Virginia State Convention.
Tuesday, March 19, 1861.
The Convention assembled at half-past 10. Prayer by the Rev. Geo. Woodbridge
, of the Monumental Church.
, of Northampton
, arose to set himself right in regard to his remarks of yesterday, which had been misrepresented in the editorial columns of the Richmond Whig
, and likewise misunderstood by the member from Richmond
, (Mr. Johnson
, who replied to him on this floor.
He disclaimed having made any proposition to the West
, but had merely expressed his individual willingness to have justice done to that section if its representatives would give us an Ordinance of Secession and save the integrity of the Commonwealth
He had expressed his concurrence in an editorial of the Richmond Examiner
. Mr. Fisher
also corrected the report of his speech as it appeared in the official paper, the Enquirer,
wherein he was made to praise certain action of the Governor
of the Commonwealth
, which in fact he condemned.
Resolution of instruction.
, of Wetzel
, offered the following resolution for reference to the Committee
on Federal Relations.
That the Committee
on Federal Relations are hereby requested to report the Constitution
of the Confederate States
of the South
's ultimatum, and that, they recommend the same to the Northern States
for their adoption or rejection; and in order to give them time to act on the same, this Convention will adjourn, to meet again on the first Monday in October, 1861.
said he took it for granted that the Committee
was unanimous in the opinion that amendments to the Constitution
were necessary, and the only difference was as to what they ought to be. He thought the Constitution
of the Confederate States
, being the present Federal Constitution, so remodelled as to meet the exigencies of the times, ought to be acceptable to every member of the Convention
The changes he read seriatim,
and commented favorably upon each.
, of Frederick
, moved to lay the resolution on the table.
, of Franklin
, rose to a question of order.
The pending resolution of the gentleman from, Monongahela
took precedence of other business.
The President decided that the resolution could not be referred without a vote of the Convention
, and that a motion to lay on the table was in order.
The resolution was then laid on the table.
Report from the Committee on Federal Relations.
, of Frederick
, asked and obtained leave to offer the following report from the Committee
on Federal Relations:
The Committee on Federal Relations have, according to order, had under consideration sundry resolutions to them referred, and amendments proposed to the Federal Constitution
, and beg leave to report the following amendments to be proposed to the Constitution of the United States
; to be appended to their former report.
- Art. XIII, § 1.
In all the present territory of the United States, North of the parallel of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes of North latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, is prohibited.
In all the present territory South of that line, involuntary servitude, as it now exists, shall remain, and shall not be changed; nor shall any law be passed by Congress or the Territorial Legislature to hinder or prevent the taking of persons held to service or labor from any of the States of this Union to said Territory; nor to impair the rights arising from said relation; nor shall said rights be in any manner affected by any pre-existing law of Mexico; but the same shall be subject to judicial cognizance in the Federal Courts, according to the remedies and the practice of the common law.--When any Territory North or South of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population equal to that required for a member of Congress, it shall, if its form of Government be Republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, with or without involuntary servitude, as such Constitution of the States may provide.
In all territory which may hereafter be acquired by the United States, involuntary servitude is prohibited, except for crime, North of the latitude of 36 deg., and 30 min., but shall not be prohibited by Congress or any Territorial Legislature South of said line.
No territory shall be acquired by the United States, except by discovery and for naval and commercial stations, depots, and transit routes, without the concurrence of a majority of all the Senators from States which allow involuntary servitude, and a majority of all the Senators from States which prohibit that relation; nor shall territory be acquired by treaty, unless the votes of majority of the Senators from each class of States herein before mentioned be cast as a part of the two-third majority necessary to the ratification of such treaty.
Neither the Constitution, nor any amendment thereof, shall be construed to give Congress power to legislate concerning involuntary servitude in any State or Territory wherein the same is acknowledged, or may exist, by the laws thereof; nor to interfere with, or abolish, the same in the District of Columbia without the consent of Maryland and Virginia, and without the consent of the owners, or making the owners, who do not consent, just compensation; nor the power to interfere with, or prohibit, representatives and others from bringing with them to the District of Columbia, retaining and taking away, persons so held to labor or service; nor the power to interfere with, or abolish, involuntary service in places under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States within those States and Territories where the same is established or recognized; nor the power to prohibit the removal or transportation, by land or water, of persons held to labor, or involuntary service, in any State or Territory of the United States to any other State or Territory thereof where it is established or recognized by law or usage; and the right — during transportation by sea or river — of touching at ports, shores and landings, and landing in case of need, shall exist; but not the right of sojourn or sale in any State or Territory against the laws thereof; nor shall Congress have power to authorize any higher rate of taxation on persons held to labor or service than on land.
