--A large and highly intelligent meeting of the citizens of Richmond
was held at the African Church last Thursday night, to take into consideration the present condition of the country.
The meeting was called to order by Mr. Thomas W. McCance
, on whose motion Capt. Wyatt M. Elliott
was called to the chair.
returned thanks for the honor, and promised to discharge the duty to the best of his ability, relying upon the dignity and character of the citizens present to sustain him. We are not here for party purposes, but for a higher and nobler duty — we are here for purposes touching those questions which concern our honor and dignity.
We are here as a band of brothers, such as Virginians
have ever been and ever will be in times of peril — impelled by honor, by duty and by patriotism to action.
He then invited the persons present to give utterance to such sentiments as may be called for by the occasion.
Mr. David J. Burr
nominated as Vice Presidents
the following gentlemen, and they were chosen by acclamation:
Mr. John Purcell
- R. B. Haxall,
- James Dunlop,
- Abram Warwick,
- R. G. Morriss,
- Wm. Palmer,
- Jas. A. Cowardin,
- Robt. A. Paine,
- Ambrose Carlton,
- Jos. R. Anderson,
- R. O. Haskins,
- Thos. H. Ellis,
- John Jones,
- Lewis Webb,
- Chas. W. Purcell,
- John A. Belvin.
nominated as Secretaries
the following gentlemen, and they were elected: R. Milton Cary
, John H. Montague
, John Thompson Brown
, John H. Claiborne
, J. Adair Pleasants
Mr. George W. Randolph
offered a resolution, which was adopted, for the appointment of a committee of twenty-five, to prepare and report business for the action of the meeting.
thereupon appointed the following gentlemen:
- Geo. W. Randolph,
- A. L. Holladay,
- Nathaniel Tyler,
- Judge Wm. H. Lyons,
- Judge John Robertson,
- P. R. Grattan,
- Wyndham Robertson,
- R. T. Daniel,
- R. R. Howison,
- Jno. H. Gilmer,
- W. S. Triplett,
- Robt. Ridgway,
- Thos. T. Giles,
- R. B. Heath,
- Gen. T. P. August,
- Wm. G. Paine,
- John Purcell,
- Wm. H. McFarland,
- David J. Burr,
- Judge John A. Meredith,
- A. A. Morson,
- Thos. W. McCance,
- Bolling W. Haxall,
- Jno. Randolph Tucker.
retired, and calls were made for T. T. Cropper
at the invitation of the President
, T. T. Cropper
, took the stand, and addressed the meeting at length.
He commenced by denouncing party lines in times like these, and declared that any man who could raise party above his country, was a traitor, and deserved a traitor's doom.
He then reviewed briefly the aggressions of the abolition party, and denounced them in merited terms.
He scorned their threats of "coercion," and after alluding to Forney
, of Pennsylvania
, and his army of 80,000 Black Republican cohorts, declared that there were patriots at the North
to meet them on their own grounds in defence of the South
The speaker knew that there were patriots in New York and elsewhere, ready to join us in defence of our rights, and, for one, he rejoiced that there were true men there, who deserved our sympathy and should have our support.
Mr. C. Paid
an eloquent tribute to the memory of Henry Clay
, and then referred to the compromises which the South
had yielded, until forbearance had ceased to be a virtue.
He next alluded to the sentiment of John Bell
, that "justice to the slaveholder as well as humanity to the negro, require the extension of the area of slavery," and vowed that the South
could not be circumscribed within her present limits.
C. Then reviewed the political history of the country, and concluded by a stirring appeal for a Union of the South
was next called for. The President invited Mr. Botts
to the stand, but it was ascertained that he was not present.
Cries were next made for Johnson
, and Duke Johnson
, was invited to the stand, but declined to speak, as there was nothing before the meeting, and he had nothing to say.
Geo. W. Randolph
of the Committee
on business, reported the following resolutions:
having manifested her appreciation of the benefits of the Federal Union not only by her active agency in its formation, her sacrifices to maintain it, and her unswerving fidelity to the Constitution
, but more emphatically still by her endurance of long continued aggression upon the constitutional rights of herself and her sister.
States of the South
, We deem it unnecessary to reiterate the declaration, often made, of her desire to maintain that Union, so long as its essential conditions are fulfilled.
a period has at length arrived, however, when acquiescence in the existing condition of things ceases to be patriotic, and sound conservatism demands a revision of the constitutional relations of Virginia
with the sister States of the Union
, for the purpose of providing more effectual guarantees of her rights.
