Page images
PDF
EPUB

and calling for new representations for the cotton States. But the path before them is by no means clear, as yet. The vote of New York is the pivot on which things turn, and it is uncertain as the wind at a street-crossing

THE CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION.

FIRST DAY.

CHARLESTON, S. C., May 1st. The seceding delegations met, in the first place, the evening after the disruption of the National Convention, at St. Andrew's Hall, where the names of Secretaries were reported—Mayor Wood and his New York delegation also registering their names, upon the invitation of Mr. Yancey. Pursuant to call, the seceding delegates met at Military Hall

, Tuesday, May 1st, at 12 M. John S. Preston, of S. C., called the meeting to order.

The following number of delegates were found to be enrolled : From Delaware, 2; Virginia, 1; South Carolina, 14, Georgia, 2 ; Florida, 6; Alabama, 21; Mississippi, 14; Texas, 10; Arkansas, 4; Missouri, 3; New York, 41.

Other delegates proceeded to enroll their names.

Mayor Wood & Co. withdrew, because “ the New York delegation were not in the attitude of being members of the Convention which sat in Institute Hall.

The following gentlemen were elected officers of the Convention :

FOR PRESIDENT.

JAMES A. BAYARD, of Delaware.

FOR VICE-PRESIDENTS. James Simons, South Carolina.

Jobo Milton, Florida. I. T. Irwin, Georgia.

John A. Jordon, Arkansas. Robert G. Scott, Alabama.

H. R. Runnels, Texas. James Drane, Mississippi.

William G. Whiteley, Delaware. Emile LaSere, Louisiana.

M. W. Fisher, Virginia.
For SECRETARIES-Thomas P. Ochiltree, of Texas; Franklin Gaillard, of
South Carolina; N. H. R. Dawson, of Alabama ; F. W. Hoadley, of Arkansas ;
D. D. Withers, of Louisiana ; W. H. H. Tison, of Mississippi.

Mr. Bayard, in taking the chair, made a lengthy speech.
A committee on Resolutions was appointed as follows:

Delaware, W. G. Whiteley ; South Carolina, A. A. Allemong; Georgia, Henry R. Jackson ; Florida, Charles E. Dyke ; Alabama, John

Ervin; Mississippi, Ethan Barksdale; Louisiana, Robert A. Hunter ; Arkansas, W. E. Burrows ; Texas, Fletcher S. Stockdale.

Mr. Yancey offered the following, to be referred to the committee on Resolutions :

Resolved, That desiring to base its action entirely upon the Constitution, this meeting style itself the Constitutional Democracy.

Resolved, that the platform adopted by the Democratic party at Cincinnati be affirmed, with the following explanatory resolutions :

[Those of the majority report of the other Convention.] Adjourned.

SECOND DAY.

CHARLESTON, S. C., May 2d. Convention met in the theatre. The seats in the dress circle were occupied by a brilliant array of beauty and fashion. The family circle and galleries were filled with spectators, citizens and strangers. The pit had been reserved for the delegates.

In correcting the journal, Mr. Walker of Alabama moved to correct by striking cut the word “seceding" before delegations, and inserting the word * retiring," so as to make it read retiring delegates.

Mr. Winston suggested the word "withdraw.” The word "retiring" was adopted.

Mr. Burrows, from the committee on Resolutions, reported a series of resolutions, the material ones of which were :

Resolved, That the platform adopted by the Democratic party at Cincinnati, be affirmed, with the following explanatory resolutions :

First. That the government of a Territory organized by an act of Congress, is provisional and temporary; and during its existence, all citizens of the United States have an equal right to settle with their property in the Territory, without their rights either of person or property being destroyed or impaired by Congressional or Territorial legislation.

Second. That it is the duty of the Federal Government, in all its departments, to protect, when necessary, the rights of persons and property in the Territo ries, and wherever else its constitutional authority extends.

