Virginia State Convention.
Friday, April 12, 1861. Friday, April 12, 1861.
The Convention was called to order at 10 o'clock. Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Bosserman
, of the Universalist Church.
presented a memorial from citizens of Norfolk city, requesting him to vote for an Ordinance of Secession.
The paper, he said, contained 602 signatures; and he was satisfied, from a careful examination, that they embraced the entire Secession party of Norfolk
The total vote of the city, in the last Presidential election, was 1,655, and in the election for a delegate to this Convention the vote was over 1,300, of which he received 922.
He still believed that the majority of the voters approved of the course that he had thus far pursued; but whenever he became convinced that a change had taken place, he should feel it his duty, either to obey their behest or resign his seat.
He produced, per centre
the proceedings of a large Union meeting, held in the city, indicating to him that it was the desire of the majority of his constituents that he should continue to pursue his present line of action.
The papers were referred.
, called up his resolution, offered last evening, which he now modified as follows:
That the 33d rule of the Convention
be and the same is hereby rescinded, and while considering, in Convention, the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations, or any amendments thereto, no member shall be at liberty to speak more than ten minutes on any one subject.
. of Caroline, called attention to the fact that the Committee
last evening agreed to take up the resolutions offered some time ago by the gentleman from Harrison
, (Mr. Wilson
The President said that these resolutions were passed by, by universal consent.
Wishe claimed that no quorum was then present.
A brief skirmish ensued between various members, when the President
re-stated the facts in connection with the proceedings of last evening.
The resolutions of the gentleman from Harrison
, by universal consent, he said, were passed by, and Mr. Price
's resolution was taken up. It was then suggested that no quorum was present, and a vote could not be taken until there was a quorum.
A motion to adjourn then prevailed.
appealed from the decision of the Chair, making the point that when there was no quorum the resolution could not be received.
The President said that when the resolution was received the fact had not been ascertained that there was no quorum.
went on with his objections, when Mr.Morton
reminded the President
that the hour had arrived for going into Committee of the Whole.
The President said the gentleman from Princess Anne was on the floor, and he could not call him down.
, of Portsmouth
, raised a point of order, but the President
could not entertain it.
contended that if there was no quorum present last evening, it was the duty of the chair to have ascertained the fact before receiving the resolution.
having concluded, the subject was passed by. The Convention then went into.
Committee of the whole,
in the chair, for the purpose of considering the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations.
The pending question was on Mr. Scott
's amendment (as amended) to the 14th resolution, viz;
"And in the event that satisfactory responses on the part of the non-slaveholding States be not made to the proposed amendments to the Constitution
by the time appointed for the re-assembling of this body, it is the opinion of this Convention that the said States of Delaware
, North Carolina
, ought to assemble in primary Conventions, and in conjunction with this State, convene a Congress of the said States, composed of delegates to be appointed by the respective Conventions thereof, for the purpose of recommending an amended Constitution of Government upon which the union of the said States and the Confederated States
, with such of the non-slaveholding States as may concur therein, can be safely effected, to which Congress, the Confederated States
, and the non-slaveholding States concurring in the amendments to the Federal Constitution
, proposed by this Convention, ought to be invited to send Commissioners."
moved to further amend the amendment by striking out the words ‘"to be appointed by the respective Conventions thereof,"’ and to insert — to be elected for this State by the people thereof, voting by Congressional districts for thirteen delegates, one for each district, and by the State
at large for two delegates, one to be selected from the East
and one from the West
of the Blue Ridge
, in explaining his amendment, indulged in some severe thrusts at those gentlemen who maintained that the great interests of trade in Western Virginia
were indissolubly connected with the border non-slaveholding States.
said that the gentleman from Princess Anne had not uttered a word in favor of his amendment, but had confined his remarks exclusively to a reply to those submitted by himself on yesterday.
did not intend to discriminate between the interests of particular sections of the State
, but included all the border interests, as connected with the States which he named.--He claimed that this exhibited no want of patriotism but on the contrary we best exhibited our love of country by desiring to protect the great commercial interests of the people.
In conclusion, Mr.
S. briefly expressed his objections to Mr. Wise
, in reply, criticized the position which Mr. Summers
was assuming when the expiration of his allotted time compelled him to stop — namely, that the people of Virginia
were not to be entitled to representation upon the three-fifths principle in the proposed Congress of States.
He then quoted the example of Gen. Nelson
, who sighted the gun which drove a ball through his own castle at Yorktown
, and told the gentleman from Kanawha
that when the interests of his country required it, true patriotism dictated that he, too, should send a ball through his
castle; he ought to consent to the destruction of his interests, if such a course would save the honor of his State.
The vote was taken, and Mr. Wise
's amendment was defeated, as follows:
, Jas. Barbour
, John Goode, Jr.
, Thomas F. Goods
, Cyrus Hall, Harvie
, Charles K. Mallory
, James B. Mallory
, Speed, Strange, Sutherlin
, Tredway, Robert H. Turner
, Tyler Waller
, and Wysor.--53.
Alfred M. Barbour
, C. R. Conrad
, Robert Y. Conrad
, Ephraim B. Hall
, Peter C. Johnston
, Sharp, Sitlington, Southall
Chapman J. Stuart
, and Willey
, of Harrison
, said he voted in the affirmative by mistake.
moved to amend Mr. Scott
's amendment, in the first line, by striking out the word ‘"responses"’ and inserting the word ‘"answers."’
A member,(in his seat.)--The gentleman evidently wants to make a speech.
proceeded to explain his amendment, which required but few words.
He then took ground against the policy adopted by members on the Union
side, which opposed any independent, separate action of Virginia
until after a consultation with the Border States
His argument was cut short by the expiration of his time.
