Virginia State Convention.
Monday, March 25, 1861.
The Convention was called to order at 10 o'clock Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Solomon
, of the Disciples Church.
, of Marion
, rose to a privileged question, and proceeded to correct some portion of his remarks on Friday and Saturday, as reported in the official organ of the Convention
, the Richmond Enquirer
, of Dinwiddie
, made a similar correction of his remarks on Saturday.
Equality of taxation.
The President announced the pending question, namely; the resolutions on the subject of taxation and representation, offered by the gentleman from Monongalia, (Mr. Willey
, of Jackson
, being entitled to the floor, addressed the Convention
He desired the withdrawal of the resolutions, and advocated the adoption of a series offered by himself, early in the session.
He maintained that they covered the whole subject wherein the people of his section demanded a change in the organic law, and he utterly repudiated the idea that the question had been introduced here to distract the counsels of the Convention
It had been his belief that the matters pertaining to Federal Relations would have been settled before this time, and he read a series of propositions which he designed to offer, if an opportunity occurred, as a substitute for the report of the Committee
, embracing a variety of amendments to the Federal Constitution
, as a condition of Virginia
's remaining in the Union
He believed his constituents would sustain him in offering an ultimatum, which would finally settle all the distracting questions now agitating the country.
While, however, he was willing to go as far as any man in demanding the rights of Virginia
in respect to Federal matters, he never would consent to an adjournment of the Convention
, unless it adjourned forever, until the subject of taxation had undergone a thorough and fair investigation.
Report on printing.
A report was received from the Secretary
, in accordance with a resolution adopted on Saturday, relative to the printing of the addresses of the Southern Commissioners
Committee of the Whole.
The hour of half-past 10 having arrived, the Convention
went into Committee of the Whole, (Mr. Southall
, of Albemarle
, in the Chair,) and proceeded to consider the reports of the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Halifax
, being entitled to the floor, continued his remarks.
After a humorous allusion to the hopelessness of a cause which required members to occupy three days in an exposition of their views, and the prevailing epidemic for speaking, (to which he attributed the delay of action,) he went on to show that the backwardness of Virginia
in the scale of improvement and population, was owing to the working of the Federal
system, and not to the institution of slavery.
had grown up under a system of commerce and manufactures, protected and encouraged by the legislation of the General Government
Its whole history shows that it has looked to Northern protection, and to that alone.
After giving a narrative of the origin and growth of manufactures in the North
, he said that the Government
, while we were endeavoring to adjust the National
difficulties, instead of giving us the olive branch, had given us the Morrill tariff, the worst tariff that had ever been imposed upon a people.
He contended that the North
were not only protected in their manufactures, but in their agricultural productions, by furnishing a home market for everything the farmer could supply.
He went on to show the effect of the vassalage of the South
upon her own industry, by relating facts in his own experience as a sugar planter.
All the profits of Southern planters, or, at all events, a great proportion thereof, went into the pockets of Northern manufacturers; for they raised nothing except the leading staples, and depended upon the North
for all their supplies.
He believed that if we had free trade instead of a protective tariff, the profits of the planters would have been sufficient to make the South
a wealthy community.
It would be impossible, he conceived, for the South
to overtake the North
, and thus the question arose, what must we do?
He thought that the South
, in making her demands, ought to require a free trade, instead of which the North
had given us a Morrill tariff.
He loved every section of Virginia
, and would say to the members from the West
, that he was willing to concede all they asked, rather than that Virginia
should be divided.
The great question at issue between them would have to be settled by compromise.
He would take a middle ground, and send an ultimatum to the North
; if rejected, say to them Virginia
will go out of the Union
This was the compromise which he favored.
He thought if secessionists would come to this ground, conservatives might also come to it. He hoped all sides would come to such a conclusion at once.
The people would still have to act upon it, and he rejoiced that it was so. The proposed Border State Conference, he thought, would do not good.
