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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Moore, Timothy D. (Historian); Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Fields, David P. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Maryland (2)
12 (2015)

IV. The election of convention delegates, 13 January-30 April 1788,   pp. 543-617


Page 543

IV.
The Election of Convention Delegates
13 January-30 April 1788
Introduction
On 1 December 1787 the state legislature submitted the new Con-
stitution to a convention to be elected on 7 April 1788. The elections
were to be "conducted agreeably to the mode, and conformably with
the rules and regulations prescribed for electing" the House of Dele-
gates, which, among other things, meant that the polls could stay open
for four days. Similar to the apportionment in the House of Delegates,
each county could elect four Convention delegates, while Annapolis
and Baltimore could each elect two. Qualifications for voting for and
being elected to the lower house were the same for Convention dele-
gates. Convention delegates were required to be freemen, at least twenty-
one years old, and inhabitants of their county, town, or city for at least
a year. Perhaps anticipating a problem, the legislature provided that
Convention delegates elected from Baltimore Town must be resident
in the town, while Convention delegates from Baltimore County must
be resident in the county "out of the limits of Baltimore-town."
Competing candidates often differed over when amendments to the
Constitution should be adopted-before or after ratification. "A Mary-
lander" suggested that delegates should have a knowledge of "the his-
tories of ancient and modern nations." They should not have been
members of the legislature that called the Convention, nor should they
be state officeholders or federal office "expectants." Furthermore, del-
egates should never have "officially given an opinion, either for or against
the new constitution." "The delegates should be at liberty to act inde-
pendently, after hearing the arguments on both sides of the question"
(Baltimore Maryland Gazette, 4 January and 12 February 1788 [RCS:Md.,
154, 299-300]). "Civis" cautioned voters to choose "men of property,
character and abilities," many of whom had "retired from public em-
ployment since the conclusion of the war." At "this all-important crisis"
these men would be willing to "step forth, with a true patriotic ardour,
and snatch their dear country from the dreadful and devouring jaws
of anarchy and ruin." Advocates of paper money and other debtor
legislation, "who may expect to escape in the general ruin of the coun-
try," should especially be avoided. "Let, therefore, your choice be of
men interested in the welfare of America, from the ties of property,
consanguinity and natural affection; and whose happiness or misery is
543


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