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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 (1)
11 (2015)

Introduction,   pp. xxi-lvi

Page xliv

been clouded by "local attachments and prejudices, and the avarice
and ambition of individuals," according to the Maryland legislature.
Were those prejudices and that ambition to "give way to the dictates
of a sound policy," one established on "the principles ofjustice," Mary-
land argued, all of the states would be better served. Maryland flattered
itself that the "apparent diversity of interests" might "soon vanish,"
providing the confederated states an opportunity to unify "on terms
mutually advantageous to all." In the absence of the war with Britain,
which had led some states to ratify "contrary to their own interests and
judgments," Maryland believed that local attachments would outweigh
the benefit of union, that the formerly acceding states "will consider
it as no longer binding," and that some of those states will take the
"first occasion" to assert their own prerogative in the interest of "se-
curing their independence."56
Maryland considered Virginia's designs obvious. In its view, the states
that were "ambitiously grasping at territories" would vastly enrich them-
selves through the sale of western lands and then lord it over their
neighbors, perhaps "by open force," but more likely through other
states' "depopulation" and "impoverishment." Maryland was confident
in the justice of its cause. By opposing western land claims, Maryland
saw itself as ensuring the mutuality and perpetuity of the Confedera-
tion. Claims to western lands, like those of Virginia and Massachusetts,
were "injurious to more than one half, if not to the whole of the United
States." Such claims had to be supported "by the clearest evidence" of
justice. Maryland had heard no such arguments from claimants. The
Maryland legislature also had concerns that any states newly formed
out of western lands not held by Congress might become unduly influ-
enced by their parent states, which might create hierarchies of gover-
nance, confederacies and sub-confederacies, that would perhaps defeat
"the letter and spirit of the proposed confederation." Maryland's stron-
gest argument, and one of its original ones, for pressing the issue of
western lands was that territory "wrested" from the British through
shared military action-"by the blood and treasure of the thirteen
states"-was rightly "common property" and should, therefore, "be
parcelled out by Congress into free, convenient and independent gov-
ernments" as Congress saw fit. Maryland had considered the matter
"dispassionately" and "coolly" and instructed its delegates not to ratify
until "an article or articles" ceding western lands to Congress had been
added to the proposed plan of government. Maryland's instructions,
entered into the journals of Congress, was a boon to its position and
an important remonstrance against Virginia and other states' contin-
ued case for their charter prerogatives.57

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