Walking Vote at Town Meeting, Gloucester 1780

At this town meeting in Gloucester, MA, voters walked to one side of the building if they approved the new Constitution and the opposite if they wanted to decline.

March Meeting which was Adjourned1 to 5 O’clock. Met accordingly. Samuel Browne was chosen Constable(Excused William Lufkin) Chosen and Sworn. Adjourned to Adjourned to Monday the 22nd Instant at 3 O’clock afternoon Monday ye 22nd of May 1780. The Town Met, according to adjournment the Report of the Committee was read and voted that the Report of the Committee be referred to the Meeting to be called on this Day.

Essex Co. To the Constable’s of the Town of Glocester (sic) or either of them Greeting. In the Name of the Government and People of the State of Massachusetts Bay. You are hereby required to Notify and warn the Freeholders3 and other Inhabitants qualified to act in town Affairs, to meet at the meetinghouse of the first Parish in said Gloucester on Monday the twenty-second day of May current at nine o’clock on the forenoon for the following purposes viz. —

To choose a suitable Person or Persons to represent this Town in the great and General Court of this State the Current year, To grant a tax for defraying4 the expenses of this Town the Current Year, 3rdly To Choose suitable persons to meet in convention at Boston on the first Wednesday in June next, to ratify5 the constitution of Government, and to agree upon a time when the same shall take place, agreeable to their instructions. From this To — and fourthly to transact any other necessary business that may be thought Proper on said day. And make return of your doings here on to us on or before said day, hereof fail not on penalty of Law. Given under our hands and seal this 8th day of May 1780.

Winthrop Sargent, William Ellery, Barnett Hardin, William Gee, Selectmen of Gloucester also to take into consideration the Constitution or form of Government for this State Ordered to be laid before the Town for their Approbationor disapprobation

Essex Co. By order of the within Warrant I have notified a Town meeting With the Within Within Written [****] Constable

AtaTownMeetingheldinGloucesterMay22nd 1780
Solomon Parsons, William Segers, Wm Steel, Monitors. That a Committee be Chosen to settle with the Treasurer and make an estimate of what they Suppose will Be necessary to Grant to defray the Charges of the Current Year. The Committee of three Daniel Rogers, John Law, John Smith, movd to see if the Town will Choose other delegates,7 instead of the Present Members to meet in Convention on the 8th of June next Voted in the Negative. Adjourned to 2 o’clock PM.

1 Adjourned = postponed
2 Constable = ”policeman”
3 Freeholders = free men who own property and are qualified to vote
4 Defraying = paying for
5 Ratify = approve
6 Approbation = approval
7 Delegates = people to represent the town

Met at 2 o’clock in the afternoon According to adjournment. The Constitution was read again, the Question was put to see if the Town would Except (sic) of the Constitution and they were for Accepting the Constitution were desired to walk round the meeting house to the Eastward and forty eight walked. They that were against it were desired to walk the other way and None walked. Col Foster and Capt Sargent Said they Objected to it. Adjourned to this day fourteen days at 2 O’clock afternoon. The March Meeting for Adjournment this 22nd day of May 1780. Moved to see if the town would Choose overseers of the Poor8 Separate from the Selectmen. Voted in the Affirmative9. Voted to have Daniel Rogers, James Norwood, George Riggs. Adjourned the 5th June at 2 O’clock PM

Town Meeting By Adjournment June 5th 4 O’clock PM Voted that the Selectmen write to Mr. Thomas Jacques letting him know that the Town Expects that he do his Proportion towards repairing the Bridge over Walkers Creek – Enoch Grover was Chosen Constable & Sworn. Moved that there be a certain Sum Paid Capt Jacob Allen for his services as Treasurer for the 2 years he hath served. 200 Nominated but no vote Passed. Adjourned to Monday the 19th Instant 2 O’clock Afternoon.

8 Overseers of the poor = a committee to see how the poor will be cared for in town. Usually either the town paid for someone to take them into their house or the poor were sent to a “poor farm” to live and work.
9 Affirmative = voted “yes”


“Walking Vote”, Town Meeting Warrant (May 22, 1780), The Gloucester Archives, Gloucester, MA.