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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 40   View pdf image
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The question was then taken on the amend-
ment of MR. PHELPS, and the result was as fol-
Affirmative.—Messrs. Chapman, President, Mor-
gan, Dent, Lee, Chambers, of Kent, Donaldson,
Dorsey, Wells, Randall, Kent, Weems, Dalrym-
ple, Bond, Merrick, John Dennis, James U. Den-
nis, Crisfield, Dashiell, Hicks, Hodson, Golds-
borough, Eccleston, Phelps,, Sprigg, Dirickson,
McMaster, Hearn, Fooks, McHenry, Magraw,
Davis and Waters—32.
Negative.—Messrs. Blakistone, Sellman, Jeni-
fer, Bell, Welch, Chandler, Ridgely, Sherwood,
of Talbot, Colston, Chambers, of Cecil, McCul-
lough, Miller, Bowie, McCubbin, Spencer, Gray-
son, George, Wright, Shriver, Gaither, Biser,
Annan, Sappington, Stephenson, Nelson, Carter,
Thawley, Stewart, of Caroline, Hardcastle,
Gwinn, Brent, of Baltimore city, Ware, Schley,
Fiery, Neill, John Newcomer, Harbine, Kil-
gour, Brevier, Anderson, Weber, Hollyday, Sli-
cer, Fitzpatrick, Smith, Parke, Shower, Cockney
and Brown—49.
Determined in the negative.
Mr. KILGOUR then moved to fill the blank with
ten days, and asked the yeas and nays, which
were ordered.
Mr. HICKS began to feel somewhat alarmed,
he said, at the indisposition manifested on the
part of the Convention, to throw around the bal-
lot-box those guards which were so necessary to
its protection, and consequently to the safety and
the perpetuity of our institutions. After the
angry discussion which bad taken place on
another subject in this Convention, and which
closed only a few days ago, he had felt disposed
to congratulate himself and the Convention that
a subject bad at last been reached, upon which
he had hoped they might agree. In this, it
seemed, he was disappointed. He supposed that
they had all come here with a full determina-
tion to do any and every thing in their power to
prevent the perpetration of frauds upon the bal-
lot-box. He did not design to make a set speech;
he had never done so. He believed it would be
for the Convention itself and for the people of
the state of Maryland, if there was less of that
kind of speaking and a little more plain talking.
He supposed that a majority of the members
of this body had a personal knowledge of the
fact that frauds upon the ballot-box were every
where committed. He trusted, therefore, that
there was no partizan feeling about the matter.
He certainly bad none; and he could say, with
his hand upon his heart, that although he had
voted against the call of the Convention, yet
when the people of the State determined there
should be one, and particularly when he had
addressed himself to the voters in his county for
the seat he now occupied, lie had resolved fully
to put aside all considerations of a party charac-
ter. He did not mean to say, that he was not a
party man; he spoke merely with reference to
the business of this Convention. It was cer-
tainly true that, in the course of his short career,
he had witnessed many disgusting scenes at the
ballot-box. Mr, H. proceeded to give some il-
lustrations of his experience, and expressed the
belief that if gentlemen would come out and
boldly speak the truth, instances still more fla-
grant than those he had mentioned might be ad-
duced. He was in favor of some such limitation
as was proposed by the amendment, and thought
its operation would be effective in the suppression
of fraud. The blank, he thought, should be fil-
led with some period, if it were but twenty-four
hours. He desired honestly to carry out, under
the lights which he possessed, the full wishes of
the people. He looked upon this question as be-
ing one of the most important which the
Convention had been called to consider and de-
cide; and he hoped and trusted that some sys-
tem might be matured by which this practice of
fraud upon the ballot-box, every where known
to exist, might be done away with. He did not
think that there was any difference of feeling
in the Convention as to the necessity of obtain-
ing that end, but there were some hundred and
three members of the body, and about as many
different plans to accomplish the result. Yet
they had all such a practical knowledge of the
subject, that it seemed to him some, such system
might be matured in an hour. He would go
even for a registration—in short, he would go
for any and every thing, by means of which the
one great object—the protection of the ballot-
box—might be attained.
Mr. DAVIS said that the evil which was com-
plained of, had been felt in the county of Mont-
gomery. in that county there was at least as
great an amount of virtue and intelligence to be
found among the people, without disparaging
other counties, as in any of them. Commissioners
of the county were formerly elected by dis-
tricts. Corruption, as it was thought, made
its appearance. The county became dissatis-
fied on account of the colonization of vo-
ters. The mode of election was then chang-
ed to the general ticket system. He hoped
that some guards would be placed round the
ballot-box. He desired that the voters of Mary-
land should be secured in the fullest enjoyment.
of the elective franchise. That illegal voters are
to he found he had no doubt, he would give
an instance of one. At the September election
a man called upon him, and, although of the op-
posite party, offered to vote for him. He went
up to the polls with him, when, after an exami-
nation, he became satisfied that he was not en-
titled to vote, and requested the judges not to
consider him as pressing the vote, and he then
withdrew from the window. This man after-
wards swore that his residence was in Montgomery
county and was received. He (Mr.
DAVIS) had since become satisfied that the man
had no right to vote in that county.
Mr. BELL stated that the district from which
be came was bounded by the Pennsylvania line.
So far, however, from the fact was the state-
ment made that persons from Pennsylvania came
over the line in numbers to vote in the Maryland
elections, that he never knew an instance of such
a case. He had a high opinion of the Pennsylvanians,
and believed they would scorn to be

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 40   View pdf image
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