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Debate in the South Carolina Convention.The debate in the South Carolina Convention about "the hereafter," is important. On Wednesday, before the adoption of the Ordinance of Secession, Chancellor Dunkin, who was on the committee to prepare it, made the following speech: ‘ I do not know that any particular amendment is of very much consequence. I suppose that the committee will have authority to take into consideration what has been termed postal arrangements. [A voice--"That's so."] It is very difficult to define and distinguish; but when you come to consider what we have to do, it will be no great stretch to say that a Committee on Commercial Relations might take into consideration our postal arrangements as a part of commercial transactions; and I did suppose, when my friend submitted his resolution for appointing the committee, that it would have full authority, and with due deference to the gentleman, whom I greatly respect, I would desire that there might be a question upon this. I do not believe the Convention entertains a doubt about the committee, that they may, if they think proper, take into consideration postal arrangements. The President has done me honor by placing me on the Committee to prepare an Ordinance for the withdrawal of this State from what has been called the "Federal Union." I do not think I act in violation of confidence as a member of that committee to say that upon the matter confided to them they are united. [Smothered applause.] That if any delay takes place it will be simply for the purpose of preparing an Ordinance in a manner consistent with its effect, and the dignity of the State. Sir, I am sure that Ordinance will be submitted to-morrow. We have been working this morning, and again will work this evening. We do not intend to be hasty, but we propose to lose no time. We are anxiously engaged in it, and I say, without violation of confidence, we are engaged only upon the matter of form, and upon that we shall not be long in agreeing. Mr. President, I will, in the remarks I intend offering, assume that this State will be out of the Union in a very few days, if not in as many hours. Then, Mr. President, we have something to look to for many purposes. The Union has worked well — the machinery is convenient and advantageous. In small matters, very convenient. Sir, having a determination to go out of the Union, we should endeavor to do so with as little harm to the ordinary transactions of the community as practicable and consistent with the position we have assumed and the character which we propose to maintain. Sir, the machinery has worked well, and you cannot stop it suddenly unless you get some break in it in some way. Sir, I cannot illustrate what I desire to say in a better manner than by referring to the first matter to be considered — the commercial relations, or the marine relations, if you please to call them so — the forts, harbors and custom-houses. This is the most important subject, and the great purpose of the Committee, and I cannot illustrate or elaborate, but merely suggest first in reference to the Custom-House. The conduct of the gentleman who now occupies the Collectorship of the Port, and who has not illustrated to me his idea, has been most commendable. Sir, all I know I read in the newspapers, I know nothing more. I saw the Collector a few times directly after the announcement of the election of Lincoln. The feelings of that gentleman would then have promptly caused him to instantly have thrown up his commission. He did not desire for one minute to remain an officer of the National Government. But, sir, what would have happened if an immediate acceptance had taken place in the reception of his resignation at Washington had he have forwarded his commission. Sir, it is well known to every man in the country that if Mr. Buchanan had received it, and appointed another to fill the thrown up commission, no Southern man would have accepted it — no man of South Carolina would have been allowed to do it.--[Applause.] Sir, Mr. Colcock saw, and he is a practical man, that if he had sent in his commission and it, had been accepted, as I presume it would, what would have been the result. I ask any man who knows anything of the commercial relations of Charleston, what would have been the consequence! All the power of the British navy would not have more effectually stopped the port of Charleston. It is well known that if a vessel passes the bar of Charleston without the regular papers, signed by the Collector of the Port, that vessel is liable to be taken up in twenty minutes as a vagrant or pirate. No vessel would venture that peril. The Collector knew this and he did not forward his commission. He gave notice that he would resign — that he would hold his commission subject to the directions of the Convention of the people of South Carolina when here assembled. He knew that a sudden stoppage would have been accompanied by the most mischievous consequences.--He is prepared now, and he holds his commission under the direction and at the will of the Convention, or of this body to which he expects to owe allegiance, and to whom he allows allegiance alone. Let us pass, then, Mr. President, to the postal arrangements. Mirabeau, many years ago, said that the fiercest insurrections were those which arose from the stomachs of a people without bread. They won't hear, they won't reason, and the voice of patriotism is dead. Sir, next to bread, in our artificial state of society, is light. I do not mean the glorious light of the Heavens — I mean that information and intelligence is next to bread.--People must have information — they must have light. If, sir, you suddenly withdraw this light — if for eight and forty hours a casual interruption in postal arrangements occurs, you stop the means of communication. Why, sir, the perilous consequences which would result from it will be easily appreciated by every thinking mind in every corner of the State. It should, therefore, not be done suddenly. We should have a little time to effect common arrangements. It is to be done by a Congress. Don't let me be misunderstood. I assume that we will to-morrow take the attitude of a sovereign State. I will assume that the national men at the head of the Federal Government, when the matter is presented to them, will see the right. We assume that our rights must be recognized.