General Assembly of Virginia.
Friday, Feb. 1, 1861.
Called to order at 12 o'clock.
Prayer by the Rev.
J. A. Duncan
, of the Broad Street
A communication from the House
was read, announcing the passage of sundry bills.
The President laid before the Senate a communication from Governor Letcher
, transmitting ‘"from his Excellency John Tyler
a detailed report of his acts as Commissioner
, accompanied by a copy of the correspondence between himself and the President
of the United States
The following is the correspondence which passed between Ex-President John Tyler
and President Buchanan
, soon after the arrival of the former in the city of Washington
From Ex-President Tyler to the President.
Washington City, Jan. 23, 1861.
I take the earliest moment to apprize you of my arrival in this city, in charge of the feelings and wishes of the Legislature of Virginia, which have in view the preservation of the peace of the country, and under instructions to communicate them to your Excellency
at the earliest moment practicable.
May I ask of you to indicate some hour when it would be agreeable to you to receive me, and thereby enable me to acquit myself of the duty imposed upon me.
I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration and respect, your most obedient servant,
The President's reply.
Wednesday Afternoon, Jan. 23, 1861,
My Dear Sir:
I am happy to learn that you have arrived, and shall be glad to welcome you this evening, at 8 o'clock, or to-morrow morning as early as you please.
From your friend,
Note to President--no. 2.
Wednesday Evening, Jan, 23, 1861.
My Dear Sir:
Accept many thanks for your prompt and cordial reply to my note; my health is too delicate to make it prudent for me to encounter the night air, but I will do myself the pleasure to call upon you in the morning.
Very truly and sincerely yours,
The President.John Tyler
Note to the President, enclosing telegraphic Dispatch.
Friday Evening. 7 o'clock, Jan. 25, 1861.
My Dear Sir:
The enclosed telegraphic dispatch is this moment received.
May I be permitted to hope that it is based on an unfounded report?
If not, will you do me the favor to inform me on what day the Brooklyn
received her orders, on what day she sailed, and whether she has recruits for any Southern port?
and if so, for which?
With high regard, yours, most truly. John Tyler
The President of U. S.
25TH January, 1861.
My Dear Sir:
I have just received your note.
The orders were given to the Brooklyn
, I believe, on Monday or Tuesday last; certainly before your arrival in this city.
She goes on an errand of mercy and relief.
If she had not been sent, it would have been an abandonment of our highest duty.
Her movements are in no way connected with South Carolina
Your friend, very respectfully. James Buchanan
His Excellency John Tyler
P. S.--I was prepared to send my message in strong terms, but the Senate have unfortunately adjourned over until Monday.
Brown's Hotel, Jan. 28th, 1861.
My dear Sir:
I leave this city to-morrow morning for the brief interval that elapses between this and the meeting of the Commissioners
, on the 4th of February. In making my adien, which I should do in person but for engagements which prevent, I desire to express my pleasure at hearing your message read to-day in the Senate, and to tender my acknowledgments for the facilities you have afforded me in acquitting myself of the mission with which my State entrusted me. I feel but one regret in all that has occurred, and that is the sailing of the Brooklyn
, under orders issued before my arrival in this city.
I hope, however, that she sailed with such instructions as, if followed, will prevent any collision.
There is nothing that I more sincerely desire than that your administration may close amid the rejoicings of a great people at the consummation of the work of a renewed and more harmonious Confederacy.
Will you pardon me for calling your attention to the rumor contained in the newspapers of the morning, which state that active proceedings are in course of execution at Fortress Monroe
, in planting cannon upon the land side of the fort, with their muzzles turned landward and overlooking the country?
If this be so, Mr. President
, is such proceeding either appropriate or well timed?
I shall do no more than call your attention to the circumstance and leave it without comment, with this single remark — that when Virginia
is making every possible effort to redeem and save the Union
, it is seemingly ungracious to have connon leveled at her bosom.
With my most cerdial wishes for your success in steering the ship of state amid the critical relations of the country,
I am, dear sir,
Truly and faithfully yours, John Tyler
Reply of the President.
Washington, 28th Jan., 1861.
My Dear Sir:
I have received your note of this evening, and am happy to learn that you were pleased at hearing my message read to-day in the Senate.
It expresses my sincere and cordial sentiment.
My best wishes attend you on your journey home, and for your safe return to this city on the 4th February. I shall then hope to see more of you.
I shall make it a point to inquire to-morrow into the rumors in the newspapers to which you refer, in relation to Fortress Monroe
The correspondence was accompanied by the following statement from Ex-President Tyler:
Jan. 31st, 1861.
