Virginia State Convention.
Wednesday, April 3, 1861.
The Convention assembled at 10 o'clock.--Prayer by the Rev
, Mr. Willis
, of the Baptist Church.
Equality of taxation.
, of Doddridge
, being entitled to the floor on Mr. Willey
's resolution, proceeded to address the Convention
He regretted that so few of the Eastern
members were in their seats, because it was to them that he desired chiefly to direct his remarks.
He had listened with much pleasure to the speech of Mr. Wise
on the preceding evening, and gave his assurance that his efforts would be met by the Western
people in a spirit of fraternity.-- He could not fold his arms and say "all is well." for we were involved in questions of great difficulty and doubt.
Alluding to the charge of unsoundness on the slavery question, he said that no charge of that nature had been made by any Eastern man; to a Western member belongs that honor,
for he alone had done it.--He (Mr.
S) claimed, that notwithstanding the draw backs of unjust legislation, the West
was true to the institution of slavery, and true on principle; if the East
was true, it was true from interest.
Why then, would they not trust this question in the hands of Western men?
He contended that the position of Virginia
as a slave State demanded the protection asked for by the West
, in order to develop its resources and maintain its character as a part of the Old Dominion.
It was the duty of the East
to extend the olive branch, in order to unite the whole State, and bind all the people together in defence of her rights.--His people were willing to protect the institution of slavery, but they insisted that this property should be taxed as their horses and cows were taxed.
Unless the demand were granted, they would have but a poor excuse to go before their people and ask them to protect the East
, telling them at the same time that it was in the power of Eastern men to protect the West
, but they refused it. If this was persisted in, it would be as easy to move the Alleghanies
from their base as to convince the West
of the propriety of going out of the Union
for any present grievances.
The hour of half-past 10 having arrived, Mr. Stuart
suspended his remarks, and the Convention
Committee of the whole.
taking the chair, for the purpose of considering the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Clark
, said that, with the permission of the gentleman from Fauquier
, (who was entitled to the floor,) he would make a further correction of the report of his remarks, in the Richmond Enquirer
; for, in making the first correction, the printers had made it much worse than it was originally.--He had some regard for the reputation of the University of Virginia, and insisted upon his Latin being reported correctly.
The quotation from Virgil which he used was ‘"Tanta ne ira animis erelestibus
"’ They had printed it, ‘"Tantan ira animis erelestib.
" ’ He had, in his written speech, used a Greek quotation from Homer
— the famous advice of Hipoloehus to his son, Glancus, when he went to the Trojan war ‘"Alen arrestee sai upeirochon emmenal allan mede genos ischunemen
"’--‘"In every glorious act and strife to shine the first and best, and not to disgrace his birth."’ but, as they had no Greek
type, he authorized them to leave that flourish out. He had, however, in his first correction, insisted that the printers should take the legs
from Triptolemus Yellowley; but they had still got him as Triptolemus Yellowlegs.
He hoped he would be at last set right before the public.
, of Fauquier
, being entitled to the floor, said if the Committee
had confined itself to the discussion of the several propositions reported, greater progress would have been made towards a disposal of the questions before it. He felt some reluctance to trespass upon the patience of the Committee
; yet there were some propositions on the table which had not yet been touched, and to those he intended to address himself.
This Union, which we had heretofore regarded as perpetual, was broken up, seven States having withdrawn, and the entire country was now threatened with destruction.
It was in view of this fact hat the Convention
was assembled, to legislate, in this emergency, for the safety and honor of Virginia
It was a misfortune, that when the interests of the Commonwealth
demanded the best exertions and wisest counsels of her sons, that we were so circumstanced as to make it difficult to agree upon that course which ought to be followed.
Yet might the, not, by prudence and conciliation agree upon something which would meet the exigencies of the case?
Elected by counties, coming from all parts of this extended Commonwealth, we necessarily in our own persons represent the varied interests which are found to exist in these wide limits; and if a cause is sought for the diversity of opinion which characterizes this body, we have only to look abroad to the State
we represent for an explanation.
He then alluded to the varied interests of the several sections, showing that in these was founded the conflict of sentiment in regard to the mode of settling the question at issue.
