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power, under the Constitution, to interfere pointed, and are appointing, with Slavery under State laws; that whatever Commissioners to meet those of may be the powers of the Federal or a Terri- Virginia in council. When assembled, they will constitute a body entitled, in torial Government as to Slavery, affords no an eminent degree, to the confidence of the country. just grounds for a dissolution of the Union; that it is not expedient to amend the Constitution; and that a Government which cannot execute the laws is not fit to be maintained. Referred to the Special Committee of Five.
The General Assembly of Virginia have also resolved that ex-President John Tyler is hereby appointed by the concurrent vote of each branch of the General Assembly a Commissioner to the President of the United States, and Judge John Robinson is hereby appointed, by a like vote, a Commissioner to the State of South Carolina and the other States that have seceded, or shall secede, with instructions respectively to request the President of the United States and the authorities of such States to agree to abstain, pending the proceedings contemplated by the action of this General Assembly, from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms between the States and the Government of the United States. However strong may be my desire to enter into such an agreement, I am convinced that I do not possess the power. Congress, and Congress alone, under the war-making power, can exercise the discretion of agreeing to abstain from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms between this and any other Government. It would therefore be a usurpation for the Executive to at
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United tempt to restrain their hands by an agreement in re
gard to matters over which he has no constitutional control. If he were thus to act, they might pass laws which he should be bound to obey, though in conflict with his agreement. Under existing circumstances, my present actual power is confined within narrow limits. It is my duty at all times to defend and protect the public property within the Seceding States, so far as may be practicable, and especially to employ the constitutional means to protect the property of the United States and to preserve the public peace at this, the seat of the Federal Government. If the Seceding States abstain from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms, then the danger so much to be
"I deem it my duty to submit to Congress a series of resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Virginia on the 19th inst., having in view the peaceful settlement of the existing questions which now threaten the Union. They were delivered to me on Thursday, the 24th inst., by ex-President Tyler, who has left his dignified and honored retirement in the hope that he may render service to his country in this, its hour of peril. These resolutions, it will be perceived, extend an invitation to all such States, whether Slaveholding or non- Slaveholding, as are willing to unite with Virginia in an earnest effort to adjust the present unhappy controversies in the spirit in which the Constitution was originally form-deprecated will no longer exist. Defense, and not ed, and consistently with it principles, so as to afford to the people of the Slaveholding States adequate guarantees for the security of their rights, to appoint Commissioners to meet on the 4th day of February next in the City of Washington similar Commissioners appointed by Virginia, to consider, and, if practicable, agree upon some suitable adjust-pending the proceedings contemplated by the action ment. I confess I hail this movement on the part of Virginia with great satisfaction. From the past history of this ancient and renowned Commonwealth we have the fullest assurance that what she has undertaken she will accomplish, if it can be done by able, enlightened, and persevering efforts. It is highly gratifying to know that other patriotic States have ap
aggression, has been the policy of the Administration from the beginning. But while I can enter into no engagement such as that proposed, I cordially commend it to Congress, with much confidence that it will meet their approbation to abstain from passing any law calculated to produce a collision of arms,
of the General Assembly of Virginia. I am one of those who will never despair of the Republic. I yet cherish the belief that the American people will perpetuate the union of the States on some terms just and honorable for all sections of the country. I trust that the mediation of Virginia may be the des tined means, under the providence of God, of accom
plishing this inestimable benefit. Glorious as are the memories of her past history, such an achievement, both in relation to her own fame and the welfare of the whole country, would surpass them all. [Signed] "JAMES BUCHANAN. "WASHINGTON CITY, Jan. 28, 1861."
close for a drama written in wrong and blurred with blood.
