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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 591   View pdf image (33K)
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591
to any one to stand against the will of the
people and interpose these straws of epithets,
I would not deprive him of that satisfaction,
A mad dog comes in your way and you shoot
him. Forsooth, you go not after his owner to
pay him. A wild bull rushes down the pub-
lic highway, and you kill him; but you go
not to offer payment. You kill him because
he is a public nuisance in the highway, ob-
structing the rights of the people there. So
the free people of Maryland have had their
rights obstructed from the beginning of its
history until now by slavery.
This kind of property alone, gentlemen
tell us, is apparently to suffer by this war.
But do gentlemen remember that no kind of
property in this community has as yet es-
caped? Do gentlemen remember that more
property has been lost already in this State
from confidence in the chivalry than all the
slaves in Maryland amount to? is that. class
of property alone to be cared for? I have
never beard an appeal to the State of Mary-
land to compensate citizens of the State for
other losses from the effects of this war. If
gentlemen desire that compensation shall be
given, why not spread it abroad through the
land to every man who may have suffered?
Why pursue the same exclusive favoritism to-
wards the slaveholder which our State has
pursued from the beginning? Our eyes are
open. We decline to be led by any such fa-
voritism. Maryland to-day is not able to pay
the losses by this war if the losses already
incurred by this war were to be paid back lo
the citizenship the form of a funded debt, it
would load Maryland down so that she could
never pay it. Forty millions of dollars to be
paid by the State of Maryland to the owners
of slaves ! Twenty millions of dollars to be
paid by the city, which I have the honor to
represent, to the lower counties of Maryland
for slaves. One third of the population of
this State, in the city of Baltimore, does not
see the equity of that proceeding. I can only
speak for them. Gentlemen from the portion
of the State from which all that makes the
grandeur of the State, its future hope and
its prosperity is to come, tell you that their
constituents do not see the justness that
claim.
Is this property alone destroyed? It is safe
enough in the taxes which it ought to have
paid, and which it has not paid. Slaves for
which the owners paid $1,600 were taxed for
$400. The taxes have been upon the average
price of $250 for 70 years. No justice to
any but the holder of slave's has been the
constant, cry. What became of the peon-
white man who was not a slaveholder—was
beneath consideration?
The value has been destroyed and gone;
and we are asked to pay for that which does
not exist. Did the State of Maryland destroy
it? The gentleman from St. Mary's (Mi-
Billingsley) has told us not. Why, then
should the State of Maryland pay for it?
There has not been, so far as I have been able
to hear, any objection to the General Govern-
ment paying if they please. But that the
State of Maryland should pay for a thing
which does not exist, and which has no
value, which by the testimony of the repre-
sentative of one of our strongest slaveholding
counties, Maryland has not destroyed, I do
not see the justice of,
Mr. BILLINGSLEY. If the gentleman will
allow me to interrupt him. in the course of
my argument I was frank enough to ac-
knowledge that practically there was no
slavery in the State; but if there should ever
De a returning sense of justice hereafter, I
looked to the General Government for re-
muneration. But if the Convention of the
State of Maryland abolish slavery, as a local
institution, we shall have no right then to go
to the General Government for reimburse-
ment.
Mr. CUSHING. If the evil of slavery was
destroyed by the Federal Government ante-
rior to the action of the State of Maryland in
the adoption of this new Constitution, how
could that possibly affect the claim? If the
destruction of the value took place anterior to
the action of Maryland, then the action of
Maryland could only affect the then existing
value, and could only operate upon the per-
sons then held in slavery. I hold that blood
and money enough has been paid for them
all. While I do not intend now to indicate
what should be the action of the General
Government, I do say that what was once
offered Maryland should not have been tri-
fled with. People that offer money and have
it refused, sometimes have grave objections to
offering it again. There was an offer to the
owners or holders of slaves to enlist them in
the Federal army, and to be paid for it. You
would have thought that the strong loyal
counties in the Southern part of this State,
animated by as pure a patriotism, as pure a
love of country as exists in the whole State,
according to their representatives, would
have been delighted to have enlisted their
slaves without loss for a fair value, that they
might aid their country. But I have never
heard that the slaveholders have come for-
ward. I have understood that the General
Government had to exercise its right to call
upon every main that it pleased to come and
give his aid; and that call was not upon the
property of the slave owner but upon the per-
sonality of the slave. And that, I would
say to the gentleman, was a case which they
had been taught as tar back as the time of
Solomon would occur; for their riches took
wings and flew away.
There will come to Maryland, in the abo-
lition of slavery, sufficient importance and
sufficient prosperity to pay her citizens. It
may come after long years, or it may never
come, in the form of Maryland being able to


 
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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 591   View pdf image (33K)
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