We recognize as the chief source of our evils the anti-slavery sentiment of the North
, which denies to the Southern States
their rights in the Territories
; nullifies by legislative enactment, the Fugitive slave law; poisons the schools, the pulpit, the press, the literature, and, to some extent, the administration of justice in the Northern States
; paralyzes the action of Congress for all useful purposes, and has at length, under the form of a Presidential election, seized the Federal Executive
, with the avowed intention of so administering the Government
as to circumscribe slavery, and to place it where the Northern
mind shall rest satisfied that it is in the course of ultimate extinction.
We deem it, therefore, no longer compatible with the safety of this State or of the South
to endure assaults, though made under constitutional forms, which can only be checked by constitutional guarantees so plain that they cannot be evaded, and in default of obtaining such guarantees in the Union
, it behooves this State and the South
to look elsewhere for safety: therefore, resolved.
That we approve of the call of a State Convention, for the purpose of considering and adopting such measures as are necessary to secure the rights of the State in the existing Confederacy or out of it, and in the event of the dissolution of our Union, to provide forher assuming her just share of the debts and obligations, and for securing to her just share of the property, privileges and muniments of the United States.
That we reprobate in the strongest terms, as wholly unjustifiable, any attempt on the part of the Federal Government to coerce a seceding State, and declare that such attempt will,in our opinion, lead to war between the North and the South, and entail unparalleledcalamities upon both.
That we deprecate the commencement of hostilities by any seceding State, for the purpose of capturing forts in her territory, before the formation of a new Confederacy, should one be adopted, unless in the opinion of such State such hostilities be essential to her safety; and hold that the question of peace or war, involving, as it does, the rights and safety of all, should be committed to the General Government of such Confederacy; and that a retention of military posts, for a limited time, by the United States Government, within the territory of a seceding State, no more stains her honor than the continued occupation of British posts within our territory, after the Revolution, tarnished the honor of the Old Confederation.
, in order that the meeting might understand the history of these resolutions, stated that an equal number of gentlemen of the two great parties were called together to see if resolutions could not be adopted suited to the people of this city.
That committee appointed a sub-committee of six, who reported the resolutions in substance, as they have been approved by your committee of twenty-five.
James R. Crenshaw
, regretted that he could not agree with the distinguished gentlemen who composed the committee of twenty-five; but in times times like these we should let no feelings of delicacy prevent us from acting promptly and to the point.
The resolutions of the committee call for a Convention, but when is that Convention to be held?
Will it be called within a month — a year — or ten years? Who can answer?
He wanted a Convention forthwith
--just as quick as it could be called — so that Virginia
and the entire South
might be out of the Union
before the 4th of March. For one, he was not willing to remain till Lincoln
had taken his seat and rivetted the chains upon us. South Carolina
had gone out — she may have acted precipitately; but right or wrong, he was with and for South Carolina
, and would defend her to the death, if any attempt was made to coerce her. He deprecated civil war with its attendant horrors, but there was something which he deprecated far more, and that was submission.
C. then offered the following preamble and resolutions, which were received with deafening applause:
The people of the city of Richmond
, in general meeting
assembled, believe it to be the duty of all the citizens of the Commonwealth
, in the present alarming condition of our country, to give some expression of their opinion upon the threatening aspect of public affairs.
They deem it unnecessary and out of place to avow sentiments of loyalty to the Constitution
and devotion to the Union
of this State.
A reference to the part the State
has acted in the past will furnish the best evidence of the feeling of her sons in regard to the Union of the States and the Constitution
, which is the sole bond which binds them together.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that a Union long established should not be dissolved for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience, but more especially the course pursued by the Southern States
, bath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing that to which they are accustomed, and which they have regarded as the "palladium of their political safety and prosperity." But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, on the part of the North
towards the South
, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design on the part of the North
to reduce the South
to absolute submission, it is the right it is the duty of the South
to dissolve such a Union, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of the Southern States
, and such is now the necessity which, in our judgment, constrains them to cover that Union.
The history of the present Union, for years past, is a history of unremitting injuries and usurpations to the Southern States
, among which appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, but all have in direct object the extermination of the Southern
people, and thereby the establishment of an absolute tyranny of a national majority of one portion of this Union over the other.
Therefore, be it.
