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Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1761-1769
Volume 32, Preface 9   View pdf image (33K)
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Preface. xiii

the fees were fixed by the Governor and Council or by the Proprietary
(who was in the Province in 1733) and published by proclamation.

In 1747 a tariff of fees was enacted by the Assembly, and continued
in force by revivals, the last of which was to expire in 1770.

In the latter year, when the question of fees arose, great friction,
even amounting to actual hostility, developed between the two Houses.
A joint committee agreed upon a new tariff, but the Upper House re-
jected it. The Lower House grew still more aggressive; imprisoned a
clerk of the Land Office who had charged the fees provided by the
old scale, sent a manifesto to the Governor in which they declared that
the Proprietary and Council had no right to regulate fees, and that the
people would forever resist " the usurpation of such a right." Further-
more, they struck a blow at the Upper House itself, declaring that that
body had " manifested an unreasonable attachment to the emoluments
of office, and evinced an unjustifiable design to force this branch of the
Legislature into a regulation of fees more corresponding to the schemes
of wealth and power which, it is to be much apprehended, are formed
by some of the great officers of this government, and which, if carried
into execution, will tend to the oppression of the people, and, in the end,
greatly endanger their liberties."

From a House in such a revolutionary temper, nothing could be

expected; and as no business could go on without legal fees, Governor
Eden, by advice of the Council, prorogued the Assembly, and by procla-
mation continued the old tariff of 1747.

When the Assembly convened the next year, the question again came
up, and the hostility now showed itself in an attack on the legality of the
proclamation, which the Lower House intimated was part of a scheme
to reduce the people " to a state of slavery." Of course they knew that
nothing of the kind was intended; but then as now, addresses to the
peopleŚand this address was meant for the peopleŚwould have but
little effect if the writers restricted themselves to saying what they
believed. To this demagogic address the Governor replied very tem-
perately, showing that some action of the sort was absolutely necessary,
under the circumstances, and was supported by precedent. If the two
Houses would not agree, and if all business was not to be brought to a
stand-still, there were but two alternatives: either for the Governor
and Council to frame an entirely new tariff, which of course would be
rejected, or to continue the old tariff under which the Province had been
living for twenty-three years. The reasonableness of his position was
so apparent, that in the heated discussions which followed scarcely any

 

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Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1761-1769
Volume 32, Preface 9   View pdf image (33K)
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