Virginia State Convention.
fourth day.

Saturday, Feb. 16, 1861.

The Convention was called to order at 12 o'clock by the President.

Prayer by the Rev. Jas. A. Duncan, of the Broad street M. E. Church.

Personal explanation.

Mr. Stuart, of Augusta, desired to make a personal explanation. He alluded to the letter from Messrs, Imboden and Harman, read yesterday by Mr. Wise, and said he had since read it himself. The writers fell into the error, he thought, quite naturally, of supposing that he said he had positive information that there was a movement on foot to place Mr. Wise in the Gubernatorial chair. The information of which he spoke alluded solely to the fact that he, Mr. Wise had been telegraphed to. When they expressed their disbelief, he stated that he had information which he was satisfied was true, but that was in reference to the telegram, and not to the conspiracy or plot. He had no intention to intimate that the gentlemen did not write what they believed to be exact, and could now readily understand how they fell into the error. All he knew of the plot was from current rumor. He was writing in the room of the gentleman from Henrico, when another gentleman came in and mentioned the fact that he had seen a telegram, bearing several signatures, designed to be sent to Mr. Wise, in these words: ‘"Your hearts think your services are needed here.--Come on."’ This was the information he received and he now appealed to the gentleman from Henrico to say if he was correct.

Mr. Wickkam said the statement accorded with his recollection. Justice required him to say further that he had been intimately asserted with Mr. Stuart the whole winner, and that neither received information that was not mentioned to the other; and he (Mr. W never heard of the matter till he heard it mentioned in the Senate.

Mr. Stuart said that he had risen merely to do an act of justice to himself and those who were absent. He had never designed to dispute unworthy motives to any one in connection with the matter.

Committees appointed.

The Presidentannounced the following Committee on Federal Relations: Messrs. Conrad of Frederick, Stuart of Augusta, Wise at Princess Anne, Scott of Fauquier, Preston of Montgomery, Harvie of Amelia, Clemens of Ohio, Macfarland of Richmond City, McComic of Cabell, Montague of Matthews and Middlesex, Price of Greenbrier, Southall of Allenmarie, Willey of Monongalia, Bruce of Halifax. Boyd of Botetourt, Barbour of Culpeper, Williams of Shenandoah, Rives of Prince George and Surry, Moore of Rockbridge, Blow of Norfolk City, and Johnston of Lee and Scott.

Mr. Stuart asked to be excused from service as he was a member of the Senate as well this body, and would be compelled to neglect his duties there if he were to give the attention to this committee that its importance demanded. He was excused, and Mr. Baldwin, of Augusta, was appointed in his place.

Mr. Clemens also asked to be excused from saving, on the ground of physical disability. The request was granted, and Mr. Jackson, of Wood, was appointed instead.

The President announced the Committee on Elections as follows: Messrs. Haymond of Marion, Goggin of Bedford, Brown of Preston, Chambliss of Greensville and Sussex, Caperion of Monroe, Ambler of Louisa, Gray of Rockbridge, Hunton of Prince William, Campbell of Washington, Treadway of Pittsylvania, Hall of Lancaster, Sheffey of Smythe, and Patrick of Kanawha.

The President submitted a package of election returns, which were referred to the appropriate committee.


Mr. Sutheruin offered a resolution, which was adopted, admitting editors and reporters of newspapers generally, throughout the State, to seats in the Hall, under the direction of the President.

Mr.Turner offered a resolution, which was adopted, tendering the grateful acknowledgments of the Convention to the Young Men's Caristian Association for the invitation to visit their Library and Reading-Room during the session.

Mr. Macfarland offered a resolution, which was adopted, tendering the grateful thanks of the Convention to Mrs. Martha Stanard for the portrait of Monroe, and to Mr. J. W. Davis for the pictures and statuary, with which they had been kind enough to adorn the Hall.

Tickets of admission.

Mr. Early alluded to the probable rush for seats on Monday, and the impossibility of accommodating all who would wish to hear the Southern Commissioners. To prevent confusion on that day, he offered a resolution instructing the Sergeant-at-Arms to ascertain the number of persons that can be accommodated in the gallery and space set apart for gentlemen, and that the Secretary issue tickets of admission for Monday, equal to the number for members to distribute.

