1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Convention

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CONVENTION (Lat. conventio, an assembly or agreement, from convenire, to come together), a meeting or assembly; an agreement between parties; a general agreement on which is based some custom, institution, rule of behaviour or taste, or canon of art; hence extended to the abuse of such an agreement, whereby the rules based upon it become lifeless and artificial. The word is of some interest historically and politically. It is used of an assembly of the representatives of a nation, state or party, and is particularly contrasted with the formal meetings of a legislature. It is thus applied to those parliaments in English history which, owing to the abeyance of the crown, have assembled without the formal summons of the sovereign; in 1660 a convention parliament restored Charles II. to the throne, and in 1689 the Houses of Commons and Lords were summoned informally to a convention by William, prince of Orange, as were the Estates of Scotland, and declared the throne abdicated by James II. and settled the disposition of the realm. Similarly, the assembly which ruled France from September 1792 to October 1795 was known as the National Convention (see below); the statutory assembly of delegates which framed the constitution of the United States of America in 1787 was called the Constitutional Convention; and the various American state constitutions have been drafted and sometimes revised by constitutional conventions. In the party system of the United States the nomination of party candidates for office or election is in the hands of delegates, chosen by the primaries, meeting in the convention of the party; the convention system is universal, from the national conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties, which nominate the candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency, down to a ward convention, which nominates the candidate for a town-councillorship. In diplomacy, “convention” is a general name given to international agreements other than treaties, but not necessarily differing either in form or subject-matter from a treaty, and sometimes used quite widely of all forms of such agreements. Many conventions have been made for the formation of international “unions” to regulate and protect various economic, industrial and other non-political interests, such as postal and telegraphic services, trade-marks, patents, copyright, quarantine, &c. Thus the Latin Monetary Union was created in 1865 by the Convention of Paris, and the abolition of bounties on the production and exportation of sugar by the Convention of Brussels in 1902 (see Treaties).