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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774
Volume 64, Preface 21   View pdf image (33K)
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Introduction. xxi

were omissions in the journal: the Lower House answered that the absence
of the Council clerk's salary was no omission and invited the Upper House,
if it had any proposal to settle the question, to send it in the form of a message.
The Upper House gave in. It proposed that if the disputed salary were in-
cluded in this journal, it would agree that no future demand for it should be
made (pp. 79-80).

For the vigorous old controversy over the fees of officers the Assembly
found no solution. In the beginning of the province, the Proprietary had fixed
by proclamation the fees incident to the offices which he had an undoubted
right to create, but the Assembly soon began to grumble, and, in 1676 they
asked for and got a schedule of the fees he had authorized, and enacted it
into law. In 1719 the Lower House drew up a schedule of fees, to which the
Upper House after conference, agreed, and it became law despite the oppo-
sition of the Proprietary, who made but did not carry out a threat of disallow-
ance (Archives, XXXIII passim). After the expiry of this act, things got
worse and worse. The Proprietary in 1733 issued a proclamation to regulate
fees, the proclamation that figured so large in the debate forty years later
(Archives, XXVIII, 31-43). The two houses were unable to agree on a law,
so that in fact the proclamation governed the matter until 1747. The great
inspection law of that year, which by successive renewals lasted until 1770,
joined to the inspection of tobacco the cognate regulation of officers fees, and
made what amounted to a cut of twenty per cent in the fees set in 1733
(Archives, XLIV, 565, 630-636). When this law was about to expire, the
Lower House, convinced that fees were now too large and that many office-
holders were exacting fees still higher, made several investigations into the
amounts received by the richest officers. As a result they drew up a new and
lower table of fees (Archives, LXII, pp. 235-350). The Upper House, asked
to accept a lowering of the fees to be paid them—most of the Upper House
were also holders of the more lucrative offices—, refused to agree. The
Assembly was prorogued without action and a week later, the Governor issued
a proclamation on fees. He ordered that no officer should charge any higher
fees than those allowed in the expired act (Archives, LXIII, 109-110, 227;
Maryland Gazette, December 13, 1770), but of course this was in effect to
order them to keep on collecting fees for which the law had expired and which
the Assembly had refused to renew. It was for doing just this that the Lower
House had thrown William Steuart into the Annapolis jail (Archives, LXII,
304-305). For months an animated and acid debate went on, in the Maryland
Gazette and in the Assembly, but nothing was done to settle the question. In
the November 1773 session, when tobacco inspection and fees were separated,
a bill to regulate fees was introduced (p. 35) and passed by the Lower House,
and the Upper House once more turned it down (p. 116). The same thing
happened in the March-April 1774 session, and Maryland went into the Revo-
lution with the matter still unsettled. The dispute was, of course, not in the
least over how much the fees should be, but over who should determine that
amount. With little exception officers collected the fees set forth in the act
expiring in 1770, the fees that the Governor had authorized in his proclamation.


 

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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774
Volume 64, Preface 21   View pdf image (33K)
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