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Extraordinary Character of the Congress.
Proceedings of the
Alabama-R. W. Walker, R.
Florida-James B. Owens, J. Patton Anderson. (Jackson Morton was not present.)
for the justification of this tyrannical usurpation.] Convening to organize a Government, these forty-two delegates proceeded to their work with all the authority of umpires from whom there was no appeal. They were to adopt Articles of Confederation, a Constitution, organize Departments, elect a President and Vice-President, confirm Cabinet and Ministerial appointments-in fact, to place a fully-developed and powerful Government in operation over the people. There is no parallel for such usurpation, under the guise of freedom, on the whole page of history. Mississippi-W. P. Harris, Walter Brooke, N. S. The people had nothing to do in the organ-Wilson, A. M. Clayton, W. S. Barry, J. T. Harrison. South Carolina-R. B. Rhett, Sr., R. W. Barnwell, ization of the Government-no voice in the
Georgia-Robert Toombs, Howell Cobb, F. S. Bartow, M. J. Crawford, E. A. Nisbet, B. H. Hill, A. R. Wright, Thomas R. R. Cobb, A. H. Kenan, A. H. Stephens.
Louisiana-John Perkins, Jr., A. Declonet, Charles M. Conrad, D. F. Kenner, G. E. Sparrow, Henry Marshall.
Porcher Miles, Thomas J. Withers, W. W. Boyce.:
Mr. Rhett, of South Carolina, then suggested the election of a President of the Convention, saying:-"On the part of the deputies from South Carolina, I present the name of a gentleman for that office who has been illus
election of its officers—no option or judgment L. M. Keitt, James Chesnut, Jr., C. G. Memminger, to exercise in the matter. They were. as thoroughly ignored as if no power rested in them. A self-elected assembly gave them the law, gave them rulers, gave them inter-State obligations, voted war for them, imposed taxes, appropriated their property, impressed them to serve in the ranks; and, so cleverly was the entire scheme managed,that, notwithstanding all this glaring outrage of the first principles of a Republican Government, the people were led as obediently into the movement as their own slaves would have been led into the shambles.
The Convention was organized February 4th, when the following delegates presented their credentials and signed the roll:
trious on the arena of the General Government-whose name is coextensive with the length and breadth of this whole country--I nominate the Hon. Howell Cobb, of Georgia, for President of this Convention. [Applause.] I am sure that his election will be unanimous. I therefore propose that he be declared President by acclamation." And the motion prevailed. Mr. Cobb assumed the chair, to pronounce from it the following address:
"Accept, gentlemen of the Convention, my sincere thanks for the honor which you have conferred on me. I shall endeavor, by a faithful and impartial
degree, at least, the confidence which you have reposed in me. The occasion which assembles us together is one of no ordinary character. We meet as the representatives of sovereign and independent States, who by their solemn judgment have dissolved all the political associations which connected them with the Government of the United States. Of the causes which have led to this decision it is unneces. sary now to speak: it is enough to announce that,
would of course have no objection to the acknowledgment of the Constitution, made secure against any misunderstanding, which is held by some to jus-discharge of the duties of the Chair, to merit, in some tify, if it does not originate, the divisions now rife in the country. Any other State or States which might be willing to accept the Constitution thus amended in a Southern Convention, could of course be fairly received. It may be recollected that Mississippi refused, by a vote of sixty-seven to twentythree, to say that she would never receive any Free States into a Southern Confederacy. The Southern Rights advocates have no objection to secure exact equality under their Constitution. And to a reconstruction, on this basis, they are not opposed, so far as we know. Many a man, it is true, may doubt whether this can ever be done; but certainly no one has any objection to it if it can be done. And the way to test whether it is practicable, is to make the trial, as the Montgomery Convention will proceed directly to give an opportunity."
*Texas seceded February 1st, and appointed delegates to the Montgomery Convention February 11th, notwithstanding her Ordinance of Secession was not to be considered as binding until February 23d, when the people were to be permitted to vote on it! This is only another instance in the category of usurpations.
Proceedings of the
by the judgment of our constituents, they have been ample and sufficient. It is now a fact-irrevocable fact-the separation is perfect, complete, and perpetual. [Applause.] The great duty is now imposed on us to provide for these States a Government for their future security and protection. We can and should extend to our sister States-who are identified with us in interest, feeling, and institutions -a cordial invitation to unite with us in a common destiny; desirous, at the same time, of maintaining with the rest of our late confederates, as with the world, the most peaceful and friendly relations, both political and commercial. Our responsibilities, gentlemen, are great, and I doubt not we shall prove equal to the occasion. Let us assume all the responsibility which may be necessary for the successful completion of the great work committed to our trust, placing before our countrymen and the world
Resolved, That the President appoint a Committee of one from each State, to report a plan for a Provisional Government as soon as possible."
