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Resignations in the


retroactive in its effect, viz.: to stop his pay from that time, did not appear, under the extraordinary circumstances by which it was surrounded, at all satisfactory to the Committee. The resignation of the officer in charge of the Marine Hospital at Pensacola was accepted by telegraph, and he was - thereby enabled to take upon himself the same position under the insurgent force, without any interruption. And that of Lieutenant R. T. Chapman, dated on board the Brooklyn, when about to sail under orders, was likewise accepted by telegraph, and he was thus relieved of any inconvenience he would otherwise have experienced in being carried to sea against his wishes.

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Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy, in aocepting, without delay or inquiry, the resignations of officers of the navy who were in arms against the Government when tendering the same, and of those who sought to resign that they might be relieved from the restraint imposed by their commissions upon engaging in hostility to the constituted author

highly prejudicial to the discipline of the service, and injurious to the honor and efficiency of the Navy, for which he deserves the censure of this House."

"The course thus pursued by the Secretary in accepting these resignations appears, under the cir-ities of the country, has committed a grave error, cumstances, to be most extraordinary. No custom of the Department, in ordinary times can justify it. No want of confidence in the loyalty of these officers can excuse it; for if their previous conduct had jussified any such suspicion, it also demanded investigation beforehand, which would, as to some of them, have disclosed to the Secretary complicity in

treason, calling for courts-martial rather than honorable discharge. A prudent regard for the public safety would, no doubt, have justified, if not imperiously demanded, that some of the officers should have been early removed from delicate and responsible positions of trust, by the substitution of others more reliable. But these very considerations appear to the Committee to have forbidden the furnishing any such facilities for engaging in hostilities against the Government, as the relief from the sum

The Minority Report

This report was signed by three members of the Committee. A fourth member, John Cochrane, an Administration Democrat, refused to sign, and simply expressed a verbal dissent from the views of the majority. He doubtless did not feel it quite politic to put in a minority report. The minority report of Mr. Branch, (Dem.,) of North Carolina, opened by citing the several duties assigned to the Committee, and says: "In no one of these branches of inquiry can anything be found to justify or demand a scrutiny into the conduct of naval officers, the motives which induced them to resign their those engaged in an attempt to overthrow the commissions, or into the propriety of the Government with the skill, experience, and discip-Secretary's action in accepting them. How

mary trial and punishment of a court-martial secured by the acceptance of their resignations. The course pursued by the Secretary has resulted in furnishing

ever much there might be found deserving of reprobation, the Committee was neither authorized nor required to take cognizance of the subject."

line which education at the expense of the Government, and long service in the navy have conferred upon our own officers. The Committee cannot understand how this course is consistent with a proper discharge of the duties of his office by the Secretary in this critical juncture of affairs. It appears to them to have been attended with consequences the most serious to the service of the country. They can find no excuse or justification in the claim set up in behalf of the Secretary that the resignations have been accepted in ignorance of any misconduct, for no resignation should at any time be accepted until there is reason to know at least that the officer tendering it had been guilty of no unofficerlike conduct deserving a court-martial. But the circum-ation. The same squadron, on the 16th of stances connected with these resignations, the January, consisted of eleven ships, of which apparent purpose for which they were made, and seven were steamers. He further added, that

In regard to the points raised, he declared the table given "would show that the Foreign squadrons were unusually weak, in proportion to the whole force of the Navy, and the Home squadron unprecedently strong." He cited from the Secretary's report of December 3d, 1857, to show that, at that time six ships were considered so large a force for the Home squadron as to require an explan




up to January 24th, not a The Minority Report. single ship had been ordered to any foreign station since the Presidential election.