The momentous events of the day closed in a little excitement over a motion by Stanton, (Rep.,) of Ohio, to suspend the rules in order to take up the bill for the more efficient organization of the District Militia, administered to all the officers thereof. The providing that the usual military oath be rules were suspended-116 to 41. This aroused Garnett, of Virginia, Sickles, of New York, and others. The Virginia member sue now was peaceful recognition of the said it was a pretty business to establish a
The consideration of the Corwin Report was resumed, when Pryor, (Dem.,) of Virginia, addressed the House. He assumed that the Union was dissolved-that the is
Seceded States or war with them. In view of the attitude of the Republicans, he foresaw a purpose to make war. If it should come the North alone should be held responsible. The South was justified in seceding
from the Union, not only because of the wrongs perpetrated on her interest in Slaves but for the further reason of a radical tyran
ny which had overthrown the Constitution and established a despotism under the guise of a popular majority. He said:
"The South is contending for the principles of constitutional freedom, and the rights of self-government, both of which are infringed by the usurpation of the Northern majority. In this sense the cause of the South is the cause of civil liberty, and appeals to universal liberty, and appeals to universal sympathy. The position of the South is still further fortified in the public opinion of the world by her solicitude to redress her grievances peaceably and in the Union. She would accept of any satisfactory guarantees, but the dominant party reject all overtures, and are preparing to enforce submission to their sway."
He argued, at some length, for a peaceful separation, announcing his belief that it was in the order of Providence to build up, here, two nationalities, and thus the more fully to advance the cause of freedom and civilization.
Prætorian guard in the Capital upon the occasion of the assemblage of the Virginia Peace Convention. Sickles considered the bill a
gratuitous impeachment of the loyalty of Virginia and Maryland to the Union, and implying danger of an attempt on this Capital from those States. Notwithstanding this
opposition the bill passed by a vote of 119 to 42, when the House adjourned, well satisfied with its day's work.
In the House, Tuesday, (January 29th,) Mr. Adrian, (Dem.,) of New Jersey, presented the resolutions passed by the Legislature of New Jersey, expressive of firm attachment to the Union, and the duty of every good citizen to sustain it, and favoring the Crittenden proposition and the calling of a Convention of the States, &c. Laid on the table and ordered to be printed. The special order was then resumed, being the report of the Committee of Thirty-three. Thaddeus Stevens, (Rep.,) of Pennsylvania, gave utterance to his decided sen
timents in a firm speech. He regretted that, like Mr. Pryor, he had to believe no compromise could be available. When six States are in open and declared rebellion, having seized the public forts and arsenals, and robbed the people of millions of public property; when he saw our harbors blockaded, and armies in array against the flag of our country, which has been insulted, he had no hope that concession, humiliation, or compromise can have any good effect whatever. What confirmed him in this belief, if confirmation was necessary, was to see by the papers that the Kingdom of South Carolina had peremptorily refused to appoint Commissioners, for the reason that they have no
ting against the Union. He was interrupted by Hughes, of Maryland, who said Harris was not speaking for that portion of the State which he (Harris) represented. The reply was that, according to the best of his judg ment, there was not then a corporal's guard in any locality in the State, honestly for se cession; but confessed that there existed a smouldering fire ready to burst out if palliatives were not soon administered. He asked for less eloquence of speech and more eloquence of votes. In his peroration he said: "Let me not, instead of our national music, hear the Marseillaise, which was not music to my ears. Flaunt not before my eyes the flag of a divided nationality, that excites no devotion in my American heart, but let me and my people go to our graves with the consecrated melodies ringing in our ears, and over us the dome of the Union with all its constellated stars.
desire or intention to promote the objects | peace and thwart the purposes of those plotdeclared in the Virginia resolutions viz., to procure guarantees by amendments to the Constitution. As South Carolina is the head and front of the secession movement, this was the end of negotiation and compromise, particularly as it was followed closely by the belligerent speech of Mr. Pryor. He (Stevens) saw that every Southern Democrat, and, he was sorry to say, that every Slaveholder in the House, voted against the consideration of the bill to admit Kansas into the Union. The Southern States will not be turned from their deliberate purpose by soft words or lamentations. He argued that there were but two ways of breaking up the Union-one by amendment to the Constitution, the other by revolution, which nothing could justify but the most intolerable oppression; a thing that nowhere exists. He proceeded to speak of Southern cruelties toward Northern men, who are tarred, feathered, and hung by scores. At the late election in Virginia, a man who voted for Lincoln was taken by the chivalry, his face blackened, and exiled from home. It was not safe for Northern men to go into the Southern States.
