« PreviousContinue »
provide a new Constitution. But the question of Convention or no Convention' has never been submitted to them. It is also possible that a Convention can be called by the Legislature without the assent of the people, though in our opinion a very questionable proceeding; but its acts, in that case, can be valid only when they have received the affirmative vote of the people. Of the 70,000 voters of Mississippi, not 45,000 voted for members of the Convention; and of these only a lean majority, or one falling far below the expectations of the disunion leaders, voted for immediate Secession candidates."
Not the least remarkable facts of all that wild, irrational revolution, were the overriding of the State Constitutions and of a total repudiation of the voice of the people. Not one of the Gulf States, first in revolution, submitted the ordinances of secession to a vote of the people! Not a single State of those which first organized the new Confederacy" allowed the people one particle of authority or voice in the matter! The Conventions decreed as summarily, as arbitrarily, as relentlessly as the French Chambers of Deputies, obeying the behests of Napoleon. Napoleon's usurpations received the sanction of the French people just as completely as the usurpations of the State Conventions and the "Confederate Congress" received the sanction of the people of the
Although the Florida State Convention assembled January 3d, it was not until January 11th that the Ordinance of Secession passed. On the 7th, as preliminary to the act, Judge McIntosh introduced the following:
"Whereas, All hope of preserving the Union upon terms consistent with the safety and honor of the
This was adopted by a vote of 62 to 5. On the same day the Commissioners for Alabama and South Carolina addressed the Convention. Judge McIntosh's resolution succeeded their addresses. The Ordinance of Secession passed January 10th, by a vote of 62 to 7. It read as follows:
"We, the people of the State of Florida in Convention assembled, do solemnly ordain, publish, and declare that the State of Florida hereby withdraws herself from the Confederacy of States existing under the name of the United States of America, and from the existing Government of the said States; and that all political connection between her and the Government of said States ought to be, and the same is hereby totally annulled, and said Union of States dissolved; and the State of Florida is hereby declared a Sovereign and independent nation; and that all ordinances heretofore adopted, in so far as they create or recognize said Union, are rescinded; and all laws, or part of laws, in force in this State, in so far as they recognize or assent to said Union, be and they are hereby repealed."
This was engrossed and signed on the 11th. It was followed by great popular demonstrations of approval in the way of gunfiring, displays of flags, illuminations, popular meetings, &c.
On the 12th, the Pensacola Navy-yard, Dry-dock, Store - houses, and, afterwards, Forts Barrancas and McRae, were seized by order of the Governor of Florida. About one hundred armed men from Alabama and Florida appeared at the Yard on the moraing of the 12th, and demanded of Commanthe posts. This was complied with, and the der Armstrong the peaceable surrender of troops with their arms and baggage were transferred to a United States vessel of war
for transportation North. The entire proSlaveholding States has been finally dissipated by perty of the Government at Pensacola thus the recent indications of the strength of the Anti-passed into the possession of the revolution
Slavery sentiment of the Free States; therefore,
"Be it resolved by the people of Florida, in Convention
assembled, That it is undoubtedly the right of the several States of the Union to withdraw from the said Union at such time and for such cause as in the opinion of the people of such State, acting in their sovereign capacity, may be just and proper; and, in the opinion of this Convention, the existing causes are such as to compel Florida to proceed to exercise that right."
*See Chap. X. "The People Overruled."
ists the fort on Santa Rosa Island al ne excepted. This surrender was justified by officer Armstrong, at his Court Martial trial a few weeks subsequently, by the fact of his leading officers, Capt. Renshaw and Commander Farrand, cooperating with the revolutionists. They were Mr. Floyd's chosen agents for the act.
[The Court, we may here say, dismissed the officer for the surrender. Beyond question he could have held possession until, at least,
ALABAMA'S ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.
a portion of the property in the yard and forts had been secured. Lieut. Slemmer, a Northern man, in temporary command at Fort McRae, discovering the treachery, resolved not to surrender. He hurriedly arranged to evacuate McRae, and proceeded, with his company of eighty men, to Fort Pickens, on Santa Rosa Island, a very heavy fortification, with a double tier of casemates. Aided by the marines from the Sloop of War Wyandotte, he immediately began to prepare for an expected assault on the land side of the fort, where it was comparatively defenseless. His reply to the demand to deliver up the fort was:-"I have orders from my Government to defend this fort, and I shall do so to the last extremity." Slemmer soon obtained most of the artillerymen from Fort Barrancas, and secured a few of the loyal men from the Navy-yard, who disdained to accede to the infamous "parole" given by their officers. Working night and day, he was soon able to keep at bay the "combined" forces sent by the revolutionists to take the fort. Flag officer, Capt. Renshaw, and Commander Farrand, were both deeply implicated in the surrender. They both were in league with the conspirators, and really betrayed the post into their hands. Their names are embalmed in the "black roll" of the Government, whose honor they betrayed.]
