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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 582   View pdf image (33K)
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582
and not by a vote of 30,000 of the voting
population of Maryland which consists of
90,000; but it was nearly a full vote.
Are not these facts conclusive? When
you take into consideration that Maryland,
during her existence as a proprietary govern-
ment under Great Britain, during her exist-
ence as a free, sovereign and independent
State from 1776 down to 1862, had preserved
intact this institution of Slavery, and had by
legislative and by Constitutional provision
protected that property, you cannot conclude
that in the year 1864, with 32,000 in favor of
emancipation, as they term it, that it is the
settled policy of the State of Maryland, for
there is more than a majority who have not
voted upon the subject. We voted in St.
Mary's county; for we are not a sort of
people who will try experiments; but it was
not the case everywhere. In Baltimore city
there but 76 votes cast against the Conven-
tion. It is true we had in St. Mary's the
military present at all the polls; bull will
do them the justice to say that they did not
interfere with any of our rights; and al-
though there was nothing like a fair expres-
sion of the public sentiment, in consequence
of the timid and weak-kneed not coming out,
yet we cast a tolerable vote against this Con-
vention.
The argument I mean to adduce with re-
gard to this branch of the subject is, that so
for as our rights to our slaves are concerned,
they are indubitable. Some have contended
that we have no rights. Whence did we
derive those rights? I say, sir, that we de-
rived them from the Constitution of the
United States; not from the Constitution of
the State alone, but from the Constitution of
the United States, which I will presently
show, and quote some authority on the sub-
ject, is just as conclusive on the status of
Maryland upon the subject of slavery. And
I, would say further that this Union would
never have been formed unless this right had
been admitted. I shall read from " Sectional
Controversies " by Fowler:
"Chapter 2. The Constitutional Convention.
" Still sectional difficulties arose in that
body, which with others inherent in the sub-
jects under consideration, threatened its dis-
solution before they had accomplished the
object for which they came together. These
subjects were—1. Navigation—2, Slavery.
The North insisted on having protection for
their property in commerce. The South in-
sisted on having protection for their property
in Slaves.
"Gouvneur Morris, of Pennsylvania, wished
to have the whole subject committed, includ-
ing the clause relating to navigation acts—
these things, namely, the slave trade, to which
some of the North was opposed, and the
navigation act without a restriction, to which
the South was opposed, may form a bargain
between the Northern and Southern States.
" The committee to whom was referred the
subject of the 'bargain,' reported August
24th, 1787, in favor of not allowing the
legislature to prohibit the importation of
slaves before 1800, but giving them power to
impose a duty at a rate not exceeding the
average of other imports.
"General Pinckney, August 25th, moved
to strike out 1800 and insert 1808. Mr.
Gorham, of Massachusetts, seconded the mo-
tion. it was then passed in the affirmative—
New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Maryland, North Carolina, and South Caro-
lina voting for it in the affirmative, (6;)
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and
Virginia in the negative, (4.) It was finally
agreed mem. con. to make the clause read ' but
a tax or duty may be imposed on such im-
portations not exceeding ten dollars for each
person,'
'' The spirit of the committee that reported
the terms of the foregoing 'bargain,' may be
understood from the following statement of
Luther Martin, one of their numbers. They
met and took under consideration the subjects
committed to them. I found the Eastern
States, notwithstanding their aversion to slavery,
were very willing to indulge the South-
ern States with at least a temporary liberty to
prosecute the slave trade, provided the South-
ern States would in their turn, gratify them
by laying no restriction on navigation acts,
and after a very little time the committee by
a large majority agreed on the report."
Under that bargain I claim that I have a
right to my slaves; I claim that we had a
right until 1808 to import slaves; I claim
that my property was protected under it;
and, further, that fugitive slave bills, in con-
sonance with the spirit of compromise and
patriotism, and good will, were passed in
order to protect my slaves and the slaves of
the South in their egress to the North. Until
1808 there was no interference with regard to
this question by the North. I therefore say
that I have this property as a vested right,
and that you have no constitutional right to
deprive me of it without at least compensa-
tion; and I am hardly willing to grant the
power even to do that.
The Constitution was passed in 1787; and
what has been the policy of the State of
Maryland up to 1851, when the Constitu-
tional Convention assembled in this city?
Even anterior to the provision in the Consti-
tution of the State of Maryland, the Legis-
lature of Maryland passed an act that yon
should not interfere with slavery, except by
the unanimous consent of the Legislature.
No one will deny that. It is on your statute
book. Anterior to 1851, when this Consti-
tutional Convention assembled and incorpo-
rated as one of their provisions that the
Legislature should not interfere with the ex-
isting relations of master and slave, the
Legislature passed & statute that you should


 
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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 582   View pdf image (33K)
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