Virginia State Convention.
Monday, March 11, 1861.
The Convention assembled at 12 o'clock, and was called to order by the President
Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Peterkin
, of St. James
' Episcopal Church.
, of Preston
, corrected some portion of his remarks, delivered on Thursday last, as reported in the Richmond Enquirer
, of Preston
, offered the following resolution:
That the thanks of the people of Virginia
be and they are hereby most cordially tendered to the Hon. John J. Crittenden
, for his reasonable, jealous and patriotic efforts in the Senate of the United States to bring about a just and honorable adjustment of our national difficulties.
, of Princess Anne, moved to lay the resolution upon the table, upon which motion Mr. Brown
called for the yeas and nays, and the vote resulted as follows:
, Ro. H. Turner
, and Woods
, baldwin, Alfred Mr. Barbour
, James Barbour, Taylor
, Blow, Jr., Boggess
, C. B. Conrad
, Ro. Y. Conrad
, Beskias, Dulany
, Gravely, Gray
, Aderson Hall, Ephraim B. Hall
, Bammond, Haymond
, Marmaduke Johnson
, Peter C. Johnston
, James B. Mallory
, Marye, Sr.
, Maslin, Masters, Moffett
, Eyes, Saunders, Sr.
, Robert E. Scolf
, Sharp, Sheffey
, Sillington, Southall
, Alex. H. H. Stuart
, Chapman J. Stuart
, , Tarr
, and Wysor--92.
So the Convention
refused to lay the resolution on the table.
The question then being on the adoption of the resolution.
said he objected to the resolution, not because he wished to withhold any tribute from the distinguished gentleman, but that (among other considerations) he had been selected from among the many who had been exerting themselves in behalf of the country.
That minor objection he could have well waived; but his chief objection was that it brought up in an indirect form the question upon the merits of Mr. Crittenden
He thought the Convention
had matters of direct importance to attend to.
, of Preston
, made some remarks in favor of the resolution.
, of Goochland
, offered to amend the resolution by adding--
That the Convention
does not mean hereby to approve or disapprove the measures proposed by the Peace Congress.
, of Wood
, moved the previous question, with a view to cut off the amendment, but the President
stating that it did not so apply, the motion was withdrawn.
, of Henrico
, opposed the amendment, on the ground that the resolution and not carry with it an endorsement of the Crittenden proposition.
The question was then taken on the adoption of the amendment, and was decided in the negative.
The question recurring on the passage of the resolution, Mr. Wise
called for the yeas and nays; and the roll being called, the result of the vote was announced as follows: yeas 101, nays 16.
So the resolution was adopted.
, of Dinwiddie
, was excused from voting.
, of Lancaster
, stated that he had paired off with Mr. Mostague
, of Richmond
, voted in the affirmative, and Mr. Randolph
in the negative.
, of Ohio
, stated that on the application of several members, he had procured a statement from the Superintendent
of the Census Bureau, giving the complete population of Virginia
, by counties.
It was, on motion, laid on the table, and ordered to be printed.
The document gives the following as the entire population of the Commonwealth
The report of the Peace Commissioners.
, of Kanawha
, moved that the report of the Commissioners
to the Peace Conference be taken up from the table, it being his purpose to move its reference to the Committee
on Federal Relations.
The motion was carried in the affirmative, and the report was taken up.
, as one of the Commissioners
to the Peace Conference, desired to give his views of the proposition adopted by that body.
The Conference was composed of representatives from seven slaveholding States and fourteen non-slaveholding States; and while to some extent there was a disposition adverse to the views of the Southern
members, he was gratified to find a more general disposition to restore harmony and to perpetuate the Union
, especially on the part of the Commissioners
from the border non-slaveholding States.
Beyond that border line, Rhode Island
through all proceeded in entire harmony with the wishes of those from the Southern States
was with us throughout.
, by a large majority of their Commissioners, exhibited a like purpose and spirit.
There was a hopeful interest throughout for strengthening the bonds of Union, exhibited in the outstretching efforts on the part of those States.
