Skip to content

Notes From Hunter Creek – The Seventeenth Amendment

By Roger Wall

In 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the founders and delegates were attempting to replace the Articles of Confederation among the States with a new constitution

The former document had suffered mightily without a strong executive branch, no independent judiciary and especially no central US banking system or any method to effectuate taxation to run the government. 

There was a on-going argument that while Congressmen should be popularly elected every two years, there was disagreement over the election of US Senators. Many leaders, especially in the South, were worried about “mob” rule by the mainly uneducated common people would not be able to discern a proper candidate in the “upper house” that would serve for a total of six years. They favored election of Senators by state legislators.

However, a group of delegates, mainly Federalist, desired the popular election of US Senators. Men like Alexander Hamilton (New York) and Honorable James Wilson (born in Scotland), who taught law at the University of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, among others, favored election by popular vote. The Anti-Federalists, for the most part were in favor of, and eventually prevailed on the election of Senators by each State’s legislators. 

But by 1913, 36 States as well as Congress eventually agreed to amend Article I of the Constitution by directing that US Senators be popularly elected in each state instead of by each state legislature.

The Amendment which ratified in 1913, also enabled each State to pass legislation that would allow a State’s governor to appoint “men” to the job whenever a vacancy occurred, and in addition, then set a date for a special election. 

By the early 1900’s, political statesmen were concerned that politicking for a US Senate candidate chosen by the local legislature was too divisive and too complicated. A lot of time and energy was being utilized in each Senator’s electoral process in the individual state legislature.  Also, the process was consuming invaluable time in lien of processing other important legislation in the state houses. 

Note: May 16  

I barely know the new editor of the paper, Mike Boyink, but I like him. We have a lot in common. We have both, in the past, apparently traveled to the ends of North America, often to the same places. 

And we both like to write. Though his writing is superior to mine, I believe. 

There was an excellent article written a few weeks back about the actual cost of the recently opened Douglas County Jail and Sheriff’s Office, and what it would actually cost the people of Douglas County in the long run.

If I correctly understood the facts presented in the article, the new complex is almost a third smaller than promised.  And apparently, with interest, the jail complex will cost closer to 10 million than 5 million as originally laid out to the citizens of Douglas County when it was being sold to the good people of Douglas County three years ago. This is a big chunk of money for a poor county like Douglas County. And the jail will probably be a heavy financial burden on the county until almost halfway through the 21st century. 

With the crashing of the economy, it’s a good bet that county sales tax revenues will be halved for this budget year.  And most economists believe that with the current unemployment rate of 15-20%, that the COVID-19 recession will last from 3-5 years minimum.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Almost all proposed taxes have some well-intentioned purpose, but there is a limit as to what working people can afford to pay for, such as items at the store or for a used car, etc. 

I used to think that California and New York use taxes were exorbitant at 8 and 9%.  However Douglas County is rapidly catching up.

I understand that Wright County is currently planning an expensive new jail in Hartville.  Isn’t it a shame local Commissioners in Douglas, Wright, and Ozark County couldn’t have agreed several years ago to plan and build a regional county jail in the 44th Circuit. Maybe county officials could have agreed to place it south of Mansfield, (or even where the new jail is) and agreed to hire 1/3 of the jail employees respectively from each county. I believe the overall savings would have been considerable for the three counties in the 44th Circuit.  Oh well.

And my sources at the Courthouse have told me the building, and the necessary continual funding of the jail and sheriff’s office has been a major bone of contention between county commissioners and other elected officeholders, resulting in political threats and a lot of heated discussions, to put it mildly.

On another sad note, I saw that Larry Sherill has passed on. My sincere sympathies to his lovely wife Martha (Foose), who was my former classmate in the old hardscrabble town of Windsor, Mo. Windsor is situated in the northeastern corner of Henry County.

I am enjoying the spring gobblers in the morning and all the beautiful migrating birds eating seed at feeders in the valley now. These include three different species of woodpeckers, a pair of handsome Baltimore orioles, about a half-dozen Ruby-throated grosbeaks, some bluebirds and blue buntings, one red-winged black bird, as well as a bunch of doves that were absent for the winter.

There is another Ozark bird-feeder up on AB Highway, maybe 3/4 mile as the crows fly. I have been meaning to stop and chat with my neighbor to discuss our feeding practices and bird species and see how they compare.  I have a feeling that these songbirds and other wild birds are the best fed birds in the neighborhood. Ha! 

Now get up and go visit our beautiful Ozarks outdoors!