Virginia State Convention.
Thursday, March 14, 1861.
The Convention was called to order at 12 o'clock Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Baker
, of Grace Church, (Episcopal.)
Voice of the people.
, of Lunenburg
, presented a series of resolutions adopted by the citizens of his county, favoring immediate secession, opposing a Border State Convention, and repudiating the Peace Conference propositions.
, of Wythe
, presented the proceedings of a meeting held in that county, with resolutions in favor of an immediate withdrawal of Virginia
from the Union
, and against the consideration of any subjects by the Convention
not appertaining to National affairs.
Referred to the Committee
on Federal Relations.
The Peace propositions.
the pending question to be on the motion to refer to the Committee
or Federal Relations the report from the Commissioners
to the Peace Conference.
, of Charles City
, being entitled to the floor, resumed his remarks.
After an allusion to his physical disabilities, he preceeded to allude to the Peace Conference propossitions.
He read an amendment which he had offered in the Conference, relative to the appointment of Territorial officers.
He sought in this to guard the interests of the South
, and to secure the appointment of trustworthy agents.
he could not account for the vastly increased expenditures of Government within the last sixteen years, since he left the Administration.
A system of plunder had grown up in the Territories
, which he sought to restrain by his amendment.
The whole Virginia
delegation voted for it, yet it only received those five votes, plain and rational as it was. He would that it could be incorporated now upon any programme that is designed to be offered.
He then proceeded to consider the remaining sections, which he did not reach yesterday.
He related an anecdote of the framers of the Constitution
, to show that Southern people were best capable of managing their own affairs, and quoted a provision of that instrument, made in favor of the Southern States
, touching representation and taxation, giving in addition, decisions of the Supreme Court thereupon.
To the fourth section he had no objection, because it merely reaffirms the language of the Constitution
Against the fifth section, relative to the foreign slave trade, (and for which his friend from Kanawha
had made the best apology that could be made,) the Virginia
delegation voted as a unit.
He had no desire to re-open the African slave trade; he protested against it. But they looked upon it as applicable to event of a recognition of the Southern Confederacy.
To the sixth section there was nothing objectionable.--The last section was looked upon as the mitigation of forced emancipation.
The chief objection.
however, was to the latter clause, securing to citizens of each State the privileges and immunities of citizens of other States. --The Constitution already provided for that, and this enactment would give Congress an opportunity to legislate upon the subject.
In Northern States, Massachusetts
among others, movements were on foot to secure to negroes the rights of citizenship, and he supposed the case of a Southern Senator
with a negro in the Senate of the United States.
The section was voted against unanimously by the Virginia
In fact, the propositions offered nothing of a tangible character, while they omitted all that would be rosily for the security of the South
They gave no guarantees for the recovery of fugitives — no security against the operations of the underground railroad.
He alluded to Lincoln
's proposition for a National Convention, which he illustrated by the couplet of the spider and the fly. If Virginia
got into such a Convention, she would never get out again.
It would not do for Virginia
to told her arms in slumber — she must do something.
The probable evacuation of Fort Sumter
was here touched upon, and he spoke of his efforts with President Buchanan
in that direction.
He thought the proceeding commendable in Lincoln
, even though the necessity was forced upon him. He wished that the same policy might be pursued in regard to Fort Pickens
, and that the Southern Confederacy might be recognized, in order to save the fragments of the Union
But events portended that something else was in contemplation, and it would not do for Virginia
to rest idly under a delusion.
All eyes were now turned towards her. If chicanery or cajolery were practiced, it would be well for her to look to it with suspicion; if it were found necessary to increase the garrison at Fortress Monroe
, it would be well for her to look to it, and prepare for any emergency.
The numerous resignations in the army meant something.--They would not disclose the secrets of the army, but it was apparent that movements were contemplated in which they could take no part.
must have guarantees for protection against the aggressive power which had grown up in the North
Majorities are despotic — he had rather be governed by King
One than King Numbers.
was disposed to try further experiments, let her go forth strong-handed, and without timidly.
Let her yield not an inch.
He wanted the Government
of the whole Union, and believed we could acquire it if we pursued a sound policy.
A voice was heard from N. Y. last night declaring that Va. held the destinies of the whole Union [He alluded to Mr. Cochrane
.] By pursuing a decided, straightforward policy, the majority of the whole people would rally to her, and then the sceptre becomes theirs.
He wanted the Convention
to take sufficient time, and complete the work thoroughly, but not to be too slow, for the people were moving.
act for herself — let her name her ultimatum — demand ample and full protection — and send it to the Border slave States, and to all the free States, telling them that if they cannot adopt the course proposed, Virginia
cannot stay with them.--He had no tears of a division of sentiment between Eastern and Western Virginia
It was in the West
that the men of former days stood and battled for their rights of domain.
and the patriotic motive existed there still.
He alluded to the policy of the Administration as having been put forth insidiously to entrap the border slave States.
The foreign appointments were sufficient to show the course of the future.
Cassins M. Clay
goes to Spain
— a perfect fanatic on the subject of slavery.
would not be acquired by the South
under this Administration.
The appointment of Mr. Corwin
, to Mexico
, was better.
He expressed a high personal regard for that gentleman.
But at the Courts
this Government would be represented by men of Exeter Hall associations, who would go to preach tyrannies against the South
, then, to slink about in the possible hope of obtaining terms to remain in the Northern Confederacy
, or was she to boldly stand up for her rights, and demand security for her rights?
He alluded in eloquent terms to the records of the past, preserved upon the tombstones at Jamestown
and at Yorktown
, and appealed to the Convention
, in the name of the illustrious men of former days, to take a position admitting of no doubt.