Third. That when the settlers in a Territory having an adequate population, form a State Constitution in pursuance of law, the right of Sovereignty commences, and, being consummated by admission into the Union, they stand on an equal footing with the people of other States ; and the State thus organized ought to be admitted into the Federal Union, whether its constitution prohibits or recognizes the institution of slavery.

Mr. Yancey said : I think, sir, that the Convention is prepared to act now on the platform. That is all, I believe, that it is proposed to act on until another contingency arises, to wit, the nomination of a candidate by the National Democratic Convention in session, the rump Democracy or rump Democrats, when it may be our privilege to indorse the nominee, or our duty to proceed to make a nomination according to the will of this body.

Mr. Jackson of Mississippi was not in favor of stopping with the adoption of a platform. He said : This is no time to pause for further

reflection. But I am not prepared to pause simply upon a platform of principle. To pause at all is, in my judgment, a symptom of weakness. We bave met the Demecracy now in session. We have left it upon principle, and upon principle alone will I ever return to it. [Applause.] Boldly, Mr. Chairman, boldly have we taken our position, and it is a position of positions. Are we to be tempted back into that organization by the nomination of any man. [Cries of “No! never !”]

Mr. Yancey argued that that was simply a meeting of delegates retired from another Convention. He said further: We may be called Dis union Democrats. We are not disunionists. We have put nothing ✓ upon the record to justify the assertion ; yet it will be easy to attach to the name the weight of the disunion movement.

After a long discussion, the platform was unanimously adopted. A discussion then ensued on the propriety of proceeding to nominate candidates. The time was spent in speeches, however.

THIRD DAY.

CHARLESTON, S. C., May 3d. After some discussion, the motion of Mr. Jackson, that the Convention proceed to nominate candidates, was withdrawn.

Next a discussion sprung up about an address to the people of the United States. There were several propositions of this nature. Judge Meek, in stating the facts as to the strength of the different branches of the Democracy in Alabama, said:

They [alluding to the delegates of the other Convention, which had just adjourned] had then adjourned to meet at Baltimore at a future day. They had thus, to use a popular phrase, clinched their action, and now they called upon the South to send new delegates to the adjourned Convention.

Alabama would never be represented in a Convention so formed, founded on a Squatter Sovereignty Platform. The vote in the Convention that elected the present delegation to Charleston, stood four hundred and ninety-nine to twelve, and that was the strength of the Douglas Squatter Sovereignty doctrine in Alabama. Indeed, out of this twelve, seven were in fact opposed to the doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty. Now, what the present Convention had really desired, was to have put forward a great historic name, that would have commanded confidence and respect all over the Union-he alluded to Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. They had also, he might say, contemplated putting in connection with that name the name of the honored gentleman who now presided over their deliberations, and thus have secured a ticket sans peur, sans réproche. But any definite action now was deemed inexpedient."

It was decided, finally, not to address the country. Mr. Yancey disclaimed disunionism per se. Mr. Jackson of Georgia offered a resolution, calling for a Convention at Washington City on the second Monday in June. Adjourned.

EVENING SESSION.

President Bayard made a speech, retiring from the Convention. He made a strong speech for the Union.

Judge Meek replied to Bayard. He said : “ The gentleman said they had come here to save the Union. They had not they had come here to save the Constitution.” [Applause.)

The following resolution was adopted, and the Convention adjourned : Resolved, that the Democratic party of the United States who are in favor of the platform of principle recommended by a majority of States in the Charleston Convention, be invited to send delegates to a Convention to be held in Richmond, on the second Monday in June next; and that the basis of representation be the same as that upon which the States have been represented in the Charleston Convention.

APPEARANCE OF THE SECEDERS' CONVENTION IN SESSION.