The people sent us here to act for Virginia
, and not for the Border States
He would not consent to put the rights and honor of Virginia
into other hands than Virginia
Let the Convention
adopt this ultimatum; let it be sent to the people, for them to say whether, if rejected by the North
, the Convention
shall be authorized to take the State
out of the Union
A vote could be speedily taken, and then the Convention
could act, and act as a unity.
He did not think the North
would accept the ultimatum, and then the question came up, where should Virginia
He repudiated the idea of a Middle Confederacy.
The place of Virginia
would be with the South
The amendments reported by the committee were good so far as they went.
He was not prepared to say that he would accept them; for, like his friend from Princess Anne, he did not think they went far enough.
He was, however, in favor of compromise, and hoped that something would be adopted upon which the whole South
would be willing to stand.
He then went on to reply to the argument of the gentleman from Augusta
in regard to protection and free trade.
The advantages of a separation from the Government
of the United States
were next pointed out. Under the system of legislation that prevailed, it would be impossible for Virginia
to become what the God of Nature designed she should become.
In the event of a resumption of her sovereign powers, and a union with the Cotton States
, he believed Richmond
would become the Manchester
of the South
He looked with no pleasure to the disintegration of the Government
He had always loved the Union
, but this was not the time when our affections should have full control of our action.
It concerned him to reflect upon the great names and great deeds of the past.
It saddened his memory; but he would rather see Virginia
annihilated than to see her live degraded; to see her become
The fixed figure for the time of scorn,
To point his slow and moving finger at.
He thought he could see that in the Southern
flag which would do what the present flag would not do — protect the rights and honor of Virginia
, of Rockbridge
, arose to correct the position of the gentleman from Halifax
, as stated on Saturday, in reference to South Carolina
thirty odd years ago. He (Mr.
M.) voted in the Legislature, at that time, for measures to keep the Federal
troops from coercing that State.
The gentleman had also held him up as an exceedingly bellicose character--
said he merely passed a friendly jest ; he certainly intended no offence.
said the jest had gone forth to the country, and he wished to have it understood.
He had voted in the committee uniformly against coercion.
He was in favor of peace.
He then proceeded very briefly to allude to some further remarks of the gentleman from Halifax
, closing by saying that he had never, like him, owned sugar plantations at the South
; if he had, it might have some influence in his views.
.--I have sold out, now.
said it would have been well if he had also sold out some of the prejudices which he picked up there.
stated the question to be upon the motion of the gentleman from Harrison
, (Mr. Carlile
,) to strike out the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations and insert his substitute.
Is the Committee
ready for the question?
Voices.--"Question — question."
asked if the motion in this form would preclude another motion to strike out and insert.
The Chair.--Certainly not.
, of Harrison
, had something which he desired to offer.
He moved that the Committee
The Chair.--The motion is not in order.--The Committee has resolved to sit till 2 o'clock.
, of Fauquier
, desired to present some views to the Committee
, but had not designed to do so at this time.
He understood the motion to be to strike out, and insert the substitute offered by the gentleman from Harrison
, which was the proposition emanating from the Peace Conference.
He supposed it was hardly necessary now to show why the substitute ought not to be adopted.
It seemed to him that there was no ground for comparison between the competing propositions.
In that emanating from the committee, every ground of criticism had been removed; every ambiguity stricken out, and certain additions made, which ought to render them highly acceptable.
After some further remarks, Mr. Scott
called for the yeas and nays on the motion.
The Chair was about to re-state the question, when
arose, and said that the President
having done him the honor to place him on the committee, he had endeavored to discharge his duties, so far as his health would permit.
He had made a report, occupying a middle ground, standing upon the ground of the old Union, and endeavoring to reconcile the two sections.
He desired to fight in the Union
, for he liked it better than either.
Until to-day, he had stood comparatively alone; but since he had heard the remarks of the gentleman from Halifax
, he did not despair.
He therefore demanded to be heard upon this question.
He cared not how long it took, in these times of revolution.
The condition of his lungs did not justify him in going into the question now; but he demanded to be heard, in the name of his constituents.
If he was not allowed the opportunity, he was determined that the Convention
should have no peace, either here or hereafter.