He urged them to make the ultimatum strong — to say to the North
, in the language of Canute
to the waters of the great deep, ‘"Thus far shalt thou come, and no farther."’ Tell them that the statu quo
must be preserved as it is — that not another man must be sent to Fortress Monroe
, Harper's Ferry
, or to the fort on the Potomac
Alluding to a scurrilous attack upon him in the N. Y. Times
, where he was branded as a traitor, he said he had engaged in no political man ring with any party.
The only communication he had received from South Carolina
was a dispatch in reply to an effort for the preservation of peace.
His correspondence was all with the North
He delighted to correspond with such noble men as Edward Everett
, Robert C. Winthrop
, and the venerable Dr. Spring
, of Albany
After some remarks upon the skillful game of the Republicans in Congress, he spoke briefly of the proposed Conference of the Border Slave States, which he thought would amount to nothing.
But if the ultimatum which he suggested were put forth, he could not foretell the greatness of its results.
He was not prepared to say it would not be the means of restoring the glorious Union.
He was not satisfied that the South
would not come back.
could not do without the Cotton States
, and it was idle to talk of it. If those States were put up in the market to-morrow, Russia
would bid for them until millions would not tell the amount.
The exchanges of the world are regulated by cotton.
And was all this to be thrown away because some thought that South Carolina
had acted badly?
After an eloquent tribute to South Carolina
, he went on to consider the slight probability of benefit accruing to Virginia
, by exchanging the trade with the South
for a traffic in ice derived from the ponds of Massachusetts
said in closing, that he had presented the subject with as much force as he was capable of in his enfeebled condition, and thanked the Convention
for the respectful attention given to his remarks.
, of Frederick
, said that while he had listened with interest to the discussion of a subject which had occupied three days, he thought it was time for the Convention
to address itself to something of a more practical character.
He therefore hoped the question on referring the report would be taken without further debate.
The question was then put — Shall the re- port of the Commissioners
to the Peace Conference be referred to the Committee
on Federal Relations?--and decided in the affirmative.
The reports from the Committee.
offered the following resolution:
That the report of the Committee
on Federal Relations be made the order of the day, in Committee of the Whole, to-morrow at half past 12 o'clock, and continue so, from day to day, until further ordered.
, of Princess Anne, suggested that the minority reports be included in the resolution.
said that in his ignorance of parliamentary law he had supposed that the whole subject would come up in debate.
He would, however, cheerfully acquiesce in the suggestion if it were necessary.
, of Smythe
, said there were rumors of the Committee
soon being able to report in full, having thus far only made a partial report.
He inquired of the Chairman
in regard to the time it might be expected.
of the Committee
,) could not state with exactness; but he supposed by the end of this week, or on Monday next.
then moved to amend the resolution by striking out ‘ "to-morrow"’ and inserting ‘"Monday next."’
opposed the amendment, and after some further remarks by Mr. Sheffey
, it was rejected.
The resolution having been changed by inserting the words "with the minority reports from said committee," was then adopted.
Defence of the State.
, of Hanover
, moved to take from the table the following resolution, offered by himself on the 28th of February:
That in furtherance of the resolution adopted by this Convention on the 20th inst., seeking information of the Governor
regarding the militia, the Adjutant General
of the State
be, and he is hereby, requested to communicate to this body, as speedily as is compatible with a thorough report on this subject, how many and what kind of arms are in the possession of the State
, undistributed, and the number and kind of additional companies which can and will, probably, shortly be armed.
Also, at what points, in his judgment, having due reference to the localities of the different companies, and to economy in time and money, the whole volunteer force of the State
can be best assembled in bodies sufficiently large to be instructed in battalion evolutions, in the evolutions of the line, in sledge, garrison and camp duties, incident to the respective arms of the service, and any other information in his reach calculated to throw light on the means necessary to put the Commonwealth
in a complete state of preparation against attack.
advocated the taking up of the resolution.
It merely instituted an inquiry, and does not propose to appropriate one dollar. Let Virginia
do what she will, the present crisis is one of great peril; and wherever she might go, he desired that she might be placed in a position to make good what she deems proper to demand.
If she goes North, she is likely to have war with the South
; if she goes South, she encounters the risk of a war with the General Government
; if she goes into a Middle Confederacy, she will have war with both sections; and if she goes nowhere, there might be war between the East and West.
He thought the Convention
had a right to instruct the Legislature to pass a bill to meet the emergency.
Nothing worth speaking of had yet been done in that direction.
The Legislature at its last session made an appropriation for the defence of the State
, and now there were less than eleven thousand troops, and those deficiently armed.--There were rumors of the concentration of Government troops at different points, and something practical ought to be done for the protection of Virginia
There was, it is true, a formidable battery of words; and if we could believe all we hear, there were men not a hundred miles from Richmond
who could eat half a dozen Yankees for breakfast, take Harper's Ferry
and Fortress Monroe
during the same day, and bring back the keys of those positions by supper time.
He thought the men who talked the loudest would be found wanting in the hour of danger.
He hoped the resolution would meet with no opposition.--If it passed, it was his purpose to withdraw from the Committee
on Federal Relations a resolution which he offered early in the session, proposing measures looking to the defence of the Commonwealth
, of Franklin
, was opposed to taking up the resolution.
The last clause would require the services of competent Engineers, and the State
had none in her employment.
said the gentleman had entirely misinterpreted the language of the resolution.
It merely sought information from the Adjutant General
on the points stated.
, of Preston
, thought it was a subject properly belonging to the Legislature, and he was opposed to taking it up. He then moved an adjournment, but withdrew it at the request of
, who proceeded to correct the misapprehension under which gentlemen labored in respect to the resolution.
, of Dinwiddie
, renewed the motion to adjourn, but withdrew it.
The question was then taken and resulted — ayes 44, noes 28.
No quorum voting.
On motion of Mr. Burdett
, the Convention