Page images

ments of the law, or throws obstructions in the way relations. In deference to that recommendation the General Assembly, as such, has taken no further action.

of his recovery.

"Third. The passage of a law by Congress compelling the Governors of Free States to return fugitives from justice, indicted by a Grand Jury in an other State for stealing or enticing away a slave.

"Fourth. To amend the Constitution so as to divide all the Territories belonging to the United States, or hereafter to be acquired, between the Free and the Slave States, say upon the line of the 37th degree of North latitude-all North of that line to come into the Union with requisite population as Free States, and all South of the same to come in as Slave States.

"Fifth. To amend the Constitution so as to guarantee forever to all the States the free navigation of the Mississippi River.

"Sixth. To alter the Constitution so as to give the South the power, say in the United States Senate, to protect itself from unconstitutional and oppressive legislation upon the subject of Slavery.

"Respectfully, your obedient servant,


"The Convention of the people of Georgia will assemble on the 16th day of January next, and doubtless that Convention will appoint delegates to a General Convention of the Southern States.

"Before this the Convention of our sister States of South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, and perhaps others, will have assembled for action. "In behalf of the people of Georgia, whom we represent, this meeting, composed of members of the General Assembly, do most respectfully, but earnestly, ask the people of our sister States, above named, to appoint delegates to such a General Convention of the Southern States, or of as many as will convene; and that until such General Convention shall assemble and deliberate, no final separate State action shail be taken on the question of our longer continuance as members of the present confederacy of States.

"We urge this request, deeply feeling its importance to all, and to our great common cause. "We have but one interest; we are separate, inde

destiny we are one individual people.

"The action of one State must affect all the Sou

To this there came no definitive reply. pendent sovereignties, but in welfare, feeling and The efforts of Virginia to secure a hearing for conference were futile, South Carolina even refusing to receive a Commissioner for the professed purpose of a "concert of action." The same fate awaited the proposition sent out by the Legislatures of Georgia (December 15th) to the several States, asking for no separate State action.

The Georgia Plan of Cooperation.

It was not acted upon, except adversely, having been tabled by the South Carolina Convention without reading! It was as follows:

"To the people of South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, in Delegate Convention assembled, and to such other Southern States as may assemble before the meeting of the Georgia Convention.

"The people of Georgia, in many very large primary meetings, have frequently requested that the Southern States of this Union should meet, at an early day, by their delegates in Convention, and confer together.

"The same meetings have urged the present Assembly of Georgia to inaugurate this movement. Before these meetings were held this Assembly had psssed a bill for the call of a Convention of the people, and to that Convention it seems all our promi nent men were understood to have recommended the reference of all other questions on our Federal

thern States; the separation of one from all must greatly involve not only the feelings but the interests of all. No slaveholding State can live for itself—we must live with and for each other. God has pot mingled more indistinguishably the drops of water in our rivers, than he has linked indissolubly the des tinies of our people and their children for ever.

"In climate, soil, productions and systems of labor we are as identical with each other as we are sepa rate from the balance of the world.

"Let us consult together then. Let us so act that all may agree. Our people must be united. Our common interest must be preserved. Our common movement must be successful. Common dangers must be avoided. Our equality, our honor shall be preserved. All these can devise a cooperation. Not for our enemies, but for ourselves, our safety, our children, our peace, our necessities, we beseech you so to order your action as that consultation and cooperation shall not be defeated, but secured.

"Nearly all our Sister Southern States are, even at this writing, moving to this end. We believe allmost certainly a very large majority-will unite in such a Convention. Incalculable embarrassments and dangers can thereby be avoided, and incalculable good insured.

"We know we cannot be mistaken, as to success, when we appeal to the noble chivalry of the Southern people not to take a final step, which must


inevitably and irretrievably, in its very nature, involve all-without at least offering to consult with as many as will consult; and, above all, such action will not be taken against the urgent request of those who beg that consultation, and who are now moving to secure it.

"We feel it is only necessary to make known our wishes, and, by our brethren, they will be respected."

Delay would be Advisable.