Mr. Montague said he did not like the resolution. [Loud cheers from the crowd.]

The President stated that such demonstrations must be suppressed hereafter. On a repetition of the offence, he would at once order the Sergeant-at-Arms to clear the gallery.

Mr. Montague proceeded to say that he would not vote for any resolution that inaugurated favoritism, for he was willing to give all a fair chance. He moved to lay the resolution on the table, but withdrew the motion at the request of

Mr. Fisher, who offered a substitute for the resolution, declaring that the Convention will meet at the African Church on Monday.

Mr. Early had no disposition to exclude any one, and would not countenance secret sessions. But the dignity and decorum of the Convention must be preserved, and the demonstration a few moments ago was the most forcible argument that could be made, in favor of his resolution.

Mr. Hall moved to lay the whole subject on the table. Negatived.

The substitute was opposed by Mr. Johnson, and rejected by the Convention. Mr.Early's resolution then passed,

Federal Relations.

Mr.Mare offered the following:

Resolved, That Virginia cherishes a devoted attachment to the Union of these States, under the Constitution framed by the wise and patriotic men of the past -- that she will use every honorable effect and make any sacrifice consistent with her honor and interest to restore and maintain it; but that it is proper to declare, through the Convention now assembled, her opposition to the coercion, under existing circumstances, of any slave State, and an unalterable determination not to submit to any administration of the Government in which her rights are assailed or not fully protected, and that if the Union cannot be restored and preserved upon terms honorable to its component parts, it shall be divided.

’ Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Morton offered the following resolutions:

1. Resolved, That the people of Virginia, in Convention assembled, do solemnly declare that she will not submit to the coercion of the seceded states, upon the pretext of the enforcement of the laws of the United States, or upon any pretext whatsoever.

’ 2 That she solemnly protests against the use of the standing army and navy of the United States to the General Government, and the concentration of troops at the Federal metropolis, and at various forts arsenals, &c., to coerce any State or States now in or out of the Union.

3. That this Commonwealth ardently desires to restore the Federal Union, and to preserve it terms of safety and honor to all its members; but if the efforts now being made for that purpose prove unavailing, she will not hesitate to unite herself with her sister States of the South.

Mr. Morton addressed the Convention on the subjects embraced in his resolutions. The course suggested was necessary to the safety and honor of Virginia. He expressed an ardent devotion to the Union, but if the efforts being made to secure our rights in the Union shall fail, Virginia had no alternative but to leave her enemies and oppressors and unite with her friends.

Mr. Mooke. of Rockbridge, was opposed to the resolutions, particularly since he thought they proposed to hand us over, bound hand and foot, to the Cotton States. He did not mean to unite with them until he knew the terms. The Legislature had already said what it had no right to say, and there was a power among the people yet to be heard. He had no idea of being hurried into any action.

Mr. Wise thought this Convention, created by the Legislature, had no power at all, for its acts were not final. The Peace Conference, too, created by the same body, will have no other effect than to delay matters. He was one of the people, and would have his own way. Gentlemen might cry ‘"peace,"’ but he would fight till he died. He alluded to the wrongs perpetrated by the free States. Was Virginia to submit to these wrongs? If she is compelled to retire, and can't decide who to go with, let her erect an independent sovereignty and stand alone. Was it not likely that slave property would be more secure by uniting with the South than with the North? He intimated there were other than slave feelings in this matter. He was willing to sacrifice everything, except honor, to save the country; but he would not crouch to the Black Republican power now ruling at Washington. Gentlemen say wait, one, two or three years, and perhaps we will be relieved. Certainly we would be relieved -- of our slave property. If the Union was to be dissevered, those who had broken the covenant should leave it — he would not; he would fight first. If we stay here, the question will be shall we submit to the oppressor with whom we are confederated now? He would say to those who would commit us to war social, war civil, and war servile, that they should not commit him without a fight. He implored Virginians not to wrangle among themselves. A submission to the oppressors would drive away many of our best citizens, and the result would be cheap lands and a new population. Mr.Wise went on to allude to the mineral treasures of Virginia, and asked if it was the policy to get rid of the negroes, and abolitionize the State, by introducing Northern operatives to develop the mines. He then expressed his belief, that one object of the party now concentrating armies to coerce us, was to confederate with Canada, and thus cement an alliance between England and the North. In alluding to the State Governments beyond our border, countenancing hostile aggressions upon our property, he asked if any Union could be found more oppressive than this? This was a question to be gravely considered. It required solemn consideration and decisive action. Has the gentleman (Mr. Moore) not already decided which side he will take? He inferred that the gentleman from Rockbridge would go North.