He also included Illinois
, the latter, however, did not vote on the final adoption of the propositions, declining to do so under instructions of her Legislature.
After more further introductory remarks, he proceeded to consider the propositions, and gave his views at length upon each separate recommendation.
In regard to the dividing line of 36 deg. 30 min., if that was an objection to these propositions, the same could be urged against Mr. Crittenden
's, which the General Assembly had endorsed.
They declared that the status of persons held to service and labor shall not be changed; or that the condition of slaves shall not be changed.
Slavery is already established on the South
side of this line, and has received full and ample protection from the Government
of New Mexico
He read from the Code adopted by the Legislature of that Territory, entitled ‘"an act to provide for the protection of property in slaves in the Territory
."’ It was, he said, a full, complete and perfect codification of all acts necessary for the purpose.
The Peace Conference report makes a declaration of the existence of slavery in the Territory
, and recognizes the right to emigrate there with such property.
Many persons, he thought, had misconstrued the proposition as regards the protection proposed to be furnished by law, and argued that nothing furnished so complete protection as the common law. That was resorted to in Virginia
There was no deficiency in the supply of remedies, if any were required.
As to the objection that the words ‘"slave"’ and ‘"African
slavery"’ do not appear in the propositions, he referred to the history of the Constitution of the United States
, where the terms are not used.
In adopting that instrument, the question occurred as to how far slaves should count in the matter of representation.
Southern politicians held that they should not be counted at all while the North
thought they should be counted entire; and they compromised by taking three-fifths.
In the fugitive slave clause, the term ‘ "persons held to service"’ was supplied by a Representative from South Carolina
They saw no necessity for changing the phrase in amending the Constitution
, and he did not therefore think the propositions were obnoxious in that point of view.
He went on to show that the Peace Conference propositions afforded equal protection with the Crittenden proposition, and in regard to the dividing line, he thought they acquired what was better.
He had moved the Second section as a substitute for the section reported by the Committee
in the Conference, for the purpose of giving the South
an equal chance in the future acquisition of territory.
[This point was elaborately argued by Mr. Summers
, but we do not desire to impair the effect of his positions by giving a partial report.] All voted for the Crittenden proposition in the Conference, under the instructions of the General Assembly, but could not obtain it. He then proposed to substitute for it equality of rights and of acquisition.
If the States were all again in combination — and none were more hopeful than himself that they would be — they would have sufficient power to maintain it. In the present condition of things, with only eight slave States, it would be impossible.
He called the Peace Conference Report ‘"the first example of the self-protecting power of sections."’ The North
were looking to future acquisitions as much as we were — perhaps more.
It was said in Washington
, by a very adroit and distinguished Northern politician, that they had an eye upon Canada
, and it would come.--They were also looking to the Sandwich Islands
The Conference proposition puts a stop to such proceedings, unless by a majority of both sections.
It enables you to settle all these matters in advance; it enables you to bargain; and unless it is settled fairly, it cannot be done at all. You can contest future acquisitions with them, foot by foot.
With regard to Cuba
, he said there was no trouble to be apprehended on that score; the North
was more anxious to obtain it than the South
was; and if Cuba
comes in, she must come as a great slave State, for without the institution of slavery her vast wealth cannot be developed.
He looked upon the Peace proposition as making a better disposition of the Territorial questions than the Crittenden proposition; equal in rights and privileges, and infinitely better in regard to that which may be before us in the future.
continued his argument at some length on other branches of the proposition, but without concluding, gave way to a motion to adjourn, which was submitted by Mr. Gray
, of Rockingham
, but withdrawn at the request of
, of Richmond
, who stated that there were sundry claims for services rendered by persons previous to the organization of the Convention
, and he offered a resolution for the appointment of a committee of three to audit such claims.
More minority reports.
, of Augusta
, submitted the following as a minority report from the Committee
on Federal Relations:
The Representatives of the People of Virginia
, in Convention assembled, are profoundly sensible of the difficulty, delicacy, and importance of the duty which, in obedience to the popular will, they have assumed to perform.
