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Index to the Debates of the Constitutional Convention of Maryland, 1967-1968
Volume 85, Page 5   View pdf image (33K)
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Introduction/5

should be called, and a companion bill that provided that if the vote on calling a
convention were affirmative the convention would convene in Annapolis on 12 Sep-
tember 1967. Both bills passed the 1966 session of the General Assembly and were
signed into law by Governor Tawes.

The referendum on the question of calling a constitutional convention, held 13
September 1966, was approved overwhelmingly by the electorate, with 160,280 in
favor and just 31,680 opposed. With this mandate from the voters of Maryland, the
Constitutional Convention Commission drafted enabling legislation, passed by the
General Assembly in 1967, prescribing the procedures for assembling the conven-
tion. The enabling act provided for 142 delegates, a number equal to the combined
representation in each house of the General Assembly, to be elected at a special poll
on 13 June 1967. These delegates were to meet in the State House on 12 September
1967 and conclude their work within ninety days, or by 12 December, unless a ma-
jority of the delegates concluded that a further 30 days were required. In no case
could the deliberations of the convention extend beyond 12 January 1968.

With the state now committed to a constitutional convention that would com-
pletely rewrite Maryland's constitution, persons of all persuasions and representa-
tives of every special interest avidly sought election to the convention. Some 700 can-
didates vied for the 142 available seats at the special election in June. Middle-class,
middle-aged white males generally prevailed at the polls, but a handful of women
and five blacks were among the successful candidates. For some delegates, election
to the Constitutional Convention represented the culmination of decades of public
service; for others, including one who celebrated his twenty-second birthday during
the convention, election served to launch active and continuing political careers.4

Although Maryland had not written a constitution in a hundred years, the
delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1967-1968 had a wealth of back-
ground material and experience to draw upon. Hawaii and Alaska had only recently
written their first state constitutions, and several other states had engaged in full-
scale constitutional revisions within the past few years. Voters of the State of New
York, in fact, provided a sobering reminder of the ultimate authority of the elec-
torate by rejecting a proposed new state constitution even as the Maryland Constitu-
tional Convention met. More important, the Constitutional Convention Commis-
sion had exhaustively examined virtually every conceivable constitutional topic,
preparing detailed reports and study documents. A special four-day orientation ses-
sion for newly elected delegates in late June, followed by an organizational session in
July, further paved the way for a Convention that would waste little time in getting
down to business.

It is doubtful that many of the delegates who gathered in the State House in An-
napolis on 12 September 1967 believed that their work would be in vain, that the
people would fail to ratify what they drafted at the special ratification election the
following spring. Their task was simply too important, and the deficiencies of the
existing constitution too generally recognized. Furthermore, despite a change in ad-
ministrations in the state, the convention continued to enjoy the support of the chief

4 The youngest delegate to the Constitutional Convention was Donald P. Hutchinson of Baltimore Coun-
ty, who was elected at the age of twenty-one and celebrated his birthday during the Convention on 31
December. He later served in the House of Delegates and as county executive of Baltimore County.



 
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Index to the Debates of the Constitutional Convention of Maryland, 1967-1968
Volume 85, Page 5   View pdf image (33K)
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