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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 321   View pdf image
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But it seemed to him that that was the proper
system to be adopted.
He expressed his surprise at the mode of attack
which had been introduced against his proposi-
tion. If a motion had been made to reconsider
the vote taken yesterday, he would have voted
for it—not because his views had undergone any
change, but because he was willing to see wheth-
er any proposition better than his own could be
brought forward.
Mr. S. then proceeded to vindicate his own
proposition, and to reply seriatim to the objec-
tions which had been urged against it.
Mr. SPENCER expressed his regret that the gen-
tleman from Washington, (Mr. Schley,) had offer-
ed his amendment to the 16th section, as amended
by the amendment of the gentleman from Caro-
line. He could vote for it as a distinct proposi-
tion, but not in its connection, because the effect
would be, that the Legislature before the codification
took place, would have to re-enact at much
trouble and expense many laws, and after the
codification took place, the same evil would con-
tinue. Between the gentleman from Washing-
ton and himself there was a difference of opinion,
as to the construction put on the amendment of
the gentleman from Caroline, by that gentleman
and the gentleman from Frederick, (Mr. Thomas.)
He asked the gentleman from Frederick, if he did
not find that though, in amending a law, it would
not be required that the whole law should be
re-enacted, as the whole of the testamentary sys-
tem, yet all the parts of the law which related to
the subject amended would have to be re-enact-
Mr. THOMAS declined making any further ex-
planation . If he was not understood by the House
he could not make himself more clear. He did
not decline to answer from any disrespect to the
gentleman. If he was opposed to him, he knew
how to respect an honest difference of opinion—
which it was not important to reconcile, as the
House might vote for different reasons. . He was
unwilling to take the floor too often.
Mr. SPENCER stated that he bad asked further
explanation, because he, and the gentleman from
Washington, (Mr. Schley,) understood the gen-
tleman from Frederick differently. They did
not comprehend the gentleman from Frederick
alike, on the point whether the amendment of a
part of any law rendered it necessary to re-enact
all the parti of the law applying to the subject,
or only a portion of a law.
Mr. THOMAS still declined to make any further
explanation of his views.
Mr. SCHLEY thought the opposition made to his
proposition by the gentleman from Queen Anne's
arose from a misunderstanding of its import. To
make its object more clear, he turned to the
codified laws of Missouri, and showed that the
laws were divided in chapters. If one of these
chapters was amended it was not necessary to
re-enact the whole law. By merely amending
the chapter and publishing it as amended, every
useful purpose was answered.
Mr. MERRICK stated that the fact that gentle-
men were unable to agree as to the meaning of

the amendment proved, the truth of what he had
before said, that the tendency of the amendment
was to make confusion worse confounded.
MB. BROWN wished the codification by the le-
gislature not to interfere with that under the
Mr. SCHLEY suggested that the gentleman
could move an amendment.
Mr. HARBINE stated, that on a previous day
he had said he would offer an amendment to the
section under consideration, so as to prevent the
operation of the amendment of the gentleman
from Caroline, (Mr. Stewart,) until after a codi-
fication of the laws. After consultation with
gentlemen of more experience, he had concluded
to waive that intention. It had been charged
that those voting against the proposition of that
gentleman were opposed to codification. This
was a great mistake. He was as much in favor
of it as any man, and did not believe that among
those who voted against that proposition, five
could be found who were hostile to it. His rea-
son for voting as he did, was because he did not
believe the Legislature competent to codify. It
was a great work, that could only be properly
performed by the most learned lawyers. That
was the conclusion arrived at by all other States
where the laws had been codified, and in no in-
stance had such work been left to the Legislature.
True, one precedent had been cited, in the State
of Louisiana. But when examined, that was no
precedent at all. There the laws had been first
codified by Mr. Livingston, one of the greatest
lawyers of his day, and it was only after that,
that the Legislature done what was proposed by
the amendment of the gentleman from Caroline.
Now let our laws be first codified and then ho
would cheerfully vote for such a proposition; ill-
deed, what he contended for all the lime, was lo
postpone the effect of that proposition until the
laws were codified, and then, but not until then,
would the case cited and our's, run parallel.
Not only was there no precedent cited, but among
the varied Constitutions of the several States, he
did not believe a single one could be found. And
why ? Because their sages and statesmen must
have supposed such a provision impolitic and
fraught with evil. We should accord to others
as much wisdom and as sincere a desire for the
public weal as we possess; and surely, but for the
evil consequences that wen) thought would ensue,
such a provision would have found a place in
more than one Constitution. Now, according to
the amendment, the Legislature were to codify—
for it amounts to that—until the persona appoint-
ed by the Legislature had reported a code and
the same had been adopted. This would take
several years. Mr. Livingston was engaged
three years in the great work for the State of
Louisiana, and it was said, that in the State of
New York, four years were already spent, and
the work was not yet completed. From these
cases, it would appear to every man who knew
the confused and chaotic condition of our legislation
from 1693 to the present lime, that four or
five years must elapse before those engaged for
the purpose could report the code. Now, during

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 321   View pdf image
 Jump to  

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