Page images

be assumed by South Carolina instead of the this State, to exercise the office to which I have been United States.

[blocks in formation]

Further Acts.

On the 21st, Mr. Rhett, Chairman of the Committee on an Address on the Causes of the Secession of the State, reported. The Commissioners were elected " "to treat with the United States," viz:--ex-Governor J. H. Adams, ex-Congressman J. L. Orr, and Mr. R. W. Barnwell, who were authorized to proceed immediately to Washington, to enter upon negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the relations between the United States and the "sovereign" State of South Carolina, including the transfer of the forts, &c. A committee reported a modification of the Constitution of the State,* so far as to substitute a new oath of allegiance,


[ocr errors][merged small]

appointed, and will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duty of the office, and preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this State. So help me


As the Convention sat, on all important occasions, in secret session, much of its proceedings are veiled in mystery. By a special vote a reporter was rejected, and a resolution not to have the proceedings printed, passed with only three negative votes.

The Declaration of Causes

The Declaration of Causes was not definitively accepted until the evening session of Monday, December 24th. It was amended, verbally, in several cases, and, as adopted, reads as follows:


Done in Convention, December 24, 1860. "The State of South Carolina, having determined to resume her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to herself, to the remaining United States of America, and to the nations of the world, that she should declare the causes which have led to this act.

The Declaration of Causes

"In the year 1765, that portion of the British Em pire embracing Great Britain undertook to make laws for the government of that portion composed of the thirteen American Colonies. A struggle for the right of self-government ensued, which resulted, on the 4th of July, 1776, in a Declaration by the Coand independent States, and that, as free and indelonies, that they are, and of right ought to be, free pendent States, they have full power to levy war, to conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.'

They further solemnly declared, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of

* See page 48, "A queer case." The modifica tion, which positively stipulated that no part of that tion of the oath was in defiance of the State Constituinstrument should be altered, "unless a bill to alter the same shall have been read three times, &c., and agreed to by two-thirds of both branches, &c.; neither shall any alteration take place until the bill, as agreed to, be published three months previous to a new election," &c., &c. The delegates doubtless assumed the principle that desperate emergencies require desperate resorts. The entire proceedings of the Convention were illegal according to the Constitution of the State.

[blocks in formation]

"The parties to whom this Constitution was sub. mitted were the several sovereign States; they were to agree or disagree, and when nine of them agreed, the compact was to take effect among those concurring; and the General Government, as the common agent, was then to be invested with their authority.

"In pursuance of this Declaration of Independence, each of the thirteen States proceeded to exercise its separate sovereignty; adopted for itself a "If only nine of the thirteen States had concurred, constitution, and appointed officers for the adminis- the other four would have remained as they then tration of government in all its departments-legis-were-separate, sovereign States, independent of lative, executive, and judicial. For purposes of defence, they united their arms and their counsels; and, in 1778, they entered into a league, known as the Articles of Confederation, whereby they agreed

[ocr errors]

to intrust the administration of their external relations to a common agent, known as the Congress of the United States, expressly declaring, in the first article, that each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not, by this confederation, expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.'

"Under this confederation the war of the Revolu

any of the provisions of the Constitution. In fact, two of the States did not accede to the Constitution until long after it had gone into operation among the other eleven; and during that interval, they exercised the functions of an independent nation.

"By this Constitution, certain duties were charged on the several States, and the exercise of certain of their powers restrained, which necessarily implied their continued existence as sovereign States. But, to remove all doubt, an amendment was added, which declared that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. On the 23d of May, 1788, South Carolina, by a convention of her people, passan ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and

tion was carried on, and, on the 3d of September, 17-3, the contest ended, and a definitive treaty was signed by Great Britain, in which she acknowledgeded the independence of the Colonies in the following afterward altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had undertaken.


"Article 1.-His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to be free, sovereign, and independent States; that be treats with them as such; and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, proprietary and territorial rights of the same and every

part thereof.'

"Thus was established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely, the right of a State to govern itself, and the right of a people to abolish

a government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles was the fact, that each colony became and was recognized by the mother-country as a free, sovereign, and independent State.

