Monuay, March 18th, 1861.
The Convention was called to order at half-past 10 o'clock. Very few members were present, and it is a noticeable fact that among the absentees were a large proportion of those who voted for the resolution to change the hour of meeting.
Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Brown
, of the Presbyterian Church.
Taxation and representation.
The pending question at the adjournment on Saturday was on a motion of Mr.
Sea cohter,, of Campbell
, to lay on the table the resolutions of Mr. Willey
, of Monongalia, viz:
That taxation should be equal and uniform throughout the Commonwealth
, and that all property should be taxed in proportion to its raise.
That a committee of thirteen members be appointed to prepare and report to the Convention
such alterations of sections 22 and 23 of Article IV.
of the Constitution
of the Commonwealth
, in shall conform said sections to the principle of taxation enunciated in the foregoing resolution.
That a committee of thirteen members be appointed to take into consideration so much of Article VI.
of the Constitution
of this Commonwealth, as relates to the Supreme Court of Appeals, the District Courts
, Circuit Courts, and County Courts; and that they report such amendments and modifications thereof as they may deem necessary and proper.
That the basis of representation in the two Houses of the General Assembly should be the same.
Therefore, be it further
That a committee of twelve members, to be selected in equal numbers from the four great divisions of the State
, be appointed to apportion representation in the Senate according to the number of the qualified voters in the Commonwealth
, and that they report amendments of the an Article of the Constitution
In consideration of the small attendance of members, Mr. Brown
, of Preston
, appealed to the gentleman from Campbell
to withdraw his motion to lay the resolutions on the table,
declined to withdraw the motion.
He believed that the resolutions were like a firebrand thrown into the midst of the Convention
, to inflame excitement and produce dissension.
, of Ohio
, rose to a question of order.
He said there was no quorum present, and it was incompetent for the Convention
to proceed to the transaction of any business.
A call of the House
was then ordered, and it was ascertained that, at 11 o'clock, 85 members were in attendance — sufficient to constitute a quorum.
Several members, it was announced, were on the sick list; some were engaged in other duties at the Legislature; some were in the Committee
on Federal Relations, and some absent from the city.
now consented to withdraw his motion to lay the resolutions on the table.
proceeded to address the Convention
upon the subject of the resolutions,commencing with a defence of the institution of slavery.
He contended that the keeping ofthis property, so peculiar to the East
, was much safer in the custody of the Western
people,who were denounced there as abolitionists, than if committed solely to the care of the noisy crowd who went about the streets of Richmond
, at unusual hours of the night.-- His people had been called submissionists; and if submission to the laws of the land made them liable to the charge, they were submissionists.
They admitted the right of revolution, which, however, ought to be exercised only after all measures of conciliation failed.
They would defend the people of the East
against aggressions of their enemies, but they desired that justice should be done to them.
They wanted a law by which the rthens of taxation would fall equally upon all. He hoped the resolutions would pass, forthe proposed inquiry ought to be made.
, of Northampton
, made an argument upon the question of taxation.
Hehad supposed when the Convention
was called, that it was called to consider no other man the great question before the country.--He did not doubt the patriotism of the gentlemenfrom the Northwest
, but if they would give us an Ordinance of Secession, pledging themselves to go before their people and urge the same, he was willing to go into the question of taxation, and concede to them what they asked, though he deemed it foreign to the purposes of the Convention
He said there was no gentleman here so stultified as not to recognize the fact that we were degraded by Northern aggressions; and he appealed to the Northwest
to come up and redeem the Commonwealth
, and whatever was right and proper would readily be conceded.
The people of Richmond
, to whom the gentleman from Preston
had alluded, might, by the inaction of this Convention, be driven to the necessity of bread riots, such as would be witnessed in the streets of Baltimore
and New York within the next sixty days. Mr. Fisher
renewed the motion to lay the resolutions on the table, but withdrew it at the request of
, of Jackson
, who proceeded to relieve the Northwest
from the charge of unfair dealing in introducing the question of taxation.
He showed that the act calling the Convention
contemplated a change in the organic law of the State
raised a question of order, to the effect that similar resolutions, offered by himself, some time ago, were now upon the table; but the question was not pressed.
, of Franklin
, spoke of the newspaper report, that there existed a bargain among the members from the different sections; that if the Eastern
men would vote on the side of Union, the Northwest
would yield the question of taxation.
