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THE Compiler, unlike many who have engaged in similar undertakings, cannot consider his production of sufficient consequence to authorize the insertion of a history of its rise and progress. The Laws of Maryland concerning Insolvency, and the Decisions pronounced upon the various cases embraced under that class, by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Appellate Court of Maryland, are interspersed throughout twenty or thirty volumes, recourse to which is at all times inconvenient, and in many instances, impracticable at the moment it becomes requisite. A Compendium, embracing all those Laws and Decisions, it was thought, would, therefore, prove acceptable, not to the Profession only, but also to the rest of the community, a very great part of whom have not ready access to those volumes, even when disposed, to undergo the trouble necessarily attendant upon the investigation, or to incur the risk of misconstruing those Laws and Decisions, when found.
Besides, the mind is invariably more or less distracted by the fact of one's attention being directed to so many different books: whereas, by presenting the whole subject at one view, without any extraneous matter being permitted to intervené, a thorough acquaintance with that subject can be more speedily attained which, upon the principle that "time is money,” is no unimportant consideration.
So far, therefore, as this object shall be attained by means of the following compendium, the labour bestowed on it, will not be regretted; and so far will its claims upon public attention, be well tounded.
Unusual as is the manner in which the Index to the Insolvent Laws of Maryland is arranged, it will be found more conducive
to facility in becoming acquainted with those Laws, than the
Apologies for the inaccuracies, be they few or many, which
Baltimore, March 11, 1831..
INSOLVENT LAWS OF MARYLAND,
Index to the same, preceded by a Catalogue of those Laws.
“There are two capital faults in our law, with relation to civil debts-one is, that every man is presumed solvent, a presumption in innumerable cases, directly against truth. Therefore, the debtor is ordered, on a supposition of ability and fraud, to be coerced his liberty, until he makes payment. By this means, in all cases of civil insolvency, without a pardon from his creditor, he is to be imprisoned for life: and thus a miserable mistaken invention of artificial science, operates to change a civil into a criminal judgment, and to scourge misfortune or indiscretion with a punishment which the law does not inflict on the greatest crimes.
The next fault is, that the inflicting of that punishment, is not on the opinion of an equal, and public judge: but is referred to the arbitrary discretion of a private-nay, interested and irritated individual. He who formally is, and substantially ought to be the judge, is in reality, no more than ministerial, a mere executive instrument of a private man, who is at once judge and party. Every idea of judicial order, is subverted by this procedure .If the insolvency be no crime, why is it punished with arbitrary imprisonment? If it be a crime, why is it delivered into private hands, to pardon without discretion, or to punish without mercy, and without measure. [Burke's speech previous to the election.)
Such is the reasoning of Burke, upon this subject, and such, it is deemed, is the most appropriate preface to the following pages.
In the following pages, it is designed to offer First, a compilation of the various enactments, on the subject of insolvency, from the year 1805, to the year 1829, inclusive: to notice in each act the alterations that have been made therein, by subsequent provisions, as well as the instances, if any, in which a total repeal of any particular law has been made, and thus afford. a synopsis of the insolvent system of Maryland.
SECONDLY.-An index will be annexed, comprising such matter as could conveniently be embraced under a few general heads.
THIRDLY.—A summary of the decisions pronounced by the Appellate Court of Maryland, relative to those insolvent cases, which have, at varous times, been submitted to that tribunal, and lastly, a compendium of the decisions made in the Supreme Court of the Union, on such insolvent cases as involve questions of constitutional law, or are affected in any manner by the laws of the United States. The cases of these descriptions, are, it is true, limited in number: but the importance of the doctrines therein discussed and settled, seemed to justify the insertion of them in a compilation, such as that now offered.
Congress, in pursuance of the authority vested in them, by : 4th clause, Sth sec. of art. 1, of the constitution of the United States, passed an act entitled, can act to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the Union,” which was approved, and became a law, April 14th. 1800.-[See C. 173.] and was repealed on the 19th December, 1803.-[See C. 359, of laws U. S. of 1803.]
The law of Maryland, of 1805, C. 110, is considered the foundation of the Insolvent System of our state; a system, which although constructed gradually, and frequently altered, requires yet farther legislative improvement before it can be deemed complete in more than one of its branches.
It should be borne in mind by the reader, while perusing the following pages, that imprisonment of females for debt, was abolished, in Maryland, by the act of 1824, ch, 205.
A list of the general Insolvent Laws of Maryland. 1774, c. 28. Repealed by 1817, c. 183, sec. 4. 1805, c. 110. Considered as the foundation of the present insol
vent system. 1806, c. 98. Extending the benefit of the insolvent laws to two
years residents. 1807, c. 55. Špecifies what is meant by the term "undue pre
ference.” 1807, c. 150. Declares that the loss of 100 dollars at any one
time, by gaming, as mentioned in the act of 1805,
5 . c. 110, should have been sustained within three
years previous to application. 1808, c. 71. Explanatory of the 3d sec. 1805, dispenses, with
previous notice and assent of creditors, &c. 1809, c. 179. Authorizes the County Courts, and the several
Judges thereof, to act on insolvent cases during
the recess of court, so far as personal discharge. 1812, c. 77. Relates to deeds, assignments, &c. by insolvents, &c. 1814, c. 122. Concerns the continuance of petitioners, &c. their
withidrawal or dismissal, &c. 1816, c. 221. Establishes the mode of appointing the commis
sioners of insolvents, their power, &c. 1817, c. 183. Refers to debtors actually in confinement, fc. and
authorizes the Judges of the Orphan's Court to re: ceive and entertain applicants petitions, and to
grant personal discharges. 1819, c. 84. Relates to the commissioners: to writs of ca ad
respond: the power of commissioners to report un
favorable cases to Baltimore County Court, &c. 1820, c. 108. How Banking Co's. corporate bodies, &c. shall
act in certain cases, concerning their insolvent
debtors. 1820, c. 182. Relates to the commissioners of insolvents, &c. . 66 c. 186. Provides that the creditor shall support his insol
vent debtor while in prison; the mode, &c. 6 c. 194. Concerning trustees. 1821, c. 250, Relates to the commissioners, &c. 1822, c. 102. Unfavorable reports by commissioners, &c. The
rejected applicant may prosecute a 2d petition, &c. 1825, c. 122. The right of an applicant personally discharged,
to be free from arrest, &c. declared. 66 c. 205. Relates to applications by citizens of any other
state, for the benefit of the insolvent laws of Maryland, &c. &c. and to the commissioners, &c. cases of perjury in matters cognizable under the laws
relating to insolvents. 1826, c. 253. Repeals the 2d's of 1825, c. 205. 1827, c. 70. Appointment of trustees, &c, their duties in certain
cases, what is undue preference, with regard to
judgments confessed, &c. &c. &c. 1828, c. 63. Right of insolvent, who has obtained a personal or
final discharge, to be discharged from custody on · attachment, &c. for that purpose shall produce cer
tificate of discharge, &c. &c.