Virginia State Convention.
Saturday,April 13, 1861.
The Convention was called to order at 10 o'clock, Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Bosserman
, of the Universalist Church.
The resolution of Mr. Price
, of Greenbrier
, restricting debate to ten minutes on any one subject, being in order, Mr. Wise
moved a call of the roll to ascertain if there was a quorum in attendance.
Most of the members answered to their names.
briefly advocated his resolution.
The President stated that he had received a communication from the Governor
of the Common wealth, enclosing a dispatch from Gov. Pickens
, of South Carolina
, which was read by the Secretary
It announces the commencement of hostilities, and says that no harm had thus far been done to the works of the Confederated army, but great damage had been done to Fort Sumter
commented briefly upon the intelligence, closing with the expression of a hope that the ‘"terrapin"’ (meaning the Union
men) ‘"would begin to crawl, now that the fire was applied to his back."’
The hour of half-past 10 having arrived, Mr. Southall
was called to the Chair, and the Convention
Committee of the whole,
for the purpose of considering the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations.
, of Louisa
, availed himself of an opportunity to respond to the courteous disclaimer of the gentleman from Augusta
, (Mr. Baldwin
.) He was satisfied with his explanation, and met it in the spirit which had prompted it.
, of Isle of Wight
, also made a personal explanation.
He continued his remarks by alluding to the commencement of hostilities as good and sufficient cause why Virginia
should at once be taken out of the Union
The substitute offered by Mr. Boyd
, of Botetourt
, for the 1st section of the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution
, being in order, it was read, as follows:
In all the present territory of the United States
north of the parallel of 36 degrees and 30 minutes of North latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment for crime, is prohibited.
In all the present territory of the United States
south of said line of latitude, involuntary servitude, or slavery of the African race, is hereby recognized as existing, any law or usage to the contrary not withstanding; and no law shall be passed by Congress or by the Territorial Legislature to hinder or prevent the taking of persons held in slavery or involuntary servitude, from any of the States of this Union to said territory, nor to impair the rights arising from said relation; but the same shall be subject to judicial cognizance in the Federal Courts
, according to the remedies and the practice of the common law; and said relation shall be protected by all the departments of the territorial government.
When any territory north or south of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population equal to that required for a member of Congress, it shall, if its from of government be republican, be admitted into the Union
on an equal footing with the original States, with or without involuntary servitude, as such Constitution of the State
In all territory which may hereafter be acquired by the United States
, involuntary servitude is prohibited — except for crime — north of the latitude of 36 degrees 30 minutes; but shall not be prohibited by Congress or any Territorial Legislature south of said line.
urged his substitute, as meeting more directly the exigencies of the case than the amendment reported by the Committee
on Federal Relations.
He had, so far as practicable, adopted the language of the Crittenden propositions.
, of Frederick
, stated his objections to the substitute.
The vote was taken on Mr. Boyd
's motion to strike out for the purpose of inserting his substitute, and resulted — yeas 47; nays 69.
So the substitute failed.
, of Wetzel
, moved to strike out the first section, and insert a resolution instructing the Committee
on Federal Relations to report an ordinance resuming the powers delegated by Virginia
to the General Government
, and providing for equality of taxation in the event of the ratification of said ordinance by the people.
decided the amendment to be out of order, inasmuch as it embodied an instruction which could not be given by the Committee of the Whole.
It was therefore sent back to the mover.
, of Charlotte
, moved to amend the first section by striking out, after the words ‘"involuntary servitude,"’ in the 5th line, the words ‘"as it now exists,"’ and inserting ‘"of the African race, is allowed and hereby declared to exist, and shall not be abolished by any law of Congress or a Territorial Legislature, but the same as now protected by the laws of the Territory
of New Mexico
advocated his amendment, which he said had been offered in good faith, and with a view to make the language unequivocal.
It was rejected by the majority (who reject every thing which tends to give substance to their bantling)--yeas 46, nays 67.
, of Caroline, moved to amend the 1st section by striking out the words ‘"now exist"’ and inserting ‘"existed on the 1st day of March, 1861. "’ Agreed to — ayes 63, noes 36.
The first section, as amended by Mr. Morris
, was then adopted.
The second section was taken up for consideration:
2. No territory shall be acquired by the United States
, except by discovery and for naval and commercial stations, depots, and transit routes, without the concurrence of a majority of all the Senators
from States which allow involuntary servitude, and a majority of all the Senators
from States which prohibit that relation; nor shall territory be acquired by treaty, unless the votes of a majority of the Senators
from each class of states hereinbefore mentioned be cast as a part of the two-third majority, necessary to the ratification of such treaty.
