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THE SUN'S REPORTS OF CONVENTION WRITTEN
BY FRANK A. RICHARDSON
The announcement in The Sun that this book was about to be printed resulted in the disclosure that the reporter of The Sun who wrote the accounts of the convention was Frank A. Richardson, probably the only person now living who has personal knowledge of its deliberations. Mr. Richardson, before he retired some years ago, was acknowledged to be one of the best newspaper men in the country. For 35 years Washington correspondent of The Sun, he was the personal and political friend of many of the notable figures in recent history, and his articles in The Sun, signed “F. A. R.,” were widely read. The information that Mr. Richardson reported the convention was contained in the following letter to The Sun:
To the Editor of The Sun-Sir: The interesting article of "H. S. S." on the Maryland Constitutional Convention of 1867, in The Sun of this date. brings back to me a flood of recollections. The anonymous reporter of whom he speaks was your humble servant. I was the representative in Washington of the Baltimore Sun at that time. As Congress was not in session, I was requested by the proprietors of The Sun to go to Annapolis to report the proceedings of the constitutional convention. This work I did from the first to the last day of its session, continuing from May to August.
The membership of that convention was solidly Democratic, It was a choice body of men. I am quite sure that in all the history of the State of Maryland there was never an assembly under its authority that was more representative of the culture, the wisdom, the refinement of the Commonwealth. I was then, as now, accustomed to the debates in Congress, and I tell you these men of Maryland did not suffer by comparison.
Very few, if any, of these men are alive today, but my memory retains a vivid impression of the grace of oratory and pause of logic possessed by many of them. I remember that so far as possible in the limits of newspaper reporting my endeavor was always to give these men a fair showing. There was at one time a proposition to have an official reporter for the convention. It was discussed for several days and finally laid on the table. The greatest influence promoting this action emanated from the late Judge Albert Ritchie, the father of the present Governor of Maryland, and a memher from the city of Baltimore. He said the convention would not be justified in putting the State to the heavy expense of an official reporter that the reporter of the Baltimore Sun gave an accurate account of everything that was worthy of record. Perhaps I should ask pardon for mentioning this.
The visit of Andrew Johnson and his reception by the convention was intensely dramatic. President Johnson was in the midst of his conflict with Congress over the brutal oppression of the South and the trampling on popular rights and liberties. There were in that convention men who had been put in prison for opinion's sake, men who had been dispoiled of their possessions and for years had ben denied all political rights. The president of the convention had been dragked from the bench and knocked senseless with the butt end of a pistol by Federal officials.
So you may imagine how enthusiastic they were over a President who was trying to bring back the happier days of the Republic. Judge Carmichael, the president of the convention, with a lively sense of his own wrongs, welcomed the President of the United States with a voice deep with emotion. President Johnson responded in a similar vein, serious and sincere.
The times were perilous, it was not a scene for bravos and handclapping. It was solemn and earnest and thrilled all who were present. F. A. R.
Washington, D. C., May 12, 1923.
It is a coincidence that Frank R. Kent, one of the editors of The Sun, who assisted in making the files of the paper available for this work, is a nephew of Mr. Richardson.
INJUNCTION PROCEEDINGS AGAINST
VOTE ON CONVENTION
It is not generally known that the opponents of the call for a Constitutional Convention in 1867, despairing of victory at the polls, filed proceedings in Baltimore City in the hope of preventing the election on the question of holding a convention. The vote was scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, 1867. The suit was filed in the Superior Court (Judge Martin) on Saturday, March 30, 1867, against the Sheriff and Police Commissioners.
The Sun gave the following account of the suit:
The bill was filed by Alexander M. Rogers, Benjamin Deford, John Clark, Wm. Kennedy and Johns Hopkins, residents of Baltimore, duly qualified voters under the Constitution and laws of this State, at all elections, and taxpayers to the fisc of this State, two or more of whom have taken the oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of this State, &c. Said application represents that a certain pretended law has been filed in the Court of Appeals, on the 21st and 22d of March, 1867, &c., providing among other things for the holding of a certain general election in this State, whereat “the citizens of the State shall vote for and against the call of a convention to frame a new constitution and form of government for this State" &c. [The convention act is here set forth.]
And that there has also been filed in the office of said Court of Appeals a certain other pretended law, by way of amendment to the pretended law aforegoing, which other and amendatory law is as follows: [Here the law is not set forth.]
The bill then recites the advertisement of Wm. Thomson, sheriff of Baltimore City, giving notice of an election to be held on Wednesday, April 10th next. And that Lefevre Jarrett, Jas. E. Carr and Wm. H. B. Fusselbaugh, being Commissioners of the Board of Police of Baltimore City, have, under color of their said office, &c., undertaken and combined, conspired, confederated and agreed together and with divers persons (to these orators as yet unknown) to appoint certain persons (to your orators unknown) to be judges and clerks of election at and for the general election in this State, and are now doing divers acts and things towards and for the purpose of the holding of the said election, &c. And your orators further charge that the said pretended law and the amendment thereto, passed by the General Assembly of this State, and hereinbefore set forth, are in manifest violation of the now constitution of this State and of the laws of the same, to wit, of the 45th article of the Declaration of Rights, wherein the “people of the State of Maryland, for the sure foundation and more permanent security of the existing Constitution of this State,” declare as follows: “That the Legislature shall pass no law providing for an alteration, change or abolishment of this constitution, meaning the constitution whereunto said declaration is prefixed, except in the manner therein prescribed and directed, and of the 11th article of said constitution, entitled “Amendments of the constitution, sections 2 and 3."
[Here sections 2 and 3, &c., of article 11 of the constitution are quoted.]
The bill further alleges that the said violation is especially clear and patent in these respects. First, the said pretended law (and the amendment thereto) prescribes that the citizens of this State shall vote on the question of a call of a convention to frame a new constitution and form of government on the second Wednesday of April, in the current year, whereas the Constitution of this State provides that the citizens shall vote in that behalf only at the re ar biennial election for members of the General Assembly next following the passage of a law by two-thirds of each branch of the General Assembly providing for so voting. Secondly, said pretended law (with the amendments thereto) prescribes that at the said self same election, on the second Wednesday of April, the citizens qualified to vote shall vote for and elect delegates to the said convention; whereas the Constitution provides that if a majority of all the electors voting at the regular biennial election aforesaid shall have voted "for a convention," then the General Assembly shall at their next session provide by law for calling the said convention. The memorial