Debate in the South Carolina Convention.
the collection of the revenue--Post-Office affairs.

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.

Speech of Judge Magrath.

The following is the speech made by Judge Magrath on Wednesday, in reply to Chancellor Dunkin:

Mr. Magrath said — If we were now in a condition of profound peace and about to inaugurate this act of secession of South Carolina, from a brotherhood of States in a condition of good will and good wishes, that resolution would be proper and necessary. But when we are about to consummate this great act without the good will and wishes of many of the States of this Confederacy, it is important that South Carolina should know if the rights claimed in behalf of this Government were to be exercised. Would it be well to inquire whether she shall defer her rights to be exercised within the limits of her own State?--The President of the United States affirms it to be his right, his constitutional duty, and high obligation, to protect what he calls the property of the United States within the limits of South Carolina, after the secession of South Carolina from the limits of the United States. And it is true, sir, that he says he has no constitutional power to coerce the State of South Carolina after she shall secede, while at the same time he denies her the exercise of her legitimate right of secession, which she claims; and I apprehend there will be, Mr. President, an attempt to coerce the State of South Carolina in the form of protecting the property of the United States within the limits of South Carolina. I am disposed, therefore, at the very threshold of the movement, to contest the accuracy of the logic and weigh well the conclusion which the President of the United States has arrived at in his consideration of the matter. There never has been a day — no, nor an hour — in which anybody could claim the right of the property within the limits of the State of South Carolina, whether the claim be made by an individual or a nation. Is it not as sacred under the Constitution and laws of South Carolina--and as sacred as when that right is claimed by one of our own citizens? And if there be, as is asserted, property of the United States within the limits of South Carolina, the property after the secession of the State, according to my opinion, will be as safe as is consistent with the dignity and honor of the State. After the act of secession it will receive only that protection which it has hitherto received — I mean that protection which has been derived from the laws of South Carolina.

Mr. President, look at it. There is property which, while we were in the Union, belonged to the Union of States. As an independent State, has it been protected by the arms of the United States? When was it, sir, that the United States considered it necessary, within the limits of South Carolina, to consider this property needful of that material protection which it seems disposed to assert for it? Is it because the act of secession makes the people of South Carolina occupy in the eyes of the people of the United States the position of robbers? So potentially is it asserted that the rights of the United States are only to be maintained in our limits by material force?--No! no! If it be so, then the United States cannot, consistently with the honor and dignity of South Carolina, own property within the limits of South Carolina.

The President of the United States states that this property has been bought by the Union of the States--that the United States has paid for it, and therefore claims the right to hold it. It must be remembered that when South Carolina secedes from this Union, her sovereign rights arise and are to be considered in connection with this assertion of the right of property. In this Convention, in the face of the whole world, it is for her to decide to raise the banner of justice, and let every one see whether we owe the United States anything. If there be a dollar that South Carolina owes to the U. States let it be paid, even if it impoverishes the people of South Carolina. If there be a dollar claimed which is not justly due the United States, let South Carolina be desolated before that dollar is paid. [Smothered applause.]

There is one condition of public affairs to which I wish a moment to revert, in consequence of the remarks which fell from the gentleman, on the resolution just disposed of it is this: When the State of South Carolina, in and through their Convention, have passed this Ordinance of Secession; when, in full consideration of these responsibilities which we are about to assume, it shall be the determination of South Carolina to uphold the position of an independent State--it becomes us, as men, who represent the public sentiment of South Carolina, to look boldly in the eye the responsibilities of the position. I shall vote against any action of joint ownership, co-partnership, or agency of any kind, between the United States and South Carolina, unless they stand to each other in the relation of equal, independent sovereignties, mutually recognizing each other. If I have to make the act of secession; if I have to qualify that ordinance after it is passed, all of it shall be for the dignity of South Carolina.

One word more. There is one position to which we may be brought, and it is the position which, so far as one man is concerned, I shall avoid above all others. It is the position of having the State of South Carolina to seem to the world to be graciously allowed to exercise its right of secession by the permission of the United States. Other States are preparing to secede. There are States going into Conventions. Provisions might be made to arrest their progress. I do not want South Carolina to secede because President Buchanan or any other man besides the people of South Carolina desires not to see it. Come what may — whatever the consequences it may invoke. I think it will best become the people to meet these consequences in the largest assertion of their rights. It may be that Mr. Buchanan is the friend of South Carolina. I do not say that he is, nor do I assert that he is not. I admit no other conclusion from events transpiring before me except that, in the issue now before the country, the President of the United

States will consummate this declaration which will inevitably arouse war with the incoming President.