They were considered in secret session. February 6th, the North Carolina Commissioners presented their credentials in the
their General Assembly, January 29th:
"1. Resolved, That for the purpose of effecting an honorable and amicable adjustment of all the difficulties that disturb the country, upon the basis of the Crittenden resolutions, as modified by the Legis lature of Virginia, and for the purpose of consulting for our common peace, honor, and safety, the Hon. Thomas Griffin, of Alamance, D. M. Barringer, Devid S. Reid, John M. Morehead, and George Davis, be, and they are hereby appointed Commissioners to re
our acts and their results as the justification of the shape of the following resolutions, passed by course which we may pursue and adopt. With a consciousness of the justice of our cause, and with a confidence in the guidance and blessings of a kind Providence, we will this day inaugurate for the South a new era of peace, security, and prosperity." The proceedings of the Convention were done in secret session, and so little transpired that we are but partially informed in regard to its daily legislation. The State Conventions had sat in secret sessions, and the people were aware of the results of their proceedings only when the edicts were promulgated. This was found to work so favorably that the rule was adopted at Montgomery -to cover all important legislation.
February 5th, Memminger, of South Carolina, presented the following resolutions:
"Resolved, That this Convention deem it expedient
forthwith to form a Confederacy of the States which have seceded from the Federal Union, and that a Committee be appointed to report a plan for a Provisional Government upon the basis of the Constitu
tion of the United States.
"Resolved, That a Committee of thirteen members be appointed as follows: namely, the Chairman by the Convention, and two members from each State to be nominated by the deputies of that State.
present North Carolina in the proposed consultation to be held at Washington City, on the 4th of Febru ary, 1861. And,
Whereas, The State of North Carolina has been invited by the State of Alabama to meet at the City of Montgomery, on the 14th of February, 1861, for the purpose of framing a provisional as well as permanent government; and,
eral Union, has no right to send delegates for such a 'Whereas, North Carolina, as a part of the Fedpurpose: therefore, be it
"2. Resolved, That for the purpose of effecting a3 honorable and amicable adjustment of all the difficulties that distract the country, upon the basis of the Crittenden resolutions, as modified by the Legislature of Virginia, and for the purpose of consulting for our common peace, honor, and safety, the Hon. David L. Swain, M. W. Ransom, and John L. Bridg ers, are appointed Commissioners to visit Montgom
Resolved, That all propositions in reference to a Provisional Government be referred to this Com-ery, Alabama, for the purpose above indicated." mittee."
Stephens, of Georgia, moved to substitute the word "Congress" for "Convention”. to which Mr. M. agreed. A substitute for the resolutions was offered by Bartow, of Georgia, namely:
Messrs. Swain, Ransom, and Bridgers were invited to occupy seats in the Congress dur ing open sessions. During the day very rittle was done. The Committee on Provisional Government was hard at work maturing its report.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE
Proceedings of the
Proceedings of the
February 7th, a resolu- | drawal from them; these States
tion was received from the Alabama Legislature, placing the sum of five hundred thousand dollars at the disposition of the "Provisional Government of the Confederacy of the Seceded States," as a loan, with which to set the
e Government in motion.
February 8th, the loan was accepted, in a series of complimentary resolutions. A secret session was called at 11 o'clock, A. M., and, after a protracted discussion, adopted the Provisional Constitution reported from the Special Committee. Its preamble read: 'We, the Deputies of the sovereign and independent States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, invoking the favor of Almighty God, do hereby, in behalf of these States, ordain and establish this Constitution for the
Provisional Government of the same, to continue one year from the inauguration of the President, or until a permanent Constitution or Confederation between the said States shall be put in operation, whichsoever shall first occur."
The Constitution was a perfect transcript of the Federal instrument, except in special clauses, that here may be stated:
"The seventh section, first article, read as follows:
"The importation of African negroes from any foreign country other than the Slaveholding States of the United States is hereby forbidden, and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually
prevent the same.
This Constitution was understood to have been adopted by the unanimous vote of the Convention.
