Virginia State Convention.
forty-first day.

Tuesday, April 2, 1861.

The Convention was called to order at 10 o'clock. Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Petigrue, of the Disciples' Church.

Equality of Taxation.

The Convention proceeded to the consideration of unfinished business — namely, the resolutions on Taxation and Representation, offered by Mr. Willey, of Monongalia.

Mr. Willey being entitled to the floor, addressed the Convention. He protested against the consideration of the subject as a sectional question, question, asserting that not only the West and the Northwest, but all other sections of the State, were equally interested in it. He produced facts from the Auditor's report to show the large number of non- slaveholding taxpayers East of the Blue Ridge, whose interest it was to have the organic law changed in this respect. He particularly contended for justice to the Western people, who would be called upon to fight the battles, if the State were to become involved in civil war. The present policy he argued, tended to divert capital from Virginia to the North, while her own natural resources remained undeveloped. He hoped the question would be taken, and that the resolutions would pass.

Mr. Stuart, of Doddridge, desired to say a few words upon the subject. Gentlemen had not yet been talked to as plainly as he proposed to talk. He would avail himself of the opportunity to-morrow morning.

The subject was then passed by.

Committee of the whole.

The Convention went into Committee of the Whole (Mr. Southall in the chair,) for the purpose of considering the report of the Committee on Federal Relations--Mr. Montague, of Middlesex, being entitled to the floor.

Mr. Fisher, of Northampton, asked the gentleman from Middlesex to give way for a moment, to enable him to correct the report of his speech in the official organ of the Convention, the Richmond Enquirer. This having been done--

The Chairman requested the Secretary to read the 25th rule, prohibiting persons from walking about while a member was speaking.

Mr. Montague resumed his remarks, and proceeded to argue in favor of the right of secession. The doctrine had been sneered at by gentlemen on this floor as ridiculous and absurd, and those who advocated it had been denounced as traitors. In his own remarks he intended to be courteous and respectful to all. He believed the day was not far distant when every one here, and the whole people of Virginia, would rally to the defence of the rights of the State, and show to the world that man could and would be free.

He maintained that Virginia was the first to exercise the right of secession. On the 15th of May, 1776, before the Declaration of Independence, Virginia met, without consulting with the Border States, or asking anybody what she should do, and in the plenitude of her sovereignty and in the depth of her patriotism, severed her connection with Great British and exercised the right of secession.--Thus it was Virginia doctrine. It was referred to by John Quincy Adams, and applied as an argument in favor of the right of sovereignty. But a second time she exercised her sovereign right, by inaugurating the movement by which, in 1787, the Federal Constitution was amended, and the Articles of Confederation revised so as to render them adequate to the exigencies of the States and to the Government of the Union. And yet we hear gentlemen denouncing the Convention at Montgomery for pursuing a similar course.

Mr. Carlile asked if he understood the gentleman as contending that the Constitution of the Southern Confederated States had been referred to the people, as in the case of the Federal Constitution?

Mr. Montague.--It was substantially the same thing.

Mr. Carlile said his information on the subject was that the Montgomery Convention refused to refer their Constitution to the people of the several States.

Mr. Mostague replied that this was because the States had Conventions in session at the same time, representing them upon the subjects at issue, and hence it would have been nonsense to have referred it to the people. It amounted to the same thing.

The speaker then proceeded to show that a State in her sovereign capacity as one of the constituents of the Federal Government, has a right to judge for herself as to the mode and measure of redress, and never merged her individuality and sovereignty into the Government at Washington. He quoted from Madison's writings to demonstrate that a breach of the compact on the one side absolves the other, and that the compact might be then broken up. It was the principle of the individuality of the States that broke up the old articles of confederation. It was the doctrine of Mr. Madison that when we, as the people of Virginia, failed in all other efforts for redress of the grievances, we had the right to denounce the Federal Government and resume our powers of sovereignty. He also read the opinions of Randolph, Pendleton, Nicholas, and other founders of Republican liberty in Virginia, to sustain the position which he laid down. If he was to be denounced as a traitor, let it be for proclaiming and upholding the principles laid down by these fathers, whose opinions he had read. [Applause in the eastern gallery.]

The Chairman.--The Sergeant-at-Arms will clear the gallery.

The order was obeyed, the sovereigns there assembled reserving the right to make another demonstration as they retired.

Mr. Wise desired to know how long this order would last?

The Chairman was not aware of any limit to it.

Mr. Wise had asked the question because he wanted to ascertain the effect of it. There were many respectable citizens in the gallery who, he was sure, took no part in the disorder, while he believed that some on this floor and participate in it. He thought it hard that the innocent should be made to suffer with the guilty.

The Chairman said that this constituted the difficulty. He was not aware that the applause proceeded from any other place than the gallery, and it was impossible to distinguish individuals who were engaged in it. He supposed the gallery could be again thrown open after a reasonable time.

Mr. Wise asked if they could return immediately? He would like to know how long a reasonable time was?

The colloquy here terminated, and the gallery door was re-opened in about a quarter of an hour. The occupants of the lobby were not disturbed.