They feel that the controversy which, unfortunately, distracts and divides our country, has brought about a condition of public affairs, for which history has no parallel, and the experience of Government no precedent.
They recognize the fact that the great questions which press for consideration, are of entire novelty and of great intrinsic difficulty, and that their proper solution will require, on the part of our Government, State and Federal, and of our people, the exercise of the utmost prudence, discretion, calmness, and forbearance.
They concur, most earnestly, in the opinion declared by the General Assembly of Virginia
, that a permanent dissolution of the Union
is inevitable, unless our unhappy controversies can be adjusted in the spirit in which the Constitution
was originally formed; and they feel, that to perfect any such adjustment, it is of indispensable necessity that, during its progress, the peace of the country shall be maintained, and that all parties shall, in good faith, avoid giving just occasion for irritation, collision, and bloodshed: Therefore.
- 1. Be it Resolved, by the People of Virginia, in Convention assembled, That the conference of States which upon the invitation of Virginia was recently held in the city of Washington, having recommended certain amendments to the Constitution of the U. States, as in the opinion of the Conference containing a fair and satisfactory adjustment of existing difficulties, so far as they can be reached by changes in the original law, this Convention is of opinion that the said amendments, if concurred in by the States hereinafter invited to conference, and engrafted upon the Constitution of the United States, will be satisfactory to the people of Virginia
The peculiar relations of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas, to each other, and to the other States, make it proper, in the judgment of the Convention, that the former States should consult together for the maintenance of their rights in the Union, or, failing in that, to concert such measures for their final action as the honor, the interests and the safety of their people may demand; and for that purpose the proper authorities of those States are requested to appoint Commissioners to meet Commissioners appointed by this Convention, on behalf of the people of this State, at Frankfort, in the State of Kentucky, on the last Monday in May next.
- 3. The people of Virginia will not anticipate any disposition on the part of the General Government to engage in the hopeless effort to subject the governments and people of seven States, against their will, to Federal authority.
Any such attempt would inevitably result in civil war — soon to become a sectional war against the institutions and people of the fifteen States of this Union.
The people of Virginia cannot be inattentive or indifferent to any indications of such a policy; but they trust that the Government will take the wiser course, and will, in accordance with the spirit of our institutions, withdraw all irritating displays of force, and seek to disarm freemen by removing the causes of their just complaints.
- 4. The grievances for which several of the States have undertaken to withdraw from the Union, are such as have affected Virginia to a greater extent than any one of them.
For these grievances she requires and expects to obtain full redress; and she will be slow to believe that those States will find it consistent with their inclinations or their interests to abandon permanently a Union in which they are offered terms of adjustment which, in respect to common interests and common grievances, satisfy the judgment and honor of Virginia.
In any event, as Virginia is endeavoring to secure to them the opportunity to determine their destiny in peace, she can look with no favor or sympathy upon any conduct on their part tending to precipitate upon her people the horrors of civil war.
It is the belief of this Convention that the sectional controversies which divide the people of the United States, if not originated, have been greatly aggravated by the management of politicians for the advancement of personal and party schemes.
They feel confident that if the people, North and South, can come to understand each other, they will find means to compel a fair and amicable settlement of all the matters in dispute.
It is therefore recommended that the Conference at Frankfort shall take into consideration the propriety of a direct appeal to the people of the North in favor of Justice, Union and Peace.
- 6. The Federal authorities under the Constitution as it is, having disclaimed the power to recognize the withdrawal of any State from the Union, or to deal with the grave questions arising upon such withdrawal — the people of Virginia, without expressing any opinion upon the question of power, but in deference to the opinion of the Federal authorities, hereby declare their willingness to unite in conferring upon the Government of the United States the power, if it shall become necessary, to recognize the separate independence of the seceding States, and to make such treaties with them and to pass such laws as the separation may render proper.
- 7. In order to await the action of the Frankfort Conference, this Convention will adjourn to meet again on the — day of--, 1861.
, of Henrico
, submitted the following as a minority report from the Committee
on Federal Relations:
The representatives of the people of Virginia
, in Convention assembled, are profoundly sensible of the difficulty, delicacy and importance of the duty which, in obedience to the popular will, they have assumed to perform.
