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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 616   View pdf image (33K)
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616
policy is that it will forever fix your position
in the Union of States, Why is it that Ma-
ryland hesitates? Why is it that she vacil-
lates in her course? Why is it that Jeff.
Davis thinks he has a claim on you? He has
no ground for any claim on earth, except
through the institution of slavery. Abolish
slavery, and Maryland will gravitate to a
union with the Northern States as naturally
as water flows down hill. Your position
will be unalterably and unchangeably fixed.
But as long as the institution of slavery ex-
ists among you, so long will it be uncertain
where you are or what you will do. Abolish
the institution of slavery, then, because it
makes your position uncertain. Your sister
States of the North do not trust yon, because
they do not know what position you actually
occupy. Indeed there are many evidences of
the uncertainty of our own position. We
have within our BORDER=0s a large population
who I have no doubt would attach us to the
Southern Confederacy if they could have their
own way, and the only bond of sympathy is
through the institution of slavery. Now, bow
many men are there in Maryland actually in-
terested in this institution? Out of a popu-
lation of over half a million of souls, there
are only about 16,000 persons in the State of
Maryland who own slaves to any extent,
gome of them owning only one or; two slaves.
And shall we be kept back from the proper
position that awaits us for such a small mi-
nority of our population? I trust we will
not. I hope the people of Maryland will rise
to a full and proper appreciation of their own
position and their own destiny. And I hope
this Convention will refleet truly the senti-
ments of the people.
If the policy of the State has been changed,
if, as the gentleman from St, Mary's (Mr.
Billingsley) intimated by the resolutions of
the legislature he read this morning, the
policy of the State of Maryland has been
changed, it has been because circumstances
have changed. The circumstances of the
country have changed, and we would be poor
scholars indeed if we had not learned some-
thing in the three years that have just gone
over us. The bloody war through which we
are now passing, the change that has taken
place in our circumstances, admonish us that
we must change our position; that we must
assume the position that properly belongs to
us in the Union, if we would preserve our
own peace and our own dignity, and secure
the lasting blessings of prosperity for our peo-
ple; and our people look for it; they expect it
at our hands; they sent us here for that pur-
pose; and we shall fall short of our mission
if we do not carry ont that purpose. We are
bound by instructions which we cannot evade;
those instructions are imperative to ingraft
this article into the Constitution of our State,
and abolish slavery forever in Maryland.
Then Maryland will march forward with
full promise and hope, with the full certainty
that we will be second to none of the State
of this Union; that we will be just what our
position geographically, and in every other
respect, warrant us to expect. Our railroads
then, instead of carrying away our best mate-
rial, instead of carrying away our young men
of promise and enterprise and industry and
thrift towards the setting sun to find homes
which they were unable to obtain here, will
bring immigrants from other States to us.
Our lands now uncultivated will be bought
up and improved. Manufactures will flourish,
and every branch of industry will revive, and
the State of Maryland, instead of occupying
the position she now does, will become one of
the most prosperous, most thrifty, and most
influential States in the Union. Every mo-
tive that can induce us to act prompts us to
pursue this course.
Thanking the Convention for their cour-
tesy and kindness, I will now close.
Mr. CUSHING. Before the gentleman takes
his seat I hope he will allow me to interrupt
him a moment. I desire to refer to some au-
thorities on the point referred to by the gen-
tleman from Prince George's, (Mr. Belt,} in
relation to the slave trade being kept open
until 1808. In the Convention which adopt-
ed the present Constitution, Luther Martin,
of Maryland, proposed to vary article 7, sec-
tion 4, so as to allow a prohibition or tax on
the importation of slaves, Mr. Rutledge said :
"Religion and humanity had nothing to
do with this question; interest alone is the
governing principle with nations. The true
question at present is, whether the Southern
States shall or shall not be parties to the
Union."
Mr. Pinckney went on to say :
" South Carolina can never receive the plan
if it prohibits the slave trade. In every pro-
posed extension of the powers of Congress,
that State has expressly and watchfully ex-
cepted that of intermeddling with the im-
portation of negroes."
" Gen. Pinckney declared it to be his firm
opinion, that if himself and all his colleagues
were to sign the Constitution, and use their
personal influence, it would be of no avail
towards obtaining the consent of their con-
stituents. South Carolina and Georgia can-
not do without slaves. As to Virginia, she
will gain by stopping the importations. Her
slaves will rise in value, and she has more
than she wants. It would be unequal to re-
quire South Carolina and Georgia lo confed-
erate on such unequal terms."
" Gen. Pinckney thought himself bound
to declare candidly that he did not think
South Carolina would stop her importations
of slaves in any short time; but only stop
them occasionally, as she now does."
Mr. Rutledge, of North Carolina, said :
"If the Convention thinks that North Car-
olina, South Carolina, and Georgia will ever


 
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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 616   View pdf image (33K)
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