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564 POLITICAL SCIENCE.
party conventions, in the composition of which not one voter
in a hundred has a share, and the members of which are
1 scarcely known beyond the conventions themselves__such
nomination is thought to be alone decorous, and it enables
the voters to know whom to vote for. This saving of trouble
this assistance given to people in discharging their political
duties with the least expense of time, is probably the main
cause why the caucus system of nomination for office by
agents of a party has found favor and struck root everywhere.
In the olden time, during our colonial existence, and a little
after, there was no difficulty in making selections, on the
principle that a tried public man ought not to be laid aside.
But when frequent changes took the place of this conserva-
tism, there was need to know whom to elect; the people in
the town meetings found it convenient to have some prepara-
tory or nominating committee ; and so there grew up more
secret, deliberative, irresponsible bodies, where the electors
could not well attend, or, if present, would discover that they
were not wanted, or, if they took affairs into their own hands,
would provoke the caucus leaders to hold meetings some-
where else. The necessity for the existence of such caucuses
or conventions was further impressed on the active politicians
by the importance of having an understanding between the
different parts of the state, so that a party could be sure of a
body of representatives who would carry out its measures.
Thus the parties of the union weigh down on the states, the
, parties in the states weigh down on the towns, general con-
cert is the word, and independence is extinguished.
All the country, however, has not been equally under the
control of caucuses, as far as the selection of nominees for
office is concerned. In the southern and southwestern states
men proposed themselves and went " stumping," as it was
called (that is, speaking from stumps of hewn trees), through
their districts. The opposite candidates travelled together,
attacked each other's positions, answered hard questions, and
in the course of the meeting gave the voters—many of whom
could not read—an intelligible, if a partial, view of public