The Alabama State Convention assembled at Montgomery, Monday, January 7th. On the 8th, the South Carolina Commissioners addressed the Convention. A Committee of Thirteen was appointed on that day, to consider the action proper for the State. Secret sessions were resolved upon. The Ordinance was reported, January 11th, and passed by a vote of 61 to 39. The instrument, as engrossed, read:
"An Ordinance to dissolve the Union between the State af Alabama and other States united under the compact and style of the United States of America.
United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people in the State of Alabama in the adoption of
prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security:
"Therefore, be it declared and ordained by the
people of the State of Alabama, in Convention assembled, that the State of Alabama now withdraws itself from the Union known as the United States of America, and henceforth ceases to be one of the said United States, and is, and of right ought to be, a sovereign, independent State.
"SEC. 2. And be it further declared by the people of the State of Alabama, in Convention assembled, that all powers over the Territories of said State,
and over the people thereof, heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America, be, and they are hereby withdrawn from the said Government and are hereby resumed and vested in the
people of the State of Alabama.
"And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the Slaveholding States of the South who approve of such a purpose, in order to frame a provisional or a permanent government upon the principles of the Government of the United States; be it also resolved by the people of Alabama, in Convention assembled, that the people of the States of Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, be, and they are hereby invited to meet the people of the State of Alabama by their Delegates in Convention, on the 4th day of February next, in Montgomery, in the State of Alabama, for the purpose of consultation with each other, as to the most effectual mode of securing connected, har
monious action in whatever measures may be
deemed most desirable for the common peace and security.
"And be it further Resolved, That the President of this Convention be and he is hereby instructed to transmit forthwith, a copy of the foregoing pream
ble, ordinance and resolutions to the Governors of
the several States named in the said resolutions.
"Done by the people of Alabama, in Convention assembled at Montgomery, this eleventh day of Janary, eighteen hundred and sixty-one."
Prior to the assembling of the Convention, the Arsenal below Mobile, and Fort Morgan, commanding the channel to Mobile bay, were seized (January 4th) by order of Governor Moore. In the arsenal were 20,000 stand of arms, 1,500 barrels of powder, and a large stock of munitions, equipments, body arms, &c., all very providently transferred by Mr.
Floyd, from the manufacturing depots in the North, to be ready for seizure. Fort Morgan, a fine fortification, costing the Government, in its construction, over one and a quarter millions of dollars, was held by a mere guard, which surrendered, upon demand, to a force of two hundred men. It was very fully mounted with new and superior guns, and well stocked with all the matériel of war, in the way of munitions and stores.
[Although somewhat anticipating the chronological allotment of this chapter, we shall, in order to group the "original seven" seceded States, in a consecutive narrative of their action, here advert to the proceedings of the Conventions of Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.] The Georgia Convention assembled at Milledgeville Wednesday, January 16th. George W. Crawford was elected permanent President. After organization a Committee was named, to wait upon Mr. Orr, Commissioner from South Carolina, and Mr. Shorter, Commissioner from Alabama, to request them to communicate their mission. These gentlemen delivered addresses before the Convention, Thursday, in advocacy of immediate secession and the formation of a Southern Confederacy. Friday, the session was in secret. A test vote was had by the introduction of a resolution, declaring the right and necessity for secession from the Federal Union, which was carried by a majority of thirty-five. Herschel V. Johnson introduced, as a substitute for this resolution, others, looking to cooperation and a Convention of Southern States at Atlanta, in February. This substitute was rejected by a stronger vote than was given for the original resolution. During the very anxious and exciting debate which followed, Mr. A. H. Stephens, seeing how fully determined the Convention was on secession, advised that it be immediate. This advice really gave his "conservative" influence to the immediate action party, led by Messrs. Toombs and Howell Cobb. The Ordinance of Secession was introduced Saturday morning, and passed at two p. m., by a vote of 208 to 89-Messrs. A. H. Stephens and Herschel V. Johnson voting in the negative. The Ordinance read as follows: "An Ordinance to dissolve the Union between the State of Georgia and other States united with her under
the Compact of Government entitled the Constitution of the United States.
