Final Result: [1][2]247209


[1]The Commonwealth (Pittsburgh, PA) refers to this office as "High Constable."
[2]The results of this election angered may citizens of Pittsburgh because of claims that voters were unjustly prohibited from voting. The Commonwealth (Pittsburgh, PA) from March 22, 1809 explains that the dispute centered on adherence to Pittsburgh's borough incorporation law of the 5th of March, 1804 which states, "That the freeholders, housekeepers, and other inhabitants of the said borough, who have resided within the borough for at least one year immediately preceeding of the election, and within that time ployed[sic] borough tax, shall have power on the third Saturday of March next, and the same day thereafter, to meet at the court house in said borough, and then and there, between the hours of twelve and six o'clock of the same day, elect by ballot, etc." In 1805 another voting law was passed which states, "'That [in addition to the electors qualified to vote under the act of 1804] the inhabitants of the borough, who shall have resided within the same six months immediately preceeding the election, and who shall in other respects be entitled to vote for members of the general assembly shall be fully compotent to vote at the elections of officers for the said borough'-without any clause repealing the former law of 1804, as to the qualifications of the voters." The newspaper continues, "This supplement of course went on to explain the words 'other inhabitants,' mentioned in the former act of 1804--thus making three descriptions of persons qualified voters- 1. Freeholders. 2. Housekeepers. 3. Persons qualified to vote for members of assembly, who were neither freeholders nor housekeepers. Contrary, however, to all expectation, and in open violation of the law, a majority of the judges determined that none but those qualified to vote at the general election, should vote for borough officers-although they were freeholders and housekeepers, and had paid borough taxes!!! It appeared to us as if this had been a preconceived plan-bcause it deprived from sixty to an hundred republicans from voting at the election-so that on counting the votes it appeared that the federalists had a small majority." Because of the dispute, petitioners wrote "To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met," and explained, "That your petitioners feel themselves much aggrieved by the operation of the law incorporating the borough of Pittsburgh, passed on the 5th of March, 1804, and by a supplementary act passed on the 7th of March, 1805, inasmuch as at every annual election, new judges place new construction on those laws, as they relate to the qualification of electors, whereby those who were considered as entitled to vote at a preceeding election are disfranchized at a subsequent one; thus rendering the right of suffrage uncertain and insecure; by which means the dominant party have heretofore succeeded in choosing such councils and borough officers as are devoted to their views, prostituting the privileges granted by the incorporating act to party purposes, instead of excercising them for the interest, prosperity, and improvement of the town." The petitioners go on to ask for the "repeal [of] all laws relating to the incorporation of the borough of Pittsburh and place the same upon a similar footing with the other townships of Alleghey coutny." The Commonwealth (Pittsburgh, PA). March 22, 1809.


The Commonwealth (Pittsburgh, PA). March 22, 1809.

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