He knew nothing of such a bargain.
He was not prepared to vote for a change in the organic law of the State
, his people were interested in the great questions now agitating the nation; but he was willing to vote for a resolution to confide the subject to a committee.
They could report at an adjourned session of the Convention
, for it was pretty well understood that the Convention
would adjourn over.
, of Harrison
, alluded to the constant charge of disloyalty and abolitionism, brought against the people of the Northwest
It was time it should be stopped.
He admitted that there were abolitionists in that quarter of the State
, but expressed his belief that there were more in the city of Richmond
than in his whole Congressional district.
It was his belief that if something were not done in regard to the taxation of slave property, there would be a conflict — not between sections of the State
--but a dire and irrepressible conflict between the laboring man and the slaveholder.
He strongly maintained the loyalty of Western Virginia
, and if a settlement could not be obtained, he would go for severing the Gordian knot which binds us to the Union
; but he thought with a little time and patience the whole difficulty might be adjusted.
, of Petersburg
, thought that slave property ought to be taxed according to its value to the owner in Virginia
, not according to its value in Louisiana
if the Convention
were to pass an Ordinance of Secession, he thought the organic law in respect to taxation ought to be changed.
The mercantile class of the East
, he contended, bore a proportion of the taxes more than equivalent to the taxes paid by the West
, of which they so much complained.
He was opposed to action upon the subject now. The Convention had no right to change the Constitution
remained in the Union
.-- He believed, that in the event of withdrawal, every slaveholder in Eastern Virginia
would willingly submit to an equalization of taxes.
He decanted upon the law taxing the income of labor as unjust and oppressive.
, of Monroe
, alluded to the remark of the gentleman from Franklin
, proposing to confide the subject to a committee, and postponing action thereupon to an adjourned session of the Convention
He conceived that such a course would show to the people of the North
that we were involved in difficulty upon a domestic question, and consequently retard any action proposed by the Convention
upon the National
He thought the subject of taxation should at once be laid upon the table, and that it ought not again to be agitated.
The people demanded no such action, and the Convention
was called for no such purpose.
The Constitution, as remodeled in the last Convention, provided for the continuance of the existing order of things until 1865, and the people having ratified that instrument, the inference was that they were satisfied that the arrangement should not be disturbed previous to that period.
The present time, he contended, was the most inopportune of all others for the agitation of the question.
At the proper time he would unite with them in an effort to render the organic law acceptable to all sections; but the present he did not consider the proper time, and he hoped the resolutions would be laid upon the table.
, of Richmond city
, said he would not have participated in this debate, but for the extraordinary remark of the gentleman from Harrison
, (Mr. Wison
,) that there were as many abolitionists in the city of Richmond
as in the whole Northwestern portion of the State
corrected the member from Richmond
He had expressed his belief that there were as many abolitionists in the city of Richmond
as there were in his Congressional District--not in the whole Northwest.
He relied upon common reports in forming this opinion, having no personal knowledge of the fact.
said he hoped there were none, either there or here.
He would, however, caution his friend from Harrison
to seek for his information in a field beyond the calumnies circulated in the newspapers of Richmond
He repelled the statement that there was any abolitionism among the people whom he represented:
One thing was certain — that, upon the poll-books of the section represented by the gentleman from Harrison
were recorded votes for Abraham Lincoln
, while the poll-books of Richmond
exhibited no such record.
He thought it a condescension in the Convention
to be indulging in crimination and recrimination, and in appeals to local prejudice.
There was a higher duty to perform.--The country was in danger, and the fair Temple of Liberty was tottering to its foundation.
He protested against the complication of that great question by meddling with the subject of taxation.
What good could it produce?
If we became alienated now upon minor questions, how could we look for harmony upon the great national question on which the people expected the Convention
He had heard from the lips of the gentleman from Northampton
a proposition for a bargain to the West
; that if they would come over and help to dissolve the ties which bind us to the Union
, they should have all they wanted; and he had the temerity to say he did this without consultation with his constituents.--He (Mr. Johnson
) hoped that the constituents of that gentleman would not sustain him in this, and that he would find himself solitary and alone.
He would vote to lay the resolutions on the table, for he believed their consideration now would embarrass the primary question which the Convention
was called to consider.
