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Md. could rescind 1861 vote to protect slavery

Friday - 1/31/2014, 1:36pm  ET

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Several months before the U.S. Civil War, Maryland and three other states voted for a constitutional amendment protecting their right to allow slavery.

Sen. Brian Frosh is sponsoring a Senate joint resolution this session to rescind Maryland's vote. The resolution notes that the 13th Amendment and the Civil War's end have rendered the Corwin amendment moot.

At a hearing Thursday, the Montgomery County Democrat urged Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee colleagues to support the measure.

It would be primarily a symbolic gesture, though the amendment is sometimes called the "ghost amendment" because it had no deadline for ratification. In theory, it could still raise constitutional questions if 35 more states ratified it.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Corwin of Ohio proposed the amendment in 1861 to appease Southern states so they wouldn't secede.

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