Virginia State Convention.
Tuesday, March 5, 1861.
The Convention was called to order at the usual hour.
Prayer by the Rev.
C. H. Read, of the 2d Presbyterian Church.
, of Brunswick
, desired to explain the intent of his resolution, offered yesterday, having reference to a Convention of the Border States.
In offering it, he had no ambition to gratify, and no expectation of winning laurels; but his position here required that he should explain it. He was sent here as a Union man, and he wished that the Union
might have been preserved forever; but his constituents desired him to make no dishonorable sacrifices after the last effort had failed.
The Peace Conference had failed to accomplish its purpose, and now he thought Virginia
ought to take some action; hence he had proposed a resolution for a Conference among the Border States
He was opposed to the idea of a Central Confederacy, and if the question were presented to him to-day, where would he go?
he, as a Southern man, would answer, with the South
's destiny was with the South
He loved the Union
, and nothing would please him so much as to see the star-spangled banner everywhere waving in the breeze, but the time had come when Virginia
must take her stand, and his opinion was that a Border State Convention would make the question satisfactorily.
The National difficulties.
. of Chesterfield
, offered the following resolution for adoption:
That the Committee
on Federal Relations be instructed to report, without delay, a plan is a Convention of all the Border Slave States
at the earliest practicable day; also to report on the subject of coercion by the Federal Government
of the seceded States.
, in presenting this resolution, alluded to the excited state of feeling in his county, which had been much inflamed since the reception of the Peace Conference propositions and the Inaugural of the new President
It was due to the Border Slave States
that they should consult together before taking united action.
If action should become necessary — and he apprehended it soon would — be wanted the opinion of those States as to the future.
He thought the Convention
should have taken a decided stand at the outset on the question of coercion.
He loved the Union
, but rather than live on terms of inequality, he would tear the Union
said he had a series of resolutions to offer as a substitute.
We could not to-day shut our eyes to the fact that the sources from which we had hoped for a peaceful solution of our difficulties, had entirely fulled.
It was yesterday announced from the Capitol
, by him who was inaugurated as President
of the United States
as "the declared purpose of the Union
that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.
In doing this, there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the National
The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government
, and to collect the duties on imports."
G.) had hoped that better councils would prevail; but the fact was now upon us that Mr. Lincoln
had shut his eyes to the condition of the country as it is; he had to some extent failed to remember that the people in seven or eight States were engaged in a struggle for independence and liberty, and that they had the will (and he hoped the abilities to maintain it. Mr. Goggin
went on to make further quotations from the Inaugural address, commenting thereupon in terms of decided disapprobation: He did not intend to stand by when a declaration was given to the world which must place the Administration in a position at war with all the best interests of the South
An attempt to collect the revenue now would be at war with those interests.
He went for resistance to oppression, at every hazard and to the last extremity.
The flag of Virginia
, with the principles emblazoned on its folds, was sufficient to protect all who would rally around it. The following are the resolutions proposed by Mr. Goggin
That any attempt on the part of the General Government
to use coercive measures for the collection of revenue from imports, at or near any of the ports within the States which have seceded will be regarded by Virginia
as furnishing just cause of apprehension of danger to the whole South
That in the event aforesaid, Virginia
, however sincere may be her attachment to the Union
us if was, will deem it her duty to aid in repelling any such attempt.
That in the hope of restoring harmony to all parts of the Union
, and before determining to secede from it, but especially in order to secure the co-operation of the Border Slave States
in any course she may pursue, the State of Virginia
earnestly requests the speedy co-operation of the said States in effecting a plan by which she, with all the said States, may unite themselves with the Confederate States
of the South
That in the formation of such a Union, Virginia
would have a due regard to all the States--and that in-such Union she should still the hope of re-forming ‘"the United States of America
"’ upon the basis of the present Constitution, so modified as to protect the rights of persons, property and territory in all time.
That all fortified or other places in Virginia
, now belonging to the General Government
, is the event of the separation of said State from the Union
, may and ought to be resumed by her as necessary for the defence of her citizens and their property in particular locations,
as well as for purposes of general defence.
That while Virginia
maintains this position, and while she yet remains a member of the Union
, ring her deliberations, she will assume no hostile attitude to the General Government
, but will be prepared to repel any assaults which may be at all times made upon her.
went on to say that he had prepared these resolutions without consultation with any human being, and he alone was responsible for what they contained.
He meant to assume no position here in conflict with them.
He still believed in the Union
, and that a wise and proper course would yet make the happiest, freest, grandest country on earth.
As he told his friends at home, his platform was his country — Virginia
-- and on that platform he hoped he would ever be found.
said that as the resolutions contained so instructions to the committee, they could not be offered as a substitute for his, unless the rules were suspended.
said he would withdraw them for the present, and offer them at a suitable time.
said he was occupied in the committee room, on this very subject, and only heard a portion of Mr. Goggin
's remarks; and to that portion he gave his hearty concurrence and assent, but he insisted that Virginia
should consider and deliberately determine what she would do in this particular — she ought never to go to the Border States
or elsewhere to decide what she should do. There was a question which ought to be decided today.
We had heard last night the trumpet sound of a declaration of war from the Government
It was undoubtedly a declaration of war. He was for saying at once, to-day, to the North
and to the South
, and to the powers at Washington
, that Virginia
clothed herself in the panoply of her own glamor, and did not mean to stand by and see her Southern sisters coerced.
She should proclaim that the very moment that this power is exerted upon them, she will stand by them.
