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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 xlv

INTRODUCTION
Maryland and Virginia remained in a contest of wills over the ques-
tion of western lands until the end of 1780. The threat of a British
invasion and the pressure to unify in the interest of securing French
aid finally led the Maryland legislature to reconsider its longstanding
posture toward the Articles. On 29 November 1780, a joint committee
of Maryland's two houses was appointed to draft instructions to the
state's congressional delegates. Within two months, on 27January 1781,
the House of Delegates passed a bill allowing Maryland's congressional
delegation to ratify the Articles. On the following day, the Senate re-
jected the House bill. In response to the rejection, the House drafted
a conciliatory message urging the Senate's approval. The message cited
the "utility" of ratifying the Articles. According to the House of Dele-
gates, the "advantages and necessity" of a united confederacy was "ob-
vious" at the time. The war was in the front of everyone's mind. While
the Senate did not inform the House of its rationale for refusing to
pass the bill, the House could only presume that the chief difficulty
was still the issue of western lands. The House maintained the justice
of Maryland's perennial petition for Congress to have sole authority
over western lands, but the time had come for the state to put aside
its point, even if it was just:
The present appears to us to be a seasonable time to shew, that as
our claim was better founded in justice than the exclusive claims
of others, having supported it with firmness till a disposition is
shewn of candidly considering it, we chuse rather to rely on the
justice of the confederated states, than by an over perseverance
incur the censure of obstinacy.58
According to the House of Delegates, Congress' powers would be
settled on "a known and permanent basis" with Maryland's decision
to ratify the Articles. The confederated states' "confidence and satis-
faction" would also increase. Of principal importance, Maryland's rat-
ification would "gratify the wish of our illustrious ally" (i.e., France)
and confirm the United States, in the eyes of Britain and the rest of
Europe, "as one firm cemented body." The Senate agreed to the act
of ratification four days later, on 2 February. The state forwarded its
new instructions to delegates in Congress, grounding the legislature's
decision in the importance of union and the need for French military
aid against British encroachments in the Chesapeake.59
On 12 February 1781, representing the Maryland delegation, Daniel
Carroll, Maryland planter and merchant and cousin of Charles Carroll
of Carrollton, "laid before Congress" a copy of the act ratifying the
Articles. Daniel Carroll and John Hanson, a Maryland merchant and
XIV


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