"We, the people of the State of Georgia in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the Ordinances adopted by the people of the State of Georgia in
Convention in 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States was assented to, ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General
Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded and abrogated.
"And we do further declare and ordain that the union now subsisting between the State of Georgia and other States, under the name of the United States, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Georgia is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State."
A resolution was
A motion to postpone the operation of the Ordinance to the 3d of March was lost by about thirty majority. further adopted continuing in force the Federal laws of revenue, and the postal systemGeorgia, like South Carolina, being quite willing to "suffer" the General Government's "tyranny" as far as to allow it to lose money in carrying its revolutionary mails. Previous to the passage of the Secession Ordinance, a resolution was introduced by a Mr. Martin, a "Co-operationist," calling on the Governor for information concerning the nature and circumstances of the popular vote for delegates. It was represented by Mr. Martin that the vote was accompanied by extraordinary and unusual impediments to a popular and unrestricted expression of opinion—that numbers of Unionists and Co-operationists were both infamously and illegally treated. The resolution, of course, raised a storm. It was scarcely to be expected that men elected by violence and "stuffed" boxes, would submit to an exposition of their own infamy, or would acknowledge the arbitrary course being pursued to place the State at the entire disposition of Mr. Toombs and his violent coadjutors.
A substitute for the Ordinance, in a series of resolutions drawn up by Herschel V. Johnson, was offered by Benjamin Hill, Esq., a leading and influential “ Conservative." The purport of the resolutions was: "Declaring the State of Georgia in danger-first, from the aggressions of the North, and secondly,
GEORGIA S ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.
"Resolved, unanimously, As a response to the resolutions of the Legislature of the State of New-York, that this Convention highly approves of the ener
from the withdrawal of other States, whereby the Republicans have a majority in Congress, it is proposed to hold a Congress of Slave States at Atlanta, near the middle of Feb-getic and patriotic conduct of the Governor of Georruary; at this Congress, certain amendments to the Constitution of the United States
would be insisted on; these were, chiefly, to prevent the abolition of Slavery in the Territories, to provide for the sure return of, or payment for fugitive slaves, to punish those who seek to entice away slaves, to protect the internal Slave trade, to protect Slave owners from loss if they carry their slaves into a Free State, to take from all negroes the right of suffrage. This Congress would not ask the Northern States to repeal their Personal Liberty bills-they would only swear not to stay in the Union unless they were repealed; it was also proposed to adjourn the Convention till after this Congress had held its session." A correspondent present wrote of the proceedings, at this point:
"After a strong, even violent, discussion, this substitute was rejected by a majority of 31, four less
than that which passed the test vote of Friday. Then an attempt was made to have a motion put providing that the Ordinance should be submitted to the people for ratification, but the previous question was sprung, and the final vote on the Secession Ordinance was taken, after some sharp debate; during the calling of the yeas and nays, several members changed their votes, so as to be on the side of the majority, thus bringing the Convention somewhat nearer unanimity. Judge Linton Stephens, of Hancock, very warmly declared that he saw no sufficient cause for a withdrawal from the Union, and that he would neither vote for nor sign the Ordinance. This declaration provoked much warm comment and many savage wishes from the outsiders when it became known."
Monday, Mr. Toombs introduced the following resolution, in response to the resolutions passed by the New-York Legislature, January 11th-a copy of which had been transmitted to the Governors of all the States*:
The New York Legislature resolutions were as follows:
gia, in taking possession of Fort Pulaski, by the Georgia troops; that this Convention request him to hold possession of said fort until the relations of
Georgia with the Federal Government shall be determined, and that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Governor of the State of New-York."
