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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 351   View pdf image
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lower, have caved money to the State by making
new loans to substitute for the old. Although it
was of no advantage, to borrow at a low rate of
interest for the purpose of buying up at apre-
mium stocks not yet redeemable; yet, if those
stocks had become redeemable, and so could be
discharged at par, and the cash for their redemp-
tion was not in the treasury, it certainly would
be a great saving to the State, to borrow the sum
necessary to redeem them, at a lower rate of in-
terest, than we should have to pay if the old loan
continued unredeemed. If the money was actu-
ally in the treasury, of course apply it to the dis-
charge of the debt; no new loan would then be
necessary or proper. Money certainly bears a
higher rate of interest at one time than at anoth-
er, and a man who contracts a debt when money
is scarce is benefitted, if money should be abun-
dant at the time when his debt becomes payable.
Of this, Mr. D. gave a familiar illustration.
Allusion had been made to the sinking fund of
Mr. Pitt. It was, indeed, an extraordinary de-
lusion of that great man, though not confined to
him. He had looked upon a sinking fund as if
it were some magical machine for generating
money, and which of its own efficacy, indepen-
dently of taxation, could pay off a public debt.
Such a notion seemed to have prevailed among
many in our own State. But, in fact, our sink-
ing fund was nothing more than the appropria-
tion at stated periods of a portion of the proceeds
of taxation, or other revenue, to the redemption
or extinguishment of so much of the principal of
the debt. Any other notion of it was a fallacy,
and one of a most dangerous kind.
Mr. D. concluded, by saying, that he really
could not fee that the dangers apprehended by
gentlemen would arise from the adoption of his
substitute, and he would, therefore, adhere to
Mr. GRASON regretted that he came into the
Convention so late, as to be prevented from hear-
ing the gentleman from Anne Arundel, and other
gentleman who had preceded him. He wished,
however, to state his objections to the proposi-
tion. The amendment of his colleague, (Mr.
George,) was intended to prohibit debts from be-
ing hereafter incurred for works of internal im-
provement, while that of the gentleman from
Anne Arundel, ( Mr. Donaldson,) provided, that a
part of the surplus revenue might, in a certain
contingency, be applied to the extension of such
works. How easy would it be for the Legisla-
ture, under the influence of speculative and
visionary men, to pass a law for that purpose,
and to provide, that after the payment of the
public debt, the surplus in the treasury should be
applied to the construction of railroads and
canals. It had been estimated that the public
debt would be extinguished in twelve years, but
many events might occur to defeat so desirable an
object. Within the period assigned for the pay-
ment of the State debt, the United States might
be involved in a war, and, in that case, our ef-
forts for that purpose, would be arrested for an
indefinite period. The gentleman from Anne
Arundel, seemed to think that the time would
come when we shall have no other use for the

public money, but to invest it in internal im-
provements; but, he believed, that no new works
would result in advantage to the State. We can-
not carry the Chesapeake and Ohio canal beyond
Cumberland, and our railroads had already been
extended beyond the limits of the State. He
wished now, while the people of the whole State
were suffering under the burden of a public debt,
that the Legislature should be deprived of the
power of involving the State in future difficulties.
Should there be a large surplus revenue hereaf-
ter, of which there was very little prospect, it
might be applied to the use of the counties in re-
lieving them from their annual county assess-
ments. Unless restrictions were imposed on the
Legislature, to prevent appropriations for works
of internal improvement, he was satisfied the
people would reject the Constitution.
Mr. BROWN briefly stated his opinion that we
ought to leave the Legislature untied in reference
to this subject of appropriations; although there
were some matters in which he would feel no
objection to impose restrictions on the Legisla-
Mr. DONALDSON explained.
Mr. JENIFER, in a very few remarks, defended
the late Governor of Maryland against the im-
putations of the gentleman from Frederick as to
his political opinions. Differing as he did from
the ex-Governor in his general political views,
there was no act of his, during his administra-
tion, which had done so much to sustain the po-
litical reputation of the State, as the message
which had been animadverted upon. He hap-
pened to be abroad at the time, and he knew the
effect which was produced by it on our credit in
the European market. The stocks of the State
immediately rose. If any one act of that gentle-
man's political life ought to be selected above all
the rest for its wisdom, it should be this, which
stemmed the tide of ruin.
Mr. THOMAS said that nothing had fallen from
the gentleman from Charles to change his, (Mr.
T.'s,) opinion on the subject. He hoped that we
would, by paying our debts, hasten the day when
nothing said here by a Governor of the State,
or by a member of the House of Delegates, could
affect, in any way, the value of stocks abroad.
He knew very well how speculators could use
these matters so as to make fortunes. They were
of no advantage to holders of these securities who
held them as permanent investments. Although
the surplus money in the treasury might some-
times be employed to buy stocks when it could
bedone with advantage to the State, they could
never be used to continue a system of internal
improvements; and it was oil this point that he
differed from the late Governor, although he did
so with the greatest respect for him personally.
He did not see, however, how the message could
have affected the price of stocks in the hands of
holders, who looked to the dividends on these
State bonds as a means of support for themselves
and their heirs. This class of holders would get
their quarterly or semi-annual dividends from the
treasurer, whether the bonds were above or be-
low par in the markets in this country or in
Europe, and he would do nothing, he would

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 351   View pdf image
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