(Signed by 52 Members of the Legislature). As the moment approached for South Carolina to take the "precipitate" step, we find considerable hesitancy, on the part of some of the leaders in Georgia, to precipitate that State from the Union. Thus, Mr. Cobb, (T. R. R.) wrote (Dec. 17th): "The greater the number of States which retire together from the Union the more dignity and moral weight will the movement have. Any haste in one State to move in advance of the others (though not so intended), will have or be construed into an appearance of a disregard to the will and action of others. And while I am free to admit that each State must act for herself and resume, by her own independent will, her delegated authority, yet I conceive that it is possible and highly desirable that all of them should assign some common day for such resumption. In the meanwhile proper steps might be taken not only to secure harmonious action, but to provide for a future Confederacy."

Mr. Toombs, ultra-secessionist as he was, in view of the conciliatory attitude of Congress, did not care to hurry the State into the vortex. In his letter to the Danburg Committee (Dec. 15th) he said among other things: "Many persons think the remedy ought to be applied immediately, others at a day not to extend beyond the 4th of March next, others again supposing that too short a time for the convenient action of the Abolition States would extend it only to what might be fairly deemed a reasonable and convenient time within which our wrongs might be redressed by the wrong-doers. I would strongly ad vise that there be no division among those who hold either of those opinions. While I personally favor the position of those who are opposed to delaying longer than the 4th of March next, I certainly would yield that

[blocks in formation]

| point to correct and honest men who were with me in principle, but who are more hopeful of redress from the aggressors than I am, especially if any such active measures should be taken by the wrong-doers as promised, to give us redress in the Union.”

The Commissioners sent out by Mississippi and Alabama to the Slave States executed their trust by visiting all the State Legislatures and Governors. Their reception in the Border States was not particularly cordial. The movement for immediate secession, it was evident to them, must be confined to the Gulf States and South Carolina alone. The Border States were not yet ripe for the revolution.

North Carolina Conservatisın.

The minority report of the Joint Committee of the North Carolina Legislature took very strong grounds against the State Convention call. The bill calling such a Convention was declared, in the report, to be unconstitutional, for the palpable reason that “such a Convention can only be summoned by twothirds vote of all the members of each House. In the Personal Liberty laws of Northern States there is no new cause for grievance, and in any event they will be declared unconstitutional when brought face to face with the Constitution. Then, too," the address remarks, "if the grievance complained of and not disclosed, is the election of Lincoln to the Presidency—an election effected by a minority vote, in consequence of divisions among his opponents-it is, in the opinion of the minority, an inadequate cause for calling a Convention so hastily, with extraordinary power, which may place North Carolina out of the Union before the 4th of March next, and before the country can be officially informed of the policy of the incoming Administration. Would it not be more prudent to abide the determination of the great efforts now being made at Washington City and elsewhere by patriotic men, to compromise all difficulties, and obtain more secure guarantees against the unfriendly legislation of certain Northern States? Let the people have time to deliberate, that North Carolina may not be precipitated out of the Union, and her influence as a peace maker between the North and the South utterly destroyed.”

Louisiana seemed, for aLouisiana Hesitating. while, to pause for deliberation, in view of the attitude of affairs at Washington. Thus, the New Orleans Picayune, of December 15th,


"There is less of impulse but more of determination here than in some other States. We may possibly take all measures that may justify us before the world and acquit us of impetuosity in this crisis; but, we doubt that Louisiana takes any backward steps. It depends on the action of Congress, and the returning sense of justice and reason at the North, whether the revolution in Louisiana goes rapidly forward to its full consummation. No plan of conciliation short of a final settlement of the Slavery agitation, by amendments to the Constitution, can, we think, be satisfactory. At the same time there is a disposition, by large bodies of our citizens, to move with deliberation, and to try all remedies, until means of security and equality in the Union are exhausted, before the State considers the United States as a foreign government, and its citizens as aliens."

[blocks in formation]

"Second. That the great subject of disturbance, that of Slavery in the Territories, rests upon a satisfactory foundation, and that we have nothing to ask except that the status quo be respected.

[ocr errors]

Third. That the subject of the rendition of fugitive slaves can be adjusted to the satisfaction of the injured property-holder, and without dishonor to ourselves.

