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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 352   View pdf image
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say nothing, that would interfere with that wise
policy of the State which put the punctual payment
of such dividends beyond the reach of all
doubt or uncertainty,
Mr. CHAMBERS expressed an unwillingness to
allow one branch of the remarks of the gentleman
from Frederick to pass without comment,
Nothing, in his opinion, could be more per-
nicious than to inculcate the idea that we were
to relax in our efforts to discharge the public
debt. He not only agreed with the proposition
that honesty required a community as well as an
individual to pay his just debts when he had the
means, but he insisted that it required the earnest
effort to procure the means.
He differed altogether with the gentleman on
another point. He considered it the crowning
act of the late Governor's political life, that re-
gardless of popular clamor, he had so manfully,
so faithfully and so judiciously recommended a
perseverance in the system of taxation, for the
purpose of discharging the obligations of the
Every one knows and feels the force of habit.
Nothing is more repulsive to our nature than to
becompelled to return to a system of restraint,
abstinence and privation after having escaped
from this system to one of indulgence in ease and
luxury. The descent from toil and labor and
privation to ease, abundance and extravagance,
is natural enough, and quite a comfortable tran-
sition to most persons. But to reverse the opera-
tion is a terrible task. This may be said of com-
munities as well as individuals. We become
familiar with what we have for a long time in-
dulged in, and to those who have no experience
with greater indulgencies, their absence occa-
sions much less regret than to those who have
been accustomed to enjoy them.
He instanced the people of England. They
esteem themselves the happiest people under the
sun, and enjoying a more perfect condition of
civil and political liberty than any other nation
on the face of the earth.
They have long lived under the system which
prevails; they are accustomed to the burdens im-
posed upon them, and their condition and habits
in all other respects conform to these circum-
stances. Yet if the heavy taxes, on every comfort
of life, which they pay, should be imposed on the
people of this State, it would produce an outbreak
of feeling that would sweep from the political
stage, every man who should have participated
in bringing about such a state of things. We all
knew with what extreme difficulty our present
system of taxation was introduced. When his
friend over the way, (Governor Grason,) had
the firmness first to recommend a resort to taxa-
tion, neither the committee of finance nor the
Legislature would back him, though of his own
Mr. SPENCER explained that he as chairman of
the committee of ways and means recommended
a compliance with the opinion of the Governor
but the committee did not agree with him.
Mr. CHAMBERS meant no unkind allusion. I
proved the want of nerve to do an unpleasant
thing, though necessary to prevent the degrada-

tion of the State. We we're now happily and
rapidly relieving ourselves of these oppressive
embarrassments, and it was with deep regret he
heard distinguished gentlemen suggest a partial
abandonment of the only means of ultimate and
early exoneration. He had risen only to enter,
as he did, his humble protest against any such notions
as unwise and perilous, involving, as he
thought they did, a very possible condition in
which after being once removed, these taxes might
again become necessary.
Mr. THOMAS said, as regards the credit and
honor of the State, he was ready to go with any
gentleman, to any extent, to maintain them un-
sullied. The effect of the argument of the gen-
tleman from Kent, would be to raise the value of
stocks to the profit of the speculators in stocks,
but would produce no advantage to the State, or
to those who hold stocks as a permanent invest-
ment. Speculators watch very astutely every
movement of this government, in order to ascertain
the character of the financial policy which is
likely to be adopted. If there should be a sur-
plus in the Treasury, the reduction of taxes does
not follow. Speculators, who know that the
public debt will not be redeemable for many
years, will foresee that the Government will be
compelled to buy its bonds at their market value,
and stock gamblers will refuse to sell unless they
bear a. price much above that. And in this way
stock gamblers will profit. Rather than pursue
a policy leading to such results, he would pro-
hibit the Treasurer from buying up any of the
stock at a dollar above par, for if that was done,
as soon as the bonds were due, the State would
have faithfully fulfilled its engagements. By pay-
ing the public debt in this mode, we would be
able to alleviate the burdens of the people who
had been heavily taxed for its payment. He was
astonished to hear the gentleman from Kent as-
sert, that the people of England fancy themselves
to be one of the happiest people in the world.
There may be some thirty thousand who hold all
the public securities and all the lands in England,
who are contented. But it was not the case that
all the residue of the people was so. To show
the contrary, lie described the scenes that are con-
stantly passing before us, when numbers of her
people are casting off their dearest ties, and aban-
doning their natale solum, after groaning and suf-
fering under taxes, piled on each other, like Pelion
on Ossa, and Ossa on Olympus, and leaving
behind them the bones of their fathers, to find
homes in a foreign land.
Mr. CHAMBERS said, the expressed, and there-
fore known, unwillingness of the gentleman from
Frederick, (Mr. Thomas,) to be interrupted, had
alone prevented him from correcting the very odd
error into which he seemed to have fallen. That
gentleman seemed to labor under the mistaken
idea, that the opinion of the superior happiness
and liberty of the English people, to which he
had alluded, was his, [Mr. C.'s] opinion. One
i moment's thought must have caused the gen-
tleman to see that it was quite impossible it
It should be so, because it would make the illustration
defeat the argument. It was because it
was the opinion of the English people themselves,

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 352   View pdf image
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