They feel that the controversy which unfortunately distracts and divides our country, has brought about a condition of public affairs for which history has no parallel, and the experience of Governments no precedent.
They recognize the fact that the great questions which press for consideration are of entire novelty and of great intrinsic difficulty, and that their proper solution will require on the part of our Governments, State and Federal, and of our people, the exercise of the utmost prudence, discretion, calmness and forbearance.
Above all other things, at this time, they esteem it of indispensable necessity to maintain the peace of the country, and to avoid everything calculated or tending to produce collision and bloodshed.
The grievances for which several of the States have withdrawn from the Union
and overthrown the Federal Government
within their limits, are such as have affected the people of Virginia
to a greater extent than any of the seceded States, and it is their determined purposes to require such guarantees for the protection of the rights of the people of the slaveholding States as in the judgment of Virginia
will be sufficient for the accomplishment of that object.
Deeply deploring the present distracted condition of the country, and lamenting the wrongs that have impelled some of the States to cast off obedience to the Federal Government
, but sensible of the blessings of Union, and impressed with its importance to the peace, prosperity and progress of the people, she indulges the hope that an adjustment may be reached by which the Union
may be preserved in its integrity, and peace, prosperity and fraternal feelings be restored throughout the land.
having initiated measures to obtain such guarantees, a proper self-respect impels her to demand of all the parties that they shall refrain, during the pendency of her efforts for amicable adjustment, from all action tending to produce a collision of forces: Therefore;
That the people of Virginia
are, under existing circumstances, unalterably opposed to the exercise of any species of force on the part of the Federal Government
towards the States that have withdrawn themselves from the Union
, and believing that any armed collision between the Federal
authorities and those of the seceded States would render utterly futile the efforts in which Virginia
is engaged, to reconcile the differences now existing between the States, and would cause the irrevocable dissolution of the Union
, they earnestly insist that the Federal Government
shall adopt a pacific policy towards those States, shall make no attempt to subject them to Federal authority, or to reinforce the forts now in possession of the military forces of the U. States
, or to recapture the forts, arsenals or other property of the U. States
within their limits, nor to resort to any measures calculated in the present excited state of feeling to provoke hostile collision; and on the other hand they invoke the seceded States to abstain from any act tending to produce such collision between them and the Federal
That the peculiar relations of the States of Delaware
, North Carolina
, to the other States, make it proper, in the judgment of this Convention, that the former States should consult together and concert such measures for their final action as the honor, the interests and the safety of the people thereof may demand, and for that purpose the proper authorities of those States are requested to appoint Commissioners to meet Commissioners to be appointed by this Convention on behalf of the people of this State, at Frankfort
, in the State of Kentucky
, on the last Monday
in May next.
That whilst we desire to confer with the States mentioned in the preceding resolution upon this as upon all other matters connected with our National troubles, yet we deem it proper to declare that we regard the propositions agreed upon by the Convention
, recently in session in the city of Washington
, known as the ‘"Peace Congress,"’ as affording, if adopted as amendments to the Constitution
, a fair, proper, and honorable basis of adjustment of all our National difficulties.
That the people of Virginia
, confiding in the justice of the people of her sister States, appeals to them for a satisfactory adjustment of the existing difficulties in our Federal Relations, Virginia, therefore, invites the people of the several States, either by popular vote, or in Conventions similar to her own, to respond at their earliest convenience to the positions assumed in the foregoing resolutions.
She cannot regard a failure to obtain such adjustment in any other light than as a final overthrow of the Union
of these States.
On motion, the reports were laid on the table and ordered to be printed.
Printing the debates.
, from the special committee appointed to confer with the editors of the Richmond Enquirer
in reference to the misunderstanding about the payment for the paper used in printing the debates, submitted a report, which was, on his motion, laid on the table.
Hour of Meeting.
, of Washington
, offered a resolution to change the hour of meeting from 12 to 11 o'clock; which, on motion, was laid on the table.
On motion of Mr. Staples
, of Patrick
, the Convention