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Complimentary banquet[reported for the Daily Dispatch.] A number of the friends of the Hon. John B. Floyd, desirous of publicly testifying their respect for that gentleman, and their approval of his course, tendered him a complimentary dinner, which came off at the Exchange Hotel, in this city, on Friday evening, January 11th. It was an occasion of great interest to all present. The banquet commenced at 9 o'clock, and the large company discussed, with great zeal' the substantial subjects placed before them.--Gen. A. A. Chapman, of Monroe, presided — the guest of the evening being seated on his right, Judge Hopkins, one of the Alabama Commissioners, on his left, and F. M. Gilmer, Esq, the other Commissioner, next to Gov. Floyd. While the festival was progressing, Gen. Chapman arose and read a telegraphic dispatch, announcing that Alabama had seceded from the Union, which was received with tremendous cheers. At the appropriate period, the President requested the company to come to order, for the purpose of listening to the first toast. He gave-- "The Constitution as our fathers made it."--[Music — Hall Columbia] To this sentiment, Hon. Jas. A. Seddon was invited to respond. He said he had been, as he was now, such a lover of the Union that he was anxious to improve it; and probably his first suggestion might be a Union of the South. He alluded to the past glories of the Union, which had been taken possession of by a devouring demon. The Union of our fathers was not so much a union of interest as a union of sympathy; a union upheld by honor and bravery. Alas! it was now a union of hate. Why this change, and how? He claimed that we of Virginia were faultless in the matter.--Always ready to maintain the rights of others equally with our own, we had been engaged in the work of developing our own industry. Yet we have been for five and twenty years the objects of Northern malignity and outrage, until at last our wrongs have culminated in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency. Without giving a catalogue of our wrongs, he said, it was time to examine well and inquire whether there is not in that grandest work of man — the Constitution — some imperfections which may be remedied. We must inquire into the cause of the misquiet, and be ready to apply the remedy. It will not do to merely wipe out the wrongs already inflicted, but we must destroy the viper from whence the poison springs. He cautioned them to be careful to demand some power by which our destiny may be held in our own hands, and not subject hereafter to Black Republican control. Mr. Seddon was frequently applauded. Gen. Chapman.--Gentlemen, we have met around the festive board to do honor to a noble son of a noble sire--one who has received honors from the Government, but who has quit his position because he could no longer hold it, as he conceived, with honor; for the pledge that had been given by that Government was violated. I give you-- "The Hon. John B. Floyd--The worthy son of a noble sire. All honor to the Virginian who spurns the trappings of a Federal place, respect a mother's rights and resents a another's wrongs." [us and three cheers to Gov. Floyd] Mr. Floyd expressed his deep sense of the honor conferred upon him. He had not made a public speech since, four years ago, they assembled under this roof to celebrate what was then considered a great National triumph.--There was then a feeling that all would be well. Their leader stood upon a platform of peace — a platform of salvation. Four short years have rolled away, and where are those hopes now I Gone — gone like last year's cloud, and gone forever. He then adverted to the causes of all this. You, be said, have done nothing to bring it about. It is attributable to a blind fanaticism, which has resulted in an alternation of the North and South, and at length a disruption of the most glorious fabric on earth. He alluded to the condition of things thirty years ago, when abolitionism was a speck no bigger than a man's hand, but which was now a cloud over shadowing the whole earth. It has seized upon and destroyed the peace of society, rended the religious institutions of the country, and has at last reached a point where forbearance is no longer possible.--He then proceeded to speak of slavery as an institution which God approves. --It was instituted by God himself, on Mount Sinai, when in the commandments he said thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's servant.--The first slave catcher was an angel, the second was St. Paul. It is an institution sustained by all scriptural authorities — ordained by God, recognized by his chosen people, countenanced and sustained by the Saviour and his Apostles. The result of its establishment in the American Colonies had been prosperity unparallel to the white race, and civilization to the black. The cultivation of cotton was another great result. Cotton was now one of the great governing powers of the earth. It is with the products of slave labor that we settle up the balance accounts with England and all Europe, every year. It keeps up the banks, it keep up the ships, it keeps up the works, shops, and does more than that — it puts Europe under bonds to keep the peace with the United States. Yet, with all these lights before them, they have advanced and laid their hands upon this institution of God Almighty, and said "stand back — we are holier than thou." The speaker then alluded to the abolition of slavery in the fairest isle of the ocean, by England, and what was the result? The African man got his freedom, and went down, down, to heathen idolatry. In the North, where the shackles had been struck off, the African had suck to poverty