Mr. Montague proceeded, arguing to show that not only had Virginia reserved the right to resume her powers, but that other States, including New York, and little Rhode Island, about which so much had been said, had desired that the powers of government might be resumed whenever the happiness and safety of the people of the States required it. --The Committee of Twenty-One had said that the States, when they went into this Confederation, were independent sovereignties — They must have gone in voluntarily, for no force existed to carry them in; and this being admitted, he would defy any gentleman to show that there was anything in the Constitution to keep them in. Mr. M. went on to show that the 10th amendment to the Constitution expressly made secession a great, conditional right, and that the Convention had the power to declare Virginia out of the Union the decision to be referred, as stipulation to the people. If this were to be deemed , he was perfectly willing to rest un- charge, with such men as he had quoted to sustain his position. Proceeding to consider the report of the Committee, he said conceded the right of States to withdraw, the other day they were denying that the were sovereign at the present time.-- admitted it as a ‘ "revolutionary right,"’ he wanted to know what that term

Mr. Conead, of Frederick, (Chairman of the committee on Federal- Relations,) said that he had expressly objected to the use of the word revolutionary, because it implied a revolt against the Government. He fully agreed with the gentleman in his able argument in or of the right of peaceable secession; and not conceive that any citizen maintaining the right should be regarded as a traitor. In the sense it was revolutionary, because it was extra constitutional right, and he saw no ority in the Constitution to break up that argument. As the gentleman had shown, the right originated fifteen years before the ion of the Constitution.

Montague was glad to have this assured for it showed that he had but one more to take before they would shake hands of each other on the broad platform of the Rights. It also relieved him of the ne of pursuing the argument farther, then proceeded to show the causes which review ought to induce Virginia to with once from the Confederacy. Tracing progress of the abolition movement from ption to the present time, he asked if he was any principle of logic, reason or common sense, to induce the belief that a people who had pursued one object through a pe of 75 years, would relinquish it at the time when the object was accomplished? believed that every man at the North, ex-Charles O'Connor, entertained the opinion slavery was a sin. It was taught in their in their schools, in their pulpits. The ce of Virginia, as a free people, he depended upon a separation from those re hostile to their interests, and would continue persistently to war against them.--He closed with an urgent and forcible appeal to gentlemen on the other side to come over and aid in placing Virginia in a position of safety. Every consideration required that she should secede at once, and settle her difficulties, peaceably if she can, forcibly if she must. If he was in error, it was an error of his heart, and he meant to stand by it to the bitter end. Whatever might be Virginia's destiny, he would never forsake her, but would live here and die here, and trust to posterity to vindicate his course. [Applause,]

Mr. Macfarland, of Richmond, took the floor, but the Chairman requested him to suspend his remarks for a moment, while the Sergeant-at-Arms again cleared the gallery and the lobby.

Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Wise appealed to the Chair to withdraw the order, which the Chair consented to do, alluding to the pain which it gave him to enforce such an order, and admonishing the spectators that if the thing were again repeated, the order would be peremptorily executed.

Mr. Macfarland then commenced his speech with the remark that he entered upon the discussion with a painful sense of the responsibility which the position implied. When the secession movement began, the country was in the plenitude of its strength; yet the evils resulted from causes which had long been operating in the public mind. No Union could long exist, where the people on one side constantly exercised a spirit of hostility against the people of the other side, and to this constant agitation he attributed the present evils overshadowing the country. He proceeded to consider the question whether the sentiment of hostility at the North might be overcome and supplanted by a sentiment of kindness and friendliness to the South.--It was, he conceived, the part of wise statesmanship not to dismiss and abandon institutions like ours, without at least making one intrepid effort to retain them. There was neither courage nor intrepidity in despair.--The peace of the world was once placed in jeopardy far more imminent under the inflaming influence of a religious controversy, than it was now under the agitation of the African slavery question; and yet it was found that by toleration the Protestant and the Roman Catholic might dwell together in peace. He apprehended that in years hence it would be found that the people of this country might dwell together as peacefully as the people of any one county in either section. No suggestion of the futility of making an effort to this end should discourage us from making it. If success should fortunately crown the effort, there was not an individual here engaged in the work of endeavoring to restore the Union, but would establish a claim upon posterity for reverence and gratitude. If it were possible, by amendments to the Constitution, to close the door of agitation so that no human power could open it, was there not at least a prospect of annihilating the evils which have so wrought upon the feeling of the South?--He would not say that the report of the committee was sufficient, but he took the ground that amendments might be introduced which would satisfy, not only Virginia, but the whole South. The question is not whether Virginia shall go with either the Northern or the Southern Confederacy, but whether she shall continue in the Union restored and reconstructed as a whole. He could not consent to abandon the Southern States, nor the Border States; but believed that the whole Union should be preserved, and through judicious efforts the North might be brought to proper concessions, such as would satisfy the extreme South. Pennsylvania, according to reliable information, would consent to such a scheme, and with Pennsylvania would come the whole Northwest. With Pennsylvania and the Northwest united, it would be impossible to keep New England out of the Union.

On this point Mr. Macfarland argued until half-past 1 o'clock, when he yielded the floor at the request of Mr. Preston, who moved that the Committee rise.

The Chair could not entertain the motion, since the Committee had agreed to sit until 2 o'clock.

Mr. Speed said that the object could be attained by the general consent of the Committee. Mr. Macfarland was laboring under physical disability, and under such circumstances he supposed no objection would be made.

The Committee then took a recess until 4 o'clock P. M.

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