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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 628   View pdf image (33K)
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told plainly that emancipation is a foregone
conclusion; that the people have so decided;
and that there shall be no compensation,
The gentleman from Baltimore city (Mr.
Cushing) yesterday told us—and I could
hardly believe my own ears and eyes—that
we should not receive one dollar, not one cent
for our property. He says that whatever
tales of grief and injustice may come up to us
here, they will pay no attention to them;
that they will not listen to them; that he
hopes that property will have no considera-
tion. Now, sir, it is not a question of sym-
pathy. I tell the gentleman it is simply a
question of justice. We do not claim it from
considerations of sympathy. We do not ask
it, if the worst comes to the worst, as a mat-
ter of gratuity. We stand upon the broad
principles of justice. The widow and the or-
phan, the injured families of Maryland, cry
for justice. No time for that, he says; no
time for sympathy. Why, sir, has the time
come, will the time ever come, in the history
of the good old State of Maryland, when those
in authority will be regardless of, and will
not consider, the plea of justice? Perish the
government! perish the authority and the
power, whatever it may be, that does not,
with all its energy and might, accord justice
alike to the proudest and the poorest of its
citizens. Fiat justitia, ruat caelum.
But he tells us that the people have so de-
termined. I cannot believe it; I will not be-
lieve it; I would shut my ears to the painful
truth, if it were a truth. I was born in Ma-
ryland; I was raised in Maryland; I have
lived in Maryland all my life. lam proud of
my State, of her past history, of the Revolu-
tionary record which she has, and I cannot
believe that the people of Maryland are dis-
honest at heart. The people of Maryland are
honest. Her past history shows it; her whole
antecedent history proves it. The people of
Maryland have never by their votes sanction-
ed any measure of dishonesty or discredit.
There was a time in the financial history of
our State, when she was unfortunate. The
works of internal improvement, which she
had perhaps gone into rashly, had involved
the State. We were in debt; our currency
was in a deplorable condition; all the inter-
ests of our State were convulsed; and com-
mercial enterprise of every kind seemed to be
tottering on the very brink of ruin. The
ship of state was tempest-tost in the wild
storm, and the winds of adversity seemed to
be fast driving her upon the rock of repudia-
tion, The people of Maryland then arose in
the majesty of their power, and elected to the
Gubernatorial Chair a slaveholder; they
placed in the position of Executive of the
State a man from a slave-holding county, not
now credited among the elect, but whom
posterity will set down among the faithful.
He seized the helm of State, and with a mas-
ter-hand guided our good old bark into a
harbor of safety. And he was backed up by
the spontaneous, mighty impulse of the
people. There is no dark spot upon her
character for fidelity and justice that her peo-
ple have ever sanctioned.
This emancipation without compensation,
according to my view of the subject, is to all
intents and purposes, practical confiscation.
What is the difference? I am no lawyer, but
I have taken the trouble to look into the law
dictionary, and find this to be the definition
of confiscation:
"Confiscation is the act by which' the es-
tate, goods; or chattels of a person who has
been guilty of some crime, or who is a public
enemy, is declared to be forfeited for the good
of the public treasury. When property is
forfeited as a punishment for the commission
of crime, it is usually called a forfeiture."—
Bouvier' s Law Dictionary.
Now, have the people of this section of Ma-
ryland forfeited their right lo all this pro-
perty by any crime they have committed?
Have they been arraigned in any court of
justice? Has there been any indictment, any
charge of any kind brought against them?
Yet it is proposed, practically, to confiscate
all this property, and at one blow strike it
from their bands. The General Government
has not attempted to confiscate the private
property of those who have gone into the
rebel army, and are fighting against the Gov-
ernment, except, I believe, upon due process
of law. Or, if they have done so, it is in vio-
lation of the Constitution of the United
States, Yet here this sovereign Convention,
representing the will of the people of Mary-
land, are going to take away this property
without any process whatever, it is per-
fectly absurd; it is monstrous; it is heinous ;
it is damnable.
in our bill of rights we have declared, in
an article already passed, that private pro-
perty shall not be taken except for consider-
ation and by due process of law. The Con-
stitution of the United States, the supreme
law of the land, to which it is said we owe
paramount allegiance, says "nor shall private
property be taken for public use without just
compensation." But the gentleman from Cecil
(Mr. Scott) says it is not taken for public
use. Is it taken for private use? Sir, it is
taken for public use. It is announced all the
time that this is necessary as a public measure ;
as a political measure; that it is necessary to
hold Maryland in her true position, and
make her gravitate to the grand centre of
the government, it is taken for public use,
or for no use at all. The gentleman will
hardly acknowledge that it is taken for no
use or purpose at all.
This, then, is in direct violation of our own
bill of rights. This Convention assembled in
1864, to make a new Constitution and form
of Government, have embodied this principle
in our bill of rights; and before they have

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 628   View pdf image (33K)
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