The Ordinance of Secession was signed, Monday, by most of the members, including A. H. Stephens, Judge Linton Stephens, Benj. Hill, and ex-Governor Johnson. These gentlemen had prepared, and introduced, Monday afternoon, the following, which was adopted, almost unanimously:
"Whereas, The lack of unanimity in the action of
this Convention, on the passage of the Ordinance of Secession, indicates a difference of opinion existing among the members of this Convention, which is owing not so much to the rights which Georgia
ter, virtually declared war; and Whereas, the forts, and property of the United States Government in Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana, have been unlawfully seized with hostile intentions; and Whereas, further: Senators in Congress avow and maintain
their treasonable acts, Therefore
"Resolved, If the Senate concur, that the Legisla ture of New-York profoundly impressed with the va lue of the Union, and determined to preserve it unimpaired, hail with joy the recent firm, dignified and patriotic special message of the President of the United States, and that we tender to him through the Chief Magistrate of our State whatever aid in men and money he may require to enable him to enforce the laws and uphold the authority of the Federal Government; and that, in defense of "the more perfect Union" which has conferred prosperity and happiness upon the American people, renewing the pledge given and redeemed by our fathers, we are ready to devote "our fortunes, our lives and our sacred honor " in upholding the Union and the Constitution.
Resolved, That the Union-loving Representatives and citizens of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee, who labor with devoted courage and patriotism to withhold their States from the vortex of Secession, are entitled to the gratitude and admiration of the whole people.
Whereas, The insurgent State of South Carolina, after seizing the Post-office, Custom-house, moneys, Resolved, That the Governor be respectfully reand fortifications of the Federal Government, has,quested to forward forthwith copies of the foregoing by firing into a vessel ordered by the Govern- resolutions to the President of the nation and the ment to convey troops and provisions to Fort Sum- Governors of all the States of the Union."
claims or the wrongs of which she complains, as it is to the remedy and its application before resorting to other means of redress; and
Whereas, It is desirable to give expression to the intention which really exists among all the members of this Convention to sustain the State in the course of action which she has pronounced to be proper for the occasion; therefore
"Resolved, That all the members of this Convention, including those who voted against the Ordinance as well as those who voted for it, will sign the same as a pledge of the unanimous determination of this Convention to sustain and defend the State in 'her course and remedy."
Six delegates entered their protest against the Ordinance of Secession, but pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor in the defense of Georgia against coercion and inva
Tuesday, an Ordinance was adopted, providing for the execution of sentences passed by the Federal Courts; for the execution of processes issued by the same Courts; and to preserve the indictments.
In view of the early formation of a Central Government, by the Seceded States, the State Conventions legislated as little as possible, preferring to make as few changes as circumstances would admit.
Mr. Toombs was called upon to prepare a report, setting forth the reasons why the Ordinance of Secession was adopted by the State Convention. A Committee, to whom the matter had been referred, deferred to Mr. Toombs the task of preparing the document. It was not reported until January 29th. The "Address" was long, historically weak, and exceedingly discursive, for a State document. of its nature. It read very much like its author's last speech in the United States Senate; not quite as burdened with invective, but, like it, peculiarly marked with the perversions of a heated Southern imagination. Its tenor and spirit were embodied in its closing paragraph:
"Such are the opinions, and such are the practices of the Republican party, who have been called, by their own votes, to administer the Federal Government under the Constitution of the United States. We know their treachery-we know the shallow pretences under which they daily disregard its plainest obligations. If we submit to them, it will be our fault and not theirs. The people of Georgia have ever been willing to stand by this bar.
| gain-this contract-they have never sought to evade any of its obligations-they have never hitherto sought to establish any new Government. They have struggled to maintain the ancient rights of themselves and the human race through and under the Constitution. But they know the value of parchment rights in treacherous hands, and therefore they refuse to commit their own to the rulers whom the North offer us. Why? Because by their declared principle and policy they have outlawed three thousand millions of our property in the common Territories of the Union-put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists, and out of the protection of judicial law everywhere— because they give sanctuary to thieves and incendiaries who assail it, to the whole extent of their power, in spite of their most solemn obligations and covenants. Because their avowed purpose is to subvert our society, and subject us not only to the loss of our property, but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our altars and firesides. To avoid these evils we resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new safeguards for our liberty, security, and tranquillity."
Delegates were elected, January 24th, to the Convention of States to be held at Montgomery, February 4th. Toombs, Howell Cobb, Crawford, A. H. Stephens, and Benjamin Hill, were among those chosen.
The forts in Savannah harbor were seized as early as January 4th, as we have already noted. [See page 175.] The Arsenal at Augusta was surrounded, on the morning of January 24th, by several hundred State troops, and a surrender demanded by Gov. Brown in person. The surrender was made; resistance would have only sacrificed the mere guard in keeping of the property. Georgia thus became possessed of a large store of valuable arms and munitions, placed there by the sagacious Ex-Secretary for the purpose of being turned, at the proper moment, against the Government.