« AnkstesnisTęsti »
istence as sovereign States. But, to remove all doubt, an | importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stip amendment was added, which declared that the powers for the rendition of fugitives from labor. 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 23d May, 1788, South Carolina, by a Convention of her people, passed an ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and afterward altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had undertaken.
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 teft 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.
We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in 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 agreemeut entirely releases the obligations 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 deliberately refused for years past to fulfil their Constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own statutes for the proof.
The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth 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 ces sion of the territory which now composes the States north of the Ohio river.
The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for the reudition by the several States of fugitives from jus
tice from the other States.
We affirm that those ends for which this Gove was instituted have been defeated, and the Gove itself has been made destructive of them by the ad the non-slaveholding States. Those States bave a institutions, and have denied the rights of prope the right of deciding upon the propriety of our de tablished in fifteen of the States, and recognized Constitution; they have denounced as sinfui the tion of Slavery; they have permitted the open est disturb the peace and to endanger the property of t ment among them of societies whose avowed obje zens of other States. They have encouraged and a thousands of our slaves to leave their homes, and who remain have been incited by emissaries, bool pictures, to servile insurrection.
increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the
This sectional combination for the subversion o vating to citizenship persons who, by the supreme 1 Constitution has been aided in some of the States b the land, are incapable of becoming citizens, and votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy h to the South, and destructive of its peace and safety
On the 4th of March next this party will take p sion of the Government. It has announced that the s shall be excluded from the common territory; tha judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a must be waged against Slavery until it shall throughout the United States.
The guarantees of the Constitution will then no lo Slaveholding States will no longer have the powe exist: the equal rights of the States will be lost. self-government or self-protection, and the Federal ernment will have become their enemies.
tion, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain by the Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the in that public opinion at the North has invested a grea litical error with the sanctions of a more erroneous gious belief.
We, therefore, the people of South Carolina, by our But an in-legation in Convention assembled, appealing to the preme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our in existing between this State and the other States of N tions, have solemnly declared that the Union hereto has resumed her position among the nations of the wo America is dissolved, and that the State of South Caro as a free, sovereign, and independent State, with power to levy war, conclude peace, contract allian establish commerce, and to do all other acts and th which independent States may of right do.
The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. creasing 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, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, 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 discharged 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 Congress. 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 surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. 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 Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, protect the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
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 axes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the
And, for the support of this declaration, with a tually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we
our sacred honor.
discloses some interesting facts, and is su The debate on the adoption of these pap joined.
Upon Mr. Memminger's declaration bei read, questions as to the accuracy of certa Mr. Furman and Mr. Inglis rais Statements, the former as to whether Ne Jersey had, as alleged, voted for a “section candidate," and the latter as to the alleg tion that Pennsylvania had on her statut book a "personal liberty law."
Mr. INGLIS said: They (Pennsylvania) have wh they call a law to prevent kidnapping, nearly simil dition of public sentiment in Pennsylvania, has r to the law of Virginia, which law, owing to the co doubt been perverted to this purpose. A docume of this kind, and proceeding from a body like thi ought to be exactly accurate in its statements. should like to ask the Chairman of the Committe if he has satisfied himself with regard to the fact the
Mr. INGLIS. Will the gentleman give me the date of that report?
Mr. MEMMINGR. It was made at the last session, January 26th, 1860.
Mr. INGLIS. To what law do they refer? for Pennsylvania has recently revised her criminal code, and, I understand, has omitted some portion of that law. Mr. MEMMINGER. This is all the information I have on the subject. It confirms what is stated in the report.