"Fourth. That in relation to the maintenance of

the rights we have, or those that have been defeated or impaired, and in whatever concerns the subjects of contumely and insult we complain of, there may be sufficient cause for increased vigilance, for prepa

ration, for alliance among the Southern States, for the demand of new guarantees, but not for disunion,

Conservatism in


until there is a refusal of redress. In my opinion separate State action will result in the discredit and defeat of every measure for reparation or security.” Ex-Governor Brown, of Tennessee, published a letter on the state of affairs, about the same time. He assumed strong Union grounds, and saw, in the election of Mr. Lincoln, no cause whatever for a dissolution of the Confederacy. “There is every reason," he said, "to suppose that he will administer the Government in a conservative manner, and as for the question of Slavery in the Territories, there is no reason to fear that he will do the South injustice, since there is no Territory now belonging to the Union where a Southerner would care to carry slaves, nor is it likely that any will be acquired during Mr. Lincoln's administration." He urged the necessity of calling a Southern Convention, and concluded by an earnest appeal for the people of Tennessee to stand by the Union.

Hon. A. O. P. Nicholson, of the same State, also addressed the people, through the press, deprecating secession, and adverted to the position which Tennesee must occupy as a friend of both sections of the Union.

Conservatism in


Ex-Governor Wickliffe, of Kentucky, under date of December 17th, published his views, suggesting how to deal with South Carolina, or other seceding States, His ideas were, to repeal the acts creating her ports of entry, to prevent any commerce with her. "Then, if she opposes Congress in establishing judicial districts in the State, and her citizens refuse to fill the offices of judge and marshal, abolish the district by law, and attach the territory to some other neighboring judicial district. If she desires no postal facilities of the United States, abolish the post-offices and withdraw the service. If she will send no Senators or Representatives to Congress, let her alone-the Government can get along without their services in Congress. State. This is making no war upon a State Apply these same remedies to each seceding or upon its citizens-it necessarily does not involve the shedding of human blood."

The Louisville Journal, speaking the senti




ment of a large majority of the people of the State, thus characterized the precipitationists and their schemes:

Our wishes are not to be regarded; we are not worthy even to sit in council with South Carolina upon our own fate; even Old Virginia, the land of Washington, the mother of constitutional liberty in Amer

"It seems to us that the whole annals of the hu-ica, is waved off majestically by the Charleston man race do not present such an example of arrogance and presumption as this attempt of South Ca

rolina to coerce the Border Slave States out of the

Union. If she herself desires to go out, in heaven's name, let her go. We do not desire to coerce her. And yet she seeks to 'drag' us after her, at the hazard of all that makes life worth having; to 'drag' us into the slaughter-house of civil and servile war; to 'drag' us away from a Government with which we are satisfied, under which we enjoy prosperity and peace, sitting every man of us in joy and content under our own vine and fig-tree; to 'drag' us from this Government, constructed by the wisdom and patriotism of our venerated forefathers and cemented by their heroic blood, and force us down a precipice the bottom of which no mortal eye can see.

Mercury, when she approaches with the olive branch and asks to be permitted to consult with Carolina upon measures concerning their common destiny. Ye gods! upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed, that he has grown so great?' 'He doth bestride the earth like a Colossus,' and we, petty borderers, must crawl between his huge legs,' and 'find ourselves dishonorable graves.'

These several expressions are a reflex of the conservative public opinion in the several sections of the Union during the middle of December. It will be apparent, therefore, what action in Congress would have met their views.





A Resolution of. Inquiry.

THE third week of the session proved a very important and exciting one in both Houses. In the Senate, on Monday (Dec. 17th), Mr. Clark (Rep.) of New Hampshire, sought to obtain information concerning the condition of Fort Moultrie by a resolution of inquiry, which requested the President to inform the Senate what number of men were stationed at Forts Moultrie and Sumter; whether, in his opinion, the number was sufficient to defend those forts against any attack or domestic violence; whether additional men had been ordered to either of said forts, or any steps taken to put them in position to resist any attack; in whose custody the arsenal at Charleston is placed; what arms and property are there kept, or, if removed, by whom; why said arms are not put in possession of

officers of the United States upon a requisition, or if this has ever been refused; and further, what instructions have been given to the of ficers of said Forts in case of a demand to surrender them by any person or authority made upon them; also, the copies of any correspondence between the Commander-in-Chief of the American Army relative to the necessity of supplying the officers of said forts with protection. This was immediately objected to by Mr. Brown (Dem.) of Mississippi, when, under the rules it had to lie over. The Southern members evidently had determined upon a steady opposition to all Union or coercive resolves.