At this point he was interrupted by Rust, of Arkansas, Kunkle, of Maryland, and Webster, of Maryland, who sought either to deny the truthfulness of the statements of injury, or to parry their force by counter instances of Northern oppression. Mr. Stevens resumed, and, with more than his wonted feeling, declared that, rather than make concession to rebels, he would see the Government shivered to atoms. The South wanted a despotism-it could only have it by proving its ability to instate it by force. He assumed that the Executive must enforce the laws even if the worst should come.
Winslow, (Dem.,) of North Carolina, addressed the House-taking extreme Southern grounds: if the propositions for constitutional guarantees and a division of Territory was not accepted by the Republicans, the South had nothing further to ask or to offer. He reviewed the proceedings of the Committee of Thirty-three, showing that a great deal of time was spent in debate, when it was obvious the mind of no man was to be changed in any important respect. He remarked that it was gratifying to Southern men to find, with a single exception, they were all agreed on the proposition presented by the gentleman from Arkansas, (Mr. Rust,) and were particularly pleased to find that, simultaneously, the same proposition substantially was presented in the Senate, by the venerable Senator from Kentucky. These propositions demand protection to Southern institutions, and with nothing less than what they contained could the South be satisfied.
Van Wyck, (Rep.,) of
New York, followed in a Van Wyck's Speech. very powerful speech a
gainst any compromise which shall concede a constitutional status to Slavery. He ad verted to the great debate of 1842, which
Van Wyck's Speech.
VAN WYCK'S SPEECH.
Van Wyck's Specch
followed upon the intro- | States; but you were willing to
duction, by John Quincy Adams, of the Haverhill petition for a peaceful dissolution of the Union. He quoted from the speeches then made by Messrs. Hopkins, Wise, and Gilmer, of Virginia; Mr. Merriwether, of Georgia ; Messrs. Campbell, Rhett, and others, of South Carolina; Messrs. Marshall and Underwood, of Kentucky--all denying the power of Congress, or the States, to effect a dissolution, and claiming that a dissolution of the Union was a dissolution of Slavery. Have great principles changed since then? The inordinate desire of the Southern mind for "expansion" -the dream of a vast area won from Mexico and Central America, all to be given up to Slavery, was the heart-note of the conspiracy. He reviewed the question of a claim for rights in the Territories. What monstrous demands! Here was a nation composed of thirty millions of souls, and three hundred thousand slave-owners claimed “equal rights" in the domain with the mighty majority! How can presumption go farther? He said:
"Do you propose any concession to the North? Any security to liberty and life of the Northern man in the Slave States; of property in books; of freedom of speech and the press, as already secured by the Constitution? You say that you concede to Freedom the Territory North of 36 deg. 30 min. We have a double title to that already: first by purchase, and then by conquest. We bought it when we took
Missouri into the Union as a Slave State, and then we conquered it in the strife of a civil war. All our future acquisitions must be in the direction of the tropics, and you demand its unconditional surrender to Slavery. You want us to surrender to men who themselves are compromise breakers! You have been telling us for years that all geographical lines were sectional and dangerous! In 1820 you established the Missouri line to save the Union; in 1854 you destroyed it to save the Union; and now you can see the salvation of the Republic only through its reestablishment and perpetuity, with the new and startling condition annexed, that Slavery must be forever protected, in all our future acquisitions! Believe not in reconstruction; the compromises of the present Constitution, once lost, you never can regain. Think you that another Senate can be formed wherein Florida and Delaware can equal New York and Pennsylvania? You are opposed to the army and navy, because you boldly assert that
an enforcement of the laws means coercion of
Ferry from John Brown. The camp had no terrors for you then; but now you oppose coercion; yet,
by force of armed men, you seize the forts and navyyards, and trample the Stars and Stripes in the dust."
He warned the South against attempts to coerce the North into a consent to a dissolution of the Union. It would not be driven or cajoled into any line of policy adverse to its solemn and just convictions. As one plan of settlement, he favored a purchase of all the slaves in the Border States and their colonization in Central America. He also favored a Convention of all the States. But no Cataline should walk the land to stab liberty and strike down the Stars and Stripes with impunity. Treason was treason, and there were few to compromise with it if the issue must
This speech rang out with the spirit which was rapidly gaining ascendency in the Northern mind-not only of Republicans, but of all parties. It was patriotic rather than defiant. It was grounded in devotion to the Union and the Constitution, and thus echoed the loyal heart of the Free States.*
sumed in considering the Pacific Railway Tuesday's session of the Senate was conbill. Mr. King, (Rep.,) of New York, introduced a bill, which was referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, authorizing the employment of volunteers to aid in enforcing the laws and in protecting the public property.