or to insanity. Is not the hand of God in this! And yet they come and say to you, you must liberate these people or you must be damned. The "irrepressible conflict" doctrine was next considered. The election of Lincoln was upon the avowed declaration that slavery is a sin and that the curse of God is upon it, and how they flaunt their banners in our faces with this principle inscribed thereon. It was an easy thing to surrender property and position, but for a Virginian to surrender his honor, was something he could not conceive of. They demand of you an acknowledgment of your inferiority or they demand your blood. God knows, he said, they shall have every drop of my blood before I will surrender one iota to their demands. He had come to cast his lot with Virginia, and would live if she said so, or die for her if necessary. He could see no hope for the future, but through our own united opposition to wrong. The circumstances of the election of Mr. Buchanan were adverted to, as well as his subsequent acts as President. He had been true to his political pledges, true to the Constitution, and true to the South. But that was insufficient to satisfy the fanatics of the North, and they stigmatized and vilified the Administration. The insidious serpent of abolitionism crept into the council chamber of the President of the United States. He would gladly pass over this phase in the history of the country if he could. He had believed that a great controversy was about to arise, which it required wisdom, forbearance and prudence to meet, or it would end in blood. He had never wanted to go into the Cabinet, and when he became the subject of vituperation by official aspirants, he under took so to dispose of the business in his hands, that it might be said, "this man has done his duty." It was due to the truth of history to say, that in the terrific controversy through which Mr. Buchanan was going, he had not been quite so strongly sustained by the South as he ought to have been. But perhaps it was natural that he could not come quite so near the wishes of the South, as a son could come to the wishes of his mother. He alluded to the two policies set forth in the annual Message Mr. Attorney Black said we must execute the laws. I, said Mr. Floyd, could not quite bow to that, Mr. Buchanan said, this question of the forts is a question of property. I agreed to that. I said more. I said, I am your Secretary, and have in my hands this property of the forts. I will turn over to my successor that property inviolate. I know these people of South Carolina. I went to school among them.--I know they are not thieves. Isaac Hayne, Mentganit and F auk Pickeus are good men — they are greatmen — and I will back their honesty and integrity, it necessary, with my blood. But I cannot consent that you place among them a military power that would choke them to the ground. At a subsequent interview with the President, he said to me: --"Mr. Floyd, what about sending recruits to Charleston I" Said I, "Nothing about sending recruits." "Don't you intend to strengthen the forts at Charleston?" he asked. I replied "I do not." Said he, "I would rather be at the bottom of the Potomac to-morrow, than that these forts should be in the hands of those who intend to take them! It will destroy me — it will cover your name, which is an honored one, with infamy, for you will never be able to show that you had not some complicity in it." I said, "Mr. President, trust me, there is no danger. I will stake my reputation and I will stake my life that the forts of Charleston will not be touched." I said this because I felt it. The President then said, "But, Mr. Floyd, does that secure the forts?" "No, sir," said I; "but it is the best guarantee I can give you that they will not be touched." He replied, "I am not satisfied." Said I, "It is yours to command, and you will be obeyed. You can strengthen the forts, but it will lead to the effusion of blood. You can, however, put an orderly sergeant there — a man with a worsted epaulette and with a stripe on his pantaloons. He is a representative man [laughter]--the representative of the stars and stripes and of Hail Columbia and Yankee Doodle. He can stand there and so proclaim himself, and his authority will be respected. Mean while, submit to Congress his question of the secession of South Carolina. Congress may say a State has a right to withdraw, or may say, we reputed the right of secession — we will send down our armies to coerce you to submission. Do this, and I will a wait the issue." I stayed there, gentlemen, with pain and suspense. I wanted help, and I called for help from Virginia, that good old mother that gave me birth, and I called upon Jeff. Davis, that bright Saladin of the South. [Applause.] They came, Mason and Hunter, [renewed applause,] with the patriots of the country, North and South, and talked with the President.--He then said, "I am content with your policy — we will send no more troops to the harbor of Charleston." Then, gentlemen, for the first time in three years, I felt a sensation of delight in my heart. I then thought the question capable of peaceable solution, and though you may not think it worthy of mention, I devoutly returned thanks to Almighty God. The speaker next alluded to the course of Gen. Cass, then Secretary of State, whom he pronounced one of the noblest specimens of mankind, whose personal virtues he had never ceased to revere, after four years association. Gen. Cass said: ‘"These forts must be strengthened — I demand it."’ This, gentlemen, is the Northern sentiment, and in his position the Secretary reflected the minds of his people.