"In 1787, Deputies were appointed by the State to revise the Articles of Confederation, and on the 17th of September, 1787, these Deputies recommend


Thus was established, by compact between the States, a government, with defined objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant, and to so much more only as was necessary to execute the power granted. This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved rights.

is subject to the two great principles asserted in "We hold that the government thus established the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely, the law of compact. We maintain that, in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual

that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that, where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.

In the present case that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fifteen of the States have

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

The Declaration of

The Declaration of

deliberately refused for years | union, establish justice, insure past to fulfill their constitutional domestic tranquility, provide obligations, and we refer to for the common defence, protheir own statutes for the proof. tect the general welfare, and secure the blessings "The Constitution of the United States, in its 4th of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.' article, provides as follows:


No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.'

"This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and the State of Virginia had previously declared her estimate of its value by making it the condition of her cession of the Territory which now compose the States north of the Ohio River.

[ocr errors]

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for the rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

[ocr errors]

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights; by giving them the right to represent, and burdening them with direct taxes for threefifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years, and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

"We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. These States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions, and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloin the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes, and those who remain have been incited by emissaries,

The General Government, as the common agent,
passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations
of the States. For many years these laws were ex-
ecuted. But an increasing hostility on the part of
the Northern States to the institution of slavery has
led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws
of the General Government have ceased to effect the
objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine,
New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connec-books and pictures to servile insurrection.
ticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illi-
nois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa,
have enacted laws which either nullify the acts of
Congress, or render useless any attempt to execute
them. In many of these States the fugitive is dis-
charged from the service or labor claimed, and in
none of them has the State Government complied
with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The
State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law
for the rendition of fugitive slaves in conformity
with her constitutional undertaking; but the current
of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to
enact laws which render inoperative the remedies
provided by her own law and by the laws of Con-
gress. In the State of New York even the right of
transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals,
and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to sur-
render to justice fugitives charged with murder and
with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Vir-
ginia. Thus the constitutional compact has been
deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-
slaveholding States, and the consequence follows
that South Carolina is released from its obligations.
"The ends for which this Constitution was framed
are declared by itself to be to form a more perfect

"For twenty-five years, this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common government. Observ ing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that article establishing the execu tive department the means of subverting the Consti. tution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to Slavery. He is to be intrusted with the administration of the common government, because he has declared that that 'gov. ernment cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,' and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

"This sectional combination for the subversion of the Constitution has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship persons, who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens, and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy hostile to the South, and destractive of its peace and safety.

"On the 4th of March next, this party will take

The Declaration of



The Declaration of

possession of the Government. | levy war, conclude peace, con-
tract alliances, establish com-
merce, and to do all other acts
and things which independent States may of right

It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory; that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

"The guarantees of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their


“Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the Irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanctions of a more erroneous religious belief.

“We, therefore, the people of South Carolina, by our delegates in convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of

our intentions, have solemnly declared that the union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world as a free, sovereign, and independent State, with full power to

"And, for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

In the course of the day's proceedings many very able speeches were made, eliminating points in the Declaration. Among others, Messrs. Rhett and Keitt declared the Fugitive Slave law to be unconstitutional, and Mr. Memminger confessed the question to be legally embarrassing.*

December 24th, Gov. Pickens, agreeably to the ordinance of secession, issued his proclamation declaring to the world that "South Carolina is, and has a right to be a separate, sovreign, free, and independent State, and, as such, has a right to levy war, conclude peace, negotiate treaties, leagues or covenants, and to do all acts whatever that rightfully appertain to a free and independent State."




[blocks in formation]

Telegraphic Dis. patches.

WE cannot more vividly describe the effect of the

"MOBILE, Dec. 20.

"The secession of South Carolina was celebrated

news of South Carolina's here this afternoon by the firing of a hundred guns,

secession than to reproduce a few of the telegraphic dispatches which fairly blazed over the wires from the Southern States:

"PENSACOLA, Dec. 20. "The secession of South Carolina is greeted with immense enthusiasm here. One hundred guns are being fired in honor of the event."

"MONTGOMERY, Dec. 20. "Governor Moore has ordered one hundred guns to be fired at noon to-morrow, in honor of the secession of South Carolina."

*For assuming the identical position of Mr. Rhett and his followers, the Northern States are declared, with singular want of consistency, to have heaped wrongs and indignaties upon the Sonth.

