Maryland. General Assembly. House of Delegates. Co.

Report of the Committee on Federal Relations upon the Messages of the Governor, in Regard to the Arbitrary Proceedings of the United States Authorities, and the Governor's Correspondence with the United State Government. (Volume 1861) online

. (page 1 of 1)
Online LibraryMaryland. General Assembly. House of Delegates. CoReport of the Committee on Federal Relations upon the Messages of the Governor, in Regard to the Arbitrary Proceedings of the United States Authorities, and the Governor's Correspondence with the United State Government. (Volume 1861) → online text (page 1 of 1)
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. [Document H.]


June 11, 1861.
Bead, and 2000 copies ordered to be printed.

By order, M. Y. KIDD, Chief Clerk.














To the Honorable,

the Speaker of the House of Delegates:

The committee on Federal Relations, to whom were re-
ferred the two communications from His Excellency, the Gov-
ernor, bearing date the 5th inst., having duly considered the
same, respectfully ask leave to make the following report:

In one of the messages in question, the Governor informs
the House, in reply to its respectful enquiry, that '^as a mat-
rer of course" he has taken no action "to protect the citizens
of the State, in their persons and property," from illegal ar-
rest, outrage and injury, on the part of the military authori-
ties of the Federal Government now exercising forcible juris-
diction over our people; for the reason that ho has "received
no official information of the arrest spoken of" in the order
of the House, "nor has any complaint or demand for his in-
terference been made to him, by any person claiming to have
been arrested in the manner alleged" therein. As the House
is unhappily aware, the outrages referred to are of a charac-
ter so flagrant and notorious, as to have attracted the atten-
tion and comment of the whole press of tlie State and coun-
try, and to have filled Avith the deepest indignation and anx-
iety, not only the reflecting ]}eo]jle of Maryland, but all good
citizens, throughout the land, who are not willing to sacrifice
its free institutions, forever, to the mad excitements and usur-
pations of the hour. It is safe to say that the Governor can-
not have opened a newspaper, nor have taken part in a pub-
lic conversation, since the adjournment of the General As-
sembly, last month, without having had his attention attrac-
ted to the engrossing subject which he now officially ignores.


in the case of Mr. John Merryman, a respected fellow-citi-
zen of the Governor and of ourselves, an oj^en conflict of
authority has taken place between the highest judicial func-
tionary of the Kepublic, upon the one hand, — asserting and
maintaining, as became him, the freedom of the citizen and
the supremacy of the laws and Constitution — and the Federal
Executive, upon the other hand, assuming a sovereign dis-
cretion and prerogative to over-ride the Constitution and
tread the laws beneath his feet. No case of such absorbing
interest has excited the public mind, since the Union was es-
tablished — none is likely to occupy so prominent a place in
the judicial annals of the country, as a monument of public
liberty assaulted, and manfully, though unsuccessfully, de-
fended. Mr. Merryman still lies a prisoner at Fort McHen-
ry, the victim of military lawlessness and arbitrary power- —
the great remedial writ of habeas corpus, and all the guaran-
ties of freedom which it embodies, having been stricken
down, at one blow, for his oppression. Of facts so startling
and so universally known — perhaps the most conspicuous of
that series of extraordinary events which have crowded into
a few short weeks, more than the history of half an ordinary
century — your committee cannot sufficiently express their as-
tonishment that the Governor of the State in the midst of
which they have occurred, should require "official informa-
tion," to suggest the discliargc of his imperative official du-
ties in the premises. Of such facts the simple occurrence is
notice to all the world — notice, which amounts to knowledge,
where men honestly desire to know — notice which at all events
makes enquiry an official obligation, wherever a proper sense
of such obligation exists. The members of the House cannot
forget — for it is matter, not only of public notoriety, but of
official record — how diligently, a little while ago, his Excel-
lency gave ear to every Avhispercd rumor of conspiracies, and
plots, and plans, to seize upon the National Ca])itol and lay
violent hands upon high functionaries of the Government.
How little he was then disposed to stickle for "^official" or
any other sort of legitimate "information," his own recorded
testimony before the Congressional Committee of Enquiry
will sufficiently certify. How zealously and with what solici-
tude he dedicated his talents and valuable time to the accu-
mulation and encouragement of the empty gossip referred to,
and how much undeserved reproach he brought upon the
State and her commercial metropolis, by the importance
Avhich his official endorsement conferred on it, are matters
too recent to have escaped any one's memory. So far as this
committee are aware, there was then no "official complaint
or demand for" his Excellency's "interference," from any

