Virginia State Convention.
thirty-third day.

Saturday, March 23, 1861.

The Convention was called to order at half-past 10 o'clock. Prayer by the Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke, (Presbyterian,) of Brooklyn, N. Y.

Evening sessions.

Mr. Conrad, of Frederick, offered the following resolution:

Resolved. That on and after Monday next, and until further ordered, this Convention shall be called to order at 10 o'clock A. M., at half-past 10 shall resolve itself into Committee of the Whole, upon the reports from the Committee on Federal Relation; at 2 o'clock said Committee of the Whole shall take a recess until 4 o'clock, when it shall resume its session.

Mr. Price, of Greenbrier, called the previous question, which was sustained, and the resolution was then adopted.

Equality of taxation.

The Convention proceeded to the consideration of unfinished business, namely, the resolutions of Mr. Willey, of Monongahela, in regard to the subjects of taxation and representation.

Mr. Hall, of Marion, being entitled to the floor, addressed the Convention in favor of immediate action. He thought it due to those who desired a change in the organic law, that the committees contemplated by the resolutions should be appointed to make the necessary inquiries. His people demanded that the question should be settled before action was had upon matters of National interest. When they were thus placed upon an equality with the people of other sections, they would stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of all our rights.

Voice of the people.

Mr. Boisseau, of Dinwiddie, asked and obtained leave to present a series of resolutions adopted by the people of that county, in favor of immediate secession.

Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Marton, of Orange, asked and obtained leave to present a series of resolutions of similar import, adopted by the people of Greene county, on their last Court- day.

Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Marye, of Spotsylvania, asked and obtained leave to present a series of resolutions adopted by a portion of the citizens of that county, urging the immediate secession of Virginia, and opposing an adjournment of the Convention until next fall.

Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Barbour, of Culpeper, presented resolutions adopted by the people of that county, repudiating the Peace Conference propositions and instructing him to vote for an Ordinance of Secession. Mr. Barbour said he recognized the right of instruction, and was prepared to obey.

The resolutions were, on motion of Mr. Barbour, laid on the table and ordered to be printed.

Resolution of Inquiry.

Mr. Montague, of Middlesex, offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That the Clerk of this Convention inquire into, and report why the speeches of the Commissioners from South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi have not been printed, as ordered by the Convention.

Committee of the Whole.

The hour of 11 having arrived, the Convention went into Committee of the Whole, (Mr. Southall, of Albemarle, in the chair,) and proceeded to consider the reports from the Committee on Federal Relations.

Mr. Baldwin, of Augusta, being entitled to the floor, proceeded to consider the Territorial question, to which he was alluding at the time of the adjournment on yesterday. He recapitulated the position that the present territory of the United States was unsuited to slave labor, while there was in the South such a deficiency as to lead to the serious contemplation of re-opening the African slave trade. With regard to the apprehension of the South becoming overrun with slaves, thus converting it into a second San Domingo, he argued that the tendency was the other way — that the demand always exceeded the supply. It had been urged by the gentleman from Albemarle, that in fifty years the South would become Africanized. His own opinion always had been that it would be hundreds of years before the South would require an outlet for the surplus of her slave population; and to sustain this view, he read from a speech in the Senate of the United States, by Mr. Hammond, of South Carolina, within the past year, in reply to a Republican Senator, (Mr. Doolittle, of Wisconsin,) in regard to this very apprehension. Mr. Hammond assumed the position that the South was capable, within its present limits, of sustaining a slave population of 200,000,000, and utterly repudiated the idea of a necessity for expansion in this respect, although he did not surrender any of the rights of the South to future acquisition.

He believed with Senator Hammond that the South was fully able to take care of itself, when the question arises. He conceived that it would be for the interest of Virginia to stop the drain of slaves to the cotton States, and by the employment of more slave labor in the West, secure a homogeneousness of interest throughout the State. The cotton States were quite as dependent upon us for their supply of slave labor, as we were upon them for any market for a surplus of the productions of labor.

It was the duty of the North to speak out upon the subject; the time for settlement had come, and he thought it should be a comprehensive settlement — the Territorial question ought to be settled at once and forever. He was aware of the apprehension at the South that the doctrine of the Dred Scott decision could not prevail permanently. The true doctrine, he thought, was expressed in one section of the report of the Committee, that "the Territories of the United States constitutes a trust, to be administered by the General Government, for the common benefit of the people of the United States, and any policy in respect to such Territories calculated to confer greater benefits on the people of one part of the United States than on the people of another part, is contrary to equality and prejudicial to the rights of some for whose equal benefit the trust was created. If the equal admission of slave labor and free labor into any Territory, excites unfriendly conflict between the systems, a fair partition of the Territories ought to be made between them, and each system ought to be protected within the limits assigned to it, by the laws necessary for its proper development."