The bringing into the District of Columbia persons held to labor or service for sale, or placing them in depots to be afterwards transferred to other places for sale as merchandize, is prohibited.
The third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution shall not be construed to prevent any of the States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the person to whom such service or labor is due.
The importation of slaves, Coolies, or persons held to service or labor, into the United States and the Territories, from places beyond the limits thereof, is hereby forever prohibited.
Congress shall provide by law that the United States shall pay to the owner the full value of his fugitive from labor, in all cases where the Marshal or other officer, whose duty it was to arrest such fugitive, was prevented from so doing by intimidation from mobs or riotous assemblages, or by violence, or when, after arrest, such fugitive was rescued by like intimidation, or violence, and the owner thereby deprived of the same.
The elective franchise and the right to hold office, whether Federal or Territorial, shall not be exercised by persons who are of the African race.
No one of these amendments, nor the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution, nor the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article thereof, shall be amended or abolished without the consent of all the States.
The report was referred to the Committee of the Whole and ordered to be printed.
Night sessions proposed.
, of Highland
, by leave, offered the following:
That in future, until further ordered, this Convention shall meet as at present, 10 ½ o'clock, remain in session until 2 ½ P. M., then take a recess, and again assemble at a quarter to P. M.
On motion of Mr. Early
, of Franklin
, the resolution was laid on the table.
Voice of the people.
, of Petersburg
, presented the resolutions lately adopted in that city, for immediate secession.
said that he recognized the right of instruction, and bowed to the will of his constituents.
His people had changed very suddenly, and might change again so soon as daylight broke upon our hopes, and he would then again be ready to carry out their will.--[Laughter.]
The resolutions were referred.
Taxation and representation.
The President stated the pending question to be on the resolutions offered on Saturday last by the gentleman from Monongahela
That taxation should be equal and uniform throughout the Commonwealth
, and that all property should be taxed in proportion to its value.
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
, as 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 4th Article of the Constitution
, of Barbour
, being entitled to the floor, proceeded to advocate the resolutions.
In the course of his remarks he dilated with force upon the extravagance of State legislation.
He believed that unless it were curtailed, the State of Virginia
, whatever might be her action in other respects, was marching onward to ultimate repudiation.--He appealed to the magnanimity of Eastern gentlemen to do justice to the West
It was important at this crisis that the people of the different sections should be united.--He would not admit the possibility of separation, but the best way to attach the people to each other was to do justice to every section.
He read from the financial reports of the State
to show the rapid increase of the public debt.
To restrain these extravagant expenditures, it would be necessary to make all the property of the State
taxable, thus giving to all an equal interest in curtailing the same.
, of Marion
, indicated his purpose to address the Convention
on the subject to-morrow.
, of Frederick
, offered the following resolution, which was adopted:
That from and after this day, until further ordered, this Convention will resolve itself into Committee of the Whole upon the reports from the Committee
on Federal Relations at the hour of 11 o'clock A. M.
Committee of the Whole.
The hour of half-past 12 having arrived, the Convention
resolved itself into Committee of the Whole, (Mr. Southall
, of Albemarle
, in the Chair,) and proceeded to consider the various reports from the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Richmond city
, being entitled to the floor, proceeded to re-state a portion of his argument or yesterday, upon the subject of protection, having been requested to do so. He read statistics of the trade of Richmond
in the articles of clothing, shoes, hats, &c., showing that a large proportion thereof, formerly manufactured here, was now manufactured at the North
Under the revenue system of the Confederate States
, we would receive protection for our own manufactures, while the more costly fabrics would be supplied to us from abroad, where our agricultural productions would be wanted in return.
He gave a history of the causes which had tended to build up the commerce of the North
, and to depress that of the South
With regard to the reports from the Committee
on Federal Relations, he objected to those which involved an application to the Northern
people, for he believed none of them would be successful.
They could not succeed without overturning all the official weight of the North
, and changing the entire popular sentiment of that section.--He objected, also, to waiting an indefinite period of time to make such an experiment; for in the meanwhile all our commercial advantages would be lost.
Even if they accepted the proposition, the South
might refuse it, and thus we would be entirely cut off from our natural market, and subjected to the embrace of the Northern
He thought our efforts should be towards an alliance with the South
, for at the North
we should meet nothing but ruinous competition, while in the other direction a broad field was open for commercial and agricultural operations.
If another effort were to be made to adjust the difficulty with the North
, he thought a demand should be made such as the South
could subscribe to, and fix a time for the limitation of negotiations; not keep the people in this present ruinous state of uncertainty.
