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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 halfmanned 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 resig
nations should have been refused, in every in-
stance.

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.

CHAPTER XXXV.

THE PEACE CONVENTION. ITS PROCEEDINGS UP TO ADJOURNMENT, FEBRUARY 27 тн. ADOPTION OF THE FRANKLIN-SUMMERSGUTHRIE

PROPOSITION.

DISSATISFIED

FEELING OF THE

VIRGINIANS.

The Convention's
Proceedings.
Thirteenth Day.

THE

"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 in an able speech, vindicating the North from the aspersions cast upon that section, 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 functions of that office. This had been made the ground for secession, which could not be justified in any way.

through the catalogue of provisos, to discover, if possible, the magic words which 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 Mr. Guthrie, of Kentucky, considered the of Virginia, as defined in the resolutions of language of Mr. Boutwell as menacing, and

THE PEACE

The Peace Convention
Proceedings.

CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS.

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 explanation, and the momentary feeling passed away.

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447

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.

Mr. Granger of New York, contended that the election of Mr. Lincoln was rot to be regarded as an indorsement of the Chicago 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.

After further discussion, the amendment was adopted-14 to 6-all the Southern 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. 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 Administration attempted to collect revenue or execute the laws in the Seceding States, Virginia would treat it as a declaration of war.

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

Proceedings.

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
Proceedings.

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. 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 re ported.

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

States.

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

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

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 shall establish in each a Territorial Government policy by the Republicans of interfering The several Territorial Legislatures, whether herewith the constitutional rights of the South. tofore to be constituted, or hereafter to be constiBut he was willing to meet the complaining tuted, shall have all the legislative powers now section half way-to resort to the great reme- vested in the respective States of this Union, and dy provided by the Constitution-of a gen- whenever any Territory, having a population suffici eral Convention of the States, where all the ent, according to the ratio existing at the time, to differences could be fairly and fully consid- entitle it to one member of Congress, shall form a ered, so that there could be no valid objec-Republican Constitution, and to apply to Congress

tion, 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

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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CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS.

449

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Kentuckian's badly word-| North Carolina, in some ed scheme. It read as feeling at the rejection, follows: brought up a proposition "ARTICLE I. In all the present territory of the United States, not embraced by the Cherokee Treaty, north of the parallel of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes of north latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, is prohibited. In all the present territory south of that line, the legal status of persons owing service or labor, as it now exists, shall not be changed by law, nor shall the rights arising from said relation be impaired; but

for the distinct recognition and protection of Slavery south of 36 deg., 30 min. Rejected by a vote of 17 to 3.

Mr. Curtis, of Iowa, proposed, as a substitute for that section of the Guthrie proposition relating to Slavery in the Territories, the adoption of the Missouri Compromise line, pure and simple. This Mr. Guthrie re

Committee recognized the principle of abrogating Slavery north of the line, it was only fair that the legal status of Slavery, as decided by the Supreme Court south of it, should be acknowledged. The people of the Border States required that much. The vote was deferred.

the same shall be subject to judicial cognizance insisted, on the ostensible ground that, as the the Federal Courts, according to the common law. When any Territory, north or south of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population equal to that required for a Member of Congress, it shall, if its form of government be Republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, with or without involuntary servitude, as the Constitution of such State may provide."

From this day's proceedings it became quite plain that the sentiment of the Republicans was for calling a National Convention—that they were opposed to any compromise which should concede Slavery a status by virtue of the Constitution; and that they were not ready to give up their late victory at the call of disunionists. Notwithstanding this unanimity, there were enough "Conservative" men in the Convention, like Ewing, of Ohio, Loomis, Franklin, and Meredith, of Pennsylvania, Frelinghuysen and Stockton, of New Jersey, Dodge and Granger, of New York, to control the action of the Convention by their dividing votes.

Eighteenth Day.

Saturday was a day of prolonged debate-two sessions being held. Among the propositions submitted was one by Seddon, of Virginia, to distribute the Federal offices equally between the North* and the South, on the ground that the public patronage was one of the causes of the sectional alienation. This proposition Mr. ex-President

* The fact that with less than one-third of the

population of the country-counting in their slavesthe South had ever had over one-half of the Govern ment patronage, doubtless made the ex-President feel that his proposition to be satisfied with one-half himself a Southern man—thus referred to this matter was an offer of great magnanimity. Mr. Holt

of patronage:

The session, Friday, was "Not only according to the theory, but the actual pracSeventeenth Day. one of some excitement,tice of the Government, the Slave States have ever been, and still are, in all respects, the peers of the free. Of the

reproducing the National Congress in a general struggle for the floor, and in the character of the speeches made. The five minutes' rule was rescinded, and ten minutes voted, which gave the debate a wider

range.