, of Barbour
, said he had hoped there would have been magnanimity enough among Eastern gentlemen to have proposed a plan for equalizing the taxes, without waiting for it to come from the West
He regretted the latitude that the debate had taken, and that there was so much excitement on the question, which merely proposed the raising of committees to make inquiries.
Every grievance complained of by any portion of the citizens of the Common wealth, he thought, ought to be removed by this Convention.-- With regard to overtures to be made to the North
, he did not believe that the Convention
would rise to the dignity of making any demands about which there was any doubt of acceptance, even by Massachusetts
He came from the much despised Northwest, and though he loved the Union
, he did not love it well enough to be willing to lay down all his rights as a man — not well enough to say to Virginia
, the good old mother, lay down your imperial robes, clothe yourself in sackcloth, and bend the suppliant knee to Abraham Lincoln
The President here announced that the hour had arrived for going into Committee of the Whole for the purpose of considering the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Rockbridge
, moved that the execution of the order of the day be postponed in order to give the gentleman from Barbour
an opportunity of finishing his remarks; but directly withdrew the motion.
The Maryland Commissioners.
.--Before going into committee, I beg leave to lay before the Convention
a communication from Hon. Wm. Mitchell
and others, Commissioners from Maryland
The communication was read by the Secretary
, as follows:
To the Honorable, the President of the Convention of the People of Virginia:
The undersigned, citizens of Maryland
, have been appointed a committee on behalf of a Conference Convention, representing a portion of the citizens of the city of Baltimore
, and of nearly all the counties of Maryland
, to communicate with the Convention
over which you preside, in reference to a matter in which they deem themselves deeply concerned, and which is now occupying the attention of your body.
It is upon the subject of the proposed Conference with the Southern Border States
It is especially to be understood, that in anything we may say, there must be no inference that this particular measure, or any other, is, in our judgment, or in the opinion of those persons whom we represent, to be preferred.
We entirely disclaim any purpose even to suggest what would be the judgment of our constituents, did the occasion make it proper to express it. Our design is solely to invite the attention of the Convention
to the importance of one particular consideration, if, and when, the proposed Conference shall be found acceptable to your Convention.
In that event believing (as those whom we represent have instructed us to say they do believe,) that the people of Maryland
will accept such an invitation, it becomes, as we respectfully suggest, a matter of equal interest to each and all the Border States
, to secure, as far as it may be done, a full, fair, and accurate expression of the popular will, in such a form as to leave no doubt either of its character or of the authority of those who may be selected as its agents and representatives.
The proposition before your body requires the delegates to the Conference to be selected by
the ‘"proper authorities of those States."’
If any existing organized department of the Government
should attempt the selection of delegates to such a Convention as is proposed, it would undoubtedly be resisted by the people, and, in that event, conflicting claimants would present themselves as rightful exponents of the popular sentiment, duly entitled to be received as such.
Our sole object is to avoid, by the terms of the invitation, all occasion for such collision; and, with this view, we respectfully suggest such an alteration in the language of your resolution as will express its object to be that delegates to the proposed Convention shall be elected,
either directly by the people,
or through the agency of a sovereign State Convention.
In the hope and expectation that this request will be favorably considered by your Convention, we have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants,
E. F. Chambers
Wm. Henry Norris
Isaac D. Jones
J. Hanson Thomas
, of Northampton
, moved that the communication be laid on the table and printed.
Mr. Samuel McDowell Moore
, of Rockbridge
, hoped the order to print would not be adopted.
The Convention was already annoyed enough by the proceedings of county meetings and other matters, without being burdened by the printing of communications from other States.
The Convention had received no information as to who had sent those Commissioners here, and he looked upon the proceeding as rather an assumption on their part.
, of Frederick
, differed with the member from Rockbridge
He at least knew enough of the character of the gentlemen composing the Commission, to say that they were entitled to respect.
He suggested that the member from Northampton
modify his motion, and let the communication be referred to the Committee
on Federal Relations.
accepted the modification, and the paper was so referred and ordered to be printed.
Committee of the Whole.
The Convention resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, (Mr. Southall
, of Albemarle
in the chair,) and proceeded to consider the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Richmond City
, resumed his remarks.
