Saturday, February 8, 2014

Restricting Who Can Vote is Nothing New - 1814

"Free-trade and no impressment. "

               We rejoice to find, that the public nerve of Maryland is yet sensitive. — We rejoice to find, that the voice of public indignation rings loud against the proposition, which we noticed yesterday. A few, to be sure, urge that as the monster was strangled so soon; though can ought to record its obituary. But the general voice more correctly cries aloud for an exposure of the infamy of its parents. But, how can we expose it more fully, friends, and to state the fact. This we shall continue to do— Yes; a Federalist proposed to disenfranchise the militiamen of Maryland; if they dared defend their country. "Tell it in gas!  Publish it in the streets of Askelon!"[2]

               But, we renew this subject, for the purpose of proving to the people, that it is not narrowly the soldier, in defense of the state, that the Federalists would make a slave of; but, everyone, who did not come up to their standard of merit, viz. property. The intelligent and sensible of those states, which retain property qualifications, it is believed, at this day, generally admit their futility. It seems now generally conceded, that and the protection of life, liberty and property is the object of civil government; it is very absurd to say, that those who have not the last, shall have no voice in choosing those, who are to protect the two first, far more important as they are. In the words of a good writer," it seems at length to be pretty generally admitted, that the love of country, and the practice of virtue, are not confined to the men of property; that patriotism and political rectitude are as common among the laboring poor, as among the drowsy rich."  Paulding, Williams and Van Wert, where of the class of incorruptible poor; Arnold and Hutchinson, were rich and traitors to their country. If human happiness be the legitimate aim and in the government, and if man, not in animate, matter not property, B it's true object; then it follows, that it is from men, not from property, that the general will or the government principle is to be collected."

               In Maryland, however, there are few, if any, of either party, who openly denied the correctness of [?] reasoning. But, which party have [sic] acted in conformity to it?

               In 1800, the delegates were Democratic, and the Senate federal. The Democrats proposed an abolition of property qualification. The federal Senate opposed it, and instead of it, attempted to hamper the right of suffrage still more; by requiring not merely a property qualification, but an assessment on the assessor's books. In 1801 and 1802, the Democrats obtain the ascendancy in both branches, and established universal suffrage by ballot, on the overthrow of all property qualifications. Thus, not only rationally extending the right to all, who were to live under the laws; but protecting by the ballot, from that chance which might occur of browbeating the poor man, by the purse-proud dictator.[3]

               But, with their present majority, fraudulently and infamously obtained, by cheating the people of Allegany [County,] you see citizens of Maryland, the tories [sic] are playing their old game. True, they shrunk from the trial. But they showed to you, what they would do, if they dared. They thrust forward the cloven-foot, though they were anxious afterwards took drawback, and height.[4] —  There cannot be a shadow of doubt, that the men, who would even think of depriving the militia man, in the service of his state and country, of his rights as a voter, wood, if they dared, gladly send ballot boxes on board Cockburn's fleet; and take the votes of men actually in his Majesty's service, to choose those, who wished to aid it.[5]


[1] DISENFRANCHISE:  to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially :  to deprive of the right to vote. © 2014 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

[2] "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph." 2 Samuel 1:20  Readers in 1814 would have instantly made the connection.

[3] Baltimore Patriot & Evening Advertiser.; Date: 02-08-1814; Volume: 3; Issue: 32; Page: [2]; Location: Baltimore, Maryland.

Transcribed by John Peter Thompson, February 8th, 2014.

[4] Religious reference to Satan (the Devil in the Christian Bible; therefore, Evil) that would have been instantly known to all readers in 1814.

[5] Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet GCB   22 April 1772 – 19 August 1853) was a Royal Navy officer. As a captain he was present at the battle of Cape St Vincent in February 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars and commanded the naval support at the reduction of Martinique in February 1809 during the Napoleonic Wars. He also directed the capture and burning of Washington on 24 August 1814 as an advisor to Major General Robert Ross during the War of 1812. He went on to be First Naval Lord and in that capacity sought to improve the standards of gunnery in the fleet, forming a gunnery school at Portsmouth; later he ensured that the Navy had latest steam and screw technology and put emphasis of the ability to manage seamen without the need to resort to physical punishment. {Wikipedia:,_10th_Baronet]  

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