Mr. ENGLISH read from De Bow's Review an article [a very erroneous one] in support of the assertion contained in the Declaration, that nearly all the Free States had refused to sustain the Constitution.
there is any such law as this on the statute-book oftain that this State did triumph then. Mr. Clay said, Pennsylvania? If he has, why then I am satisfied. before the nullification, that the tariff system had Mr. MEMMINGER. In reply to the gentleman I been established for all time. After the nullification wnld say that I hold in my hand an elaborate report ordinance Mr. Clay said that that ordinance abol on this point by a Committee of the Legisla-ished the American system, and that the State had ture of Virginia in which the laws of each State are triumphed. It is true that we were cheated in the professed to be correctly stated. compromise. The tariff is not the question which has brought us up to our present attitude. We are giving a list of the causes to the world-to the Southern States. Let them not quarrel with us now, when we are brought up to a dissolution of the Union, by the discussion of debatable and doctrinal points. The Whig party, throughout all the States, have been pro tective tariff men, and they cling to that old issue with all the passion incident to the pride of human opinions. Are we to go off now, when other Southern States are bringing their people up to the true mark-are we to go off on debatable and doctrinal points? Are we to go back to the consideration of this question, of this great controversy; go back to that party's politics around which so many passions cluster? Names, sir, are much. Opinions, preju diced passions, cluster around names. Our people have come up to this great act. I am willing in this issue to rest disunion upon the question of slavery. It is the great central point from which we are now proceeding. I believe, sir, that the reference to other States in this address is all correct. The gentleman from Chesterfield says that a certain construction of one act of the Pennsylvania code is denied by the citizens of that State. I myself have very great doubts about the propriety of the fugitive slave law. The Constitution was, in the first place, a compact between the several States, and in the second a treaty between the sections; and, I believe the fugitive slave law was a treaty between sections. It was the act of sovereign States as sections; and I believe, therefore, and have very great doubts whether it ought not to have been left to the execution of the several States, and, failing of enforcement, I believe it should have been regarded as casus belli. I go for the address because I believe it does present succinctly and conspicuously what are the main primary causes.
Mr. GREGG. If this address was to be a declaration of the immediate causes which produced the secession of South Carolina, what the gentleman had said might be applicable, but its title does not say so. Another document has been submitted to this body-an Address to the Southern States. This is inconsistent with the other. In the latter address all the causes are stated in full. If we wish to find the immediate cause of the secession of South Carolina, the immediate cause of all is the election of Lincoln.
Mr. MAXCY GREGG. The gentleman who just resumed his seat, has pointed out in detail the various questions referred to in this report. He has shown that things have been said there which ought not to to have been said, and of the correctness of which we have not sufficient evidence. But my objection to the paper is greater than this. It is that, as a State paper, to go out as a new Declaration of Independence, it is entirely defective and imperfect. It purports to be a declaration of the causes which justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union. The causes! And yet in all this declaration not one word is said about the tariff, which for so many years caused a contest in this State against the Federal Government. Not one word is said about the violations of the Constitution in expenditures not authorized by that instrument; but the main stress is laid upon an incomparably unimportant point relative to fugitive slaves, and the laws passed by Northern States obstructing the recovery of fugi-a tive slaves. Mr. President, if we undertake to set forth a declaration of the causes which justify our Secession, we ought to publish a complete document -a document which might vie in its completeness with that which was adopted in 1776-not that I mean to say that that is a model cause! that would be to asy a good deal too much. This declaration might be put forth by gentlemen who had no objection whatever to the lavish and unconstitutional expenditures which have been made by the Federal Government for forty years past. This is not the sort of paper which, in my opinion, ought to go forth to justify our action. A correct designation of this paper would be a declaration of some of the causes which justify the secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union. If it is proper to set forth in a solemn declaration some of the causes, why let the title be altered, and, if the Convention think proper, let it go forth; but if we undertake to set forth all the causes, do we not dishonor the memory of all the statesmen of South Carolina, now departed, who commenced forty years ago a war against the tariff and against internal improvements, saying nothing of the United States Bank and other measures which may now be regarded as obsolete. Many of the acts of the non-slaveholding States obstructing the recovery of fugitive slaves have been passed since 1852-I think the majority of them; but I do not regard it as a matter of any importance. But when the people of South Carolina, eight years since, declared that the causes then existing fully justified the State in seceding, did they confine themselves to these miserable fugitive elave laws? No! Sir, I regard it as unworthy of the State of South Carolina to send forth a new declaration now, and in it to say nothing about any other cause justifying their action but fugitive slaves. I am in favor of laying this report on the table, or recommitting it.