The best plan, he conceived, would be to adopt the report submitted by the gentleman from Amelia
, (Mr. Harvie
,) and take the State
out of the Union
at once. -- With regard to the causes which ought to induce such a step, he went on to show that the prime object of the Republican party was to abolitionize the country, and read from one of Lincoln
's speeches, wherein he said that any man who held a slave ought to be himself a slave, and by the help of God such a result would be attained.
Though the Inaugural had said that he did not mean to interfere with slavery where it exists, the tendency of the Republican
doctrine was, he argued, to exterminate it everywhere.
The entire experience of history taught that when a Government was abolitionized, the doom of slavery was sealed.
The conversion of the iron-bound fanaticism of the North
was the most absurd of all absurdities., Virginia
ought to take a stand now — at once and forever.
The time had come when we were two sections, divided in everything, with no hope of reconciliation. -- He believed that conjunction with the South
was a peace measure; that if Virginia
would secede, all threats of war by the North
would be abandoned.
With regard to North Carolina
, and the border States, he would regret it if they refused to join us; but he believed such would not be the result.
Whether they joined us or not, Virginia
would be much better situated with the South
than with the North
's position would be supreme in a commercial point of view, and the union would be mutually beneficial.
He repudiated entirely the idea of a Border State Confederacy.
There were no commercial advantages to be obtained, and he could see no reason for such a combination.
After the close of Mr. Randolph
's speech, the Chairman
said if there were no amendments to be offered to the first section of the report, the Committee
would proceed to vote upon that section.
, of Northampton
, said that the gentleman from Ohio
, who had indicated a desire to reply to the gentleman from Richmond
, was not present; and, with a view of giving him the opportunity to do so before the vote was taken, he moved that the Committee
, of Greenbrier
, said he hoped the Committee
would not rise.
If no gentleman was prepared to speak, the Committee
was prepared to vote.
The question was taken on Mr. Fisher
's motion, and decided in the negative.
, of Albemarle
, said he had desired to discuss the propositions contained in the various reports, but had supposed that some one would first want to reply to the gentleman from Richmond
It would be out of his power to proceed now, and he would yield the floor to any gentleman on the other side; but if it was not their purpose to discuss the subject further, he would ask the usual courtesy, and therefore renewed the motion that the Committee
, of Marion
, said he would be glad to see the courtesy extended to the gentleman from Albemarle
; but time was valuable, and if every gentleman occupied three days in the exposition of his views, he could not see when the Convention
would be ready to adjourn.
, of Patrick
, hoped the committee would rise.
The Convention could resume the consideration of the resolutions of the gentleman from Monongahela
, and thus no time would be lost.
On this ground, Mr. Hall
withdrew his objection to the motion.
After some further remarks by Messrs. Scott
, Early and Branch
, the question was taken on Mr. Holcombe
's motion, and decided in the affirmative.
The Committee then rose, and the Chairman
The President stated the pending question to be on the resolutions of the gentleman from Monongahela
, (Mr. Willey
,) and that the gentleman from Marion
was entitled to the floor.
said he had not intended to address the Convention
to- day, but as a resolution had been adopted for going into Committee of the Whole at 11 o'clock, he would be compelled to avail himself of this opportunity of expressing his views upon the resolutions offered by the gentleman from Monongahela
He then went on to show that action upon this subject by the Convention
was necessary for the highest interests of the people, and would promote the future welfare of the Commonwealth
He took the position that as the principle for which Virginia
was now contending was the protection of slave property, and as it was conceded that all property that was protected should be taxed, and as this was the time above all others when equality of taxation was necessary, the citizens should unite in maintaining that it was right for each one to bear a proportion of the public burdens according to his ability.--He did not consider the question as a sectional one, but discussed it upon the broad ground of he general good.
Proceeding with the subject of taxation, he showed from official documents that there were 230,000 slaves under twelve years of age, entirely exempt from taxation, and 272,000 over that age, taxed at the rate of $300 each.
He estimated the average value of the latter class at $600, and argued that one-half of the slave property over twelve years of age was actually exempt.
If taxed according to their value, the State
would derive over $600,000 annually, to be applied to the extinction of the debt and for the public relief.
produced an abundance of statistical information, and mentioned, among other facts, that more than one-fourth of the Sheriffs of the Commonwealth
were defaulters for the past year.
He strongly maintained the loyalty of the Western
Without concluding his remarks, Mr. Haymond
gave way for a motion to adjourn, the hour being late, and,
On motion of Mr. Turner
, of Jackson
, the Convention