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of the occasion. The sessions of the Montgomery Convention were generally held in secret. On one or two occasions. propositions were made to employ two stenographers to take down the debates. These propositions were voted down, and no reporters were allowed. They had open as well as secret sessions. Their open sessions they called the Congress, and their secret sessions they called the Convention. That body might properly be called a conclave — a conclave of conspirators. On the second day of the session, Mr. Memminger, of South Carolina, offered a series of three resolutions, declaring that it was expedient forthwith to form a confederacy of seceded States, and that a committee be appointed to report a plan for a provisional government, on the basis of the Constitution of the United States; that the committee consist of thirteen members; and that all propositions in reference to a provisional government be referred to that committee. Alexander H. Stephens then moved that
ation of the State of Virginia, to adjust the unhappy differences which now disturb the peace of the Union and threaten its continuance, make known to the Congress of the United States, that their body convened in the city of Washington on the 4th instant, and continued in session until the 27th. There were in the body, when action was taken upon that which is here submitted, one hundred and thirty-three commissioners, representing the following States:--Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massacoombs, and T. R. Cobb, of Georgia, and Chesnut, and Withers, and Rhett, of South Carolina, was thrown from the track between West Point and Montgomery, a nd badly broken up. Everybody was frightened, but nobody was hurt; and at a late hour, on the 4th, these leaders in conspiracy entered Montgomery. Not long afterward the Convention assembled in the Legislative Hall, around which were hung, in unseemly intermingling, the portraits of George Washington and John C. Calhoun; of Andrew Jackson and
d as a member of a Confederacy, and seemed inclined, at one time, to reject all leagues, and have their gallant State stand alone as an independent nation. The arrogance of the South Carolina politicians was sometimes gently rebuked by their friends. The Mobile Mercury, at this time, said:--They will have to learn to be a little more conforming to the opinions of others, before they can expect to associate comfortably with even the Cotton States, under a federative Government. On the sixth day of the session, February 9, 1861. the President of the Convention and all of the members took the oath of allegiance Jefferson Davis. to the Provisional Constitution, and at noon the doors of the hall were thrown open to the public, and the Convention proceeded to the election of a President and Vice-President of the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, received six votes (the whole number) for President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, the same number, for Vice-Pres
nsom, and John L. Bridges. They came only as commissioners from a State yet a part of the Federal Union, and had no right to appear as delegates. Their object was, according to instructions, See page 198. to effect an honorable and amicable adjustment of all the difficulties that distract the country, upon the basis of the Crittenden Resolutions, as modified by the Virginia Legislature. They soon perceived that their mission would be fruitless, and they returned to their homes. On the 7th a resolution was received by the Convention, from the Alabama Legislature, placing at the disposal of the Provisional Government of the Confederacy of the Seceding States the sum of five hundred thousand dollars as a loan, for the purpose of setting the machinery of the new government in motion. It was accepted with thanks. The preliminary measures for the formation of that provisional government had been taken. Mr. Memminger, Chairman of the Committee to report a plan, had submitted one.