Mr. KEITT. I agree with the gentleman that the power of taxation is the central power of all Governments. If you put that into my hands, I do not care what the form of Government may be, I will control your people through it. But that is not the question in this address. We have instructed the Committee to draw up a statement of the reasons which influenced us in the present case in our withdrawal. My friend suggests that sufficient notice has not been paid to the tariff. Your late Senators, and every one of your members of the House of Representatives voted for
the present tariff. If the gentleman had been there he would also have voted for it. (Laughter.] The question of the tariff did agitate us in 1832, and did array this State against the Federal Government. And I main
Mr. INGLIS. Will the gentleman inform us whether the statutes of Virginia do not contain a paragraph relating to kidnapping, precisely similar to that of Pennsylvania?
A VOICE. It is the case with Georgia.
Mr. KEITT. It may be so, sir, but I do not know. Mr. INGLIS. I say, Mr. President, I make no attack upon this report; but I propose to amend it by striking out the word "fifteen" and inserting "many" instead; and then to strike out the sentence which contains the enumeration of States. It will not disturb the order to omit that.
Mr. DARGAN. I confess my difficulty results from the same sources as the gentleman from Richland. Let me express also my earnest conviction of the eminent propriety of obtaining a concurrence and symmetry in the declaration of the causes which led to the secession of South Carolina, and in the senti ments enunciated in the Address to the Southern States; and as the Address to the Southern States, which was read here to-day, was made the special order for to-morrow, I move that this document be also made the special order at the same time and in connection with that subject.
Mr. MIDDLETON. They are very different matters -the one an address to the Southern people and the other an address to the world.
Mr. DARGAN. The subject-matter is the same.
The PRESIDENT. The question will be on making the report of the Committee declaring Secession the special order for one o'clock to-morrow, in connection with the report of the Committee on Slaveholding States upon the same subject.
The question was taken and the motion was agreed to.
On Monday, December 24th, 1860, the Convention proceeded to consider both the Address and the Declaration, when further debate ensued.
Many verbal amendments having been made to the latter,
Mr. J. J. P. Smith moved to adopt the former for the present, and table the latter. A DELEGATE. I second the motion, and call for the previous question.
Mr. Louis WARDLAW. I trust that this Convention is not going to act hastily. Whatever is done should be done well. This address will reach no one of the Southern States before the elections, unless it be the State of Georgia. There is, therefore, no special need of hurrying the reference. There is not one single sentence of that address to which I do not heartily subscribe. It is an able and admirable exposition of the structure of our Government and its general operation. And yet I do not think it is exactly that which an address to our Southern sisters should be. I think it treats too much upon some subjects, and does not touch others that are very important. From the beginning I have been very anxious that these two papers should be consistent one with the other, and contain all those matters which we confess should operate either upon the opinion of the Southern people or the opinion of the world. Now, sir, my objection to the address to the Southern people is that it does not dilate as it should upon matters connected with the immediate cause of our secession, but on matters connected with slavery. My objection to the other address is, that it dwells too much upon those fugitive slave laws and those personal liberty bills, which give it too much the appearance of special pleading. The address which we have under consideration does not set off to the Southern people, as it should, our defenceless condition. Already our adversaries have the House of Representatives; they will soon have the Senate, and then they can make the Judiciary what they please, and thus have entire power over the Government. It does not set forth, as I think it should, that the election of Lincoln is, in fact, an edict of emancipation. It does not set forth what would be the deleterious effects of emancipation; that emancipation would be destruction to the blacks and degradation to the whites. Nor does this address set forth the shameless hypocrisy of the North, who, whilst they cry out against what they call the sin of slavery, do not choose to relieve themselves of that which they assert is an evil by withdrawing from the Confederacy. When these addresses go forth, they go forth as solemn State papers, by which we must be able to stand. For this reason, every word should be most carefully considered, and nothing superfluous shonld be contained in them; nothing important should be omitted. Mr. MEMMINGER next took the floor and defended the address to the nations of the world, which was reported by himself. After reciting its points and the principles it enunciated, he said: We show by law of compact that we are entitled to leave this Government. My friend from Abbeville says, in this regard, he does not exactly approve this document. Allow me to say to the honorable gentlemen that when you take the position that you have a right to break your faith, to destroy an agreement which you have made, to tear off your seal from the document to which it is affixed, you are bound to justify your self fully to all the nations of the world; for there is nothing that casts such a stain upon the escutcheon of a nation as a breach of faith. Therefore the document shows fully that both in measure and in spirit our co-States have broken the Constitution and the Union. Not only in letter has this been done, but also in spirit. The common agent which should have acted for our common good has been converted into an instrument for our destruction. And now as a consummating act a section resident has been elected, whose chief recommendation was that he desires to see slavery abolished. The great objection that we raise is not to Abraham Lincoln himself, but because he is the representative of a hostile opinion, destructive of every interest of the South.