--And when the President replied, with stern inflexibility--"I have considered this question — I am sorry to differ with the Secretary of State--out the interests of the country do not demand a reinforcement of the forts at Charleston — I cannot do it — I take the responsibility"--then, gentlemen, my hopes for the future grew stronger. That is what he said.--The next day this glorious old premier sent in his resignation. With the respect I had entertained for four years, I said. God speed you to your home in the North. [Laughter.] Thus matters stood, when there came a proposition to send for Gen. Scott. I said send — gladly I said send for him. Gen Scott came. He had other ideas. He was a soldier. I had not thought what would be the sentiments of a soldier who had been winning laurels in the field when I was in my swaddling clothes, I thought of him as a man whom Virginia delighted to honor — who had the decorations of the State in a magnificent gold medal dangling from his neck, and a sword of hers which I supposed was bright enough and sharp enough to defend the honor of Virginia. But he had a programme — a plan to allay all these spectres of disunion and bring peace to the country. He laid it before me as Secretary of War. I told him I did not like it. He laid it before the President, and he did not much like it at that time. I'll tell you what it was. Fort Sumter was to be taken possession of, and Castle Pinckney likewise.--Fort Moultrie was to be strengthened.--The forts of Georgia were to be occupied and held, the forts of Florida and Alabama taken possession of and manned, and the forts of Louisiana occupied by troops of the United States. In addition to this, ships of war and revenue cutters were to be sent to the waters of South Carolina. This was the programme and this the plan. I had been Secretary of War for four years, and had not thought it necessary to occupy any of these forts. It was not in the programme that any of the Northern forts should be occupied. Nay, more; troops were to be removed from thence and stationed in Southern forts. As a Virginian and a Southern I man could not shut my eyes to the fact that this was trampling on our political rights, and that all this military display was to wipe out all our pretensions to honor. I am afraid I tire you, gentlemen--[Cries of "go on! " "go on!"] There was a corrollary to be deduced from all this. However right it might be as the position of a military leader, it presupposes a state of facts which I never acknowledge. It is that the confederation of the United States, which has been made by the sovereign States, should be endowed with power to crush that which created it. Here is the coercive policy. The whole North instantly rallied to the point of coercion. Black Republicanism was infused with new life. However, I determined to stay until the result of the mission from South Carolina had transpired. Mark you that conciliatory speeches had been made by Northern men, and the Northern public was fast rallying under the banner of anti-coercion, when the announcement of this policy changed the whole aspect of things. Next came the unfortunate affair of Maj Anderson. The instructions of the Secretary of War did not authorize him to change his position — for he wrote to the Secretary of War and said he could change his position if he had authority to do so. I had pledged my honor to South Carolina--and although I will not swear it, I think the President said so, too.--South Carolina with 20 men could have gone to Fort Sumter any moonlight night and taken it. But there was an insurmountable barrier — they had pledged their honor that it should not be. [Applause.] Maj. Anderson, for what reason God only knows, saw fit to change his position. South Carolina, said you have violated your pledge. I said, gentlemen, I have not. All I can do is to resign my commission into the hands of the President. I did so, gentlemen, and here I am. [Prolonged cheers.] This brings us to the last topic to be considered in this prolix and I fear tiresome speech [Go on.] There is a policy of coercion on the one side, and anti-coercion on the other. The North must decide this question. It is peace or war. And the question comes up — shall the pretext of holding the forts of the South be made the pretext of sending men and arms to coerce the South! I tell you that is the plan on foot, and you have got to meet it. The sluggard and the coward may hug the delusive hope of better times, but there will be no better times. This is what you have got to look to. I speak to you as Virginians — who have done so much for this glorious Union--Virginians, whose blood alone, of all the States, was strewn over every field from Quebec to Eutaw, to purchase our glorious liberties. In the money scale you stand still higher. Never was so magnificent a guerdon given to the children of Israel as you gave in territory to this very free-soil principle. This power now turns upon you and says, We demand this of you, or we will coerce you into obedience. Look at the history of the past. The speaker referred to Alexander Hamilton and John Q. Adams — generally regarded as the great arch enemies of republican freedom — yet they repudiated as monstrous the doctrine of coercion. Adams, when President, said, in the case of Georgia, You cannot coerce a State. Yet now it is not only boldly proclaimed, but carried into actual operation. Mr. Floyd compared the colonial wrongs with the present, and asked, how incomparably great are the wrongs of this day above those which prompted Patrick Henry to say, "Give me liberty or give me death!" It with all the light before you, you still hesitate, I can only say that he who dailies is a dastard, and he who doubts shall be damned--[Loud cheers] If you are willing to wear the badge of inferiority, I shall quit my native State