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It is evident that, in resigning, they have been actu

The number of vessels in ordinary he de- ated by a high sense of duty to the States of which,

clared to be only usually large-that, even in times of war, it was inevitable that many vessels should be out of commission and in for repairs. If, however, more than usual were dismantled and unfit for sea, it was for the reason that Congress had so restricted appropriations as to leave the Secretary no means for putting the vessels in commission. Another reason was found in the fact that the number of vessels in commission was governed by the numerical strength of officers and seamen in the naval service. The num

ber was limited by law, and the Secretary could not exceed it to put the vessels in commission, even if they had been ready for sea. The Report, therefore, assumes:

"The Secretary deserves no censure, but should receive the highest commendation for inflexibly obeying the law in the administration of his depart

ment. Every attempt at retrenchment and econ

omy is defeated, because heads of departments will

not themselves conform to the law, and compel their subordinates to do the same. * * The Navy seems to have been adequate for all the demands made upon it by the wise and peace-preserving policy of the President. If the President, who goes

into office on the 4th of March, desires to engage in civil war, he will have an ample naval force with which to begin, even so early as the 5th of March; and there will be, probably, abundant time for in

creasing it before the war closes."

The Report then considers the naval resignations, and the conduct of Mr. Toucey in

accepting them. We quote:

"It is known that in many, if not most of the cases, the officers, in resigning, have not only given up an honorable profession, for which alone they were fitted by education and habits, but have reduced themselves and families to penury. Some powerful motive must have actuated them. If it was selfish, let any one point out a possible advantage they could promise themselves personally. It could not be that they aimed to recommend themselves to the favor of the Southern Confederacy, for that Government does not possess a ship, and cannot, for a long time, provide itself with a navy. When it does so, it cannot be expected that the affairs will be in any better situation, with reference to their person

respectively, they were citizens, and that, in the time and manner of tendering their resignations, they have consulted a nice sense of honor. In a few instances they have engaged in the military service of their States, but not until they had resigned their commissions in the Navy of the United States. In no instance does it appear that one of them has betrayed the trust reposed in him by this Government, or engaged in any hostile service, until he had discharged himself of all the responsibilities imposed.

in his commission."

The case of Captain Randolph's resignation was referred to, and disposed of by saying that the Secretary accepted the resignation before he knew of the Captain's conduct in the surrender of the Pensacola Navy-yard and forts.

As to the propriety of accepting the resignations the Report said:

"The chief clerk of the Navy Department testified that there has been nothing unusual in the course recently pursued in regard to resignations, and that

the uniform course, from time immemorial, has been to act promptly in resignations, unless some special reason existed for taking the case out of the routine of current business."

O most impotent conclusion! one feels like exclaiming, in perusing this defence of the We Secretary and the recusant officers. have before referred to the dishonor attached to the course pursued by those "resigning" officers [see page 117,] and can only say that the defence volunteered by Mr. Branch but heightened the indignation felt towards

them and the Secretary. The outrageous cases

*These statements created some surprise, considering the fact that, as almost all the resigned officers had taken commissions in the service of their native. States, the confession of "penury" argued a disability on the part of those States to care for its servants. It was also a further admission of obligation to the Government. It had educated and raised to their honorable positions men without resources, and who, therefore, owed the Government for everything they were. The American Navy was a convenient resort for young Southern gentlemen of " 'patrician birth," who were without means to sport an estab lishment on shore. The fact of this dependence Mr. Branch should have suppressed.

The Minority Report.

of treason, perpetrated by their officers, in the betrayal of the Revenue-Cutters Coste, McClellan, and Lewis Cass, doubtless were construed, by the lenient Committee-man, as remarkable instances of the "nice sense of honor" which instigated those many desertions of the old flag. The excuse offered for the Secretary's acceptance of resignations was so discreditable to his loyalty as even to be scorned by those of his friends who had thought there was no power to prevent the stampede from duty. The Secretary knew that the resignations demoralized and weakened the already half manned navy-therefore it was wrong to allow the officers to leave; he knew they resigned to take the oath of allegiance to a foreign power--therefore it was improper to

allow the old allegiance to be honorably sundered; he The Minority Report. knew that their talent and education fitted them for becoming dangerous enemies to the Government-therefore their release from their commissions and their oath was a permit to treason. Fostered, educated by the General Government, placed by it in positions of trust, they owed allegiance to it as well by honor as by oath; and their resignations should have been refused, in every instance.