Mr. RHETT next spoke in explanation of the Address to the Southern States, which was reported by himself. This committee, he said, determined that. whilst setting forth the immediate cause which induced South Carolina to secede, it was not improper to go into previous causes which led to that result. The secession of South Carolina is not an event of a day. It is not any thing produced by Mr. Lincoln's election, or by the non-execution of the fugitive slave law. It has been a matter which has been gathering head for thirty years. The election of Lincoln and Hamlin was the last straw on the back of the camel. But it was not the
only one. The back was nearly broken before. point upon which I differ from my friend is thi says he thought it expedient for us to put this question before all the world upon this simple: of wrongs on the question of slavery, and that tion turned upon the fugitive slave law. Now, gard to the fugitive slave law, I myself doubt its tutionality, and I doubted it on the floor of the S when I was a member of that body. The S acting in their sovereign capacity, should be re sible for the rendition of fugitive slaves. Tha our best security. This report has proceeded the elaborate discussion of a constitutional que about which the very ablest men in this State doubted. When we go before the world, if we upon mere matter of this kind, we do not do j to our cause. Sir, to whom are we to speak' simply to the North? We are about to sunde relations with that section, and I trust forever. treaties, I suppose, will be with the nations o rope. Do you suppose the nations of Europe have any sympathy with us, or confidence, or tion, because of the violation of the fugitive law? Germany, and France, and England, wh they all say? Sir, in setting up our independen are not to narrow it down simply to the questi slavery, We do not do ourselves justice. aggression upon slavery is the last consequenc a great cause, and that great cause is the dissol of the Constitution of the United States by the a of the North. It is that which led them to th gressions upon the taxing power. It is that w led to the aggressions upon the appropriation po It is that which led to the aggressions on slave the District of Columbia. is, that we do not live in a free Government. And now the great Mr. MEMMINGER. The gentleman who has taken his seat is not as familiar with this docu as I am, or he would have been saved the nece of a good deal he has said. I entirely concur in opinion that the Constitution of the United S requires the rendition of slaves by the States and by the General Government; and if any one will this report he will perceive that that is precisel ground upon which it proceeds. We there com that the States have not fulfilled their constituti obligations-not that the Federal Government not done its duty. We there complain that v the Federal Government undertakes to do that w the States had obligated themselves to do, they i fere to prevent its faithful execution.
Judge WITHERS Said: I have not much to say to Convention, but the first thing which I desire to mit to them is this: that the addresses which are upon your table, and which are the subject-matte a motion for further reference to the two commit reporting them, are, in my understanding, diplom papers. I profess not to be much of a diplomst self, yet I profess to have a desire that this Con tion shall confine itself to the object which it scribes to itself.
It is said in the discussion that the Address to
All this matter of the tariff has been enacted wh the Confederacy existed, and with South Carolina a party to the transaction. When it begun in 18 who was it voted for a tariff highly protective domestic manufactures? Did not that great m Mr. Calhoun-vote for this measure? whom we all reverence, both living and dead-I me Representative in the House from the Congression Did not
district including Richland vote for the tariff of 1816? Has there ever been a time when Louisiana, Missouri, and Kentucky were not in favor of a protective tariff; not only for protection of domestic manufactures, but for protection on the products of sugar and hemp? Are you sure they will join you in saying they should dissolve the Union on account of the existing tariff giving protection to domestic manufactures? You believe, and so do I, that there has been a perversion of the Constitution in relation to imposts for the purpose of protection to domestic manufactures. I know of no time, from the period of my entering college in 1823, that I did not believe it was a bold and daring invasion of the Constitution of the United States. Undoubtedly this is my opinion, undoubtedly this is the opinion of South Carolina. Then if I had to draw these papers, if I should present my views and opinions in a common address to the Slaveholding States, I should suggest the propriety of leaving out all topics of that description, when I believe that three of these States differ in sentiment with South Carolina. It appears to me, therefore, we have not exactly hit upon the matter which is the most expedient and proper in an Address to the People of the Slaveholding States. It is a diplomatic document. I shall vote for it. But at the same time I do not think, as a diplomatic paper, that with respect to the levying of duties on imports, it is likely to find favor with all our slaveholding friends for whom this tariff' was designed as well as for the North.
