An Excellent New Resource on the 1867 Maryland Constitutional Convention
Baltimore attorney John J. Connolly, a prolific writer, has self-published an invaluable volume, Republican Press at a Democratic Convention: Reports of the 1867 Maryland Constitutional Convention.
Connolly, who annotates the 1867 reports published by the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, begins with this commentary:
The convention that produced Maryland’s current constitution formally opened when a state judge under federal indictment for civil rights violations issued the oath of office to a former slave-holder who had once been imprisoned for disloyalty to the United States. One could argue that the convention went downhill from there, and at times it surely did, but like everything else in Civil War-era Maryland, the full story is complicated. The judge who issued the oath, Daniel R. Magruder, never left the bench and both federal indictments against him were dropped. The president of the convention who took the oath, Eastern Shoreman Richard Bennett Carmichael, presided over the convention with relative equanimity and delivered an incisive and magnanimous speech at the convention’s close. The 118 white men who assembled in Annapolis in the summer of 1867, all members of the Southern-leaning Democratic party, were for the most part serious, studious, and experienced leaders, and all believed in the righteousness of their endeavor. By today’s standards, however, and more important by the standards of an 1867 Republican newspaper, the delegates said and did some horrible things. The leading Republican newspaper in 1867 Maryland was the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, and this volume is the story of the convention from its perspective.