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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 423   View pdf image
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of the terms "just liability," employed in the
amendment of the gentleman from Harford, [Mr,
Mr. BOWIE said, he could well conceive, with
the gentleman from Harford, that some legisla-
tion might be necessary to consummate an engage-
ment already entered into, upon the faith of the
State, in relation to these works of internal im-
provement. He was not ready at this moment
to specify There were a great many contingencies
which might take place, rendering such an
appropriation necessary; and the Convention
should not impose restrictions upon the Legisla-
ture, which would prevent them, in the exercise
of an honest discretion, from making such an ap-
propriation, if it should be required.
Mr. B. renewed the demand for the previous
question, but, with the consent of Mr. MERRICK,
waived it.
Mr. GRASON made some remarks which will
be published hereafter.
Mr. DONALDSON gave notice that he would, at
the proper time, offer an amendment, [which was
read, and will be found hereafter.]
He hoped there was no doubt about the adoption
of the amendment he proposed. He considered
it essential for the purpose of making perfectly
sure the fulfilment of the State's obligations. It
was most probable, that we never should have to
borrow for the purpose of paying the interest of
the debt, at any quarter; but that such a necessity
should occur, was by no means impossible, and
in maintaining the State faith, there should never
be any uncertainty. He had stated several times
before, that on account of the great inequality of
receipts and expenditure, at the different quar-
ters, we might have a considerable surplus of re-
venue in the whole year, and yet a deficiency at
a particular quarter. By the temporary failure
of some of the public works, or by the occurrence
of some unforeseen casualty, there might be a
deficiency at some quarter of more than fifty thousand
dollars, which was the extreme fixed in the
article of the gentleman from Queen Anne's {Mi.
George.] The treasurer now had the power,
conferred by the Legislature, to make a loan for
such a purpose, according to the actual necessity.
He thought that power should not he abridged.
Mr. D. said, he had no intention of again argu-
ing the propriety of restricting the Legislature,
to the extent proposed in this article. That the
Convention had settled in opposition to his views,
whether wisely or not, would be hereafter seen.
But he could not help remarking, that it seemed
to him a mere mockery, to provide, as this article
did, for levying a tax to pay off, in the course
of fifteen years, a debt, which, in the aggregate,
should not exceed one hundred thousand dollars.
Such a debt could be paid off without taxation)
in less than a year. Our annual surplus now, is
more than three hundred thousand dollars. He
supposed that it was contemplated to have all the
financial machinery of a regular sinking fund, to
absorb this immense sum of one hundred thou-
sand dollars, in fifteen years, and until that was
effected, we could not even re-build the State-
house, the Hospital, or the Tobacco warehouses,
in case they should burn down. It really would
be a great deal better, in his opinion, to take
away entirely the power to borrow in any event,
than to put such a provision as this, in our Con-
stitution, which was now seriously proposed.
Mr. SPENCER. One word as to the term of
fifteen years. The gentleman from Anne Arundel,
seemed to regard this proposition as frivolous.
So it would be in different circumstances. Bat
the State of Maryland is largely in debt—to the
amount of millions. If the State was out of debt,
one hundred thousand would indeed be nothing.
But this one hundred thousand dollars, when ad-
ded to the millions already outstanding, helps to
make the debt more onerous. He thought it right
that the restriction should be inserted in the Con-
stitution. The limitation of fifteen years had
been fixed on, owing to the peculiar situation in
which the treasury now stands.
The question was then stated to be on the
amendment of Mr. MCHENRY.
Mr. MCLANE referred to the latitude of construction
of which, in his judgment, the amend-
ment was susceptible, and invited the gentle-
man from Harford, [Mr. McHenry,] to state
what, in his view, this "just liability" was.
Mr. MCHENRY replied that he could only
answer for his own intention and object. These, he
supposed, he had sufficiently explained, in the re-
marks he had before made. He referred again
to the contingency of a revulsion, such as had
occurred in 1837, when all the sources of re-
venue might be stopped. He also declared that
he had in view the payment of any just claim
against the State, whatever its extent might be.
Mr. MCLANE felt himself less disposed, he
said, to support the proposition under the explana-
tion of its object made by the gentleman who of-
fered it, than he had been before, and indicated
his intention to vote against it.
Some explanatory conversation followed between
Messrs. BOWIE and MCLANE.
The question then again recurred on the amendment
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The question was then taken and the result
was as follows:
Affirmative— Messrs. Chapman, President,
Blakistone, Dent, Hopewell, Ricaud, Lee, Chambers,
of Kent, Donaldson, Dorsey, Wells, Ran-
dall, Weems, Merrick, Crisfield, Goldsborough,
Bowie, Sprigg, Bowling, McMaster, McHenry,
Schley, Fiery, John Newcomer, Davis and
Negative—Messrs. Sellman, Bond, Jenifer, Bu-
chanan, Bell, Welch, Chandler, Ridgely, Lloyd,
Colston, Dashiell, Hicks, Constable, Chambers,
of Cecil, Miller, McLane, Spencer, Grason,
George, Fooks, Thomas, Shriver, Gaither, Biser,
Annan, Sappington, Stephenson, Thawley, Stew-
art, of Caroline, Gwinn, Stewart, of Baltimore
city. Brent, of Baltimore city, Presstman, Ware,
Neill, Harbine, Michael Newcomer, Weber,
Hollyday, Slicer, Parke, Ege, Shower, Cockey
and Brown—45.
So the amendment was rejected.

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 423   View pdf image
 Jump to  

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