In regard to expenditures by the Federal Government of its income, we all know very well that the great bulk has gone within the Northern Statesthat there has been, on the part of the Federal Government, favorite States.
When we complain in the aggregate, or in general terms, when we say that the grievances of South Carolina are found in the fact that the Treasury has been depleted by illegal means, and in undue proportion administered to the North, I question whether we are quite safe in alleging that as a grievance of South Carolina, without qualification. There has been an unfaithful execution of the Constitution on the part of its own general agent in that respect. But let us not forget to confess the truth under any and all circumstances. What have we ourselves been doing? And in the city of Charleston, too, where have you bought your supplies, and with whom do you trade? Where has the great surplus of your money been necessarily spent? Where has it gone to? Has it not gone to these people who have received the Federal money? Government and individuals have sought the same market. Why? Because nobody else could furnish the articles each wanted. Can you say, therefore, that the Federal Government is to be blamed for spending a large amount of money in the non-slaveholding States? Where was the Federal Government obliged to get its necessary support for the army and navy? Where could the Federal Government fill up the ranks of its army and navy? Will you not allow the Government to buy of its own citizens, as we have all done? If by the cunning of these men in the non-slaveholding States they have been able to present to the Government inducements to obtain their supplies, can we complain? Where else could they have been procured? So far, the Government has been obliged to spend its money among the people of the North and Northwest for bacon, lard, and all the supplies of the army and navy. I submit these views for the purpose of drawing the attention of the Convention to the fact that we may go too far in this document, and use assertions too strong.
In respect to the argument of the fugitive slave law, I concur fully. I heard something said here questioning the Constitutionality of the fugitive slave law, as it is called. This is a difficult question. In the case of Prigg and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all the Judges of the United States Courts but two declared that Congress, and Congress alone, could provide legislation to execute the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States. Immediately after that decision the astute Legislatures of the New England States seized upon that decision, and passed their liberty laws, invoking the doctrine announced in the case of Prigg vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Could any man say that South Carolina should separate from the United States in consequence of the Congress of the United States passing such a law? A like law was passed in 1793. Did our people object to it then? I confess I have a reverence for antiquity. I profess to have a veneration of the men of 1793-Christopher Gads
den, John Rutledge, the Pinckneys, and others. I profess to believe that they were as patriotic as I profess to be. If we made no objection at that time to the power of Congress to pass a fugitive slave law, under the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, I hold it would be unsafe for the Convention of South Carolina to say that that is a cause for which she separates from the United States. It was a matter, as long ago as 1643, of stipu lation between Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and another colony, that they should deliver each other's fugitive slaves. It was a matter between the colonies that each colony should deliver fugitives. As long ago as that period Congress did exercise this power, and we did acquiesce and never voted against it.
If I were to stand here and declare the various causes which led me to subscribe my name to the Act of Secession, I should insist on some other considerations besides those suggested by this address. I would have said that when a citizen of Maryland went to Pennsylvania to recover his fugitive under an act of Congress they murdered him, and his murderer* escaped from justice in the court of Pennsylvania. Then was the time for Maryland to have demanded justice under the compact. It was then I would have stood up for the rights of that slaveholder. If I chose further to afflict this Convention I could bring before them a long catalogue of grievances. I think if every member of the Convention should draw up an indictment against the people of the unfaithful Confeder ate States, and you might have any number of addresses upon that subject, you would probably find no two very nearly alike. Since, therefore, every one's taste and judgment cannot be answered, if there be no substantial objection to the addresses before us, as I think there is not, it is proper to vote for them, and I shall do so.