Mr. Moore.--You have no authority to say where I will go.

Mr. Wise said, he stated it as an inference from his remarks. He could correct him if he was wrong. He supposed from his knowledge of the gentleman that he had decided to go one way or the other. But let us suppose he has his destiny with the North. He would tell him that his (Mr. W.'S) destiny was with the South. If this is to be the case, let us know it, and let us make the separation peaceful. If one marches North and the other South, let us hope it will not be in the serried ranks of hostile armies. He would not wish to meet the gentleman thus; not that he was afraid of any man, but there was one thing that would make him tremble like a woman, and that was the prospect of meeting a brother Virginian in the hostile conflict of civil war. He (Mr. W.) could not aim at his heart, but would risk his life to disarm him. There is a power driving us from the Union. The seceded States are not dragging us, but the Black Republicans are driving us out. He would stand by the side of the gentleman from Rockbridge and help to drive them out.

Mr. Moore.--Agreed.

Mr. Wise.--Will he assist in driving out those who are now testing powder at Fortress Monroe to shoot down our own people? Will he assist in driving out from Gosport Navy Yard the army which will be stationed there to stray over into Princess Anne and rob hen roosts for provisions? [Laughter] It was best to come to an understanding. He implored the gentleman as a Union man not to aid in driving him out of the Union. His people would expect him to submit to no state of things that was dishonorable. If those resolutions would not keep the peace, he saw no means of preventing war, though they did not go half far enough for him. He thought the best way to preserve the peace was to be prepared for war; to let the enemies of the Constitution and of the Union know that we will fight, and will resist, and that Virginia will take the responsibility of keeping the peace. Thus, he believed, could the Union be restored and preserved in its integrity.

Mr. Moore wished to notice one or two points in the gentleman's remarks. He was not aware that he or the people of Virginia had any master but the God in Heaven. He meant to submit to neither the North nor the South, but was determined to maintain the rights of Virginia. As to where we should go, he meant to wait till he found out, whether it was before or after the fourth of March.

Mr. Wise.--Too late.

Mr. Moore did not mean to be hurried. The North may have the purse and the sword, but the purse has nothing in it. [Laughter.] He meant to wait and see what could be accomplished by the Peace Conference. He was opposed to running away at the bidding of the Yankee States, as well as to being dragged out by the Cotton States. The policy of re-opening the African slave trade, and of free trade and direct taxation, would be ruinous to Virginia. Gentlemen had misapprehended the course that the Conservatives mean to take in this Convention. He would go as far to resist coercion as any other man; but if the States that have seceded, without consulting Virginia, choose to assault the forts, let them take the consequences.

The resolutions were referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Carlile said he had heard much about coercion. Now, the President of the United States had expressly denied the right of coercion. The only instance in which he had heard it claimed was by a member of the Alabama Convention--a man of national reputation — who said if the people did not yield they should be coerced into secession. He would say for his own people, that it fell harshly upon their ears to hear from a brother Virginian that they would submit to anything that was wrong or dishonorable. He hoped gentlemen would particularize when they said any portion of the people would crouch to Black Republican power. If the reflection were cast upon his people, he would hurl the charge back. But none of the acts of the National Government have ever been oppressive to the South. All acts touching slavery have been put upon the statutes by the South herself. The Missouri Compromise was put there by the South, and the Supreme Court of the United States pronounced it null and void.

Mr. Morris.--Who put the Wilmot Proviso there?