He contended that no species of property in the United States should have more protection than the peculiar property of Virginia. He claimed full and perfect equality with the people of the North, and would consent to no restriction that was not applied to the property of citizens in every section. He would not consent that a wolf's head should be put upon the institution of slavery, to attract to it the opposition of mankind. These were his sentiments, and they were such as he had always entertained. He then went into an argument upon the amendments to the Federal Constitution, proposed by the Committee, which he considered a decided improvement upon the Crittenden propositions, in so far as they afforded a more certain protection to slavery in territory south of 36.30. Alluding to the protection of the common law, he declared as a lawyer that when the legal profession ceased to be a safe depository of private right, Republican liberty would no longer be worth preserving. Let fanaticism howl as it might, the rights of the people would be secure.--With regard to future acquisitions of territory, he laid down the position that constitutional amendments were utterly valueless, for treaties would have to be made with people living beyond the limits of our constitutional law. We had an example of this in the acquisition of Texas, during the Administration of the distinguished gentleman from Charles City. He (Mr. B.) was perfectly satisfied to trust all matters touching the acquisition of new territory to the hands of Southern Senators. For himself, he did not incline to any further expansion. The third section, in regard to the protection of slavery in the District of Columbia, and the inter-State slave trade, covered the whole subject completely. It refused to the Black Republican party the right ever to legislate upon the subject of slavery in the States or in the District of Columbia. It proposed to engraft upon the Constitution a perpetual prohibition against the abolition of slavery anywhere, except by the unanimous consent of all the States.--This, he thought, would drive the last nail into the coffin of the "irrepressible conflict."He then proceeded to argue the point relative to the tax on slaves, alluding to the position advanced by the gentleman from Princess Anne, (Mr. Wise.)

Mr. Wise rose to correct the gentleman, and in so doing made a severe thrust at the late Peace Conference, which called forth a demonstration of applause from the spectators.

The Chairman, warned the spectators that if such a demonstration were repeated, the gallery and lobby would be cleared.

Mr. Baldwin went on to show that the slave was not taxed as man for man, but according to the ratio of representation, and that there was no limitation in regard to that feature.

This led to another explanation from Mr. Wise, who argued that Congress was invested with the power of limitation. Taxation, direct or indirect, rested wholly with Congress, and when the North wished to lay a tax upon slaves, they could only lay it upon three-fifths of the slave population, while their own white heads were taxed per capita.

Mr. Baldwin said he could not be expected to be as well posted as the gentleman from Princess Anne, who had written a book upon the subject.

Mr. Wise said he would be glad to take, as a pupil, one who had not yet learned the A, B, C, of the subject. [Laughter.]

Mr. Baldwin supposed he would; and he apprehended that such a pupil was just the kind he would be fitted to teach. [Laughter.]

Mr. Baldwin continued to argue upon the propositions, which, he believed, covered the entire scope in which the Constitution required amendment. As every point of objection urged to the Peace Conference propositions had been removed, in a spirit of deference to those who had criticised them, he thought they ought now to command the support of the distinguished gentleman from Charles City, and others who thought with him. He (Mr. B.) would not consent to a final settlement of the question by a Border Conference, or any other conference; but would reserve it for the ratification or rejection of the people. He thought when everything had been settled to the satisfaction of the Border States--when our Southern sisters saw that the question was settled in a manner satisfactory to Virginia, they would return and look the issue sternly in the face; and when they thought of the stars and stripes under which they had marched in a career of prosperity, they would hardly refuse to come back. But should they refuse, it would still be the duty of Virginia to look after her own rights, and take care of her own interests. He then argued that so far as the agricultural interests of Virginia were concerned, she would be infinitely better off to remain as she was, than to secede from the Union. The Cotton States raised neither breadstuffs nor live stock to any extent, but they must have them, and would purchase of Virginia. In laying their tariff, they had left these articles duty free.--They were bound to have them, and could not do without them. There would be a free access to their market, and be could see no reason for seceding in order to get to it. If Virginia were to secede, there would moreover be a line of custom-houses between her and the North, and a protective tariff would cut us off from all articles of material necessity that we wanted to buy. He knew but little about manufactures, in regard to which interest allusion had been made. He did not, however, wish to introduce the Yankee system into Virginia — those immense corporations of which we heard so much. He preferred the peaceful pursuits which at present characterized the inhabitants. He protested against breaking up this great theatre on which the experiment of free trade was in process of splendid development.

In conclusion, Mr. Baldwin apologized for having so long detained the Committee in listening to an exposition of his views. When he looked along the line of his duty and saw the number of steps that were necessary to accomplish the object of his hope, his mind often quailed, and he trembled with apprehension. He believed, however, that it was his duty to walk in the path which he had marked out. If he performed well the patriotic duty which he had under taken, he could safely leave the rest in the hands of the great Disposer of events. He would, therefore, turn neither to the right nor to the left, but would march straight on, in the line of duty and of right, and leave the result to God.

Mr. Bruce, of Halifax, next addressed the Committee. He said if he had been told three months ago that he would be in this presence, and discussing these subjects, he would have listened with incredulity. For twenty-five years he had been buried among his own peaceful and quiet pursuits, but some, who thought they saw in him the elements which might be used in this crisis, had disinterred him, and sent him here. His people were lovers of peace, and he promised them that he would do all he could for the adjustment of our national difficulties without sacrificing the honor of Virginia. He had waited, and now he saw no ground for any such hope.--Years ago, in the General Assembly of Virginia, he stood with forty others, including the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Preston,) and the gentleman from Henry, (Mr. Gravely,) in doing all he could for the protection of South Carolina. He knew they would still be found on the side of State Rights. Others had cried out, crucify her! but he was glad that some of those most distinguished on that side were now covered with sackcloth and penitential ashes. In this connection he alluded to the gentleman from Orange, (Mr. Morton.) Then proceeding to speak of the gentleman from Princess Anne.

Mr. Wise begged to assure him that he never cried out crucify South Carolina; but had there been an attack upon her he would have fought side by side with him in her defence.

Mr. Bruce went on to pay his respects to Messrs. Moore, of Rockbridge, and Baldwin, of Augusta, of whom he had little hope, and made humorous allusions which excited the merriment of the members as well as the spectators. The argument of the gentleman from Albemarle (Mr. Holcombe) as to the impossibility of turning back the tide of fanaticism, he considered irresistible. The subject of slavery he said was not a question of dollars and cents — a question of raising and lowering the tariff. Referring to the first introduction of the institution here, he traced its growth to the point when it had become so intertwined with our social habits, that to break it up would be ruinous. He then adverted to the unconstitutional acts of the Northern States, and showed that hatred of slavery was so firmly engrafted upon the Northern mind, that to eradicate it would be impossible. He was of opinion it would go on, until it finally came to a war with the sword. He was willing to make one more effort, and that would be to put forth an ultimatum in the name of the people of Virginia, providing for the resumption of her sovereign powers in the event of its failure.

He proposed to enter into the delicate task of calculating the value of the Union. He asked what had this Confederacy done for us? He did not mean to say that good things had not been done, but he wanted to know what they were. It had been said that it secured us protection abroad; that one had only to say "I am an American citizen," to throw around himself a shield in any foreign land.--He knew that when a citizen of the South went abroad and said this, it secured him protection; it secured him from incarceration; but he was met by the sneering remark--"But you are a slaveholder." This had been the effect of the teaching of Northern prints, and such was not the kind of protection he wanted. We were told, too, that our commerce was protected by the stars and stripes. Alas, we had no commerce — commerce all belonged to the North. Those great staples, tobacco, cotton and rice, needed no protection. The South enjoyed a monopoly in that trade. We were told, however, that our sugar wanted protection; and in this connection he argued that this production would be better off without protection. The wool trade was also considered, the speaker assuming that in this, as well as in other respects, there was no protection except in so far as the North was obliged to protect it in order to protect its own interests. The advantages of protection to the South, as well as the dangers of a border war, in the event of secession, he thought had been greatly overrated.

At this point, Mr. Morton, of Orange, moved that the Committee rise.

Mr. Bruce felt some delicacy in regard to this proposal. His constituents would never forgive him for occupying two days in an exposition of his views.

Mr. Morton insisted upon his motion, as it was apparent that the gentleman was physically unable to proceed.

The Committee then rose, and the Chairman reported progress.

Testimonial from the ladies.

Mr. Price, of Greenbrier, said that some ladies in the city proposed to bestow a compliment upon a member of the Convention, and he hoped that all would remain after the adjournment and witness the ceremony. He then submitted a motion for adjournment, but withdrew it at the request of Mr. Dorman.

Retaliatory Measure.

Mr. Dorman, of Rockbridge, offered the following resolution:

Resolved, That this Convention recommend to the General Assembly the passage of a law imposing a license tax on the sale by retail, within Virginia, of the products or manufactures of such Northern States as continue to retain offensive acts of the character known as Personal Liberty Bills amongst their statutes; guarding, however, in such law, against any infringement of the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

Resolved, That the President of the Convention cause copies of the foregoing resolution forth with to be sent to the Houses of the General Assembly.

Mr. Brown, of Preston, regarded this as a matter belonging exclusively to the General Assembly. He moved that the resolution be laid upon the table.

The motion was agreed to.

On motion of Mr. Price, the Convention adjourned, to meet again on Monday, at 10 o'clock A. M.

After the adjournment, a beautiful floral wreath was presented to Col. John B. Baldwin, of Augusta, by Mr. Critcher, of Westmoreland, on behalf of the "Union ladies of Virginia." Appropriate addresses were made on both sides, and a considerable degree of enthusiasm was manifested by the Union party.

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