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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1577   View pdf image (33K)
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Mr. TODD. I have no objection to that
amendment. I will accept it.
The section was modified accordingly.
Mr. TODD. Would it not be well to leave
in the words " to labor?''
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. I think you can trust
the masters for that part of it. I move to
amend by adding to the section the words
" and said court shall bind all masters to
whom any such apprentice shall be inden-
tured, to cause said apprentice to be taught
to read and write; and any violation of
which obligation on the part of any master
shall cancel the indenture of apprenticeship."
Mr. RIDGELY. I hope that amendment
will not prevail. That is the existing law
of the State of Maryland, and why should
you put in the constitution a provision that
belongs to the legislature, and which has been
in operation for years? These covenants be-
tween apprentices and masters are all de-
signed to protect the apprentice, and to obli-
gate the master to perform his portion of the
contract under existing laws. If we go on in
this way we shall be codifying instead of
making a constitution.
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. I have proposed this
amendment in good faith. I believe there is
no necessity at all for incorporating this sec-
tion in the constitution, I think the code
already abundantly provides for this subject.
But if it is to be Incorporated in the consti-
tution and an obligation imposed upon the
courts lo bind this class by wholesale in this
manner, whether vagrants or not, whether
the parents are able to maintain and educate
them or not, bind them in ignorance and to
ignorance—why we cannot take such a step
without inflicting a severe blow upon the
State. I thought it was conceded on all
sides, when the article in reference to educa-
tion was under consideration, that it was ne-
cessary for the State to make some provision
that these persons now to be freed should not
be freed in ignorance.
And in reply to the gentleman from Balti-
more county (Mr. Ridgely,) I would say that I
am not aware that where an uneducated col-
ored person is bound out there is any obliga-
tion to teach that person to read or write. I
know that even where white persons are
bound out, if they are bound out without
any instructions, there is not. considered to be
any such obligation. I think the amend-
ment is an important one in reference to the
future welfare of the State, and I hope it will
be adopted.
Mr. STIRLING. I do not wish to debate this
question. I shall certainly vote against this
section as proposed by the gentleman from
Caroline (Mr. Todd.) If the convention
chooses to adopt it, it can do so. I have no
doubt whatever that my friend from Caroline
(Mr. Todd) thinks this provision will ac
complish some good. And I know there are
considerations which can be urged in its sup
port. But the necessary effect of it will be
to perpetuate slavery in Maryland for ten
years lunger. And holding the views I do
upon that subject I cannot vole for it under
any conceivable state of circumstances.
Now what does this section propose? It
provides absolutely for the binding out of an
entire class of persons, without any reference
to the condition of the emancipated parents
of these children, without any regard to the
age. of the children, whether they are eight
or eighteen years of age, whether they are
competent to earn a livelihood or not, even if
the orphans' court thinks that they are able
to support themselves, and will do so, they
are as a class to be bound out. Now this sec-
tion in its effect is not so much to provide
for the custody of these people as it is to
some extent to compensate the masters by
giving them an additional furlough upon the
time of their slaves.
I know the views of gentlemen who rep-
resent some of the counties upon the eastern
shore, who are on my side of the
house, have a great deal of force in them
in regard to this matter. I do not wish to
express my views upon that. They can ex-
ercise their own judgment about it. But 1
am perfectly willing lo stand upon the exist-
ing system. And at the proper time I shall
offer this substitute for the section :
" The orphans' court in the several coun-
ties, in apprenticing under the existing pro-
visions of law any freed minors who shall
have been slaves, shall give the preference in
so apprenticing to those who were the mas-
ters of such minors at the time of the adop-
tion of this constitution, where in the judg-
ment of the court such masters shall be the
proper persons to whom to apprentice such
Mr. PUGH. I wish to move to strike out
that portion of the section giving the preference
to former masters.
The PRESIDENT. That is not now in or-
der. The amendment of the gentleman from
Baltimore city (Mr. Stockbridge) is now be-
fore the house.
Mr. SCHLEY, I hope the convention will
in the first instance adopt the amendment
offered by the gentleman from Baltimore
city (Mr. Stockbridge,) which is very proper
and needs no argument from me, it is so self-
evident. But I do hope that this convention
will pause long before they will accept any
portion of the section of the gentleman from
Caroline (Mr. Todd) to be incorporated into
the organic law of the State. View it as yon
may, with every allowance for the humane
motives of the proposer, it is nothing more
nor less than modified slavery. It is nothing
more nor less than undoing to a certain ex-
tent what we have already resolved to do—
the abolition of slavery in the State of Mary-
land. It is nothing more nor less than to
return to servitude and domestic slavery the

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1577   View pdf image (33K)
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