and go with the master race. Are you ready to stand for your equality? [Yes! yes!] Now is the day and now is the hour to occupy a position of security. (The speaker continued to arouse his hearers in this strain, amidst frequent applause, and closed by making a remark personal to himself.) It's a long time since I ceased to hope to meet the approbation of every body. I know it cannot be. The history of mankind shows this. But this I can say, that I am the first Secretary, for years and years, who has administered the Department of War upon the estimates and within the appropriations made. I never asked for a deficiency bill to meet expenditures. I have expended over sixty millions of money, and only ask, that in your investigations or my official course, you will not resort to forgery or perjury. I have been true to you, and in conclusion, permit me to say that, as a private citizen, I came only to give you the information I have given, and to proclaim to you, that as over a hundred years ago my progenitor poured out his life blood in vindication of the liberties of the country, so I am ready, after the lapse of a century, to pour out mine in defence of Virginia. Gov Floyd took his seat amid almost deafening cheers. [Music--"Marseilles Hymn."] Gen. Chapman.--I give you, gentlemen-- "Alabama--the Keystone of the Southern Arch." After the cheering subsided, the President introduced Judge Hopkins, a native of Virginia, but an adopted son of Alabama. He said he had left a sick bed to come and do honor to one who had exposed with such master hand the breach of faith on the part of the Administration. He alluded to himself as a representative of a "foreign State," how a few hours out of the Union. He then gave a brief history of the seizure of the forts in Alabama, and the prospects of the seizure of the forts in Florida and Louisiana. They were now in a position to say to the General Government, if you wish to coerce us, we are prepared to receive you. He had no faith in Black Republican promises. Even should Congress pass a law conceding all that was asked, and should each Northern State repeal its Personal Liberty laws, the people would not ratify such action. They had been brought up in hate of the South and her institutions, and everything that may be done will prove a deception and a fraud. He believed the time had come when the South should secede from the Confederacy. Gen. Chapman--I give you the following: "The Central Confederacy — A postscript to the Black Republican platform. We rejected the original — we scorn the supplement." Lieut. Gov. Mostague was called upon to respond. He said it was a strange sentiment for him to respond to. He believed that there was but one man in Virginia who could propose an abandonment of the Southern States in this crisis. [Loud cheers] In proceeding, the speaker expressed the utmost scorn at the idea of a Central Confederacy, and took the ground that Virginia was bound to take her stand by the side of her sister Southern States. The President then announced the next toast: "South Carolina--The missing Pleiad, upon which every Southerner now vents his hope; upon which the patriot has fixed his love." J. Randolph Tucker, Attorney General of Virginia, was called upon, and in complying, said it there was a sentiment which he could respond to with all his heart, it was a sentiment to South Carolina. He trusted Virginia would be beside her before very long. His speech was an earnest and eloquent appeal in favor of secession, in which the dangers of delay were made fully apparent. In regard to the proposed Convention, he said it ought to meet and declare Virginia out of the Union at once. He wanted this to be regarded as a part of his political record. The next sentiment was announced, as follows: "The Principle of Coercion — Conceived in folly and born of tyranny; we despise its weakness and defy its power." Hon. Jeremiah Morton, of Culpeper county, responded to this sentiment. He commented with stern severity upon the tardiness of the Virginia Legislature. He related with great effect the anecdote of Mrs. Lewis, who told her sons when the news of Tarleton's approach to Staunton was announced, to go and fight, and never see their mother's face again if they suffered a British soldier to set his foot on the soil of old Augusta. One such woman, he said, was worth the whole seventy-seven men who voted for the amendment to the Convention bill that day. Mr. John Seddon here proposed "The reputation of Gen. Scott." To be drank in silence. Gen. Chapman--I now give the last regular toast: "African Slavery — The crime of the infidel, the curse of the hypocrite, the hope of the Christian and the blessing of the patriot." B. B. Douglass, Esq., Senator from King William, being called to respond, said there were circumstances under which he was averse to speaking; one was, when he had nothing to say, and another was, when he was called to address an audience already exhausted and wearied. He, however, cordially endorsed the sentiment. He would lay down his life before the soil of Virginia should be pressed by an invading foe. He was attached to the Union, and slow to believe that secession was the only remedy for our wrongs. He now believed that the only chance for Virginia was to go out at once, and place herself by the side of South Carolina. Go out first and then negotiate. Attorney General Tucker gave-- "The City of Richmond — True to the interests of the South." Gen. August, Senator from Richmond city, being loudly called for, made a brief response, but excused himself from making a speech on account of the lateness of the hour. And then, at about 2 o'clock A. M., the company separated.
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