He maintained that it was our duty to consult the interests of the entire State, and so to act as to meet the views of the people of the whole Commonwealth.
His own portion of the State
was as deeply interested in the settlement of this question as any other portion.
He lived on the borders of the Potomac
, and the people there were connected commercially with the people of Maryland
If cut off from those advantages, a blow would be struck at their vital existence.
, of Wetzel
, desired to inform the gentleman from Fauquier
that he was mistaken as to the important points of trade for the West
The most important point was New Orleans.
The pork, potatoes, and other produce were boated down, and on the route had to meet the competition of the free States, as well as at the end of the route.
said he had supposed that the salt, coal and oil of the West
found its market in the States bordering on their territory.
The cattle of the West
find a market in Pennsylvania
, and none of that great trade has its direction South.
, and even New York, furnish the market which that great staple of Western Virginia
He did not know about the pork and potatoes — They might be boated down the Ohio
, to find a market in the South
; but he spoke from information derived from others in regard to the salt, coal and oil, and in regard to the cattle trade he spoke from his own knowledge.
He urged with force the position that this Convention ought to look to the whole and act for the whole and shape their measures with respect to all interests.
Where opinions, conflict, we must yield to circumstances, and compromise with each other.
Here were various propositions which he purposed to consider, and inquire which was the best calculated to subserve the purpose of securing that safety which the interests of the Commonwealth
His sympathies, interests, feelings and instincts all attached him to the South
, and if the alternative were presented to him of going with the Northern States
, or with the Southern Confederacy, he would unhesitatingly say with the latter.--But he designed to consider whether, by proper amendments to the Constitution
, a plan might not be matured for the reconstruction of the Union
upon a basis acceptable to all the Southern States
In this connection he look up the majority report, which concedes that without the proposed changes in the organic law of the country, it is unsafe for Virginia
to remain a member of the Federal Union.
He repudiated the idea that any one who advocated that report could be deemed a submissionist.
He went on to consider the position of the Border States
, whose interests and opinions were similar to those of Virginia
, and whatever affected one affected all, rendering it necessary that they should act together.
It was only necessary to satisfy our Western fellow citizens that by any action we might adopt they were not to be separated forever from the Border States
, to bring them to consent to the policy proposed.
There was an encouraging prospect of united action among the Border States
, and it seemed impossible to conceive that Pennsylvania, Ohio
would ever consent to a separation from the States with whom their interests were so intimately connected.
The purpose is to secure united action on the part of all the Border slave States; that when one secedes, all shall secede; thus bringing about the necessity for a reconstruction of the Union
But others said no; they contended for immediate secession.
Yet they were not agreed among themselves upon the policy to be adopted.
One says, go to the Southern Confederacy, and unite the fortunes of Virginia
with them; another says no — that's precipitate; you cannot get to the Southern Confederacy; you must wait for the co-operation of North Carolina
He would ask, then, if it would not be well to seek that co-operation before seceding?
This, he thought, was the policy of the gentleman from Princess Anne.
hoped the gentleman would not undertake to state his position.
He would do it at the proper time himself, if he had the lungs to do so. While up, he would correct the gentleman from Fauquier
in his assertion that there was not our member who, in debate here, or in the Committee
of Twenty-One or elsewhere, had avowed or declared the doctrine of "submission." He would inform him, if he was in this predicament, that on the 16th of March a member of this body, who represents the county of Marshall
, (Mr. Burley
,) presented resolutions here not only avowing submission, but upholding the right of coercion, and worse, the right of revolution against the State
One member had here avowed a doctrine worse than submission, and he believed there were others just as bad.
would not under take to criticise the resolutions of the member from Marshall
; he was here, and could speak for himself.
If he was an exception, so far as he (Mr.
S.) was informed, he constituted a solitary exception.
He would leave the gentleman from Princess Anne to explain his own position, though he understood that he, like the gentleman from Bedford
, (Mr. Goggin
,) was for immediate secession, but did not contemplate an immediate conjunction with the Southern Confederacy; that he was one who would wait for co-operation.
then went on to urge the necessity of a consultation with the States whose co-operation was desired, before withdrawing, and leaving them in another Government.