The case is analagous to that referred to, (page 27, note,) wherein the South declares negroes human beings to obtain their Congressional representation, and denies that they are human beings when it requires the Constitution to regard them as chattelsthus illustrating the adage that a mule may be a horse, when the king has no horse.

the cheers of the people, and a military parade. There is great rejoicing. The bells are now ringing merrily, and the people are out in the streets by hundreds, testifying their joy at the triumph of secession. Many impromptu speeches are being made, and the greatest excitement everywhere exists."

"NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 21. "A general demonstration of joy on the secession of South Carolina occurred here to-day. One hundred guns were fired, and the Pelican flag unfurled. Impromptu secession speeches were made by leading citizens, and the Marseilles Hymn and Polkas were the only airs played. A bust of Calhoun was exhibited, decorated with a cockade."

"MACON, Dec. 21.

"We are jubilant over the secession of South Carolina. There is a grand procession of Minutemen, and bonfires, bells ringing, cannon firing, and Main street illuminated. Speeches have been made by J. R. Branham, R. A. Smith, C. Anderson, P. Tracy, and others."


"MEMPHIS, Dec. 22. "There was an enthuiastic meeting here last night, to ratify the secession of South Carolina. Fifteen guns were fired, and The Avalanche newspaper office and other buildings illuminated."


"A secession pole, 100 feet high, with the Palmetto flag, was hoisted on the most prominent street yesterday morning, amid the cheers from a large


How Congress Received the News.

Congress was in session when Mr. Garnett, of Virginia, announced the act of secession. The announcement scarcely attracted attention. The Pacific Railway bill was under consideration at the moment. view of the contingencies likely to arise, Mr. G. declared that his State could not be held responsible for the payment of her share of the bonds necessary to build the road. “Why, sir," he said, "while your bill is under con


“One hundred guns were to-day fired in honor of sideration, one of the sovereign States of this Confederacy has, by the glorious act of her people, withdrawn, in vindication of her

the secession of South Carolina."


“Fifteen guns were fired to-day. The Palmetto rights, from the Union, as the telegraph an

flag was displayed at Norfolk."

"BALTIMORE, Dec. 21. "Fifteen guns were fired to-day. The Palmetto flag was displayed at Norfolk."

"BALTIMORE, Dec. 21.

"South Carolina secession produced not the slightest sensation here, one way or the other. People seemed relieved and cheerful, and the streets were gayly crowded, and business was better. The prevailing sentiment seems to be, that if the North now does right, and makes honorable, manly concessions, indicating an absolute determination to cultivate friendly feelings, and will repeal the obnoxious laws, the other Southern States will cheerfully meet them."

"RICHMOND, Dec. 21. "The secession of South Carolina seems to give great satisfaction here. A movement is on foot to hoist the Palmetto flag, with fifteen stars, from the Custom-house."

"NORFOLK, Dec. 21.

"The Minute-men of Norfolk send greeting to South Carolina. With the glorious Palmetto flag thrown to the breeze and floating over our heads, we have just fired fifteen guns in honor of the first step taken by that gallant State, and emblematic, we hope, of coming events. All honor and glory to the game-cock of the South. "CHAS. HARRIS,

"Chief of Minute-men of Norfolk."

nounced at half-past one to-day." This was followed by the clapping of hands from a few Southern members, but no further notice was taken of it, and the bill was put upon its passage. The two remaining Representatives from South Carolina, Messrs. Boyce and Ashmore, arose from their seats, shook hands with their friends, and retired from the Hall—thus leaving the State without a member in the National Congress.

The news (it was telegraphed from Springfield) was received calmly by Mr. Lincoln. An editorial article which appeared in the Springfield (Ill.) Journal, understood to speak for Mr. Lincoln, said: “If South Carolina does not obstruct the collection of the revenues, at Mr. Lincoln's Views. her ports, or violate another

Federal law, there will be no trouble and she will not be out of the Union. If she violates dent of the United States, in such an emerthe law then comes the tug of war. The Presigency, has a plain duty to perform. Mr. Buchanan may shirk it, or the emergency may not exist during his administration. If not, then the Union will last through his term of office. If the overt act, on the part of South Carolina, takes place on or after the 1st day

« PreviousContinue »