, of Goochland
, said a word or two in opposition to the amendment, thus giving Mr. Morton
an opportunity to resume.
controverted the theory of a Border Conference, proposed by the gentleman from Fauquier
, (Mr. Scott
.) His own position was, secession first, and co-operation afterwards.
Experience had demonstrated its propriety, in the action of the Southern States
which presented an example unparalleled in the history of nations.
They had a permanent Government, with a credit to-day higher in the markets of the world than the credit of the Northern Confederacy
Had they waited for consultation before acting, the result would, he conceived, have been different.
should now act as she did in 76.
He venerated the old Union, but act the Union
that threatened the destruction of the interests of his section.
then withdrew his amendment.
, of Charlotte
, moved to amend Mr. Scott
's amendment by striking out the words ‘"to be appointed by the respective Conventions thereof,"’ and inserting ‘"to be elected for this State by the people thereof voting by districts arranged on the suffrage, basis of representation for fifteen delegates for each district."’
claimed that the amendment embraced a principle of the highest importance to the people of Virginia
They were entitled, in this crisis, to a full hearing in the proposed Congress.
regretted the amendment, for it came within the purview of the position assumed by the gentleman from Kanawha
, (Mr. Summers
.) He (Mr. Wise
) was in favor of the white basis here at home, but when we go into a Congress, beyond the limits of the State
, he claimed the Federal
principle of representation, which counted a due proportion of the black population.
said that the Committee
had already voted down the principle urged by the gentleman from Princess Anne, and the majority would continue to vote it down, to the end of time.
He had voted for the principle, but had been beaten, and now, as a practical man, he would fall back upon the next position.
Important events had occurred since the Convention
first assembled — new issues were presented — and his object was now to get the voice of Virginia
; he was willing to trust the people upon the present basis of representation.
The amendment was lost — yeas 61, nays 66.
, of Brunswick
, moved to amend Mr. Scott
's amendment, by striking out ‘"Arkansas
."’ He indicated that he made the motion to get an opportunity of lecturing the Committee
He was tired of this eternal discussion, which he thought was nothing but child's play.
No man could say that he had been changed, either one way or the other, by the speeches made on the report.
He appealed to the body, as an old man — the oldest here except the gentleman from Charles City
, (Mr. Tyler
)--to cease speaking, and let us vote and go home.
, of Prince George, agreed with the gentleman from Brunswick
They were quarreling here over questions of no practical importance.
He alluded with characteristic severity to the inconsistency of the secessionists in voting for a principle of representation which was utterly denied to the people of the Confederated States
He voted with them this morning, and would always vote for a principle which he deemed right, if it plunged him into the gulf of perdition.
then withdrew his amendment.
moved to amend Mr.Scott
's amendment by inserting after the word ‘"Government,"’ the words ‘"to be submitted for ratification to the people of the several States."’
spoke in favor of his amendment.
Gentlemen on the other side, under the impression that a change had been wrought in the sentiment of the people, had suddenly become enamored of the popular voice.
He had now inserted the principle, and he wanted to see if they would stand up to it.
, of Pittsylvania
, opposed both the amendment of the gentleman from Fauquier
and the amendment offered by the gentleman from Augusta
He opposed them because of the delay involved.
He went on to show that his people were suffering under the present state of things, and protracted delay would prostrate their interests completely.
thought that the experience of the last election in this State had taught us that there need be no delay worth speaking of. The commercial distress to which the gentleman had alluded was mainly brought about by disunion.
B.) was opposed to precipitation in any matter of importance.
The amendment ought to command the support of all men of all parties in this Convention.
The amendment was put to vote and carried — yeas 124, nays 4--Messrs. Boisseau
voting in the negative.
, of Amelia
, moved to further amend Mr. Scott
's amendment by striking out "by the time appointed for the re-assembling of this body, and inserting in lieu thereof the words ‘"the 1st of October next."’ In urging his amendment, Mr. Harvie
defied the gentleman from Augusta
to go before the people upon the issue whether Virginia
should withdraw from the Federal Government
, or upon the question whether the Union
men or the secessionists had best represented the people here.
He charged that the object was, by the machinery of the proposed amendments, to tie the hands of the people.
They were to be denied the privilege of voting until it was too late.
, of Fauquier
, did not propose to discuss the question as to who best represented the people here; but he hoped the amendment of the gentleman from Amelia
would not prevail.
It was impossible to say how long debate was to be protracted upon these resolutions; for it seemed to be the settled purpose of those who were formerly the most urgent for hasty action, to protract the session indefinitely.
The effect of the proposition just presented, it seemed to him, could be nothing else but to embarrass future action.
called the attention of the Committee
to the fact that the gentleman upon whose remarks he had commented (Mr. Baldwin
) had failed to reply to his appeal.
The Union men had by chance got a majority here and they were endeavoring to prevent the popular voice from being heard now that the questions at issue were understood.
The amendment of Mr.Harvie
was put to vote and rejected — yeas 44, nays 76.
desired to move a necessary amendment to Mr. Scott
's amendment, to correct an oversight.
He moved to insert between the words ‘"time"’ and ‘"appointed,"’ the words ‘"to be."’ He thought it was a very singular conclusion to which members had arrived, that there was to be another session of this Convention.
So far as his vote was concerned, it would be opposed to any re-assembling of this Convention; he hoped that when it adjourned, it would adjourn sine die.
By the language of the resolution, however, it would seem that the matter was all fixed.
He asked the gentleman from Fauquier
, if such was the case, when the time of re-assembling was to be?
said the gentleman had doubtless forgotten his own minority report, for a change had come over the spirit of his dream.
In that report it was recommended that this Convention shall appeal to the States still remaining in the Union
to give answers, if possible, by the 1st day of October next.
At this point the Chairman
announced that the hour for recess had arrived.