Seddon, of Virginia, offered as a substitute a proposition that the Cherokee Treaty Grant, which lies south of the line 36 deg., 30 min., should be included in the Territory in which Slavery should be specifically recognized. An amendment to exclude the proposed recognition prevailed, when the whole amendment was rejected, by a vote of 11 to 9. Mr. Reid, of

fourteen Presidents who have been elected, seven were citizens of Slave States; and of the seven remaining, three rep

resented Southern principles, and received the votes of the Southern people; so that, in our whole history, but four Presidents have been chosen who can be claimed as the

special champions of the policy and principles of the Free States, and even these so only in a modified sense. Does this look as if the South had ever been deprived of her equal share of the honors and powers of the Government ?”

Mr. Everett has made the same statement, adding: "For a still larger period (sixty-four years) the controlling influence of the Legislative and Judicial Departments have centred in the same quarter. Of all the offices in the gift of the central power, in every department, far more than her proportionate share has always been enjoyed by the South."

The Peace Convention
Proceedings.

Tyler supported in a very earnest speech, which was specially exempted from the ten minutes' rule, in order to hear the eminent Virginian's plea for Government patronage. The vote on the scheme was unexpectedly strong in the negative, viz.: yeas 6, nays 18.

The proposition to substitute the Missouri Compromise line for the first section of Mr. Guthrie's plan was rejected.

Mr. Franklin's substitute [see previous page] was adopted, by 14 to 6. This slightly modified Mr. Guthrie's first article, in using fewer words, and less ambiguous phrase. The second article of the Kentuckian's scheme [see page 361] was then brought up for consideration.

The Peace Convention
Proceedings.

or

nor any amendment thereof,
shall be construed to give
Congress power to regulate,
abolish or control, within any State
Territory, the relation of Slavery, nor power
to interfere with the inter-State Slave-trade,"
etc., was under consideration during the day
and evening session, but no vote was reached.
It elicited a most thorough overhauling from
the dissentients, and many amendments were
proposed, chiefly verbal, Mr. Guthrie at
one moment threatened to withdraw along
with the entire Kentucky delegation, but af-
terwards made a speech which was received
with much pleasure, owing to its concilitary
tone.

This day's proceedings
proved that, if there was
peace in that Peace Con-

Twentieth Day.

feeling elicited by the debates. There was, beneath all the outward veil of forced smiles and courtesy, a depth of antagonism quite as strong as the antagonistic elements of Slavery and Anti-Slavery could engender. A special report thus chronicled the day's doings:

During the day it is reported that Mr. Chase, of Ohio, offered a proposition that it is inex-vention, it was not because of the peaceful pedient to proceed to the consideration of the grave matters involved in the resolutions of Virginia until all the States participate; and that ample time may be afforded for deliberation, it is resolved that the Convention adjourn to the 4th of April. An exciting debate occurred, but no action was taken. This was understood to embody the wishes of the Ohio and Illinois Legislatures. The object was to await the safe inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, and the acceptance, by the Border States, of his administration, ere any scheme of compromise was adopted or recommended.

Mr.

"The Convention had a sitting of nearly seven hours. The discussion was quite animated. Turner, of Illinois, made a spirited speech, which roused much feeling for a time, but it subsided be fore the adjournment. Most of the day was consumed in voting upon amendments and substitutes. Mr. Field's resolution, declaring Secession illegal, was tabled. Mr. Baldwin's proposition for a National Convention was defeated. After these and

The result of this day's proceedings seemed to promise well for a settlement. A letter other preliminaries had been cleared away, the Con

was written by a "distinguished Southern member" of the Convention to the Baltimore American, saying:

vention returned to the starting-point, and a division was called on Mr. Franklin's substitute for the first section of Mr. Guthrie's proposition. This had "As a matter of opinion, I can speak. Peace been inserted by a vote of 14 to 6. It was now rewill be preserved, and the Union be restored. Wejected by yeas 8, nays 11; North Carolina and Virhave reached the bottom of our troubles, and hence-ginia voting in the negative. Much excitement was forth our fortunes will be brighter.

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manifested when the result was announced. Mr. Turner moved a reconsideration, which was carried and restored good feeling. The Convention then adjourned till 7 o'clock. The indications are that Mr. Franklin's substitute will carry to-morrow by a decided majority, gaining the vote of Illinois, and possibly New Hampshire. Indiana did not vote to-day."

The night's session was prolonged far into the still hours. No conclusion was arrived at up to adjournment, at 2 A. M.

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