At town meeting toward the end of a long day, Mr. Morse rose to “comment” on an article but the comment turned into a tirade about how Sparky, the road agent, would wait in the common until Mr. M. had finished shoveling out his driveway, then fire up the plow and plow the end back in.
Mr. Phillips was next to speak. He said: “Mr. Moderator, I think it’s time we adjourn this meeting. It’s Mr. Morse’s nap time and he’s getting cranky.”
And on a more serious note, one of the great things about democracy -- particularly small town, New England, town meeting democracy is that if the Mind (i.e. the legislative body, i.e. the assembled voters) makes a mistake at one meeting, it can be corrected at the next, or, in this case, 282 years later:
It happened in March of 1938 in Hampton, when the voters righted a wrong by acknowledging that the adoption of Article 16 in 1656 in which Eunice Goody Cole was found guilty of witchcraft and being in league with the devil had been in error. In a new article adopted at the 1938 meeting, she was “declared to be innocent of that and the community charged with making an excellent gesture of amend, with the further ceremony of a public funeral during which her name would be given respectful and kindly attention by the community at large.”
Sometimes it takes a while, but we get it figured out and town meeting’s always been the place and time to set records straight.
For everything you ever wanted to know (but didn’t even realize) about NH town meeting, check out my book Moved and Seconded, complete with dramatic tales of New England’s proudest institution; all the poop on warrants, articles, points of order and amendments; short stories, poems, oh, and a full length play.