, of Charles City
, moved to strike out the second section, and to insert in lieu thereof the following:
of the United States
shall be divided into two classes, whereof the senators chosen by the States whose institutions forbid slavery shall compose one, and the Senators
chosen by the States whose institutions admit slavery shall compose the other; and on the passage of any bill or resolution having the force of law, and on all appointments to office wherein the advice and consent of the Senate is required, upon a demand of a majority of the Senators
composing either class the vote shall be taken by classes, and the concurrence of both classes shall be necessary to pass such bill or resolution into a law, or to confirm such appointment: Provided, that when the vote of both classes shall be equally divided, the Vice President
may give the casting vote.
urged the necessity of checks in the National
legislation, in order to secure protection for the minority.
, of Kanawha
, replied, referring to Mr. Calhoun
's idea of a dual government among his objections.
, of Prince Edward, offered the following as an addition to Mr. Tyler
‘"Nor shall any treaty be made unless the votes of a majority of the senators from each class of States hereinbefore mentioned be cast on a part of the two-thirds majority necessary to the ratification of such treaty; nor shall any bill, order, resolution or vote which has been passed by Congress and disapproved by the President
of the United States
, take effect, unless the votes of a majority of the Senators
from each class of States hereinbefore mentioned be cast as a part of the two-thirds majority necessary to the passage of such bill, order, resolution or vote"’
accepted the amendment.
advocated the adoption of the amended substitute.
A division of the question being demanded, the vote was taken, and the Committee
refused to strike out the 2d section--yeas 44, nays 69.
So the substitute failed.
, of Wythe
, moved to amend the 2d section by adding thereto the following:
‘"Nor shall foreign territory be admitted as a State, unless the votes of a majority of the Senators
from each class of States hereinbefore mentioned be cast a favor of such admission."’
explained his amendment, after which it was voted down.
moved to strike out the 2d section, and to insert in lieu thereof the following:
‘"No territory shall be acquired by treaty, with out the concurrence of a majority of all the Senators
from the States which allow involuntary service and a majority of all the Senators
from States which prohibit that relation, and such concurrent majorities may advise and consent to such treaty."’
The amendment was advocated by Mr. Wise
; and the vote was taken on his motion to strike out, and resulted — yeas 31, nays 78.
, of Norfolk city, moved to amend the second section by inserting in the 3rd line after the word ‘"routes,"’ the words ‘"nor shall any foreign State be annexed;"’ which was subsequently changed, at the suggestion of Mr.
borman, so as to read ‘"nor shall any foreign State or country be annexed."’ Explained and advocated by Messrs. Blow
, and rejected — yeas 44, nays 67.
The second section was then adopted, without amendment.
The third section was then taken up:
2. Neither the Constitution
, nor any amendment thereof shall be construed to give Congress power to legislate concerning involuntary servitude in any state or Territory wherein the same is acknowledged, or may exist, by the laws thereof; nor to therefore with, or abolish, the same in the District of Columbia without the consent of Maryland
, and without the consent of the owner or making the owners, who do not consent, just compensation; nor the power to interfere with, or prohibit, representatives and others from bringing with them o the District of Columbia, re and taking away, persons so held to labor of service; nor the power to interfere with, or abolish, involuntary service in places under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States
, within those States and Territorial where the same is established or recognized; nor the power to prohibit the removal or transportation, by land or water, of persons held to labor, or involuntary service, in any State or Territory of the United States
to any other State or Territory thereof, where it is established or recognized by law or usage; and the right — during transportation by sea or river — of touching at ports, shores, and landings, and landing in case of need, shall exist; but not the right of sojourn or sale in any State or Territory against the laws thereof; nor shall Congress have power to authorize any higher rate of taxation on persons held to labor or service than on land.
The bringing into the District of Columbia persons held to labor or service for sale, or placing them in depots, to be afterwards transferred to other places, for sale as merchandise, is prohibited.
The section was adopted, without debate or amendment.
offered the following amendment, to come in as a new section after the third:
4. In all cases where the property in persons held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the United States
, or in the District of Columbia, has been or hereafter may be taken for public use, as in cases of impressment in war or otherwise, the owner thereof shall be justly compensated as in cases of other property so taken; and in all cases involving questions of property in said persons, the rights of property in them shall be recognized and protected by the United States
and their authorities as the rights of other property are recognized and protected.
The amendment, after some explanatory remarks from Mr. Wise
, was agreed to — yeas 60; nays 46.
The fourth section was taken up:
4. The third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution
shall not be construed to prevent any of the States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the person to whom such service or labor is due.
The Committee then took a recess till 4 o'clock.