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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 350   View pdf image
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ed, as was dreamed, without placing any burdens
on the property of the people—even then, but
small majorities in the Legislature, and sometimes
mere majorities of quorums, had carried through
the bills for internal improvement, loans and sub-
scriptions. If two-thirds of all the members
elected had been required, as by this substitute,
those bills could never have passed, and we should
never have contracted the debts which now press
upon us. What danger can there be then for the
future, after the warnings of the past, when such
a restriction is imposed, and when, also, the law
creating a debt must itself provide for the pay-
ment of the whole debt, principal and interest,
either by taxation or by revenues actually se-
cured ? There could be none; and no gentleman
had attempted to answer this argument. He be-
lieved it unanswerable.
Gentlemen had spoken as if he, (Mr. D.,) was
in favor of appropriating surplusses in the treasu-
ry to other objects beside the payment of the
public debt, before that debt was extinguished.
He had never dreamt of such a thing. In the
resumption law, which he himself had drafted,
all surplusses are expressly appropriated to the
extinguishment of the principal of the State debt.
That he considered the true disposition to make
of them. But if the present tax system remain
undisturbed, it will not be a great number of
years before we shall be entirely relieved from
taxation on account of our debt; and we shall
then have in the treasury, derived from public
works, surplusses of which some use or other
must be made. He hoped we were not making
a Constitution for ten years only, hut for half a
century at least; and we must look to what will
be our situation hereafter, and not take away
from the Legislature al lpower of applying funds
in the treasury to purposes, which may be mani-
festly proper and conducive to the welfare of the
The gentleman from Frederick, (Mr. Thomas,)
had censured the last message of Governor Philip
F. Thomas, in which a continuation of the system
of revenue now in operation was recommended,
on the ground " that every consideration of duty,
economy and sound policy exacts the most rigid
adherence to its provisions, until the last dollar
of the public obligation is redeemed and cancel-
led." Mr. D. said he took the occasion to say,
that he most cordially concurred in that recom-
mendation, and he thought such a course most
just to the creditors, most safe for the State, and
really most advantageous to the property holders
who paid the taxes. In regard to the great rise
which gentlemen spoke of as likely to be pro-
duced by the State's purchasing her own stock in
the market, he thought that it never could take
place to the extent apprehended. It seemed to
be forgotten that there were other stocks beside
those of the State of Maryland. The stocks of
Maryland were no better secured than those of
the U. States, of New York, Massachusetts,Ohio,
and others, the market value of which would
have much to do in regulating that of our own
State. These last would prevent ours from ri-
sing to such an indefinite amount. He consider-
ed, that we could make no better investment than

in our own debt, and that the application of sur-
plusses to that purpose would l)enefitall property
in the State, by hastening the entire relief from
all taxation.
If the question now were, whether we should
establish such a system of internal improvement
as we long ago embarked in, he would agree
with the gentleman from Frederick, in his oppo-
sition to it. But, as that gentleman declared,
that he had heretofore avoided additional ap-
propriations to complete works before commenc-
ed, in order to save the sums the State had pre-
viously expended on them; so he, (Mr. D.,) con-
sidered, that future appropriations, made from
surplusses in the treasury, might be properly ap-
piled towards making those works more efficient
and productive.
The gentleman from Carroll, (Mr. Brown,)
was for the re-payment of those surplusses into
the pockets of the people. Mr. D. looked upon
that as impracticable; but thought that the same
end might be accomplished much better by ex-
penditures for the benefit of the whole communi-
ty, which might be ensured by the provisions of
his substitute.
The gentleman from Queen Anne's, (Mr.
Spencer,) had asked, whence, under the old con-
stitution, was derived the power of making such
appropriations as had been made, and he spoke of
his substitute as giving a power not heretofore
possessed by the legislature. Mr. D. declined
going into an argument in regard to a matter,
which along course of legislation, and universal
acquiescence therein had thoroughly settled. Pre-
suming that such a power existed in the absence
of any thing in the constitution forbidding it, his
present proposition restricted it, as he believed,
within salutary limits.
The last clause of his substitute had been mis-
construed by the gentleman who opposed it. At
present, the law gives power to borrow, to sup-
ply a temporary deficiency in the revenue, and that
was the main purpose of that clause. But anoth-
er purpose was, that the State might avail her-
self of any favorable change in the value of
money, in order to pay off old loans which had
become redeemable, if new loans of the same
amount could be made at a lower rate of interest.
He did not mean, that it would be any benefit
to the State to borrow money to buy up in the
market at a premium, her stocks which were not
yet redeemable, in order to substitute stocks,
bearing a lower rate of interest. That process
would come within the censure of the gentleman
from Cecil, (Mr. McLane,) of whose financial
ability he expressed the highest opinion. He
concurred entirely in the views of that gentle-
man as to such a process. The error of Mr. Pitt
as referred to, was, that he issued large quanti-
ties of government stocks at a low rate of interest
receiving for them, a much less amount than
their nominal value. These stocks could only
bn redeemed afterwards, by paying the full nomi-
nal value, and the rate of interest could not be
lowered when money became plenty. If he had
borrowed money at its real market value, that is,
bearing a high rate of interest, he might, in more
prosperous times, when the market rate was

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 350   View pdf image
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