The Convention ought to call upon the Legislature to-day to put the State
in an of defence, and he intended to offer a resolution instructing that body to appropriate money and devise a plan.
He hoped the Convention
would not commit itself to any half-way measures.
, of Goochland
, asked what was the question before the Convention
The President replied that the resolution of the gentleman from Chesterfield
was under consideration.
proposed to amend the resolution by striking out all after the word "Resolved," and inserting the following:
That the Committee
on Federal Relations be instructed to bring in an ordinance setting forth the following facts and determinations of Virginia
, in connection with the present threatening aspect of public affairs:
That, as Virginia
was the foremost to make sacrifices for the Union
under the Constitution
, to preserve it, she has practiced the self-destain never seeking or receiving an exclusive benefit; she has never infringed the rights of any State or section; jealous of the integrity of the Constitution
and the equality of the States, she has lived up to the obligations imposed upon set by the Federal
That, on the other hand, the Northern
section has disregarded many of its obligations, and attempted to set aside some of the compromises made between the two great section of the Confederacy
, without which no Union could over have been formed.
Hatred has been substituted for that fraternity upon which these compromises rested for vitality, and power is claimed for a sectional majority utterly at war with the spirit and letter of the compact, and subversive of our safety, our well-being, and our rights.
Equality of rights in the enjoyment of the common property is denied us, aggressions are made upon our soil, the powers of a lawful government are claimed as the lawful means for our oppression, and the hedging in our rights.--All this opposition to our civilization, all this hatred of our domestic institutions, and all this enmity to our peace, are banded together in the formation and upholding of a great sectional party that has elected a President upon the avowed principle of hostility to the institutions of the South
, and upon the pledge to use the power of the Government
for their ultimate extinguishment, forgetful that the Union
was formed for "establishing justice and securing domestic tranquility." The violations of the integrity of the compact having given rise to other great evils now impending over us, which menace the first principles, the very foundations of free institu tions; and which threaten the overthrow of the rights of sovereign States: They have given rise to the claim of right upon the part of sovereign States--in one section, to coerce sovereign States of another section, into a Union to which they will not assent; and to the assertion of the doctrine that resistance to violations of the terms of our Federal compact is treason to the claims of a sectional majority; and which have led to the armed occupation of the seat of our common Government by an armed force with friendly purposes towards the one section, with hostile feelings towards the other; and which, too, have led the authorities at Washington
to make the fortresses of Virginia
frown upon her while she was showing a determination to exhaust all the resources of conciliation and compromise.
These outrages of a sectional majority have broken the Constitution
, driven seven states out of the Union
, dissolved the Union
of our fathers, and is now substituting another Union in its place.
is no party to any such new Union; and she demands a reconstruction to secure her and the whole South
from any further outrage.
In this reconstruction she ought to stand with the South
in the assertion of her rights, and she ought to occupy no position in connexion with the North
, in the state of things brought about by Northern aggressions which would cripple her power for her own defence, and prevent her from aiding in maintaining the rights and the equality of all the States.
And that the said committee especially set forth the fact that, in consequence of the secession of the Southern States
, and the hopeless condition of New England
fanaticism, the blind hate of Black Republicanism, and the coercive policy indicated by the President
of a dismembered Union, there is no hope of an amendment of the Constitution
that can be satisfactory to Virginia
, in the constitutional way; and that the only mode, in the circumstances which now surround us, to secure any Union in which the rights of Virginia
to re-assume all the powers she delegated to the Federal Government
, and to declare her independence; and then to call into a Convention all the slaveholding States to determine what shall be the new construction necessary for their rights and protection in a Confederacy of slave States alone, or of the slave States and such free States as are willing to come into a Union, under this new construction, with the slave States.
, of Louisa
, rose to a point of order.
The resolution of the gentleman from Chesterfield
was an instruction to the Committee
He would ask if the amendment was also an instruction.
The President said it was, and was therefore in order.
then addressed the Convention
at considerable length in support of his amendment; but the time occupied in copying the document rendered it impossible for the reporter to take notes of his remarks.
We understood him to maintain that Virginia
ought to exert all her power for the purpose of driving back the invader and maintaining the rights of the South
offered an amendment to the amendment; to strike out all after the instructing clause and insert--
--to report forthwith the following:
it is now plain that it is the purpose of the Chief Executive
of the United States
to plunge the country into civil war by using these power ‘"to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties on imports"’ in all the States, as well as those that have withdrawn from, as those that have remained in the Union
; and whereas the State of Virginia
will resist such exercise of power with all her means: Therefore, be it
That the Legislature of the State be requested to make all needful appropriations of means, and provide the necessary forces to resist and repel any attempt on the part of the Federal
authorities to ‘"hold, occupy, and possess the property and places"’ of the United States
in any of the States that have withdrawn or may withdraw from the Union
, or to collect the duties on imports in the same.
, of Rockbridge
, said that none of the resolutions met his approval.
He spoke at some length on the Inaugural Address
, the coercive policy of which he condemned, but thought, as the shock of the battle, which all anticipated, had come, it was the duty of the friends of the Union
to stand firm.
, of Petersburg
, approved the original resolution.
It contained something practical, and was easy to understand; while that of the gentleman from Goochland
was a volume of words, the application of which it was difficult to appreciate.
He was opposed to hasty action.
, of Franklin
, reminded the Convention
that only a telegraphic copy of the Inaugural had yet been received, and it would be well to wait for a printed copy before passing judgment upon it. He moved that the Convention
The motion was agreed to, and, without taking any further action,
The Convention adjourned.