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Doc. 167.-Virginia peace resolutions.

In the Senate of Virginia, September ninth, 1863, Mr. Collier, of Petersburgh, submitted the following preamble and joint resolutions:

Whereas, the Constitution of the Federal Union of the late United States was established by the sovereign, separate action of the nine States by which it was first formed, and the number of the United States was afterward, from time to time, enlarged by the admission of other States separately; and, whereas, that Constitution failed to incorporate or indicate any method by which any one or more of the States might peaceably retire from the obligations of Federal duty imposed by it on each and every other State in the Union; and, whereas, it is consistent with the republican creed, on which the whole complex system is founded, that a majority of the States might peacefully disannul the compact as to any party to it; and, whereas, a conjunction in the Federal relations of the United States did arise in 1861, then culminated in a crisis, in which certain of the slaveholding States, by conventional action of their several sovereign people, in solemn form, declared and promulgated their desire and determination no longer to yield obedience to the Constitution and laws of that Federal Union, as authoritative over them, in that specific form; and, whereas, the executive branch of that Government, with the occasional sanction of the Federal Legislature, in the progress of belligerent events, has proceeded by force of arms to attempt to execute its laws within the disaffected States, without applying to the States remaining in the Union to ascertain whether they would agree that the disaffected States might depart in peace; and, whereas, these disaffected States were not, nor ever were, under any obligation to that General Government, except such as were self-imposed and explicitly defined in concert and comity with the other States, each being a contracting party with every other, in a compact to which there was and is no other party; and, whereas, the war waged on these States by that General Government, which is the creature of the States who armed it with power, deemed adequate to the common protection of them all, no less in their reserved rights than in their foreign relations — a war into which these States were thus precipitated — is yet being prosecuted with aspiring preeminence of craft and crime, although some of them, by large and earnest expressions of public or party opinion within their borders, have shown that they are constrained to contribute to its prosecution very much against their will, and to their own great detriment; and, whereas, any appropriate means, the timely use of which was omitted in the outset to prevent the war, is not only a proper resort in its progress, but is dictated and constrained to by all the sanctions of Christian civilization:

1. Resolved, therefore, by the General Assembly of Virginia, That three Commissioners from this State to each of the States remaining in the Union be appointed by the joint vote of the two Houses of the General Assembly, whose duty it shall be, under instructions to be prepared by the Governor of the State, and approved by the concurrent vote of each House of the General Assembly, to repair forthwith to the capital of each of the States that remains in that Union, and make known to the Governor of each, that the State of Virginia, appealing from the usurped power of the men who are charged with administering the government of that Union, exercised in the conduct of this war, demands of those States with whom she contracted, that they severally will, by the ballot-box, as the Union was formed and enlarged, decide, as solemnly and formally as they did in that transaction, whether they will consent that she will be allowed thenceforth to be separated from them in peace; provided, however, that this State, having joined other States in forming a confederacy, and with a view to regard scrupulously the obligations contracted with her confederates, shall not proceed [501] to carry this proceeding into full execution until a majority of them shall agree to coact in instituting a like commission; and to this end the Governor is authorized to communicate this proceeding to the Governor of each of the Confederate States, inviting their several concurrence and coaction in this proposed mission to the late co-States, but not to the Government of that Union, because it was and is the creature of the States, and should be their servant to do their will when certainly ascertained.

2. Resolved, As the opinion of this General Assembly, the undertaking to speak and to act for the sovereign people of Virginia, although we are but the ordinary Legislature thereof, that in case the men who are charged with administering the Government of the United States shall refuse our Commissioners transit and sojourn into and in those States for the exclusive purposes of this mission, which are avowed, such failure of our effort will but demonstrate to them the fearful extent of absolute rule over them by those men, and make our effort a more memorable instance of patriotic exertion and peaceful magnanimity, displayed in a well-meant attempt to cultivate peace on earth and good — will among men.

3. Resolved, That in initiating this mission for peace this General Assembly doth unequivocally disavow any desire, or design, or willingness, that the Confederate Administration shall relax its exertions, or the people theirs, to advance and establish the cause to which we are pledged in our fortunes, and by our victories, to the utmost of our talents, to use them in support of the separate independence of the States.

The offer of the resolution excited some debate. The question on the adoption was laid over.

A resolution was offered by Mr. James, of Botetourt and Craig, for confiscating or sequestrating the property of deserters from the confederate army.

Mr. Hall, of Wetzell, said the Constitution would not allow confiscation beyond the term of life. But the remedy for desertion did not lie in that direction. The evil was caused by the shameful conduct of those who have the oversight of the soldiers, and particularly the officers in Richmond. He proceeded to speak with much severity and bitterness of General Winder's department, and also that of the Surgeon-General. He hoped, too, that the Legislature would rebuke Jeff Davis before it adjourned.


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