Mr. Carlile.--A Southern President signed it, and a Democratic Congress passed it. He (Mr. C.) wanted gentlemen to enlighten us, and not make wholesale charges. He had a resolution to offer, which he did not wish to have referred, but merely to get into the hands of the reporters. He moved that it be laid upon the table. The resolution is as follows:

Resolved, That since the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Chisholm us, the State of Georgia, and the adoption of the eleventh amendment to the Constitution, we are at a loss to understand how the impression that the Federal Government possessed the power to coerce a State could have obtained credence.

Mr. Montague rose to a point of order. He would not submit to this partial mode of proceeding. He protested against the right of a gentlemen to introduce a resolution for buncombe, and then indicate the course it shall take.

Mr. Carlile had no objection to withdrawing the resolution. He had accomplished his object.

Mr. Montague insisted that he could not withdraw it without the consent of the Convention.

Mr. Carlile then said he had no objection to its reference to the Committee on Federal Relations, and it was so referred.

Mr. Leake offered the following:

Resolved, as the opinion of this Convention of the people of Virginia, That if the Federal Government at Washington should undertake, forcibly, to retake the forts within any of the States that have dissolved their connection with the Federal Union, Virginia will regard such acts as an invasion of the rights of sovereign States, and should said authorities undertake to collect the duties on foreign importations introduced, or about to be introduced, into any such States, Virginia will regard any such acts as coercion, and that her faith has been pledged, and is hereby again pledged, as far as it can be, to resist with all the means in her power, all such acts of invasion and coercion.

’ Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Richardson, of Hanover, submitted the following:

‘ The people of the Sovereign State of Virginia, in general Convention assembled, do declare and publish the following resolutions:

  1. 1. That the compact by which the several sovereignties composing the United States of North America were united in a confederacy, has been repeatedly violated by individuals and States composing the Northern part of the same.
  2. 2. That the said compact, having been thus repudiated by parties to the same, to the injury and oppression of other parties thereto, is not binding upon the latter, and exists, not of right, but by sufferance.
  3. 3. That not only are the sovereign States of this Union the rightful judges of the circumstances under which their honor and safety require their withdrawal therefrom, but those who have peaceably so withdrawn were justified in so doing by invasions of their just rights.
  4. 4. That we will resist the coercion of the States which have so withdrawn, because there is no rightful power to use force against them under present circumstances; because their interest is common with ours, and because an impairment of their safety is dangerous to our own.
  5. 5. That in view of the grievances which the South has sustained at the hands of the North, and of the election of a Chief Magistrate avowedly hostile to the institutions of the former, it is the duty of the latter at once to concede such constitutional guarantees to the South as will prevent the recurrence of the wrongs already inflicted on us, and secure our full and equal rights in the Confederacy.
  6. 6. That the failure to provide against these wrongs and to secure these rights, is an evidence of either indifference or hostility towards us, which are alike fatal to our peace and safety.
  7. 7. That in view of these plain truths, we demand that security for our rights and honor be accorded to us in the Confederacy as speedily as the necessary, constitutional proceedings can be carried out; and in default thereof will dissolve our connection with those who first wantonly wrong us and then obstinately persevere in the injury.
  8. 8. That arguing from the persistent denial of our just demands the danger of a conflict of arms, we decree that the State be forthwith put in such a condition of defence, as will ensure her safety, dignity and honor.
’ Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Flournoy offered the following:

Resolved by this Convention, That whilst Virginia has a high appreciation of the blessings intended to be secured by the Constitution of the Union, and would do much and forbear much to perpetuate them, yet it feels itself bound to declare, that an identity of interests and of wrongs, with the seceded States of the South, would, in case of an attempted coercion by the Federal Government, demand and receive the interposition of all her military strength in resisting such aggression.

Resolved, That Virginia hopes and believes that by prudent measures of conciliation on the part of the United States Government in its intercourse with the seceded States, and by a just appreciation of the magnitude of our present perils, that some measures of compromise between the North and the South may be adopted, which will restore peace, friendship and union to every section of our now distracted country.

’ Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

On motion of Mr. Johnson, of Richmond city, the Convention voted to employ an Assistant Doorkeeper, to be appointed by the President.

A resolution, offered by Mr. Morton, for providing desks for the members, and for having the seats cushioned, was rejected.

A communication was read from the House of Delegates, embodying an invitation to the members to occupy privileged seats in their hall.

On motion of Mr. Forbes, the Convention adjourned.

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