Wednesday, March 13, 1861.
The Convention was called to order by the President
at the usual hour.
Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Baker
. of Grace Church, (Episcopal.)
Hour of meeting.
, of Highland
, offered a resolution, as follows:
That, until further ordered, the Convention
will meet at 11 o'clock, instead of 12.
The resolution was ruled out of order, one of similar import having been laid upon the table a few days ago.
Voice of the people.
. of Barbur, presented the proceedings of a meeting of citizens of that county, declaring for the doctrine of State-Rights, opposing coercion, advocating the withdrawal of Virginia
from the Union
endorsed the high character of the citizens who participated in the meeting.
The resolutions were referred to the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Caroline, presented resolutions of a similar character from his county, which were likewise referred.
the Peace Conference propositions.
The President announced the pending question to be on the motion to refer the Peace Conference propositions to the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Charles City
, being entitled to the floor, proceeded to address the Convention
.He said he was about to make a very bold and very daring adventure, the state of his health being unequal to the task of discussing the interesting subject under consideration, but he would attempt it under an impulse of duty.
Called from the quiet and comfort of his home, to meet the fearful crisis impending over the country, he would not now shrink from the labor imposed upon him. After a brief allusion to the part he had taken in the Government
of the country, and the emotion with which he had heard in his retirement of the tearing asunder of the beautiful flag which had so long waved in triumph, he spoke of the last words of Washington
in warning his countrymen against the formation of sectional parties, which had been disregarded by the abolitionists, and the cloud, at first no bigger than a man's hand, now overshadowed us with gloom.-- The politicians took hold of it, and had succeeded in cutting the ship of State loose from her moorings, and now the fragments were floating in an angry sea, He mourned over it; and when the Legislature called upon him to participate in proceedings for the restoration of the Union
, he did not feel at liberty to decline the task.
He read the resolutions of the Legislature embodying the instructions to the Commissioners
, and remarked that they were instructed thereby to make an effort to restore the Union
and the Constitution
as it was; not to make a mere bargain for the interest of the border States He went to Washington
, filled with aspirations for the glory of settling this controversy.
In his address to the Conference, he endeavored to draw around him all the elements composing the body.
He was congratulated with such warmth that he was cheered with hope.
But he soon found that the Northern States
came there with no olive branch to offer.
They had nothing to yield — nothing to give.
Nevertheless they (himself and colleagues) went to work.
The result was, a series of propositions passed by a minority of the Conference.
He asked what was to be done with it. Did the Convention
purpose, as it had a right to do, to send it forth to the States for their adoption ? It required three-fourths of the States to ratify it as an amendment to the Constitution
, and the idea of obtaining their sanction was preposterous.
The Republican politicians could not be made to move an inch.
He alluded to an editorial in the National Intelligencer,
accusing him of being the cause of preventing the action of Virginia
on this matter.
It seemed that everybody loved to attack him. The propositions, he proceeded to say, were composed of seven sections, and each was voted upon separately, and adopted by varying majorities.
His colleague, Mr. Seddon
, then asked a vote upon the entire report.
He, as presiding officer, doubted the propriety of this, and the Conference sustained him in his decision.
Subsequent events had convinced him that he was right.
He was satisfied that the vote of Virginia
did not adopt it as an entirety; and yet the inference was deducible from the remarks of the Intelligencer,
that he gave that decision for the purpose of preventing a vote on the part of Virginia
He then proceeded, after a warm personal compliment to his colleagues who differed with him, to the consideration of the propositions themselves.
In regard to the preservation of the status
in the Territory
of New Mexico
, he alluded to the remarks of a distinguished Northern member of the Conference, in connection therewith, and the interpretation of the term which he gave.
asked if that member was or was not a member from Ohio
— a member of the present Cabinet — by the name of Chase
replied that that was a disclosure.
He declined a direct answer to the question.
The law of Mexico
had emancipated slavery and substituted peonage; and an emigrant to the territory ceded to the United States
now goes there surrounded with all the panoply of liberty.
The gentleman from Kanawha
had spoken of the protection of the common law. What protection could the common law give you on that soil, where the bondman has been emancipated ? In this connection he gave illustrations of conflicting opinions in decisions of the common law, showing that the opinion of Lord Stowell conflicted with that of Lord Mansfield, quoted by the gentleman from Kanawha
The eighth section of the Chicago Platform
was then read to show how common law was to be administered, by a Federal Judge
appointed by Mr. Lincoln
.--What protection had we, then, to expect ? It would, like the apples of the Dead Sea
, fall to ashes the moment you get it in your grasp.
It was said the other day that we didn't want any more territory.
Yes; you may have territory enough, but it is territory in the moon, to which you can never get, for you are hedged off by the second section of the Peace Conference propositions.
The right of transit is denied to our property.--Every day the mechanics of the North
are passing along with their property, but we poor starvelings are to be denied that privilege.
How will you get to New Mexico
?--Would you go by sea ? You will have to double Cape Horn
before you reach the Gulf
Suppose you take it by land ?-- You want to migrate from Missouri
to the Territory
The first thing that arrests you is Kansas
; the next, Arkansas
And there you are, with an immense grant of land, but unable to get to it. But we were told that we were told that we had a plenty of land to fill up for a hundred years to come.
Are you willing to remain without expansion--seven States in this Northern Confederacy, with nineteen against you, and the numbers to be vastly increased during the present Administration ? He was surprised to hear such an argument on this floor.
If gentlemen were satisfied with that state of things, he had nothing to complain of; he differed with them, and that was sufficient.
alluded to He next the resolution of the Legislature, proposing the Crittenden proposition, somewhat amended, as the basis of the Commissioners
His honorable friend from Kanawha
had taken ground indicating a willingness to be contented without the acquisition of future territory.
asked if he understood the gentleman to say that he was satisfied without future acquisition ? He would, he doubted not, bear him out in the remark that he voted for the Crittenden proposition, but accepted the other when that failed.
said he would in no respect misrepresent him. He had understood him to say that in the propositions the South
had gained more than was asked by the Crittenden propositions.
said he had argued that, taken as a whole, they were an equivalent to, and in some respects better, than the Crittenden propositions.
The corresponding sections of the two propositions, touching the Territorial question, were then read, and Mr.Tyler
proceeded to draw a comparison between them.
The measure suggested by Mr. Crittenden
was like the man himself, whom he respected and honored.
No concealment by phrases, but open and manly.
In regard to the other, he fully agreed with the principle enunciated, of concurrent majorities.
But in its present application it would be found inefficient.
He alluded in glowing terms to Henry Clay
, whom he delighted to honor, and though there was a difference between them, during Clay
's life, it was his loss, for he refused the hand that would have supported him. The gentleman from Richmond
) would remember that he had said in his presence that Henry Clay
should have a monument as lofty as the mountains and as enduring as the skies.
He professed to be somewhat a disciple of Clay
's upon the matter of settling the Territorial question.
proceeded to argue this branch of his subject, but having announced that he was much exhausted, an adjournment was suggested, in order to give him an opportunity of closing to-morrow.
therefore yielded the floor, and
On motion of Mr. Sheffey
, the Convention