Mr. Toucey was not Mr. Dix, and Mr. Buchanan was not General Jackson. Otherwise the record of those "stricken from the list,” never to be restored to the service, would have embraced all who deserted their country in its hour of greatest need.








The Convention's


Thirteenth Day.


"Peace Conven- | her Legislature for the Crittenden plan, with tion" continued its sittings a distinct application to future Territory. through February, ranging Mr, Boutwell, of Massachusetts, followed through the catalogue of provisos, to dis- in an able speech, vindicating the North cover, if possible, the magic words which from the aspersions cast upon that section, should at once read black and white. How successful the sages were, the succeeding pages will record.

The Convention held a four hours' session on Monday, (February 18th.) The proceedings, as far as they transpired, were thus reported:

Mr. Seddon, of Virginia, opened the debate on Reverdy Johnson's amendment to Mr. Guthrie's proposition, restricting its operation to present Territory, [see page 360.] He reviewed the whole ground of controversy between the sections, and stated the position of Virginia, as defined in the resolutions of

and calling upon Southern Delegates to point out in what respect they had invaded their constitutional rights. The North had its principles, and would maintain them at all hazards. They did not propose to interfere with Slavery in the States, or to commit any aggressions; but, having elected a President fairly and legally, they intended he should be inaugurated, and exercise all the func tions of that office. This had been made the ground for secession, which could not be justified in any way.

Mr. Guthrie, of Kentucky, considered the language of Mr. Boutwell as menacing, and


The Peace Convention

The Peace Convention


restriction in the debate. He thought such a sugges?ion came with a bad grace from those who had been fully and frequently heard.

Commodore Stockton of New Jersey, made a characteristic speech, in which he declared the Convention should not adjourn until it had agreed upon something. He deprecated the idea of coercion, and if it was attempted, there would be found hosts in the North to rise up against the men who would try that policy.

replied with much emphasis, exhibiting more temper than had been before manifested. He claimed to have come here in a spirit of conciliation, but Kentucky would not consent to see her sister States coerced. Mr. Cleveland, of Connecticut, interposed in excellent spirit, showing that the remarks of Mr. Boutwell had been misapprehended, and no threats had been employed. He and his political friends appeared here in good faith to compare opinions with their Southern friends, and, if possible, to reach an honorable adjustment without sacrificing principles to which they were solemnly pledged. Mr. Guthrie was quite satisfied with the ex-be regarded as an indorsement of the Chicaplanation, and the momentary feeling passed away.

Mr. Granger of New York, contended that the election of Mr. Lincoln was rot to

go Platform by the great mass of Northern people, and if New York was now called upon to speak, she would give 100,000 ma

Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, then spoke, with much effect, to his amendment, declar-jority for Compromise." ing boldly that the acquisition of Territory had been the provoking cause of all our national difficulties, and he was ready to stop it and to meet the North half-way by applying the proposition only to that now possessed.

Mr. Noyes, of New York, did not regard Mr. Granger as the authorized exponent of opinion in his State, and he would not be deterred from asserting his principles by the menaces of Commodore Stockton.

Mr. Seddon, of Virginia, informed the Convention that if Mr. Lincoln's Administra

the laws in the Seceding States, Virginia would treat it as a declaration of war.

After further discussion, the amendment was adopted—14 to 6— all the Southerntion attempted to collect revenue or execute States but Maryland voting in the negative, considering themselves under instructions to support Mr. Crittenden's plan. After the result was announced, the South acquiesced without any expression of feeling.

Fourteenth Day.

Tuesday's session was devoted to a rather profitless discussion on the little

Mr. Ruffin, of North Carolina, made a conciliatory speech, deprecating all partisan spirit in these discussions. He was older than the Constitution, and hoped he should not survive its downfall.

demn in the extreme views held by leading Republicans, who would yield to no compromise-yield to no concessions.

Mr. Morrill, of Maine, addressed several inquiries to the Virginia delegation as the position which that State intended to occupy between the Government and the Seceding States.

