Virginia State Convention.
thirty-eighth day.

Friday, March 29, 1861.

The Convention assembled at 10 o'clock.--Prayer by Rev.Thos. Binford, of the Baptist Church.

Federal Relations.

Mr. Speed, of Campbell, offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Received, That the Committee on Federal Relations be requested to report, as soon as practicable, upon the resolution submitted to them on the 20th inst., instructing an inquiry into the expediency of reporting to the Convention two Ordinance, &c.

[The resolution alludes to submitting to the people the choice between an Ordinance of Secession and the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution.]

Voice of the people.

Mr. Parks. of Grayson, presented a series of resolutions adopted by a meeting of citizens of that county, instructing him to vote for an Ordinance of Secession, and opposing a Border Conference; also, a petition signed by some 400 voters of the county of Grayson, praying for the passage of an Ordinance of Secession. Mr. Parks endorsed the high character of those who participated in the meeting, and declared his purpose of obeying the instructions.

Referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.

proposed Limitation of Debates.

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

Resolved and ordered, That on Tuesday, the 2d day of April next, at 12 o'clock M., all debate in Committee of the Whole upon the reports from the Committee on Federal Relations, shall terminate, and the Committee shall at once proceed to vote upon the propositions before it, giving five minutes to the member offering any amendment, and the same time to one member opposing it, for explanation.

2. That hereafter no member in the Committee of the Whole shall be allowed to speak more than once upon the same preposition.

Mr. Conrad called the previous question, which was sustained.

The rule allowing members to speak ten minutes, Mr. Ambler, of Louisa, asked if there was any mode by which a minority might place on record their protest against the application of the gag?

The President knew of none.

Mr. Morton, of Orange, entered his solemn protest against the spirit of tyranny endeavored to be practiced over the minority, which he compared to the tyranny exercised by the North. He condemned it as an act which ought to be held up to the indignant condemnation of every freeman of this Commonwealth. There were distinguished men among the minority, who had not yet been heard. If the resolution were adopted, he should how to the decision, but would appeal to the people.

Mr. Staples, of Patrick, said he was a Union man, and expected to act with the Union party; but he regarded this movement as an outrage which no deliberative body ought to tolerate.

Mr. Wise was about to speak, when

The President said the hour had arrived for going into Committee of the Whole.

Mr. Conrad moved to suspend the order for going into Committee.

Several members--‘"Oh, no."’

Mr. Wise said he believed he had the floor.

Committee of the Whole.

The Convention went into Committee of the Whole, (Mr. Price, of Greenbrier, in the chair,) and proceeded to consider the report of the Committee on Federal Relations:

The Chairman said the Committee having adopted the two first resolutions of the report, the third was now under consideration. It was read by the Secretary, as follows:

3. The choice of functionaries of a common Government, established for the common good, for the reason that they entertain opinions and avow purposes hostile to the institutions of some of the States, necessarily excludes the people of one section from participation in the administration of the Government, subjects the weaker to the domination of the stronger section, leads to abuse, and is incompatible with the safety of those whose interests are imperilled; the formation, therefore, of geographical or sectional parties in respect to Federal politics, is contrary to the principles on which our system rests, and tends to its overthrow.

Mr. Rives, of Prince George, said it was not his purpose to answer the arguments of the various speakers on this floor but to point out what he conceived to be the true line of policy for Virginia to pursue. He took the position at the outset that the Union ought not to be dissolved. The politicians had for twenty-five or thirty years been endeavoring to break up the Union, receiving the almost universal condemnation of the American people until the recent movement in the Cotton States. He proposed to show that the whole matter could be settled and the Union preserved. He then went on in his peculiar way to discuss the causes which led to the present state of affairs, and said it behooved the people to keep an eye upon the Catilines and Cæsars, North and South. Alluding to the settlement of agitating questions in the past, he said that the men composing the former councils were made of very different stuff from men of these days. Point an empty gun at Secessionists now, they would dodge. They went down to Fortress Monroe, not to see if the guns were loaded, but to see if they were pointed towards the land. Passing rapidly along in his argument, Mr. Rives touched upon the tariff of 1828, and the nullification of South Carolina.--The Union men said then as they said now.--South Carolina, stand back; General Jackson, stand back! They thus acted as mediators, and saved the country. The point he made, as the reporter understood it, was that if wise counsels could prevail, a similar result would follow the present efforts. The argument that the best way to reconstruct the Union was for Virginia to go out of it, was answered by supposing the case of a little girl, five years old, going into an "apothecary" store and buying a doll; her sister Mary, two years older, takes it and breaks off an arm; the first runs to her father, and says ‘"see here, papa, sister Mary has broken my doll!."’ The father replies, ‘"go away, child; break it all to pieces, and then bring it to me and I will mend it."’ [Laughter.] His (Mr. R's) idea was to mend the Union before any more of the limbs were broken off.

