The Committee was called to order by Mr. Southall
at 4 o'clock P. M., and Mr. Rives
resumed his remarks.
He said it was his object to close his speech this evening, because he did not want it to be said that he consumed any more time than was necessary for an exposition of his views.
He then proceeded to examine the existing causes of complaint against the North
With regard to the institution of African
slavery, he said it was very easy for those who did not like it to get rid of their slaves, while those who did like it, sometimes found it very difficult to get them.
He liked it, socially, morally, and politically, and he wished he could get a heap more of them.
The election of Abraham Lincoln
had been alluded to as a just cause of the dissolution of the Union
He averred that not one of those who supported Bell
ever claimed that Lincoln
's election would justify such a proceeding.
He went further, and said that of all the Breckenridge speakers whom he heard in the Presidential canvass, none occupied that position, and Mr. Hunter
, in a speech in the city of Petersburg
, said, in answer to a question, that he did not think the election of Lincoln
would justify dissolution, and if any State went out, he would be among the first to endeavor to bring her back again.
The withdrawal of Southern Senators
and Representatives from Congress was strongly condemned by Mr. Rives
, as giving up a power which the South
possessed for preventing any objectionable appointments, and restraining any act of Administration hostile to her interests.
He was for relying upon the law which had confined all preceding Presidents
to the sphere of their duty; but if it was not strong enough, make it stronger.
The violations of the fugitive slave law, by Personal Liberty bills, he unequivocally condemned; but he wanted no better security for the enforcement of the fugitive slave law than was found in the Constitution
The President, with the army and navy at his back, had full power to execute it, as President Fillmore
did in the case of Burns
If it was contended that negroes were not caught at the North
, it was equally true that they were not caught in the South
, for the newspapers were constantly advertising runaway negroes.
He thought a good many masters were to blame for dressing their slaves up in fine clothes, and letting them drive about the country, instead of keeping them down in the cornfield, where they belonged.--It looked too much like equality, and invested the mind of the negro with ideas that did not belong there.
The Territorial question next occupied his discourse.
He took the ground that we did not want to take our slaves to the Territories
During the Kansas
excitement there was a great furore in Petersburg
, and a bonus of $50 was offered to all who would emigrate, and $100 to every one who carried a slave.
It was only required that they should stay until after the October election, when, if they thought proper, they could come back.
Only twenty-five enlisted, and of these, not one was a slave-owner!
A better illustration than this, he said, could be found in South Carolina
Not a single slaveholder will be fool enough to remove from his plantation there, to the finest fields that bloom in the great plains and valleys of the West
After some further consideration of this point, he proceeded to urge upon the Committee
the report on the subject of Federal Relations, which he thought ought to satisfy every one.
Before his constituents he took the ground that Virginia
should set forth a catalogue of her wrongs, and the mode and measure of redress, and then say to the North
, ‘"You know you have been guilty of these things, and we ask you for this redress;"’ if they refused, then say to them, ‘"Let us part in peace — you take the public property in the North
, and we take the public property in the South
; if we get more than you, we will pay you the difference, and if you get the most, pay us the difference."’ If they refused to accede to these terms, say to them, ‘"Come on!
we are ready for you!"’ He would not wander through a labyrinth of abstractions to get at the right of secession, but raise the flag of revolution, and fight for what could not be obtained in peace-- If, however, the first mode proved effectual, we could say to the seceded States, we have got all we want, the North
has agreed to put these things in the Constitution
, and now we ask you to come back.
He believed it was wrong to endeavor to create the impression that such an effort would not succeed.
The majority report, as he understood it, covered all the ground of which the South
It demanded everything that could be demanded, and yet gentlemen wanted something else.
It reminded him of a cross and ill-natured child, dissatisfied with everything, and crying for something else; and when the nurse took it to the looking-glass
to exhibit to the child its own ugliness, it capped the climax by smashing the glass.
discussed the several sections of the report, expressing his concurrence therein.
With regard to the objection against that portion providing for the remuneration of masters for slaves not recovered by the United States
authorities, he made an arithmetical calculation, taking the number of slaveholders at 250,000, and the average value of the runaway slaves at $1,000; and the General Government
having paid this to the master, even should the tax fall upon slaveholders alone, it would come to only about three mills
to each man. But falling upon 28,000,000 of people, what a subject for calculation would each one's portion be. Arguing at some length upon the question of reconstruction, he expressed his belief that the Southern States
would come back.
He produced statistics to show that Virginia
had not slaves enough, and urged a change in the agricultural system in order to retain them in Virginia
Towards the close of his remarks, in order to disabuse the minds of those who thought his enthusiasm for the Union
was accounted for by the fact that he was a United States
officer, he said he had made a calculation of the emoluments of his office, and found that since the 31st of December last he had received, as Collector of the Port of Petersburg
, the enormous sum of twenty-five dollars and twenty-eight cents!. He threw his keys upon the table before him, and said when any one wanted the keys of his office, there they were.
He had no favors to ask.
He alluded to the pestilence that once raged in Portsmouth
, and to the pecuniary assistance then rendered by the Northern States
to their suffering brethren of Virginia
— sending collectively over $124,000.--Upon this manifestation of sympathy he dwelt with much earnestness, and with these considerations he closed his remarks, having spoken about seven hours.
, of Halifax
, took the floor, but gave way for a motion that the Committee
The Committee then rose and reported progress.
The President having resumed the Chair, the Convention
proceeded to consider the resolution offered by Mr. Conrad
this morning, to terminate debate in Committee of the Whole, on Tuesday next.
, of Greenbrier
, said the gentleman who offered the resolution was not present, but it was necessary that it should be changed in some respects.
He was desirous of making some arrangement that would satisfy all, and if the gentlemen on the other side were willing to some to a reasonable compromise of the matter, he would make to them this overture; if not — if there was any undeveloped motive for protracting the session, he must give them notice now that it must be brought to a close at as early a day as possible.
He would therefore request the gentleman from Middlesex
, (Mr. Montague
,) to consult with his friends and bring in such a proposition as would be acceptable to them Mr. Price
then moved that the Convention
requested him to withdraw the motion for a moment, and he did so. Mr. Montague
said his duties in the Senate would prevent his giving the matter due attention, and he hoped some other would be named.
then selected Mr. Neblett
, of Lunenburg
This gentleman, however, preferred that some more experienced member should undertake the duty, and Mr. Harvie
, of Amelia
, was named.
said he thought the proposition was perfectly fair and honorable, and he would request his friends to meet at his room at night to consult upon the matter.
He know of no motive for protracting the session, and thought it should be brought to a close as early as possible.
This matter having been disposed of,
said he had a substitute to offer for the propositions of the Committee
on Federal Relations, embracing certain amendments to the Constitution
, which he desired to have printed and referred to the Committee of the Whole.
, of Washington
, presented a
petition signed by a number of citizens of that county, praying for the passage of an Ordinance of Secession.
He also presented a second petition, numerously signed, from the same county, on the other side of the question.
Both were laid on the table.
On motion of Mr. Price
, the Convention