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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1599   View pdf image (33K)
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tleman to say that the passage of that article
does not alter the present relation of the ap-
prenticed free negroes.
Mr. SANDS. How could it?
Mr. PURNELL. That is not the question.—
That is all I wanted.
Mr. RIDGELY. That question may be fol-
lowed up by another question: If the act of
emancipation does not disturb the relation of
an apprentice, can we by this section enslave
a man by making him an apprentice?
Mr. SANDS. I have no doubt about the
illatter. What is the section?
"It shall be the duty of the orphans' court
of the several counties and the city of Balti-
more to bind out, until they arrive at the age
of twenty-one years for males, and eighteen
years for females, all negroes emancipated by
the adoption of this constitution."
You ordain the emancipation first; and as
soon as that takes effect freedom attaches to
them. Then after giving them freedom you
propose to take it from them again, putting
it back into the condition of a slave.
Mr CHAMBERS (in his seat.) Apprenticing
does not take away freedom.
Mr, RIDGELY. That is not my view at all.
I stated that with modifications by which the
condition of apprenticeship would be put pre-
cisely in the category in which the act of
assembly now puts it, I was in favor of the
proposition. That is not the proposition of
which you are speaking. That is not the
proposition now before the house. It has
been modified by the consent of the mover.
Mr. SANDS. I am speaking of the proposi-
tion before the house, the proposition to ap-
prentice the whole class as the condition of
their emancipation, although it does not bring
them under the law of slavery in fact. Now
as to this question asked by the gentleman
from Worcester (Mr. Purnell,) how does the
twenty-third article of the bill of rights at all
interfere with the relation between master and
apprentice? How could a man after reading
this plain article ask that question ?
"Article 23. That hereafter, in this State,
there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude, except in punishment of crime
whereof the party shall halve been duly con-
victed; and all persons held to service or la-
bor as slaves are hereby declared free."
" Persons held to service or labor"—how?
As apprentices, or indentured servants? No,
sir; the plain language is "as slaves." If
the article had read, "all persons held to
service or labor as slaves or apprentices, are
hereby declared free," I suppose in that case
the gentleman's views would halve been met,
Mr. PURNELL. I would like to ask one
other question. What attitude will the slave
now proposed to be freed under the twenty-
third article occupy? Will they not occupy
the same attitude or status that the free ne-
groes now occupy?
Mr. SANDS. Unquestionably. Upon what
principles is lie to treat them? Just as you
do the free negroes now, unquestionably; and
not as the proposition offered here proposes to
do. The law as it stands now allows the in-
denting of the children of vagrant and indi-
gent parents. That is the difference. The
proposition offered here commands the ap-
prenticeship of the whole class. And I will
tell my friends another distinction in this
matter. The law as we have it requires the
assent of the parent.
Mr. RIDGELY (in his seat.) Sometimes.
Mr. SANDS. The orphans' courts, now by
law, is compelled to give the parent a say in
the matter, and to act under that say unless
there is asufficient reason for doing otherwise.
This section takes away from the parent all
right to have a say in the matter whether the
party is a proper person or not. Who knows
so well as the parent who may have served
that man thirty or forty years? He may be a
good, kind master; and then he may be a bad
master, a hard master, a cruel master; and
yet the father and mother of the child, the
persons best acquainted with the habits of
the master, are not allowed to come into
court, under the section as offered, and to
say: "That is a hard master; do not give my
child to him; he is a bad master, a cruel mas-
ter; do not give my child to him."
1 say again that I am perfectly willing to
incorporate a section here which shall place
all emancipated negroes precisely on a foot-
ing with the present free negroes, and liable
to be indentured in the same way under the
supervision of the orphans' court. I go fur-
ther in that substitute, and provide that the
master shall have the first offer of such inden-
ture. I am willing to go that far. I am not
willing to go any farther; simply because in
doing that you take away from these colored
people all inducements for honorable exertion,
and you drive them in masses out of the State.
You do them injustice in first setting them
free as a class, and then as a class forcing
them back into involuntary servitude; for,
mark you, that is the term by which slavery
is defined in the constitution of the United
States, and that is lire way it is defined in
the twenty-third article of the bill of rights.
" There shall be neither slavery nor involun-
tary servitude except for crime." I doubt
whether, if that question were raised, in one
of your courts, they would not decide that
their was an entire conflict between the
twenty-third article of the bill of rights and
the present section proposed to be incoporated
into the constitution; because you release
them from involuntary servitude by the bill
of rights, and then by this section you again
force them into involuntary servitude.
Mr. CHAMBERS. The relation of husband
and wife is an involuntary servitude.
Mr. SANDS. That is a very different thing,
The great cry always is—don't white men
apprentice their children? Of course they do,

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1599   View pdf image (33K)
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