At one o'clock Mr. Powell's resolution for a Committee of Thirteen on the Union was taken up, when Mr. Wade, of Ohio, proceeded to address the Senate. As Mr. W. was un

[ocr errors]

repugnant Fugitive Slave law. You have a law in South Carolina by which you take the Free Citizens of Massachusetts, or any other maritime State, and lock them up in jail, under a penalty. If the poor man cannot pay the jail fees, eternal slavery stares him in the face. It is a monstrous law, revolting to the best feelings of humanity, and in conflict with the Constitution of the United States * * You have the whole legislation of the country; you own the Cabinet and the Senate, and, I may add, you

derstood to speak for the Republicans, his | ted with the same faithfulness as has been this most
speech assumed peculiar significance, aside
from its remarkakble power and unity. We
shall reproduce so much of it as may illustrate
its "points." After adverting to the unusual
excitement he thought argument would avail
very little; but silence would be treason.
Thus far he had listened for complaints in
order to assertain what were the evils and
wrongs complained of, but had listened in
vain. As the Republican party never had
held office-was only prospectively coming into
power, it was manifest that
no act had yet been com-
mitted of which to com-

Senator Wade's

plain. If fears existed as to what might hap-
pen, they were groundless, arising out of un-
warrantable prejudices. If there were wrongs
of deed or principles he would be the first to
recant them when they were shown to exist.
Who are the complainants?

"Why, they have had more than two-thirds of
this Senate for many years. You that complain, re-
present but little more than one quarter of the free
people of the United States; yet, you have prevailed
for ten years past in the Cabinet of the President,
and in the Supreme Court of the United States, and
nearly every department of the Government. Those
who voted with you have dictated the policy of the
Government. Is it not strange that those who occu-
py this position come here complaining that their
rights have been stricken down? *
* I may
say these gentlemen who have raised upon this floor
their bill of indictment against us, have been the
leaders of the dominant party for years; therefore,
if there is anything in the legislation of the Federal
Government that is not right, you, and not we, are
responsible for it. We never yet have been invest-
ed with power to control the legislation of the coun-
try for an hour." *


"We have no security in travelling nearly one half of this Confederacy-especially the Gulf States. don't care what a man's character may be, and if he never violated any law under heaven; but if he comes from the North, and especially if he has exercised his political rights, and voted for Lincoln instead of somebody else, is an offence punishable by indignity, by stripes and by death. And you, whose constituents are guilty of all these things, can stand up and accuse us of being unfaithful to the Constitution of the land! I make the assertion here that I do not believe, in the history of the world, there ever was a nation or a people where a law so repugnant to the general feeling was ever execu

own the President of the United States as much as
I can't,

the servants on your own plantations.
therefore, see why the Southern men rise up and
complain of the action of this Government. *
What doctrines do we hold detrimental to you? Are
we the setters forth of any new doctrine under the

Constitution? I tell you nay. There is no principle

held to-day by the great Republican party that has not had the sanction of your government for more than seventy years. You have changed your opinions-we stand where we used to stand. We stand, on the Slavery question, in the place formerly occu pied by the most revered statesmen of this nation, every one of them, Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Adams, Jackson and Polk, inclusive; and that revered statesman, Henry Clay, of blessed memory, with his dying breath asserted the doctrine we hold to-day. Why, then, are we held up before the community as violators of your rights? It is late in the day to accuse us of harboring these opinions.

"Mr. Lincoln's character, from his youth up, has been such that you have no right to draw any inference that he will trespass on the right of any man, and if you harbor adverse suspicions they are unwarrantable and spring from prejudice, nothing

[blocks in formation]

"The Republican party holds the same opinion, so far as I know, with regard to your peculiar institution' that is held by every civilized nation on the globe. We do not differ in public sentiment from England, France, Germany, and Italy on the subject of Slavery.

"I tell you frankly that we did lay down the principle on our platform, that we would prohibit, if we had the power, Slavery from invading another inch of free soil of this Government. I stand to that principle to-day. I have argued it to half a million of people and they stand by it-they have commissioned me to stand by it, and, so help me God, I will! I say to you while we hold this doctrine to the end there is no Republican, or Convention of Republicans, or Republican paper, that pretends we have any right in your States to interfere with your peculiar and local institutions. On the other hand our platform repudiates the idea that we have any right, or harbor any ultimate intention, to invade,

« PreviousContinue »