--Without that they will soon be prepared to hear that we are out of the Union. By slowly acting they will then be prepared to treat with us in relation to commerce, upon postal arrangements, and upon any and all other matters. Let me say, Mr. President, I don't use this argument in reliance upon their good feeling toward us, but from their interests — interests as important to them as to us. For such action time should be given. If in the instance of a co-partnership time is proposed to close it up, and make the necessary arrangements, it is but reasonable that the time be given to effect the purpose. You cannot act until you are out of the Union. The object should therefore be to make temporary arrangements, and that very soon, so as to keep up commerce. We should place the postal arrangements, which I consider a part of the great commercial relations of the country, in such a position as to keep them up until we hear whether the Government is prepared to say yea or any. If yes, there will be no difficulty — if nay, then for a resort to the experiment of managing things for ourselves. Mr. President, I have said that I got my information about the Collector from the newspapers. As to the Postmasters of the State, I think I may say the same thing. For a number of them, I know I can say they are ready, and they are only desirous of knowing from this Convention what is proper for them to do for the welfare and the advancement of this great cause. But for the Postmaster of Charleston I have a right to speak a little more authentically. I say, sir, that at this very moment he is prepared to put his commission in the hands of the Governor of the State to be forwarded to the United States Post-Office Department, whenever in the opinion of the Government, through this Convention expressed, it shall be deemed expedient for the welfare of South Carolina, to which alone, after its withdrawal, he will look. I do him injustice, however, and come short of all I should say. He has lived to the time appointed for man, and rather beyond it, and I say that, in view of all the difficulties and troubles he may have encountered in that long period of time, and the aid which his salary affords him in his old age, he is prepared to put his commission this night in the hands of the Governor of the State. Now, sir, since we know what the Collector will do, and what the Postmasters throughout the State are prepared to do, I will state that I have a resolution which I intend to offer to this Committee, not merely for them, but to find out what temporary or permanent arrangements it is expedient to adopt in reference to the withdrawal of this State from the Union, for commercial and postal arrangements. I suppose that the Committee will only report after it has conferred with the Governor, so that it is better not to disturb the ordinary relations, at least not until it is ascertained what is proposed to be done with the subject. Some gentlemen in the Committee suggest an allowance of ten days for a conference — some suggest one month, and some suggest a longer time — say two months, or after the assembling of the two Conventions of our sister States, which meet on the 7th of January and one on the 17th of the same month. It was suggested that a temporary arrangement could go into operation on the 20th of January, so that time be given to the General Government to know our views and be ready to answer yea or nay whether they are disposed to treat. But in the meantime the ordinary operations of our citizens are to go on. One matter more as to the revenues. The Postmaster of Charleston would most likely keep an account until the transaction was settled after January 17th. My friend from St. Michael has well proposed that the money received by the Postmaster should be considered in account, and settled with the General Government the day of the ratification of the Ordinance, as adopted by this Convention — that a month hence all matters can be arranged between us as between two independent nations. In the meantime, the accounts should go on, so that no sudden disruption shall take place. Sir, I merely suggest this as spoken by others. I learn that Secretary Cobb has said that the revenue of South Carolina from the Custom-House would not near pay the expense of the Custom-House for the last quarter. I also learn from the best authority that the Post-Offices of South Carolina cost the Government from thirty to forty thousand dollars per quarter, and that the receipts have been less than fifty thousand dollars per annum. Therefore, Mr. President, there need be no great apprehension on this score. But the accounts should, nevertheless, be kept in the meantime. The usual business transactions should be allowed to proceed until it is ascertained what are the views and how the matter is regarded by the Administration, which I have no doubt are entirely friendly to us, and will do everything that can be done in order to prevent any inconvenience. Mr. President, I have only one word more and I will take my seat. We are at the inauguration of a great cause. All of us look with an undivided interest to the consequences of that movement. One of the most prominent and the most favorable is the perfect unanimity which prevails in the State of South Carolina--a unanimity not only unexpected, but unprecedented. I might go further, and say as to the sympathy found in other States, it is, to a certain extent, greatly unexpected.--It has surpassed, I take the liberty to say, every expectation. Our great object should be to preserve this unanimity — to warm and not chill this sympathy of our Southern sisters. Mr. President, I have said stop for a day — shut up for a day the port of Charleston, and the ships now loading with the produce of our country would rot before they would go to sea. If an Ordinance is passed they will have no papers — they are stopped from departing. Pass your Ordinance immediately, and what is the consequence? I say, sir, if we were stopped a single day — if we were stopped two days--the eloquence of Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, would be but as a penny whistle compared with the astounding consequences among ourselves. The stoppage of postal arrangements is an argument which will make a man silent, and this would be but the beginning. The port of Charleston stopped! postal arrangements stopped! people unrequited and their ships rotting at our docks, will lead to the stoppage of all ordinary transactions. Is there any argument that can obviate this result? Look at our sister States--they will commence to hesitate. Some are more than ready now to call a halt. Look at Georgia, whose co-operation we desire more than any other, because she is identical in her interests, and has the same position, side by side, with South Carolina. Mr. President, I repeat that I have a resolution which I propose to offer at the proper time, to appoint a committee and refer to that committee the inquiry whether it is in contemplation, on the withdrawal of the State from the Union, either to make a permanent or temporary arrangement in reference to the officers of our Post-Office and Custom-House, and that they shall report thereon. ’
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