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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 810   View pdf image (33K)
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for anything except a criminal offence. As
I understand it this section was framed and
adopted to prevent the arrest of members of
the General Assembly for debt. If it was
not framed for that I cannot imagine what it
Was framed for. So that the exception here
is just as broad as the rule; one part of the
section entirely nullifies the other, and makes
It complete nonsense, with the present condi-
tion of the law in this State.
Mr. STIRLING. The reason why the com-
mittee left this section in was that it was
there, and they thought, as it would do no
harm to leave it there, it was not worth while
to strike it out. And the committee did not
know but what the Convention might restore
imprisonment for debt. If there is no im-
prisonment fur debt, this section is unneces-
sary , the gentleman is right in that.
The question being taken upon the mo-
tion to strike out section twenty-four, it
was agreed to.
Section twenty-fire was then read as fol-
"No senator or delegate shall be liable in
any civil action or criminal prosecution what-
ever for words spoke in debate."
Ho amendment being offered,
Section twenty-six was read us follows :
" The House of Delegates may inquire, on
the oath of witnesses, into all complaints,
grievances and offences, as the grand inquest
of the State, and may commit any person for
any crime to the public jail, there to remain
until discharged by due course of law; they
may examine and puss all accounts of the
State, relating either to the collection or ex-
penditure of the revenue, and appoint audi-
tors to state and adjust the same; they may
call for all public or official papers and re-
cords, and send for persons whom they may
judge necessary in the course of their inqui-
ries concerning affairs relating to the public
Interest, and may direct all office bonds which
shall be made payable to the State, to be sued
for any breach of duly."
Mr. CHAMBERS. The last line, reading " to
be seed for any breach of duty," would seem
lo imply that there is some other breach for
which they would not ie sued. I move to
amend by striking out the words " of duty,"
.and inserting the word " thereof," so that it
will read "to be sued for any breach thereof."
The question being taken upon the amend-
ment, it was adopted.
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. I move to amend sec-
tion twenty-six by adding the following :
"But shall not, by special act, cam-el or
annul any bond which for any purpose has
been executed to the State of Maryland."
Mr. STIRLING. I hope that amendment will
not be adopted. This is a matter to which I
have given some attention, and upon which
I have given my views when I have been in
the Legislature. Many people last winter
thought I was a little too liberal in voting to
let some people off. I object to this amend-
ment because it denies to the Legislature, re-
presenting all the people of Maryland, a
right which every man claims to exercise
in reference to his own business. I conceive
that there may be a great many individual
cases in which it would not be right for the
State to make its debtors pay the full amount
of their bonds. The representatives of the
people of the State ought to be allowed to
deal with the individual debtors of the State,
as each one of the people would deal with his
debtors. Should the treasury of the State be
full, and some poor devil of a debtor be una-
ble to pay his debt to the State, be hardly
able to get bread for his little ones, then let
the Legislature have the right to say that he
may not pay the debt. But to say that the
Legislature shall make every debtor pay, is
to make a general rule without any excep-
tion; which is not the case anywhere, except
in Heaven, and I am not certain that there is
any such general rule there. I think there
should be no general rule without exceptions
in these matters. This power may be abused,
I know; but that is a matter which cannot
be Cured, unless you go so far as to take
away from the Legislature the power which I
think they ought to have.
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. I did not design to
argue this question. I moved this amend-
ment because of the frequent abuse of this
power. The bonds which have been can-
celled by the Legislature of Maryland,
within the last four years, have deprived the
State of an immense amount of public pro-
perty. It commenced by the Legislature of
1861 cancelling all the bonds which had been
executed to the State of Maryland, for the
arms of the State which had been furnished
to military companies. Those arms had been
given out in good faith, bad been received
and receipted for, and good and valid bonds
executed to the State. Those arms went—
it is nut necessary here and now, to say
where. The Legislature then in session, in
order to prevent their recovery by the State,
passed acts cancelling at once all the bonds
which had been given for them, aid which
were the only security which the State had
for them. And, as far as I know, not a
single accoutrement, or a single musket has
been collected from that time to this; al-
though the Executive at that time made the
most strenuous endeavors to recall them.
Matters went on, and since that time legions
of bonds have been cancelled, whereby I
know great injustice has been done to this
State. If a man is not able to pay, then he
Cannot be made to pay. Now, in this State
were persons abundantly able to pay, were
responsible, and bad thousands and thous-
sands of dollars worth of the property of the
State in their persons; yet the Legislature

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 810   View pdf image (33K)
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