Resolved, That, in view of the existing crisis of public affairs, and the causes which have led thereto, it is the opinion of this meeting that a Convention of the people should be called forthwith,
for the purpose of taking prompt, strong decided and energetic action for the protection of the honor and interests of Virginia
Resolved, That, in the opinion of this meeting, unless before that time a guarantee should be offered by the North
, which will forever prevent the government of these United States
from falling into the hands of a sectional majority, and at the same time afford the most ample and effectual security for the practical enjoyment of all the rights of the people of the South
, that the said Convention should declare Virginia
out of the Union
before the 4th day of March next.
R. T. Daniel
, was called for, and responded at length in favor of the resolutions of the Committee
, and in opposition to those of Mr. Crenshaw
He was opposed to rash, hasty action.
The grievances of the South
were great, and not to be endured; but the question before us was one of too much importance to be acted upon precipitately.
He was in favor of a Convention of all the States, and then, if our rights could not be secured and ensured, we would march out of the Union
, bearing our portion of the public debt and demanding our portion of the property.--Mr.
D. was in favor of demanding for the South
her rights in the Territories
, protection of slaves in all the States, and a repeal of the Personal Liberty
bills, wherever they were passed.
His great objection to Mr. Crenshaw
's resolutions consisted in the fact that they were too precipitate, and did not allow time for reflection and for such action as would put the South
right in the eyes of the world.
John M. Patton
, seconded the resolutions of Mr. Crenshaw
, and urged prompt, immediate action.
owed it to herself to act at once, and abide the consequences.
The South had already lost enough by compromises, which have made patchwork of the Constitution
, and led to other aggressions from the Black Republicans
of the North
defended the course pursued by South Carolina
, applauded her independence and firmness, and concluded by an appeal to the South
to stand together as a band of brothers, as the only hope of averting the horrors of civil war.
Judge John Robertson
, at the call of the meeting, followed Mr. Daniel
in a speech of marked ability.
He supported the resolutions of the committee because they were calm, firm and carefully prepared, and because they would ensure unity in the South
As an individual he might have gone farther, but acting in concert with gentlemen of all parties, he was willing to adopt and stand by them.
He reminded his hearers that they were not the Convention
, and had no power to precipitate matters.
Other portions of Virginia
had a voice in this great issue, and it did not become any, other than very young men, to go for precipitation.
Civil war was no pastime, and if it could be averted with honor to the South
, it should be. It would cause a vast deal of suffering and misery; but if brought on in defence of our rights and our institutions, let it come!
He was for unity of sentiment in the State
and the South
, and that unity the resolutions of the committee promised to secure.
He did not believe there was any difference of opinion among the people as to the true policy of the South
in this important crisis.
If he believed there were submissionists in Richmond
— any number of men who were willing to bear longer the aggressions of the Black Republicans
— he would be willing to see every building in the city razed to the ground.
For one, he never wished his neck should pass under the yoke of Abraham Lincoln
; but he was for unity of sentiment and action, and was therefore willing that his friends should make the effort to settle honorably all national difficulties.
For himself, he did not fear coercion.
Where was the Black Republican
army to come from?
Where the money to support them?
Already the national Treasury was bankrupt.
Who was to raise the army?
Who to compose it?
Thousands of foreign paupers, spewed out from the jails, penitentiaries and poor-houses of Europe
, and cast upon our shores, might be purchased in the North
, but then the South
could buy them as easily as the Black Republicans
, and could pay them as readily.
R. then alluded in appropriate terms to the great conservative element of the North
, who were friends of the South
, and would be side by side with us in a sectional conflict, and declared that he had no fears of an invasion, or of any attempt at subjugation.
After showing that Lincoln
had neither the power nor the means to raise an army, he playfully asked, where such an army, if it could be raised, were to get officers from?--Burlingame
, said he, will fight nowhere but in Canada
Then, who will command the Satanic army?
Shake a rattan at him, and he would be gone!
Then, there is Seward
— are they the officers to subjugate us?--Surely not. It has been whispered that Gen. Winfield Scott
would take command of an army to coerce the South
Said the speaker, I do not believe it. Brave and gallant as he is, he does not emulate the fate of Arnold
If he could be induced to attempt the subjugation of his native State, he would deserve and receive a traitor's doom.
R urged the passage of the committee's resolutions, as a fair and honorable compromise, and concluded by an appeal for unity of action throughout the South
P. H. Aylett
, opposed the resolutions of the committee, because they did not meet the emergency of the times.