February 9th, the election of President and Vice-President was held by the delegates, resulting in the choice of Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, to be Provisional President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, to be Provisional Vice-President. The vote in either case was reported unanimous. The President of the Convention also appointed the usual Congressional Committees, viz.: on Foreign Affairs, Finance, Military Affairs, Naval Affairs, Postal Affairs, Commerce, Patents, &c., &c. Among other legislative action was an ordinance continuing in force, until repealed or altered by the Congress, all laws of the United States in force or use Nothe Finance Committee to report promptly a vember 1st. Also a resolution instructing tariff for raising revenues to support the Government. That step blew away the dust from French and English eyes, who, in the proposed Confederacy, saw brilliant visions of free trade and an unrestricted commerce in foreign bottoms. It was only one instance in which the promises of the leaders to their own people, as well as to foreign capitalists and manufacturers, were not fulfilled. A resolution was also adopted authorizing the
"Article second-Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of this Confederacy. "Article fourth of the third clause of the second appointment of a committee to prepare and
“A slave in one State escaping to another shall be delivered up on the claim of the party to whom said slave may belong, by the Executive authority of the State in which such slave may be found; and in case of any abduction or forcible rescue, full compensation, including the value of the slave, and all costs and expenses, shall be made to the party by the State in which such abduction or rescue shall take place.
"Article sixth of the second clause provided: "The Government hereby instituted shall take immediate steps for the settlement of all matters between the States forming it and their late confederates of the United States in relation to the public property and public debt at the time of their with
Mr. A. H. Stephens' Speech.
States of America' have been ushered into existence, to take their place among the nations of the earth; under a temporary or Provisional Government, it is true, but soon to be followed by one of a permanent character, which, while it surrenders none of our ancient rights and liberties, will secure them more perfectly. We trust for peace, security, and domestic tranquillity. That ought to be the object of all Governments. What is the future of this new Government? The fate of this new Republic will depend upon ourselves. Six States only at present constitute it; but six stars yet appear in our constellation and Constitution. The permanent Government may have a greater number than the original thirteen of the original Union, with more than three times their population, wealth, and power. With such a beginning, the prospect of the future presents strong hopes to the patriot's heart for bright prospects in our career; but what the future shall be depends on ourselves and those who come after us. Our Republic, and all Republics, to be permanent and prosperous, must be supported by the virtue, intelligence, and integrity and patriotism of the people.
"These are the corner-stones upon which the temple of liberty must be constructed, to stand securely and permanently. Resting our trust upon these, we need fear nothing from without or within, with a climate not surpassed by any on earth. With staples and productions which control the commerce of the world; with institutions, so far as regards our organic and social policy, in strict conformity to nature and the laws of the Creator, whether read in the Book¦ of Inspiration, or the great Book of Manifestations around us, we have all the natural elements essential to attainment in the highest degree of power and glory. These institutions have been much assailed, and it is our mission to vindicate the great truth on which they rest, and with them' exhibit the highest type of civilization which it is possible for human society to reach. In doing this, our policy should be marked by a desire to preserve and maintain peace with all States and people. If this cannot be done, let not the fault lie at our own door. While we should make aggressions on none, we should be prepared to repel those made by others, let them come from whatever quarter they may. We ask of others simply to let us alone, and to be permitted to look after our safety, security, and happiness in our own way, without molesting or giving offence to other people. Let, then, peace, fraternity, and liberal commercial relations with all the world, be our motto. With these principles, without envy towards other States in the line of polivy they mark out for themselves, we will invite them
to a generous rivalry in all that develops the highest quality of every nation. With the best wishes to you, gentlemen, and to the success of our common Government this day announced, I bid you goodnight."
Proceedings of the Congress.
February 11th, Mr. Stephens accepted the election to the Vice-Presidency of the new Government in the following speech: "I have been notified by the Committee of my election as Vice-President of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America. The Committee request that I should make known to this body, in verbal response, my acceptance of the high position to which I have been called. This 1 now do, in this august presence, before you, Mr. President, before Congress, and before this large concourse of people, under the bright san and bril liant sky which now smile so auspiciously upon us. I take this occasion to return my most profound acknowledgments for this expression of confidence on the part of Congress. There are special reasons why I place an unusually high estimate on it. The considerations which induced me to accept it I need not state. It is sufficient for me to say, that it may be deemed questionable whether any good citizen can refuse to discharge any duty which may be as signed him by his country in the hour of need. It might be expected that I should indulge in some remarks on the state of public affairs, and the dangers which threaten us, and the most advisable measures to be adopted to meet the pressing exigencies. Al low me to say, in the absence of the distinguished gentleman called to the Chief Executive Chair, I think it best to forbear saying anything on such matters. We expect him in a few days-by Wednes day of this week, if not providentially detained--when we will hear from him on these difficult questions; and, I doubt not, we shall cordially and harmoniously concur in the line of policy his superior wisdom and statesmanship will indicate. Meantime, we may very profitably be directing our attention to such matters as providing necessary postal arrangements, making provision for the transfer of the Custom-houses from the jurisdiction of the separate States to the Confederacy, and the imposition of such duties as are necessary to meet the present expected exigen cies. The power to raise revenue should be limited to the object of the revenue. A small duty of Lot exceeding ten per centum upon importations, it is believed, is sufficient. We can also be devoting our attention to a Constitution and permanent Govern ment, stable and durable, which is one of the leading objects of our assembling. I am now ready to take the oath."