He read from the opinion of Judge Curtis
, the exponent of Black Republicanism on the Supreme Bench
of the United States
, that slavery was only a creature of municipal law, and could have no existence beyond the circumference of the law so creating it; also, from the opinions of Lord Mansfield and Lord Stowell, showing how slavery is treated by those governments which do not recognize it. After an argument in relation to the difficulty of the recovery of a slave by his master, in the Territories
, he resumed his exposition of the view advanced on Saturday, that the industrial interests of Virginia
— the mining, manufacturing and agricultural interests --were intimately connected with the States of the South
, and would find no protection in the North
He produced voluminous statistics of productions and trade, prepared with much care, and gathered from reliable sources, showing, by a comparison, that a deficiency in the South
a good market for her surplus, while, in the North
, there could be no such market, for they had a surplus of their own.-- The experience of thirty years was reviewed to show that prices were better under a low than under a high tariff.
Tobacco fell every time the tariff was raised, and whenever it was lowered tobacco rose in the market.
It was proposed to admit leaf tobacco
to the Southern Confederacy free of duty, while the manufactured article had to pay duty; and he mentioned the fact that agents from the State of Georgia
had been in Richmond
, within a few days past, purchasing leaf tobacco
, which they carried home and manufactured on their own soil, thus avoiding the duty, while Virginia
was in the same proportion losing one of her great branches of labor.
He argued at length upon these points, touching upon the salt, iron, and coal interests and upon the trade in live stock.
The competition in the Northern Confederacy
would be ruinous to Virginia
Only two days after the gentleman from Rockbridge
made his speech, apprehending the disastrous result of secession upon the iron and other interests of the State
, a furnace, some five miles from Richmond
, established by citizens of his own county at an expense of $100,000, went out of blast, and is offered for sale to the highest bidder, under deed of trust.-- He (Mr. Randolph
) also alluded to the establishment of a glass manufactory in Richmond
, when the market was immediately flooded with cheap glass from the North
, the result of which was that the establishment closed, and then glass went up to its old prices.
It is protection from the North
that our manufactures want.
The people of Georgia
were going into manufacturing operations, which would be developed under their system, and between the upper and nether millstones Virginia
would be crushed.
He argued that the manufacturers in Virginia
, unable to find protection at home, would transfer their extensive operations to the Southern Confederacy; and if Virginia
held aloof and remained with the North
, the sceptre of manufacturing and commercial supremacy would saver be restored to her.
In the course of his remarks, Mr. Randolph
was interrogated by Mr. Clemens
, and very promptly answered.
indicated his purpose to reply hereafter to some of the positions assumed by the member from Richmond
The speaker drew a distinction between a condition of free trade with the South
and free trade with the North
, showing that in the former we were in less danger from foreign competition.
In the Southern Congress Virginia
would have a larger representation than any other State; she would have a leading voice in the councils, but he hoped to God she would not use her power as the large Northern States use theirs in the Federal Congress.
With regard to the interest of labor, he spoke at some length, denouncing the doctrine of an "irrepressible conflict" as a base coinage for vile party purposes.
He presented in a strong view to the people of the Western
section of the State
, the question of their true interest in a Southern Confederacy, where their labor would meet its full development, while in the North
it would meet nothing but competition and oppression.
was arguing this point, when
, of Greensville
, said it was apparent that the gentleman from Richmond
was physically unable to proceed, and as his argument was a very able and interesting one, he desired to give him an opportunity of going into it fully to-morrow.
He therefore moved that the committee rise.
expressed a sense of delicacy at throwing himself upon the indulgence of the Convention
for another day; but Mr. Johnson
, of Richmond
, assured him that there was no necessity for being influenced by such a feeling.
The Committee then rose, and the Chairman
, of Rockbridge
, offered the following resolution:
That the Committee
on Federal Relations inquire into the expediency of amendments to the Constitution of the United States
being submitted by this State to the other States of the Union
, providing and declaring, first, that Electors of President
and Vice President
shall be chosen on the District
system; and second, that persons of African
blood, in whole or in part, are not, and shall not be, citizens of the United States
, or citizens within the meaning of the 2d section of the 4th Article of the Federal Constitution
; and, further, whether such amendments should form part of any ultimatum laid down by Virginia
or the Border States
of the South
, or should be submitted separately and distinct from such ultimatum.
The resolution was referred to the Committee
on Federal Relations.
On motion of Mr. Haymond
, the Convention