Mr. Ewing, of Ohio, spoke of the consermatter of the length of speeches to be allow-vative line of policy, and saw much to coned. In the course of debate a pretty free personal expression was had, showing the individual wishes and leaning of members. The Southern States' members having, thus far, had most of the talk to themselves, proposed to cut-down debate to the thirty minutes rule. They also proposed resolutions naming an early day for the final decision of the Convention. All of which little dodges to cut off debate and force action did not avail, for the Northern members seemed indisposed either to make short speeches or to hurry up the proceedings. Dudley Field of New York reminded the assembly that he would not submit to any

Mr. Seddon answered at much length, and in the tone already indicated.

Mr. Rives spoke in defence of the proposed method of amending the Constitution, in answer to charges of irregularity, showing that the Convention which framed the Constitution had not been regularly called. So,

The Peace Convention


too, amendments had been incorporated, involving a departure from the strict rule. He thought, in a great crisis like this, we could waive slight formalities.

Mr. Summers concluded the debate in an

able and judicious effort, and the Convention adjourned, leaving the discussion untrammelled.

Fifteenth Day..

The Peace Convention

in the way of constitutional
amendments. He favored
the calling of a National
Convention as the only proper mode for ef-
fecting the changes demanded.

Mr. Cleveland, of Connecticut, followed, advocating the plan of States initiating the movement for a Convention, directing the action of their delegates by their legislatures.

Mr. Goodrich, of Massachusetts, advocated genuine, not bogus, popular sovereignty in the Territories, and cited Jefferson to sustain his point.

Wednesday was one of active discussion. Mr. Field, of New York, opened the debate in a long and earnest effort in defence of the Republicans against the compromises proposed-all of which required of them a surrender of principles which they could not make. He would agree to a Na-ed for, though he did not indicate clearly tional Conveution, as the Constitution proposed, and that was his remedy.

Mr. Dodge, of New York, was willing to grant compromise, arguing the commercial view of the question of a divided confederacy. He did not regard the Territory in dispute as a matter even worthy of creating a division of feeling, since its future would scarcely be affected by any action of Congress.

Mr. Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, avowed himself as ready to accept any fair settlement. The peace of the country he valued before all things, and would conciliate by any honorable concessions.

Mr. Smith, of New York, supported his colleague, Mr. Field. He is reported to have "made a most decided impression on the Convention, by a clear, forcible, and conclusive examination of the whole subject, demonstrating that the charges against the North were unfounded, and denying any purpose or policy by the Republicans of interfering with the constitutional rights of the South. But he was willing to meet the complaining section half way-to resort to the great remedy provided by the Constitution-of a general Convention of the States, where all the differences could be fairly and fully considered, so that there could be no valid objection, and it was an honorable mode of extrication."

Thursday, Mr. Smith, of Sixteenth Day. New York, concluded his finely-elaborated argument against the irregular proceedings proposed

Mr. Loomis, of Pennsylvania, spoke warmly for compromise. Like Mr. Frelinghuysen and Mr. Ewing, he deemed conciliation call

how far he would compromise to placate the demands of the Virginians.

On Thursday, a night discussion was held, as general debate was to be closed on Friday at one o'clock p. m., after which the five minutes rule would prevail, for remarks only to amendments offered to the propositions reported.

Among other resolutions offered was one by Mr. Harris, of Vermont, requesting the States to revise their statutes, and to modify or repeal any laws which may conflict with the Constitution or laws of the United


Mr. Meredith, of Pennsylvania, made a proposition, covering the entire territorial question as follows:

the United States into convenient portions, each "That Congress shall divide all the Territory of containing not less than 60,000 square miles, and

shall establish in each a Territorial Government.

The several Territorial Legislatures, whether here tofore to be constituted, or hereafter to be consti tuted, shall have all the legislative powers now vested in the respective States of this Union, and whenever any Territory, having a population suffici. ent, according to the ratio existing at the time, to entitle it to one member of Congress, shall form a Republican Constitution, and to apply to Congress for admission as a State, Congress shall admit the same as a State accordingly."

Mr. Franklin, of Pennsylvania, proposed an Article covering the ground of Mr. Guthrie's plan, [See pages, 360-61] but simplifying it rhetorically, if not otherwise improving the

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