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Friday, March 8, 1861. The Convention was called to order at 12 o'clock. Prayer by the Rev. Dr. Moore, of the Presbyterian Church. Personal Explanation. Mr. Early (by permission of the gentleman from Alexandria, who was entitled to the floor, arose to a personal explanation. He alluded to the remarks made in connection with the remarks of Mr. Goode, of Bedford, day before yesterday. Since that time a correspondence had passed between them, which he would ask, with the assent of the member from Bedford, to have read before the Convention. The letters were then read by the Secretary, showing that nothing personally offensive as intended by either party. Mr. Early added that the former personal relations between himself and the member from Bedford were perfectly restored. Ordinance of Separation. Mr. Wysor, of Pulaski, asked and obtained leave to submit a proposition in the form of an Ordinance, to be referred to the Committee on Federal Relations. It reads as follows: ‘ An Ordinance dissolving all political connection now existing between the State of Virginia and other States composing the American Union, and establishing the separate independence of the former. We the people of the State of Virginia, in Convention assembled, having been called together to consider the present distracted and unhappy relations existing between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding members of the Federal Union, and to provide suitable and adequate remedies for the evils which flow from those relations, do most solemnly declare, that, whilst we have always kept and performed all the covenants of the Constitution of the United States on our part, truly, fully, and in good faith, our non-slaveholding confederates have not only failed and refused to keep the same, and still continue so to refuse, but they have palpably violated them, both in their letter and spirit, in repeated instances, wherein their faithful performance was of the most essential and vital consequence to our peace, but safety, and our happiness. ’ In proof of this, we submit to the candid and impartial judgment of mankind, the following plain recital of facts: The people of these States have, for the last thirty years or more, assailed negro slavery — an institution recognized by the Constitution of the United States, and of vital importance in the social and industrial systems of this and the other Southern States; without scruple as to the means of mode of attack, and without regard to the consequences to us. They have, during this whole period, been abusing the great rights of freedom of speech and of the press, continued to agitate and discuss this social and domestic relation of ours, not theirs, on the hastings, in the pulpit, in the halls of legislation of individual States and of Congress — through the political press — through books, pamphlets and the drama, to our great annoyance and injury; and against our repeated remonstrances, and our entreaties that these unfriendly acts should be forborne. They have prostituted the mail service of the United States, designed to facilitate friendly, social and commercial correspondence, to the unholy purpose of distributing incendiary publications among our people — thereby disturbing our peace, rendering our slaves discontented and unhappy, and inciting them to insurrection and rebellion against their masters. They have for the same unholy purposes sent emissaries and incendiaries among us. They have encouraged and promoted the invasion of our soil by lawless men, armed against our peace, our prosperity, and our lives; and have, by public ovations, converted into heroes and martyrs the murderers of our people. A majority of those States have persistently refused to comply with the provision of the Federal Constitution for the rendition of fugitives from labor; and have, by legislative enacments, impeded, hindered and prevented the execution of the Fugitive Slave law, made in pursuance of that provision, and sevaral of said States have refused to surrender fugitives from justice, in cases where the crime imputed to the fugitive consisted in a violation of our rights with respect to slaves. These States have, with one voice, denied to this and the other slaveholding States an equal participation in the common territory of the United States, with the avowed object of confining slavery within its present limits, and of ‘"placing it in the course of ultimate extinction."’ And, finally, they have set up over us an absolute despotism, consisting in the unchecked will of a mete sectional and numerical majority, which has seized upon the powers of Government and holds them for our present injury and ultimate destruction. By these means, the powers granted by the Constitution have been perverted to our injury and oppression, and a foreign rule has been established for the control of our interests, the subversion of our rights, and our complete subjugation to absolute power. And, whereas, when the people of Virginia, in Convention assembled, assented to and ratified the Constitution of the United States, they did declare and make known ‘ "that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will."’ Now, therefore, we the people of the State of Virginia, conscious of the right, and hoping under God to maintain it, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the Ordinance adopted by us, in Convention, on the 25th of June, 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repeated, rescinded and abrogated. We do further declare and ordain that the Union now subsisting between the State of Virginia and other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. We do further declare and ordain, that the effect of the foregoing ordinance shall be to absolve each and every citizen of this Commonwealth, wherever residing, from all duty of obedience to the authority of the Federal Government, whether civil or military. We do further declare and ordain, that the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Lieut. Governor and Attorney General, shall have power, in addition to the purposes for which he may now embody the militia of the Commonwealth, to embody them to repel any and every attempt, by force, to intimidate or coerce the people of this State to submit, against their will, to the authority of the Federal Government. Provided, That the foregoing ordinances shall not take effect or be of any force until the same shall have been submitted to and ratified by the votes of a majority of the people of this State, at a poll therein to be taken, on the — day of--, in the year 1861, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted. Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations. voice of the people. Mr. Campbell, of Washington, presented a series of secession resolutions, adopted by the people of the town of Goodson, in his county. He did not endorse the resolutions, but offered them to the Convention because he was requested to do so. They were then read, and, on motion of Mr. Campbell, laid upon the table. order of the day. The Convention proceeded to consider the amendment of the member from Amelia to the amendment of the member from Goochland, on the question of certain instructions to the Committee on Federal Relations. Mr. Brent, of Alexandria, being entitled to the floor, proceeded to address the Convention. After alluding to the present secession movement as a national suicide, and the greatness and power of the American Confederacy, he said the questions involved were Union or Disunion — peace or civil war. Secession had not been brought about by, any mere chance. The prosperity of the Union had continued uninterrupted during the thirty years that Abolitionism had been doing all it could for the overthrow of Government, and South Carolina and her statesmen had, with like assiduity, pursued their schemes of disunion. He traced in these two schools of political philosophy the root of all the evils under which we suffer. South Carolina had pertinaciously sought to secede from this Union. He respected her spirit, and had no desire to do her injustice; but went on to show that it was not an apprehension for the safety of the institution of slavery that caused her to seek redress. He quoted from the Charleston Review of 1851, and other Southern authorities, in support of his position. It was his opinion that Virginia was not invited to a banquet of prosperity and power, but to a carnival of death. He was in favor of a preservation of the Union, and opposed to the probable policy of the Southern Confederacy. With regard to the Inaugural of Lincoln, while he was not his apologist, and dissented from many of his dangerous doctrines, he thought it was not susceptible of being construed into an intention to march an army to the seceded States, for the purpose of enforcing payment of revenue. After a long argument in regard to the powers of the Supreme Court, he reverted to the glories of the Union, which Virginia was now called upon to rescue from peril. She had repeatedly saved it before by peaceful mediation, and he urged her now to demand the speedy settlement of the issues pending between the two sections, at once and forever. Let her, as indicated in the resolution of the gentleman from Chesterfield, call a conference of the Border States, and let them propose an ultimatum. Let Virginia avoid rash action. If all her efforts fail to bring back the seceding States, let her not secede from the Union, but take a stand upon the Constitution, and with such States as will join her, assume the control of the Government of the United States. He opposed throughout the policy of secession, but admitted the right of a State to secede, and was equally opposed to coercion by the General Government. Mr. Brent spoke about two hours, interweaving with his remarks copious extracts from books and newspapers. Mr. Ambler, of Louisa, said he had hoped to avoid the necessity of explaining his views, but had wanted to see the Convention take a prompt and decided stand, without so much speaking. He had listened with utter surprise to the course which argument had taken here. The Convention had been called together for the purpose of maintaining the right that a free people can only be governed by their consent; yet we had listened day after day to arguments upon the protection of the negro. A stranger, to read the debates, would suppose we were assembled here to protest negro property, and negro property alone. The great principle which lies at the root of free government was involved, and yet we hear gentlemen read extract after extract, newspaper after newspaper, to learn what one man or one editor said one day, and what he said another day, while the great question is ignored or forgotten. Such things do not result from accident — he said it with all respect — they must be designed. The Convention was in the position of an individual by the name of Micawber — always ‘"waiting for something to turn up,"’ and always prepared to say ‘"Barkis is ready."’ And what has turned up? They had said we must wait for the result of the Peace Conference. The Peace Conference had acted, and produced an ambiguous proposition, requiring an interpretation. The speaker went on to urge Western members to come up to the aid of those who stood around the same family altar, pointing them to the sacrifices which Eastern Virginians had made for the maintenance of the Union. Lincoln's Inaugural was subjected to a severe excoriation. Without concluding his remarks, Mr. Ambler gave way to a suggestion for adjournment, and. On motion of Mr. Harvie, the Convention adjourned.
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