To the Governor
of the State of Virginia
: Dear Sir:
I received your communication notifying me of my appointment, by the concurrent vote of the two houses of the General Assembly, as a Commissioner to the President
of the United States
, with instructions respectfully to request the President
to abstain, pending the proceedings contemplated by the action of the General Assembly, from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms between the States which have seceded, or shall secede, and the Government
of the United States
, on the afternoon of Monday, the 21st Inst., by the mail of that day; and in disregard of a severe state of indisposition under which I had labored for some time previous, I resolved, at all hazards to myself, personally, to carry out so far as I could, the patriotic wishes of the Legislature.
By the earliest conveyance, I reached Richmond
on the evening of the succeeding day, (Tuesday, 22d,) and having had an interview with your Excellency
and my Co-Commissioners, proceeded by the morning train of cars the next day (Wednesday, 23rd) for the city of Washington
, which I reached on the afternoon of the same day.
I am thus particular in giving precise dates so that the Legislature may perceive that with all possible promptitude and dispatch I obeyed their wishes, and also to show that I was duly sensible of the importance of time in the whole proceeding.
Immediately after reaching Washington
, I addressed a note (marked No. 1) to the President
of the United States
, informing him of my arrival, and asking an early hour to be designated by him to enable me to place him in possession of the wishes and feelings of the Legislature of Virginia, and the instructions which, in the form of her legislative resolves, all having direct reference to the disturbed and painful condition of public affairs, I was desirous of laying before him. He responded promptly, by note, and left it optional with myself to select 8 o'clock of that evening, or an early hour the next morning, for the time of the proposed conlerence.
My note No. 2, for reasons therein set forth, informed him that I would wait upon him in the morning of the ensaing day. My note announcing my arrival, if the objects which had brought me to Washington
had any consideration in the mind of the President
, would, I did not doubt, suspend any hostile movement against any seceding State in the interval of time between its date and the hour at which I should wait upon him the next morning, and supercede the necessity of a night visit.
On the next morning, at the hour of ten, I repaired to the President
's mansion, and met from him a warm and cordial reception.
I lost no time in handing to him your letter of appointment attached by the seal of the State
, and legislative resolutions.
He said they were the first full copies of the resolutions which he had seen, and after reading them, he remarked that he considered them very important, and was good enough to add that, being borne by himself, he should feel it his duty to make them the subject of a special message to Congress.
Either I suggested, or he voluntarily remarked — most probably the latter — that he should accompany them with a strong recommendation to Congress, with whom, he said, rested the entire power over the subject of war or peace, to abstain from all action of a hostile character until Virginia
should have a fair opportunity to exert all her efforts to preserve the public peace and restore harmony to the Union
I said to him that my mission was to him — that he was Commander-in-Chief
of the Army and Navy — could regulate the movements of soldiers and ships, in peace and in war, and that everything Virginia
desired was that the status quo
should be observed.
I represented to him that the people of Virginia
were almost universally inclined to peace and reconciliation.
That I need not inform him of the sacrifice the State
had made for the Union
in its initiation, or of her instrumentality in the creation of the Constitution
That her efforts to reconstruct or preserve depended for their success on her being permitted to conduct them undisturbed by outside collision. --He replied that he had in no messure changed his views as presented in his annual message-- that he could give no pledges — that it was his duty to enforce the laws, and the whole power rested in Congress.
He complained that the South
had not treated him properly — that they had made unnecessary demonstrations, by seizing unprotected arsenals and forts, and thus perpetrating useless acts of bravado, which had quite as well been let alone.
I suggested to him that while these things were, I admitted, calculated to fret and irritate the Northern
mind, that he could see in them only the necessary results of popular excitement which, after all, worked no mischief in the end if harmony between the States was once more restored; that the States wherein the seisures had been made would account for all the public property, and that in the meantime the agency or the preservation was only changed. --He repeated his sense of the obligations which rested upon him --could give no pledges but those contained in his public acts, and recurred again to the proceedings of the Legislature, and his intention to send them to Congress in a special message, accompanied with a strong recommendation to avoid the passage of any legislation.
I asked if I might be permitted to see the sketch of the message, which he unhesitatingly replied that he would take pleasure in showing it to me the next morning.
Much more occurred in the course of our interview, which lasted for an hour and a half, all, however, relating xclusively to the above topics, and I left him entirely satisfied with the results of my interview.
The President was frank and entirely confinding in his language and whole manner.
A moment's reflection satisfied me that if the message, contained the recommendation to Congress to abstain from hostile legislation, I was at liberty to infer a similar determination on his part of a state of quietude.
Friday, 25.--I waited on him again the following morning, and he lost no time in reading me so much of the sketch of the proposed message as related to the recommendation to Congress.
I suggested no change or alteration, believing it to be amply sufficient, and I became only auxious for its presentation to Congress.
