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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 318   View pdf image
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we are all men fitted for the duties which are
within our sphere. Intelligent gentlemen who
have no practical knowledge of the law, would
feel themselves insulted if asked to enter on such
a task.
On these grounds he would confide the work of
drawing the laws to lawyers only, as coming
within the range of their professional and habit-
ual studies. He admitted the perfect competency
of men of sound judgment and good sense,' to
pass judgment on bills when they had been pre-
pared, and to decide whether they were such as
the interests of society demanded. And hence
he was in favor of submitting the code to the leg-
islature for rejection or adoption.
Mr. MERRICK explained, and recapitulated his
previous remarks. He was most anxious, he
further said, that the laws should be condensed
and simplified as much as possible and rendered
intelligible to the plain good sense of the country.
And he had not only suggested, but urged, when
last up, the adoption of what he considered the
only safe and wise plan for attaining that desira-
ble object even partially; which was the employ'
ment of one or more persons, eminent for their
industry, legal learning and ability, to codify the
laws. These persons should be the most eminent
men the profession could furnish, and they should
receive such a compensation for their services as
would justify them in putting aside all other bu-
siness, and devoting their whole time, talents
and energy to the task; the work, when accom-
plished, should be of course submitted to the Le-
gislature for their sanction; and, if approved by
them, would have imparted to it the binding
force of law; but, if not approved and enacted
by the Legislature, it would still be worth more
than it would cost, as a collection of statutes
with the deliberate comments of wise men upon
them. But be was opposed, and had so expres-
sed himself, to requiring the Legislature in the
course of their ordinary business, to codify each
particular Ilranch of the law they might have oc-
casion to touch. Such a requirement would be,
in his judgment, fraught with pernicious conse-
quences, and productive of no compensating good
whatever. He had said, for the purpose of codi-
fying the laws, none but lawyers, and these the
most deeply read and eminent men the State
could furnish, should be employed. But he was
very far from agreeing that the ordinary business
of legislation should be confined to this or any
other class, as would, to a great extent, be the
effect of the pending amendment if adopted and
made a part of the Constitution. No Legislature
was competent to the work of codification to any
great extent, not because there might not be
members of the Legislature competent to such a
task, but even if every member in such a body
were separately capable of performing such a
work, the body would still be incompetent, be-
cause of its multitudinous character. There
were, also, in every Legislature, a large number
of gentlemen, not professional men and not com-
petent because of their different pursuits and
habits of thought, to codify or even collate the
statutes) who were yet as capable and often even

more capable than the lawyers, of performing
all the appropriate duties of ordinary legislation.
He would not consent to a proposition which
should hinder or impede such men in the per-
formance of these duties, by making a prerequi-
site that they should either be competent to codi-
fy or even perform the labor of collating all the
statutes on any subject upon which they might
deem some legislation necessary. He hoped to
see the Legislature left free, as it had heretofore
been, to do the will of their constituents, and to
change and modify the laws of the State as the
progressive changes in the world and the state of
society might require.
Something had been said about reflections up-
on lawyers; it was not, he supposed, it could not
have been intended for him. He certainly was
one of the last men living, who would cast re-
flections upon that honorable class of citizens.
That was said to be a bird of evil omen, which
would befoul its own nest. He had been in early
life a lawyer himself, and though for many years
exclusively engaged in other pursuits, he still
felt some identity with them, and besides those
dearest to him of all men on earth, were now en-
gaged in that noble and enabling profession.
This amendment, if adopted, Mr. President, it
strikes me, will be making a retrograde move-
ment, taking a step backwards, in this age of
progress. Arts, sciences, civilization, religion,
are all progressing. The human intellect is progressing
and attaining a development, and reach-
ing a dominion never before known to men.
Shall legislation alone go backwards? Shall we
of Maryland alone, say our legislators can no
longer be trusted to make laws for the regulation
and government of society, as the ever varying,
continually improving condition of society may
require ? I trust not.
After some conversation,
The question was taken, and
The second branch of the amendment was
The question then recurred on the third branch
of the amendment, as follows:
"And no law shall be revised or amended by
reference to its title only; but in such case all
parts of the act to be revived or amended that
are embraced in the object of the bill, shall be
re-enacted and published at length."
And the question being taken,
The result was as follows:
AffirmativeŚMessrs. Mitchell, Weems, Buch-
anan, Bell, Welsh, Lloyd, Dickinson, Sherwood
of Talbot, John Dennis, Hicks, Hodson, Phelps,
Constable, McCullough, Miller, Sprigg, Bow-
ling, Dirickson, Thomas, Shriver, Gaither, Bi-
ser, Annan, Stephenson, Magraw, Nelson, Car-
ter, Thawley, Stewart of Caroline, Fiery, Neill,
Anderson, Weber, Fitzpatrick, Smith, Ege,
Cockey and ShowerŚ38.
NegativeŚMessrs. Chapman, President, Mor-
gan, Blakistone, Chambers of Kent, Donaldson,
Dorsey, Wells, Dalrymple, Merrick, Williams,
Spencer, George, Wright, Jacobs, McHenry,
Gwinn, Stewart of Baltimore city, Brent of Bal-

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 318   View pdf image
 Jump to  

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