quarter. It might, therefore, in the opinion of the commit-
tee, have been fairly presumed, and the House, in adopting
its order of June 5th, had not only the manifest right, but
was bound to presume, that occurrences so momentous to the
people of Maryland, as the suspension of the Jiaheas r-orpvft
and the substitution of military authority for a government
of laws, had attracted the Governor's otHcial attention, and
had suggested to him the propriety and obligation of some
offiicial interposition on his part. Indeed the fact that his
Excellency's own official proclamation of May loth, calling-
out a portion of the militia of theState, in quasi obedience to the
demand of the Federal Executive, and in gross violation of
the policy announced by this General Assembly, for the 8tate
of Maryland, but the day before — w^as contemptuously "coun-
termanded," the day after, without more ado, through the
newspapers, by a recuiting captain of the U. S. army — might
of itself have been deemed sufficient to furnish to his Excel-
lency a reasonable official intimation, that the institutions
and established government of the State were not exactly in
their normal condition. When it is further considered, how-
ever, that the Governor himself was personally present, as
this whole Honorable body is aware, when a venerable and
prominent citizen, a useful and respected member of this
House, proceeding to his home from the discharge of his oi-
licial duties here, was arrested by military force, without color
of law^ful authority, and liurried into illegal imprisonment
within the walls of a Federal fortress, your committee are
at a loss to conceive the extent of the evidence which his Ex-
cellency might require, to give him "official information" of
any fact wdiatsocver. Tliey cannot hope that any demonstra-
tion which it is in the power of this House to furnish, could
add strength to the testimony of his Excellency's own bodily
senses. But believing that no government is faithful to its
trusts, Avhich does not feel and resent the oppression of a single
and the himiblest citizen, as a Avrong done to the State and to
every man within its borders; and believing too, that the
Executive of Maryland, clothed Avitli all necessary powers, '
and bound by his oath "to take care tliat the laws be faith-
fully executed,'' is of all others (and especially in the absence
of the Legislature) the person upon whom the duty of vindi-
tingtheindependenceof the commonwealth and the supremacy
of its laws, to the best of his ability, devolves; your commit-
tee are constrained to regard the silence and inaction of the
Governor, under the circumstances in question, as a grave
and inexplicable dereliction of public duty.

In his other message, the Governor responds to the thrice-
repeated and respectful solicitation of this honorable body,


that he would be pleased to furnish it with copies of his cor-
respondence, since the 4th of March last, with officers of the
-b'ederal Government. As the House will remember, his Ex-
cellency was respectfully requested in its last order of June
5th, to communicate his reasons for withholding such corres-
pondence, should he deicline to transmit it. His response is
as follows; neither more nor less:

"I have already furnished your honorable body with cop-
ies of all correspondence between myself and officers of the
general government which I deem it necessary to lay before
you." The Committee are com]3elled to presume, that in his
elevated and honorable position, rendering doubly obligatory,
in official intercourse, the observance of those courtesies
which are an instinct among private gentlemen, his Excel-
lency could not have so far forgotten himself, as to have used
the curt language which has been quoted, with any purpose
of intentional disrespect. They therefore pass, without fur-
ther comment, to a consideration of the substance of the mes-

The 28th section of the III. Article of the Constitution ex- ,
pressly provides, that the House of Delegates "may call for
all jjublic or official papers and records, and send for persons
whom they may judge necessary, in the course of their en-
quiries concerning affairs relating to the public interest."
If, in response to such a call, the Grovernor or any other pub-
lic officer can set up his judgment, as to the propriety of
the requisition, against the judgment of the House, and can
refuse to obey the call, because lie does not "deem it neces-
sary" to furnish, what the House "may judge necessary" to
demand, it is ((uitc obvious that the constitutioruil provision
just quoted is a nullity, and the powers of the House, as '''the
grand inquest of the State," are altogether at an end. This
honorable body cannot, of course, tolerate, from any quarter,
so manifest an insubordination to its plain constitutional
authority, and the undersigned accordingly recommend the
appointment of a special committee to inspect the Executive
records in the custody of the Secretary of State, or elsewhere,
with power to institute such enquiries, and send for such j)er-
sons and papers, as may be necessary, to place the House in
possession of all needful information, in regard to the official
relations between the general government and the Executive
of the State since the 4th of March last, or since the com-
mencement of our unhappy national troubles. The under-
signed assume, from the tenor of the Governor's message,
that such correspondence as this House has enquired for, has
in fact taken place. Were it otherwise, his Excellency would
of course have so stated, and would not have intimated the