CHARLESTON, S. C., May 3d. After the adjournment of the National Democratic Convention, I looked in upon the Seceders in their theatre. The dress circle was densely crowded by ladies. You see at once the patriotism of the Carolina ladies exemplified. There were not more than a dozen of them to witness the proceedings of the Rump Convention this morning, and here they were smiling upon the “constitutional champions of the South by hundreds. I do not think I had seen the Carolina beauties. There were actually plenty of beautiful women in the theatre this morning, and it has been a customary remark during the sessions of the Convention at Institute Hall, that female beauty was a scarce article in the Carolinas, so far as appeared. But though the women were beautiful, they had not the peach-bloom cheeks and May.cherry lips of the Ohio girls-no, not by any means. Well, the principal feature of the Convention was the ladies. The “performance," while I was present, was fair. In fact, it looked very like a play, the actors having not only occupied the stage, but taken possession of the parquette. The latter was occupied by the delegates, and no impartial spectator could have said, that the representatives of the cotton States there assembled were other than a noble set of men. The chevalier Senator Bayard occupied the chair, and sat near the footlights—a courtly gentleman, whose romantic ancestry and name, as well as his long curls, and fine features, and distinguished air, were admirably adapted to concentrate the gaze of the ladies. The stage scene which was on, was that of the Borgia Palace. Those who have seen the play, will of course remember the “ bloods on a spree, one of whom struck off the B, leaving ORGIA, whereupon there was an unnecessary (as always occurred to me) amount of amusement and alarm concerning the freak, and immoderate offense taken at it. Well, in this play the B was already off—the deed had been done. As I first looked at the stage, two gigantic policemen -Irisbmen, of course-with blue frock-coats and brass buttons, and large stars on their breasts, and maces eighteen inches long in their bands, stalked behind the President and Secretaries and Reporters, and mysteriously passed beyond a side scene.

[ocr errors]

They seemed to be the heavy villains, procured by the designing scoundrel to carry off the virgin in the case, who was in love with somebody else.

The real play was going on in the pit. Mr. Burrows of Arkansas, a black-baired, black-eyed, swarthy, hook-nosed, portly gentleman, bad the floor, and was making some very general and very extreme proposition. His idea—and it was not a novel one-of being a bold and original man—is to be as ultra as possible-to out-Herod all the Herods of his party. The fundamental article of his faith, just now,

is that Squatter Sovereignty is a great deal worse than the rankest sort of Abolitionism—that Douglas is ever so much more dangerous to the South than Seward, and that the Douglas men are a very bad type of Abolitionists.

Judge Meek of Alabama was next on the floor. The Judge is a gentleman whose height is variously estimated between six feet four and six feet eight inches. He is a lofty specimen, at any rate, and a very powerful public speaker. I do not mean powerful in the “able and eloquent” sense in which it has been used in Kentucky. It is remarkable, that in the speeches of the extreme Southern men in this Convention, we have not bad any of that peculiar eloquence which we are accustomed to call “Kentucky,” because, I suppose, it is a bad imitation of the style of Henry Clay.

WASHINGTON, D. C., May 7th. The evening after the adjournment of the Convention, Charleston was herself again. But she had not been so dreadfully disturbed as she had anticipated. I was told by gentlemen of the city that they had several times seen greater crowds about the hotels during racing week. The Charlestonians were rather inclined to say, as the contemporary of Noah remarked of the deluge—not much of a shower after all.

We left Charleston for Washington at eleven o'clock of the night of the last day of the Convention. The train was an enormous one for a Southern road, but would have been a trifling affair up North. There were many “distinguished” passengers—there being about an equal number of United States Senators and keepers of Faro tables, the latter wearing decidedly the most costly apparel, having made the most money during their sojourn in the Palmetto City; one gambling house realized twenty-four thousand dollars clear profits, I am told. The moon was up and the night beautiful, but there was nothing to see from the windows of the car but swamps and pine forests ; but it was the ground made classic by Marion, which was some comfort. The principal features in the journey to me were pine-trees along the road, and six changes of cars. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES THE SENATE-DOUGLAS, SEWARD AND

DAVIS.

WASHINGTON, D. C., May 8th.

* And here, coming from the cloak room on the Democratic side, is å queer little man, canine head and duck legs—every body knows the

IN

« PreviousContinue »