The forts — conversation of the South Carolina Congressmen with the President.

Mr. Miles.--I did not suppose that there would be any discussion on the various delicate matters coming before this Convention, before the rising of the Committees; with all deference, therefore, to the gentlemen who have spoken, I may say that this discussion is quite premature. I desire, however, as the discussion has progressed thus far, to say a few words. I am, as members are already perhaps aware, very recently from Washington. I went there with my colleagues for the purpose of informing myself as thoroughly and as carefully as possible, of all matters which I considered as bearing upon the welfare and prosperity of South Carolina.

My colleagues and myself considered it desirable that we should confer with the members from the other Southern States, that we might have full information upon all that concerns the interests and domestic affairs of the South. We went there not as spies, but as vigilant sentinels, and to procure all information which we could conceive of as valuable for our people. The remarks of my honored friend appear to me calculated to give a very wrong impression on the minds of the people of this State. I have not the remotest idea that the President of the United States will send any reinforcements to the forts in our harbor. I would say now frankly, for I desire no concealment, and I do not think there should be at this time anything of the kind among the members of this great body, but with perfect frankness I will state here that I and some of my colleagues, in a conversation with the President of the United States, and subsequently in a written communication addressed to him at his request, we did say this, after speaking of the great excitement about the forts and preparations and rumors, "Mr. President, it is our solemn conviction, if you attempt to send a solitary soldier down to those forts, the instant the intelligence reaches our people — and we shall take care that it does reach them — the forts will certainly be taken. We would urge them to do it, and would go home to help in the work, because that would be a matter of self- defence. It would be suicidal folly to allow Fort Sumter or the others to be manned." We further said, it is our conviction that the people of S. Carolina would not touch those forts or do anything to molest its garrison prior to the meeting of the Convention. We were perfectly sure of that. We also hoped and believed that nothing would be done after that until we had a formal adjustment with the Federal Government, or until those forts were demanded by the State. That was the substance of our communication. And I say again, that there is not an intention to reinforce the forts. What do we now see at Washington? We see the Premier — the right hand man of the Administration, a near and dear personal friend of the President — retiring from the Cabinet on that precise issue. Gen. Cass urged vehemently that the forts should be reinforced. The President has resisted, and allowed a Cabinet officer to withdraw, rather than to yield to the proposition.

Now, is it natural after such an act that the President should vacillate and concede to other influences that which he so strongly and promptly refused to a personal friend in the Cabinet? I cannot believe it. I cannot think he would be so weak, so vacillating, so uncertain. I, therefore, feel, as I said, that there is not the slightest earthly reason to expect that the Administration will reinforce the garrison, and if he should do it, it is utterly impossible that he could do it without our getting ample and timely notice, and anticipate the arrival of the troops.

Now, look at it as practical, common-sense men. Do any of you desire any more? Does any honorable gentleman on this floor wish to provoke a collision with the General Government, and to precipitate that collision with other States involved? Do we wish to present to the gaze of men in sight of the civilized world, a State noted for courage as the spectacle of cowardice and weakness, instead of retiring peaceably and with dignity? We owe it to ourselves before the nations of the world, the strength of our position before the tribunal of the country, the strength of our position before Almighty God, that we do not strike before we are first assailed.

Now, what is the position of those forts? A handful of men in Fort Moultrie, numbering sixty- five, musicians and all told, seventy; actually so small that they are, as their Commander said, actually worn out from physical labor; yet the President has not reinforced them, though urged to do so. Have we any apprehensions that these sixty-five men will injure the peace and security of the city of Charleston? Have you the least suspicion that these men will turn their guns and fire upon the people?

We are told that these works are strongly fortified and entrenched. If I was in the same position as the officer of that fort, I would do as he has done. He is there with few troops, and is obliged to make these preparations for his own defence. His preparations are for the protection of the lives of that handful of men. Where is the reason; then, that we should be excited, or that it should touch the nerves of the least sensitive? As to the works at Fort Sumter, so much the better. Let the General Government spend as much money as it chooses, and employ as many laborers as are necessary, and put it in a good condition. I say, so much the better — it must eventually be ours. It is but an empty fortress, and we can seize and control it in a single night.

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