contrary, for the sakeof raakingj what, in such case, would be
a purely gratuitous issue, with the legislative department of
the government. Should such correspondence have been had,
the Executive records will of course disclose it, if, as your
committee are bound to suppose, the constitutional duty of
recording ''all official acts and proceedings" has been faith-
fully discharged.

Your committee recommend the adoption of the following
order and resolutions in conformity with the views above ex-


G. w. aoLDSBOROuan,


Ordered, That a committee of three be apjjointed by the
Speaker, with instructions to examine the Executive records
and call for such persons and papers as they may deem neces-
sary, to enable them to ascertain and report to the House,
without delay, the precise character of the relations estab-
lished by the Executive of this State with the federal govern-
ment since the commencement of our existing national

Whereas, RoSkS Winaus, a member of the House of Dele-
gates of Maryland, from the city of Baltimore, on his way
to his home from tlie discharge of his official duties, on the
14th of May last, was arbitrarily and illegally arrested, on a
public highway, in the presence of the Governor of this State,
by an armed force under the orders of the Federal Govern-
ment, and was forcibly imprisoned and held in custody, there-
after, at Annapolis and Fort McHenry, without color of law-
ful process or right, by the command and at the arbitrary
will and pleasure of the President of the United States; and

WhbreaS;, sundry other citizens of Maryland have been
unlawfully dealt with, in the same despotic and oppressive
manner, by the same usurped authority, and some of them
have in fact been removed by force beyond the limits of the
State of Maryland and the jurisdiction of her tribunals, in
utter violation of their rights, as citizens, and of the rights of
the State, as a member of the Federal Union: and

Whereas, the unconstitutional and arbitrary procee-
dings of the Federal Executive, have not been confined to the
violation of the personal rights and liberties of the citizens
of Maryland, but have been extended into every department of
oppreissive illegality, so that the property of no mac ia safe;


the sanctity of no dwelling is respected; and the sacredness of
private correspondence no longer exists; and

Whereas, the Senate and House of Delegates of Maryland,
recognizing the obligation ol the fitate, as far as in her lies,
to protect and defend her people against usurped and arbi-
trary power — however difficult the fulfillment of that high
obligation may be rendered by disastrous circumstances — feel
it due to her dignity and independence, that history should
not record the overthrow of public freedom, for an instant,
within her borders, without recording, likewise, the indig-
nant expression of her resentment and remonstrance; now
therefore be it

Resolved, That the Senate and House of Delegates of
Maryland, in the name and oh behalf of the good people
of the State, do accordingly register this their earnest
and unqualified protest against the oppressive and tyran-
nical assertion and exercise of military jurisdiction, with-
in the limits of Maryland, over the persons and proper-
ty of her citizens, by the Government of the United States,
and do solemnly declare the same to be subversive of the most
sacred guaranties of the Constitution and in flagrant viola-
tion of the fundamental and most cherished principles of
American free government.

Resolved, further , That these resolutions be communicated,
by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House,
to the Hon. James Alfred Pearce and the Hon. Anthonv
Kennedy, Senators of Maryland in the Senate of the United
States, with the request that they present the same to the
Senate, to be recorded among its proceedings, in vindica-
tion of the right and in perpetual memory of the solemn
remonstrance of this State against the manifold usurpations
and oppressions of the Federal Government.




Online LibraryMaryland. General Assembly. House of Delegates. CoReport of the Committee on Federal Relations upon the Messages of the Governor, in Regard to the Arbitrary Proceedings of the United States Authorities, and the Governor's Correspondence with the United State Government. (Volume 1861) → online text (page 1 of 1)