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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 41   View pdf image
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guilty of such an act, An to the election dis-
tricts, he would say that in his district, a voter
four-fifths of whose land lay on one side the district
line, and his residence on the other, would
not be permitted to vote where the greater part
of his land was, but where he residence stood.
Mr. BROWN called on a colleague to bear him
out in the assertion, that no illegal voters had
come over the Pennsylvania line into his district.
Mr. SHOWER declared in the most solemn and
emphatic manner that so far as he knew, no
Pennsylvania Democrat had ever voted in Ma-
The question was then taken on the amendment
of Mr. KILGOUR, and the result was as follows:
Affirmative.—Messrs. Chapman, President,
Morgan, Dent, Hopewell, Lee, Chambers, of
Kent, Mitchell, Donaldson, Dorsey, Wells, Ran-
dall, Kent, Weems, Dalrymple, Bond, Merrick,
Jenifer. John Dennis, James U. Dennis, Crisfield,
Dashiell, Williams, Hicks, Hodson, Golds-
borough, Eccleston, Phelps, Sprigg, Dirrickson,
McMaster, Hearn, Fooks, Annan, McHenry,
Magraw, Davis, Kilgour and Waters—38.
Negative.—Messrs. Blakistone, Ricaud, Sell-
man, Bell, Welch, Chandler, Ridgely, Sherwood,
of Talbot, Colston, Chambers, of Cecil, McCul-
lough, Miller, McLane, Bowie, McCubbin,
Spencer, Grason, George, Wright, Shriver, Gaither,
Biser, Sappington, Stephenson, Nelson,
Carter, Thawley, Stewart, of Caroline, Hard-
castle, Gwinn. Brent, of Baltimore city, Ware,
Schley, Fiery, Neill, John Newcomer, Harbine,
Brewer, Anderson, Weber, Hollyday, Slicer,
Fitzpatrick, Smith, Parke, Shower, Cockey and
So the amendment was rejected.
Mr. PHELPS. Let us now try five days. I
move that amendment.
Mr. BROWN. I rise to a point of order. With
the exception of one word, we have defeated
this amendment, I know not how many times.
The frame-work of the. proposition is the same,
with the exception only of the time that shall fill
the blank, and gentlemen must perceive by
this time that the Convention will not supply
that blank with anything.
Mr. MITCHELL suggested that the gentleman
might be mistaken. He (Mr. M.) could refer to
one gentleman who would go for the provision
with the limitation of five days. who had not yet
voted against any other period of time. There
might be other members of the Convention sim-
ilarly disposed.
Mr. BROWN. I withdraw the point of order.
Mr. SPENCER was opposed to all further
restrictions on the suffrage. The penal law
might be strengthened, if necessary; the pen-
alties might be increased; officers who were
not vigilant in the detection of illegal voters,
might be punished. But there ought to he no
further restriction on the ballot-box.
Mr. PHELPS said his friend from Queen Anne
said we ought to rely on the penal laws. Now
he had been much engaged in politics, but he had
never known an instance where a voter had been
Mr. SPENCER referred to an instance of a conductor
of a whig paper who was rejected, al-
though a legal voter, because he could not speci-
fy the exact term of his residence to a day.
Mr. PHELPS said that case was not in his
county. In reply to which the gentleman had
said concerning the penal laws, they had hitherto
been inefficient. The penal laws have
been long in operation. A man in his county
was presented by the Grand Jury, and prosecuted
for bribery, and thin came to Annapolis, and
obtained a nolle prosequi. This was not the
only instance of executive interference. He
knew of one case in which a whig Governor,
and another in which a democratic governor in-
terfered. We cannot find security for the purity
of the ballot-box, unless we impose some limits
on the term of residence.. The remarks of his
colleague had deep force in them, and were
strongly impressed on his mind.
Mr. MERRICK, after stating that it was better
to be a listener and a learner, than a speaker,
said that one idea had struck him, which he
would lay before the Convention. The gentleman
from Queen Anne thought the existing pe-
nal laws sufficient, end that he would go as far.
as any one to make them more stringent. Now
we have heard a good deal from learned lawyers
and judges, who after poring over the books,
tell us that if a man from an adjoining ward
goes into another ward of the city, and sleeps
one night, he may gain his vote in that ward.
Now, he desired to give his vote to check this
evil, by sustaining that amendment fixing the;
term of residence at five days. As we are, the
law is perfectly insufficient. to check the evil.
He thought a residence of five days proper. A
man is not hound to be there every hour, but he
must have his residence there, although he may
work at Washington.
Mr. BOWIE suggested that if this amendment
was adopted, it would make an important change
in our election laws which now require six months
residence in the county, twelve months in the
State, and according to the construction of judges,
of election and others, one day in Baltimore.
city. The present system, has stood the test of
the experience of seventy years. Originally a
properly qualification was required, and in con-
sequence of the universality of the term freeman,
even free negroes were included. Subsequently
these provisions have been repealed, and the
qualifications of residence as they now stand have
been acquiesced in by the people,. We are now
sent hereto form a new Constitution. Complaints
have been made as to the working of some parts
of the present constitution, but he had heard of
none against that which relates to the elective
franchise. He wished to ask whether it was in-
tended to get rid of the abuse of power by getting
rid of the power itself. Was not that too great
a sacrifice. He then quoted the provisions of the
existing Bill of Rights, in relation to the suffrage,
and stated that the right was not derived from
the Bill of Rights or the Constitutiom, It had
a far higher origin. It existed with and belonged to
the people, as members of the body poli-,
tic. He did not come here to put new shackles

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 41   View pdf image
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