previous next

Evening session.

The Committee re-assembled at 4 o'clock, and Mr. Scott being unable to proceed in consequence of hoarseness, yielded the floor, after thanking the Committee for the patience with which they had listened to his remarks.

Mr. Richmond, of Hanover, then addressed the Committee. After some introductory allusion to the fact that he had not heretofore trespassed upon the time of the body, he went on to revert to the origin of the Government, and to the fraternal feelings which had existed on the part of the South towards the North, until the Northern people broke up that friendly sentiment by their own aggressions; showing that they, with England, were responsible for the establishment of the institution of slavery here, and after having forced it upon us, now desired to destroy our safety and happiness. He demonstrated by facts occurring throughout the progress of the anti-slavery agitation, that a continuance of the present Union with the North was utterly impracticable. Republicanism of modern days, as he showed from declarations of their leading men, was the child of abolitionism. The crisis now upon the country he considered a fearful one. Seven States had left the Union, and others threatened to follow. The question arose, what is to be the destiny of Virginia? In his judgment, the destiny of Virginia was with the South. He was for a Union of the whole South, but if this could not be obtained, he would have the Union as strong as Virginia could make it.--He had little hope of any adjustment that would bring the North into a position to do justice to the South. It was a forcible argument in favor of immediate action, that while we were waiting, the whole business of the country was prostrate, under the uncertainty of the future. He thought the State should at once place herself in a position of security in the house of her friends. He did not agree with the gentleman from Fauquier, that secession would be a measure of war; for every movement that strengthened the hands of the South, would be another barrier to any attempt at coercion. The separation of the Southern States, he feared, was eternal; for unless the abolitionists entirely abandoned their position, it would not be difficult to demonstrate the utter hopelessness of a reconstruction.

He drew a contrast between the Constitution of the Southern Confederacy and the oppressive and odious legislation of the Federal Government, and went on to criticise the report of the committee, deeming the guarantees there demanded as utterly insufficient.--He would be satisfied with nothing short of perfect equality. He held that the Commonwealth of Virginia should immediately resume the powers which she delegated to the Federal Government, and place herself in a situation to make absolute demands as a condition of any future reconstruction of the Union.--The report of the committee, he argued, contained declarations which Southern men should never assent to. He would not vote for anything that did not give our property the same protection in the Territories that was given to the property of Northern men who emigrated thither. It held out the idea that there was a moral degradation in the institution of slavery. After a glance at the 8th resolution of the report, which he did not consider strong enough, the 11th resolution was referred to as the most remarkable of all. It gives to the Northern people carte blanche in the matter of time to make responses to the demands. --He thought there would scarcely be a response from the abolition crew, in answer to demands for justice, before the time of the blast of the Archangel Gabriel's trumpet.-- Such an indefinite proposition he entirely opposed. The report also gave to the North everything they wanted, while to the South it secured no protection, for it took from us that which we already had under the Dred Scott decision. In answer to the argument of the gentleman from Prince George, (Mr. Rives,) who brought it down to a calculation of dollars and cents, he said that no such consideration should recompense us for a sacrifice of principle. But the argument was demonstrated by Mr. Richardson to be a mistaken one, by a mathematical calculation in regard to the number of slaves annually run off upon the underground railroad.

Viewing the question of secession in connection with the circumstances that surrounded us, he argued that the interests of the constituent body required that Virginia should secede. Every gentleman here admits that when oppression becomes intolerable, we have the right of revolution. He had shown that the wrongs inflicted upon us were intolerable, and therefore we had the right of revolution, a fortiori we had the right of secession; for the sovereign power of a State might exercise the same right that was accorded to organized bodies of men. Because we had thus far submitted to wrong, it was no reason why we should submit forever. --On the contrary, he considered it a forcible argument in favor of present resistance.

At this point Mr. Richardson moved that the Committee rise, which motion was agreed to, and the Committee rose and reported progress.

Mr. Wilson, of Harrison, moved an adjournment; and a division being called for, the vote resulted — ayes 37, noes 35--no quorum voting.

The Convention then adjourned.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
McAllister (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Fauquier (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Allen P. Richardson (2)
Wilson (1)
James A. Scott (1)
Rives (1)
Richmond (1)
Harrison (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: