About Charles R. Buckalew, U.S. Senator
Charles Rollin Buckalew (December 28, 1821 – May 19, 1899) was an American lawyer and Democratic party politician from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He served in the state senate and represented Pennsylvania in both the U.S. House and Senate. He was a graduate of Harford Academy, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1843.
Buckalew was the most influential early advocate of proportional representation in the United States. His proposals for a type of voting system known as cumulative voting gained significant support in Congress, and he played a central role in the adoption of cumulative voting in several places, including Illinois for state legislative elections in 1870, a system that lasted in that state until 1980.
In a number of speeches, notably in the Senate on July 11, 1867; at a large public meeting in Philadelphia in November of the same year; before the Social Science Association at Philadelphia in October 1870; and in the Senate of Pennsylvania on March 27, 1871; as well as in the report of the Select Committee on Representative Reform of the United States Senate, of which be was chairman, Buckalew argued persuasively for the use of cumulative voting in the election of representatives in Congress, state legislatures, town councils and other bodies.
Buckalew's bill in the Senate would have allowed all the electors of a state to have the number of votes equal to the number of house of representatives members to be elected from that state. The voter could give all his votes to one candidate, or distribute them in any fashion, equally or unequally, among candidates. The candidates with the highest number of votes would be elected.
In addition to serving in Congress and the Pennsylvania state legislature, Buckalew was commissioner to exchange ratifications of a treaty with Paraguay in 1854; chairman of the Democratic State committee in 1857; appointed one of the commissioners to revise the penal code of Pennsylvania in 1857; Minister Resident to the Republic of Ecuador 1858-1861; unsuccessful candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 1872; and a delegate to the Pennsylvania constitutional convention of 1873.
He resumed the practice of law when he left Congress in 1891, age 69, in Bloomsburg, Columbia County, where he died on May 19, 1899.
Buckalew's writings and speeches on cumulative voting were collected in an 1872 book titled Proportional Representation. 1872, Philadelphia, J. Campbell & Son. See http://moa.umdl.umich.edu/cgi-bin/moa/sgml/moa-idx?notisid=AEW4025.