The Wednesday's proceedings of the Senate
The Republican Central Committee of New York City (January 30th) passed resolutions thanking Mr. Van Wyck for his speech, and requesting the Republican members of Congress "in no manner, come what may, to further compromise with the Slave Power." A leading journal of the city, referring to these resolutions, said, "They speak unmistakably the sentiments of the Republicans of New York City. They all desire a real settlement through the maintenance of the Union and the enforcement of the laws, and no cowardly and temporary compromise." Undoubtedly this statement was correct.
were only memorable from the presentation | The trouble was, that the people rebelled
of memorials and petitions.
Petitions and Memorials.
against and attempted to overthrow it. We could not have peace by concessions to men who asked none, and refused them-by mak ing concessions to men with arms in their hands, and who fire on our vessels and capture our soldiers. If the country has re
Mr. Bigler, (Dem.,) of Pennsylvania, introduced several-among them a memorial of the meeting said to represent fifty thousand working-men of Philadelphia, praying for the passage of the Crittenden compro-ceived a shock from which it will not recover mise. He remarked that, in view of these popular manifestations, there could be no doubt of the general desire for the adoption of some compromise. Disunion could not be countenanced, but he was ready to make any reasonable concessions to the South. The Crittenden resolutions he thought were eminently just and wise.
Cameron, (Rep.,) of Pennsylvania, also had a petition to present, but it differed vastly in sentiment from that presented by his colleague, whose former speech he had been charged with having endorsed. He certainly never endorsed the whole of it, but he was willing to do anything to bring peace and safety to the country. But he first wanted to know if what he did would be received; if it would bring back the leaders of rebellion in the South, for he considered it rebellion.
Mason, of Virginia, answered that the Southern States had not asked for concessions in any form. The South had no complaint to make of the Constitution, but that the Constitution had been violated and her rights disregarded; yet, she never asked concessions. She only demanded that the Constitution be carried out. She would be humiliated if she asked anything else, and the North would not be humiliated if it granted it: The South only asked for right.
Hale, (Rep.,) of New Hampshire, declared that he had been attentively listening for just such a speech from the commencement of the session. He now thought there was some hope for a union of sentiment !
Trumbull, (Rep.,) of Illinois, presented the petition of citizens of Chicago in favor of sustaining the Constitution as it is, and against any concession to the South while in rebellion against the Constitution and the laws. He said he was glad to see that the petitioners agreed with the Senator from Virginia, that the Constitution is good enough now, if the people would only live up to it.
for generations, it is because of the craven spirit manifested. Let the Government put itself in a position to be respected and obeyed, and it will have respect and obedience.
Mr. Trumbull also presented the petition of a Committee of the Methodist Conference of Illinois, setting forth that the Conference had been broken up in certain States, and one man had been hung because he was a minister of that church. The petition asked that if compromises be made, there be provision for the safety of citizens in the States, and that no man be proscribed for religion's sake. [See page 229.]
In the House, Wednesday was an interesting and exciting day. Mr. W. R. W. Cobb, of Alabama, who had remained after his colleagues had withdrawn, in a letter to the Speaker, to be laid before the House, stated that he had received the certified Secession Ordinance of Alabama, and therefore felt constrained to withdraw entirely from the duties of the House-a step which he deeply regretted being compelled to take. His letter closed: "God save the country!"
The House consenting, Mr. Cobb addressed the members in a very patriotic and feeling farewell. He prayed and plead for some compromise to save the country. He had served in Congress fourteen years, and could not think of returning home to say to his eager, expectant constituents, that all hope of compromise was past. Oh! for a Clay, a Webster, an Adams to meet the crisis! He could only say, with uplifted hands, "God sare the country!" The Republicans could do it — would they? Plant yourselves no longer on your dignity-adopt some measure of settle ment and peace, and save the country!
The Select Committee of Five reported several important bills. One to call out the