The language in them was not sufficiently emphatic and expressive.
He spoke in eloquent terms of the proud, noble and defiant position of South Carolina
--was opposed to advising her as to her action in regard to the forts within her border — alluded to the stirring times in that State--to the disgrace which Virginia
had brought upon herself in refusing to confer with her last winter, and declared that the hour might speedily arrive when the young men of this city might deem it necessary, as an act of safety, to take possession of the forts within our border.
A. approved Mr. Crenshaw
's resolutions as far as they went; but believing they did not go far enough, presented a series of resolutions, which he had compiled and prepared, and which included the entire ground of grievances and complaints.
He, however, withdrew them afterwards, and supported those offered by Mr. Crenshaw
Gen. T. P. August
supported the resolutions of the committee, and defended the State
against the charge of disgrace made by Mr. Aylett
As a member of the Legislature, he favored the Conference; but other counsels prevailed.
The resolutions of the committee declared that Virginia
was determined to submit no longer to aggressions — that she would now have her rights in or out of the Union
--and that was all he asked.
He was sure no unnecessary delay would be had in calling the Convention
A. Judson Crane
, desired to submit a competing proposition to the meeting.
He had declared two months ago that the Union
could not be saved, and time had only confirmed that opinion.
He objected to the resolutions of the committee, first, because they maintained, by implication, the doctrine of secession — a doctrine which had been repudiated by the political fathers of the State
more than twenty years ago. Second, because South Carolina
had not asked our advice as to the propriety of taking the forts, and he did not choose to thrust advice upon her; and third, because the Legislature was to meet in a few days,--the members fresh from the people — to consider the policy of calling a Convention, and the manner and time had better be left to them.
C. then read his proposition, as follows:
The people of the city of Richmond
, in public meeting assembled to deliberate upon the condition of our national affairs, feeling profoundly sensible of the importance of moderation, wisdom, patriotism, and a firm reliance upon truth and justice, and the Almighty Ruler
of human destiny at all times, but especially in the juncture of events which now environs us, do hereby declare and avow their unabated and sincere attachment to the Federal Union, so long as that Union can be maintained and practiced upon and dwelt under, in the spirit which possessed its wise and patriotic founders.
But that such Union can be preserved and ought to endure, only so long as the Constitution
and the laws shall be in letter and in substance sufficient to protect the peace of each section, the honor of each State, and every individual in the enjoyment of the rights and privileges that were contemplated and mutually covenanted for at its foundation: And they further declare that while they naturally and most sincerely sympathise with such States or people of the Union
as may have been aggrieved by the adverse action of other States or other peoples of the Union
, and while they unite in deprecating elections of Federal offices upon sectional grounds, and the passage of local laws in deprivation of the rights of other States and sections, they yet hope, even if it be against hope, that the future may develop some happy mode by which the States of the Union
may be brought to a recognition and a faithful observance of the obligations which they mutually owe to the Constitution
, the laws, and their country: But if in this they shall be disappointed — if all hope of reconciliation of conflicting views and interests has departed, and the Union
shall be finally severed-then and in that event, while there may be ties of affinity giving rise to special attachments, and invoking sectional associations with certain of the States, they yet believe that the dignity and the interests of the Ancient Dominion
will be best consulted, and her capacity for future usefulness be enhanced, by her individually assuming to herself the sole and sovereign station, free from all hasty alliances, thus reserving to herself the right and the power of forming, deliberately and wisely, such new connections as her honor, her established policy, her interests, and her sympathies may suggest to her in the future — or else of remaining independent — a sovereign State among the nations of the world.
P. R. Grattan
, preferred the report of the committee, and believed their resolutions to be stronger than those of Mr. Crenshaw
He could not endorse Mr. C.'s preamble, which was, in substance, the Declaration of Independence
He was for firm, decided action, such as would meet the cordial endorsement of the people of the State
and the South, but did not design to be precipitate or rash.
concluded the discussion by urging the adaption of his resolutions, which demanded prompt, speedy action.
He was opposed to any delay, as were the people of the city, and he believed the State
and the South
were with him.
The question was then taken on the substitute offered by Mr. Crane
, and it was defeated by a large majority.
's substitute was next put to vote, and defeated by the following count: --Ayes 295, noes 321.
The report of the Committee
of twenty-five was put to vote, and adopted by acclamation.
On motion, the meeting then adjourned.