He proposed to show by a comparison, the verbiage and opportunities for construction that existed in the report of the Peace Conference.
The report of the Committee
was far preferable, and although it did not meet his views, he would show, if the courtesy were extended to him, wherein the difference consisted.
, of Amelia
, as a member of the committee, expressed his entire dissent from the report of the majority.
He did not believe that we could or ought to remain in this Confederacy, no matter what parchment guarantees might be made.
He would take nothing, and his constituents would take nothing, unless the Cotton States
come back to the Union
The only question to decide was with which of the Confederacies Virginia
He would never make another demand of the North
, except with the sword in his hand; never would consent to place Virginia
in the attitude of a supplicant.
As between the report of the majority and that of the Peace Conference, he preferred the former because the other he considered a juggle and a cheat.
In regard to the decision of the Chair relative to the action of the Committee
being final upon the subject before it, he intimated his purpose to make an appeal to the Convention
at the proper time.
, or Wetzel
, made some remarks touching upon the Constitution
of the Confederate States
, which he regarded as the best the world ever saw. He hoped it would be presented to the North
The report of the Peace Conference, proposed by the gentleman from Harrison
, he regarded as a cheat and a fraud.
, of Preston
, called for a division of the question — so that the vote might be first taken upon the motion to strike out.
, of Greenbrier
, and Mr. Conrad
, of Frederick
, appealed to the member from Preston
to withdraw his call for a division, which he consented to do.
, of Ohio
, said, as the gentle-from Harrison
, who offered the competing proposition, was absent, he hoped the Committee
would withdraw the substitute, by general consent.
This course was objected to.
Some interrogatories were here propounded by Mr. Wise
as to which report of the Committee
on Federal Relations was now to be acted on by the Committee of the Whole.
The Chair decided that the whole report, embracing the partial report first made, and the addendum subsequently submitted, was included in the question.
of the Committee
on Federal Relations, took the same view.
contended that there were two reports and that by no rule of grammar or construction could two reports constitute one.
took a different view of the subject, and quoted from the language of the reports, to show that the last was but an appendage to the first.
After some further remarks from Mr. Wise
, of Kanawha
, said that he thought, since the gentleman from Harrison
was absent, the vote should not be taken now, though he did not feel at liberty to move that the Committee
He regarded the report of the committee as an improvement upon the Peace Conference propositions; if the vote were to be taken now
upon the question of striking out and inserting, he would be compelled to vote against it.
Remarks were made by Mr. Fisher
, of Northampton
, in favor of taking the vote at once.
renewed the call for a division of the question, but Mr. Harvie
objected, and the Convention
sustained the objection.
did not want his vote to be constructed as a condemnation of the Peace Propositions
said that in giving his vote he did not view the present as a test question in regard to the Peace Conference propositions.
He was willing to take those propositions unamended, but he would not vote for them in competition with the report of the committee.
was opposed to taking a vote in the absence of the mover of the substitute.
In the vote he should give, he did not intend to indicate his approval or disapproval of the Peace Conference propositions.
wanted an opportunity to vote against the Peace Conference propositions.--He took the occasion to declare that if a vote were to be taken upon the isolated question of secession or anti-secession, the former would have a majority.
The voice of the people was coming up, and if the Convention
remained here long enough, they would decide the issue.
He opposed the adjournment of the Convention
, which had been proposed, to meet again at some future day.
, of Augusta
, desired that his vote should not be construed into a disapproval of the Peace Conference propositions, which had been, and still would be, satisfactory to him. He thought the report of the committee was an improvement.
called for the reading of the substitute offered by Mr. Carlile
It was accordingly read by the Secretary
said that he was satisfied that it was the Peace Conference propositions, without any change.
The debate was then continued in a some what conversational manner, pretty well spiced with humor, by Messrs. Wise
, until the hour of 2 o'clock arrived, when the Chairman
said the time had come for the Committee
to take a recess.
.--Do we rise by the clock, sir?
The Chair.--The resolution provides for a recess at 2.
.--I obey the clock.
The Committee then took a recess until 4 o'clock, P. M.