Immediate secession, so far from being a measure of peace, he believed would be a measure of war. Within sixty days it would bring on a collision — collision with the Federal Government
He therefore rejected it as a measure of unnecessary war; unnecessary, because, if we consulted with the Border States
, such a consultation would lead to a peaceable solution of the difficulties.
After elaborating upon this point, Mr. Scott
proceeded to develop what he conceived to be the hidden motive of those who opposed the presenting of propositions of adjustment to the North
--stating in effect his apprehension that they feared the propositions would be accepted by the North
desired to be informed if the gentleman classed him among those who entertained this hidden motive.
said he did not have him in his mind.
thought this was strange, when he had classed him with the gentleman from Bedford
said he was now speaking of another class.
Said that so far as he was concerned, he wanted to form a better union of both the North
and the South
What he did fear was the effect of the mode of adjustment proposed by others.
Some remarks were made by the Chairman
to the effect that he did not consider the gentleman from Fauquier
as impugning the motive of any particular member; had he done so, he would have called him to order.
disclaimed any such purpose; it was his design to attribute the action of different members to a motive having in view the reconstruction of the Union
upon one basis or another, which, though opposite, plainly showed that there were no disunionist per se
in this Convention.
He then went on to enforce the positions previously advanced, and subsequently alluded to the mighty progress of the American Republic
, expanding from the Atlantic
to the Pacific
, until it had reached a point in the foremost rank of nations.
Its products had grown to such proportions as to become a necessity to the industry of the world.
Might we not look with feelings akin to admiration upon its grandeur?
It was not strange, then, that we should find in a Virginia Convention, one sentiment of love for the Union
running through the entire mind.
All admitted this, and yet there was a division of opinion which he feared would keep us apart to the end. Was there no mode by which we could avoid the Scylla on the one side or the Charybdis on the other?
no middle passage, through which all could arrive at a safe and satisfactory conclusion?
Such a desirable result might be attained by an agreement upon the plan proposed, assuming that the interests of Virginia
would be best protected in a Southern Confederacy when the Border States
were there with her. Necessity might compel her to go without them; but choice, never.
He took a position upon his amendment offered on Saturday last, providing that after the failure of the efforts of the Border States
in primary Conventions, should they fail, a Congress of such States shall be called for the purpose of recommending a Constitution upon which the Union
of all the States may be safely reconstructed.
This he considered a middle ground upon which all parties might stand.
It was said by some that the propositions would be rejected by the North
, and that therefore it would be idle to present them.--He, however, could see no reason why they should not defer so much to the opinions of others, as to go through the brief space which these forms and ceremonies would occupy, to prove the justice of their conclusions.
He had left his home for this Convention, full of hope for an adjustment of all the pending difficulties; but he was sorry to say that this hope, if not entirely vanished, had now become very faint.
Two plans had been proposed; one through amendments to the Constitution
through the Peace Conference, and another through a National Convention, called on the demand of two-thirds of all the States.
The first had been appealed to and failed, for the Peace Conference propositions had been repudiated by Congress.
The other was impracticable, for the seceded States would not enter into such a consultation, which would be necessary in order to carry out the plan, since they were not recognized by the North
as a separate and independent Government.
Although he had little hope of an adjustment now, he was willing to appeal to it, in deference to the opinions of others; for in the event of a failure, we should then all be united.
He did not believe it was practicable now to procure a reconstruction of the Union
through amendments to the Constitution
, nor did he believe in the practicability of immediate secession.
There would be as little hope from one side as from the other.
The Border States had only to stand firm upon their own soil, going with neither wing, but bring both to their position.
If the Border States
agreed to withdraw from their association with the Federal Government
, he contended, that Government would necessarily have to abdicate the Federal Capital
The Government would then be ours, and with such a prestige of greatness, there would be no difficulty in drawing either section to the common centre.
This plan of reconstruction and restoration he believed was practicable, and looking upon the others as impracticable, he rejected them and adopted this because of its practicability.
None of the others, in his opinion, met the exigencies of the case.
continued to speak until 2 o'clock, when the Committee
took a recess until 4 o'clock P. M.