and stopping at the lower red space. In the center of the union a circle of white stars, corresponding in number with the States of the Confederacy. This was the flag under which the maddened hosts of that Confederacy rushed to The conspirators' flag. battle, at the beginning of the war that ensued. It was first displayed in public on the 4th of March, when it was unfurled over the State House at Montgomery. The first assumption of sovereignty on the part of the Convention was on the 12th, February, 1861. when it was resolved that the new Government should take under its charge all questions and difficulties then existing between the Sovereign States of this Confederacy and the Government of the United States, relating to the occupation of forts, arsenals, navy yards, and other public establishments. The President of the Convention was requested to communicate this resolution to the Governors of the several States. This was extremely offensive to the South Carolinians. The
listened to a brief farewell address from Mr. Tyler, and then adjourned. During the session, a delegate from Ohio, the venerable John C. Wright, then seventy-seven years of age, and nearly blind, died quite suddenly. His death occurred on the 13th, when his son, who had been, appointed Secretary to the Convention, returned to Ohio with the remains of his father, and J. H. Puleston served the Convention as Secretary during the remainder of the session. On the following day, one hundred guns any other course, it appears to us, unless all the positions of the Governor are false, the State must be disgraced. The South Carolinians were pacified by promises, and, as we shall observe, were gratified in their belligerent desires. On the 13th, John Gregg, one of the delegates from Texas. appeared The delegation was composed of Louis T. Wigfall, J. H. Reagan, J. Hemphill, T. N. Waul, John Gregg, W. S. Oldham, and W. B. Ochiltree. and took a seat in the Convention, although the Ordin
ger S. Baldwin; New York, David Dudley Field; New Jersey, Peter D. Vroom; Pennsylvania, Thomas White; Ohio, Thomas Ewing; Indiana, Caleb B. Smith; Illinois, Stephen F. Logan; Iowa, James Harlan; Delaware, Daniel M. Bates; North Carolina, Thomas Ruffin; Virginia, James A. Seddon; Kentucky, James Guthrie; Maryland, Reverdy Johnson; Tennessee, F. R. Zollicoffer; Missouri, A. W. Doniphan. and the subjects laid before it were duly discussed, sometimes with warmth, but always with courtesy. On the 15th, Mr. Guthrie, Chairman of the Committee, made a report, in which several amendments to the Constitution were offered. It was proposed- First, To re-establish the parallel of 36° 30‘ north latitude as a line, in the territory north of which Slavery should be prohibited; but in all territory south of it Slavery might live, without interference from any power, while a territorial government existed. It also proposed that when any Territory north or south of that line should contain the requ
e, of Kentucky, proposed that that body should request the several States which had passed obnoxious Personal Liberty Acts to repeal them, and to allow slaves to cross their territory when being taken from one Slave-labor State to another. On the 18th, Amos Tuck, of New Hampshire, submitted an address and resolutions. In the former, the distractions of the country were deplored and the right of secession denied; in the latter, it was proposed that the Convention should recognize the fact that rated. They had nothing to fear at home, for they were united as one people; and they had nothing to fear from abroad, for if war should come, their valor would be sufficient for any occasion. The inaugural ceremonies took place at noon on the 18th, February. upon a plat-form erected in front of the portico of the State House. Davis and Stephens, with the Rev. Dr. Manly, riding in an open barouche, and followed by a large concourse of State officials and citizens, moved from the Exchange H
t is possible for human society to reach. He was followed by Keitt, and Chesnut, and Conrad, who all made predictions of the future grandeur of the nation they were then attempting to create. On the following day, Stephens formally accepted the office to which he had been chosen, and made a speech to the Convention, acknowledging with gratitude the expression of their confidence in calling him to that high station. He was in an embarrassing position. His Union speeches in November and January See pages 54 to 57, inclusive. were yet ringing in the ears of the people, and his present attitude needed explanation. He thought it prudent not to attempt any explanation, and simply remarked: It is sufficient for me to say, that it may be deemed questionable if any good citizen can refuse to discharge any duty which may be assigned him by his country in her hour of need. At Milledgeville, in November, See page 54. Mr. Stephens's vision of his c country embraced the whole Republic
January 19th (search for this): chapter 10
the principles of the New Government, 260. On Monday, the 4th of February, 1861, the day on which Slidell and Benjamin left the Senate, a Convention known as the Peace Congress, or Conference, assembled in Willard's Hall, in Washington City, a large room in a building originally erected as a church edifice on F Street, and then attached to Willard's Hotel. This Convention, as we have observed, See page 194. was proposed by resolutions of the Virginia Legislature, passed on the 19th of January, 1861. and highly approved by the President of the Republic. The proposition met with favorable consideration throughout the country. Omens of impending war were becoming more numerous every day; and at the time this proposition was made, it was evident that no plan for the adjustment of existing difficulties could be agreed upon by the National Legislature. It was thought that a convention of conservative men, fresh from the people, might devise some salutary measures that should g
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