The course of William L. Yancey was commented on by the speaker with considerable severity, and an extract from his Slaughter letter produced to show that in 1858 his purpose was to dissolve the Union; while Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, was quite as unequivocally complimented. Caleb Cushing came in for a share of denunciation, Mr.Rives expressing a doubt whether he would have supported Douglas for the Presidency if he had been nominated by a Convention over which Cushing presided. He preserved the line of argument and illustration with which all are familiar who have listened to his campaign speeches.

A reference, he said, had been made to his gestures. The main-spring of his action was Union, and it was the glory of the Union that gave force to his action here. When he saw a man stand off and carefully arrange a mass of papers before him, and proceed to bring forth a string of abstractions that would craze a philosopher to investigate, he thought that such a man was not the statesman nor the lawyer for him. He proceeded then to argue the question of secession, reading evidence from speeches of Mr. Rhett and others in the Southern Convention, to show that Southern men had been endeavoring for years to bring about a dissolution of the Union.--He would not say that they were pulling with the abolitionists, in couples, but that they were striving for the same object. He then read from the Congressional reports of 1842, showing that a petition then came from Massachusetts, praying for separation. A resolution to censure Mr. Adams for offering the petition was introduced, and a large majority of the members from the now seceded States voted against laying it on the table. He alluded also to the course of Mr. Wise in battling for the Union on that occasion, and he thought it would be well for the people of Virginia, with this record before them, to follow such suggestions and advice now. He would take up the weapons with which the member from Accomac fought disunion in 1842, and fight it to the very death. He predicted that the ballot-box would send forth a sound that would strike unmitigated sorrow to the hearts of secessionists in Virginia, if it did not cover them with shame. Mr. Rives indulged in some sharp thrusts at the secessionists in the Convention, which extorted a call of ‘"order"’ from the Chair; but the gentleman's deafness prevented his hearing or heeding it. He went from this branch of his subject to the consideration of the grandeur of the American Republic, and its position before the world, and, among other striking figures of speech, asked if they wanted the icy arms of death to encircle the fair form of the Goddess of Liberty. He quoted a considerable portion of the speech of Mr. Wise in Congress in 1842, upon the anti-slavery petition, and used it after the manner of seizing an enemy's guns and turning them against himself. He then went on to speak of England's hatred of African slavery, and the probability of her pouncing down upon the slaveholding States, supposing they were to set up for themselves. To sustain this position he again brought up the speech of the member from Accomac, which, viewing the subject in a similar fight, said that in the Union any such attempt would be repelled by the united strength of the Republic — the sailor from New Bedford would stand by the sailor from Kentucky.--

Mr. Rives' denunciations of the doctrine of secession were of the most emphatic kind, and we understood him to declare that if it was adopted here, he would never submit to it, if he had to stand alone, like the poor publican, saying ‘"God be merciful to me, a sinner,"’

He proceeded to speak of Texas, which, after coquetting with England, came into the U. States, having first achieved her independence with a smaller army than old John Brown had organized to invade Virginia. She came in, and received millions of dollars from the United States Government, and the protection due her as a member of the Confederacy; and now she had taken it upon herself to withdraw from the Union. He asked if Virginia would sanction this act of rebellion on the part of Texas?

Mr. Rives continued speaking until 2 o'clock, at which time the Committee took a recess until 4 o'clock P. M.

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