He said he should have it all prepared to be ubmitted to his Cabinet on that day, and would send it in the next day. On the afternoon of the same day--Friday, 25--I was waited upon by the Secretary of State
and the Attorney General
, who stated that they had called upon me at the request of the President
, to express his regret that, in consequence of the adjournment over to Monday, he would not be able to send in the message until Monday.
While in conversation with those gentlemen, which chiefly turned on the condition of public affairs, I was started by the receipt of a telegraphic dispatch from Judge Robertson
, my co-commissioner, dated at Charleston, S. C.
, inquiring into the foundation of a rumor which had reached that place, that the steamship Brooklyn
, with troops, had sailed for the South
, from Norfolk
.-- I immediately handed over the dispatch to the gentlemen, with the suitable inquiries.
The Attorney General
said in substance, ‘ "You know, sir, that I am attached to the Law Department, and not in the way of knowing anything about it."’ The Secretary of State
said that he had heard and believed that the Brooklyn
had sailed with some troops, but he did not know either when she started or to what point she was destined.
I then said, ‘"I hope that she has not received her orders since my arrival in Washington
."’ On this point the gentlemen could give me no information, but expressed no doubt but that the President
would give me the information, if requested.
I excused myself to them, and immediately withdrawing to the adjoining room, I addressed to the President
note No. 3, which Mr. Staunton
, the Attorney General
, kindly volunteered to bear in person and without loss of time to the President
In a short time afterwards Mr. Staunton
returned to inform me that he had carried the note to the President's house
, but for a reason not necessary here to state, he could not see the President
, but had placed it in the hands of his servant, to be delivered at the earliest opportunity.
The reply of the President--No. 2
--reached me at half-after 11 o'clock that night.
In the interim, I had dispatched by telegraph to Judge Robertson
the information I had collected; and, upon the opening of the telegraphic office the next morning, (Saturday,) the material points of the President
's reply, relating to the sailing of the Brooklyn
, viz: that she had gone on an errand ‘"of mercy and relief,"’ and that ‘"she was not destined to South Carolina
"’--the orders for the sailing of the ship, as will be seen, were issued before I reached Washington
After receiving the letter, and willingly adopting the most favorable construction of its expressions, I resolved to remain in Washington
until after Monday, when the Message would go to the two Houses.
I listened to its reading in the Senate with pleasure and can only refer to the newspapers for its contents, as no copies were printed and obtained by me before I left Washington
, on Tuesday morning, the 29th inst. On Monday afternoon, I bade my adieus to the President
, in the accompanying letter, marked No. 4, to which I received his reply.
The morning newspapers contained the rumor that the proceeding had been adopted of mounting guns on the land side of Fortress Monroe
, and in my letter I deemed it no way inappropriate to call the attention of the President
to those rumors.
Thus has terminated my mission to the President
under the legislative resolutions.
I trust that the result of the Brooklyn
's cruise may terminate peaceably.
No intimation was given me of her having sailed in either of my interviews with the President
, and all connected with her destination remains to me a State secret.
I had no right to require to be admitted into the inner vestibule of the Cabinet
, however much I might complain should the results prove the errand of the ship from the first to have been beligerent and warlike.
On motion of Mr. Taliaferro
the report and accompanying documents were laid on the table and ordered to be printed.
--A bill concerning the Court of Appeals and the Special Court of Appeals; a bill to incorporate the Amherst and Nelson Woolen, Cotton, Iron, and Leather Manufacturing Company; a bill to authorize the issue of preferred stock by the Alexandria
, Mount Vernon
and Accotinck Turnpike Company; a bill to amend an act entitled an act to incorporate the Farmville and Buckingham Plank-Road Company; a bill providing that railroad companies in which the Commonwealth
is a stockholder shall use, in the construction, equipment, repair, and operation of their roads, materials,&c., produced and manufactured in this State; a bill to incorporate the Southern Manufacturing Company, (an arms company, to be located in Richmond
;) a bill releasing the schooner Pauline
from the payment of a fine of $500, for an alleged violation of the inspection laws; petition of sundry citizens of Norfolk
, for an amendment to the laws in relation to landlords and tenants; petition of John H. Claiborne
, and others, for relief from the injurious effects of the laws in regard to the inspection of plaster of paris; a bill in relation to the devise made by Joel Osborn
, to the Alexandria
Railroad; a bill for organizing a volunteer force to be called the Virginia Volunteer Legion.
Resolutions of Inquiry.
--By Mr. Newlon
, of reporting a bill to incorporate the Virginia Oil
and Coal Company; by Mr. Brannon
, of releasing Wm. H. Hall
, late Sheriff
of Lewis county
, from a judgment had against him.
The consideration of the bill to amend the charter of the Winchester and Potomac Railroad Company was resumed, the question being on its indefinite postponement.
, of Fairfax
, addressed the Senate in opposition to the b At the conclusion of his remarks.
On motion of Mr. Christian
, the Senate adjourned.