February 12th, the Chair announced the
PROCEEDINGS OF THE
Proceedings of the Congress.
Committees the most important of which were filled as follows:
"On Foreign Affairs: Messrs. Rhett, of S. C.; Nisbett, of Ga.; Perkins, of La.; Walker, of Ala.; and Keitt, of S. C.
“On Finance: Messrs. Toombs, of Ga.; Barnwell, of S. C.; Kenner, of La.; Barry, of Miss.; and McRae, of Ala.
“On Commercial Affairs: Messrs. Memminger, of S. C.; Crawford, of Ga.; Morton, of Fla.; Curry, of Ala.; and Delcouet, of La.
"On the Judiciary: Messrs. Clayton, of Miss.; Withers, of S. C.; Hale, of Ala.; T. R. Cobb, of Ga.; and Harris, of Miss.
"On Naval Affairs: Messrs. Conrad, of La. ; Chesnut, of S. C.; Smith, of Ala.; Wright, of Ga.; and Owens, of Fla.
“On Military Affairs: Messrs. Barton, of Ga.; Miles, of S. C.; Sparrow, of La. ; Kenan, of Ga.; and Anderson, of Fla.
Mr. Stephens was inaugurated, and took the following oath:
"You do solemnly swear that you will faithfully execute the office of Vice-President of the Confederate States of America, and will, to the best of your ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution thereof-so help you God."
The Confederacy assumed charge of the question of the seized arsenals, forts, &c., in the adoption of a resolution which read:
“Resolved, That this Government takes under its charge the questions and difficulties now existing between the sovereign States of this Confederacy and the Government of the United States, relating to the occupation of forts, arsenals, navy-yards, and other public establishments, and that the President of this Congress be directed to communicate this resolution to the Governors of the States."
This threw all responsibility of the conduct of affairs in Charleston harbor on the central authorities, and South Carolina ceased to be sovereign. The resolution was as authoritative and imperative as the mandate of the Czar. Governor Pickens became thenceforward one of the lesser lights-so fleeting was the term of South Carolina's independence.*
The Mercury, of Charleston, grew exceedingly irritated over this early assumption of supreme power
ton. It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
On the 13th, quite a discussion arose on the question of a Government foundery and arms manufactory. Mr. Cooper, proprietor of the Etowah Iron-Works, proposed to convert these works into the required manufactory. The matter was finally referred to the Military Committee. The debate served to show that several "very extensive" iron-works were for sale.
A resolution was adopted providing for the Military and Naval Committees to include in any plan they might propose for the organization of the Confederate army and navy suitable provisions for such officers of the army and navy of the United States "as may have tendered their resignations in consequence of their adhesion to any or all of the States of this Confederacy."
Mr. Brooke proposed a resolution to instruct the Committee on the Flag and Seal of the Confederacy to adopt and report a flag as similar as possible to the flag of the United States-making only such changes as were necessary to distinguish easily the one from the other. He supported his resolution by a speech, in which he paid a patriotic tribute to the Stars and Stripes, saying: "In
by the Congress. It declared South Carolina still supreme in the matter of Fort Sumter, in these energetic terms:
"What remains but for the Executive of South Carolina to take the fort? The authorities of the Confederation have nothing to do with it unless the State is incapable of resisting these aggressions, and needs assistance. After two efforts to obtain
peaceable possession of Fort Sumter, and a submission for two months to the insolent military domination, in our bay, of a handful of men, the honor of the State requires that no further intervention, from any quarter, should be tolerated, and that this fort should be taken, and taken by South Carolina alone. By any other course, it appears to us, unless all the positions of the Governor are false, the State must be disgraced.”
The Mercurial party was thus hatching rebellion against the new Government. The State, it was evident, was so chronically distempered as to be irascible under any extraneous control.