The papers were both adopted.
A third report was made to the Convention by Judge Withers from the Committee on the Relations of the Slaveholding States of North America, which should be included, to make the catalogue complete:
The Committee on "Relations with the Slaveholding States of North America," beg leave to report that they have carefully considered the three several propositions contained in the resolutions referred to them, which were submitted in Convention by three several members from St. Phillip's and St. Michael's.
All the resolutions referred to the Committee look to the purpose of confederate relations with our sister States of the South, having common interests with us, and every cause, as we trust, to indulge towards us common sympathies, and to contract cordial relations. In such a purpose the Committee entirely and unanimously concur, and they recommend that every proper measure be adopted to accomplish such an end.
Upon this subject so much unanimity prevails, and has long prevailed in this State, that an argument thereupon would be wholly superfluous. All seem to agree that the first step proper to be taken for the purpose of promoting and securing the confederation we seek is the appointment of Commissioners, by the authority of this Convention, to such States of the South as may call Conventions to consider and determine their future political relations.
The Committee advise that such step be taken by this Convention, hoping and believing that our sister States of the South will correctly interpret our action in taking the initiative as arising by no means from any presumptuous arrogance, but from the advance position which circumstances have given to this State in the line of procedure for the great design of securing the rights, the security, and the very existence of the slaveholding South.
It has been a subject of anxious consideration with the Committee whether the Commissioners, whose appointment they recommend, should be instructed to tender any basis of a temporary or Provisional Government to the States to which they may be accredited. The instrument called the Constitution of the United States of America has been suggested as a suitable and proper basis to be offered for a Provisional Government. This suggestion has been commended to the Committee by various considerations which cannot now be set forth in full or at large. Among them are
* In 1847
That the said instrument was the work of minds of in the formation with us of a Southern Confedthe first order in strength and accomplishment. eracy.
That it was most carefully constructed by comprehensive views and careful examination of details.
That experience has proved it to be a good form of Government for those sufficiently virtuous, intelligent, and patriotic to cause it to be fairly and honestly construed and impartially administered.
That the settled opinion of this State has never been adverse to that plan of government for Confederated States, on account of any thing in its structure, but the dissatisfaction is attributable to the false glosses and dangerous misinterpretation and perversion of sundry of its provisions even to the extent, in one particular, of so covering up the real purposes of certain legislation (meant to protect domestic manufactures in one section) as to estop the Supreme Court in its opinion from judicially perceiving the real design.
That it presents a complete scheme of confederation, capable of being speedily put into operation, familiar, by long acquaintance, with its provisions and their true import to the people of the South, many of whom are believed to cherish a degree of veneration for it, and would feel safe under it when in their own hands for interpretation and administration; especially as the portions that have been, by perversion, made potent for mischief and oppression in the hands of adverse and inimical interests, have received a settled construction by the South.
That a speedy confederation by the South is desirable in the highest degree, which, it is supposed, must be temporary at first, (if accomplished as soon as it should be), and no better basis than the Constitution of the United States is likely to be suggested or adopted for temporary purposes.
That the opinions of those to whom it is designed to offer it would be conciliated by the testimony the very act itself would carry that South Carolina meant to seek no selfish advantage nor to indulge the least spirit of dictation.
That such form of government is more or less known to Europe, and, if adopted, would indicate abroad that the seceding Southern States had the forecast and energy to put into operation forthwith a scheme of government and administration compe tent to produce a necessary organization for internal necessities, and a sufficient protection of foreign commerce directed hither, as well as to guarantee Foreign powers in the confidence that a new Confederacy had immediately arisen, quite adequate to supersede all the evils, internal and external, of a partial or total interregnum.
That its speedy adoption would work happily as a reviving agency in matters financial and commercial between the States adopting it, and between them as at the same time would combine, without delay, a power touching purse and sword, that might bring to a prudent issue the reflections of those who may perchance be contemplating an invasion, or to an issue disastrous to them, the attempted execution of such unholy design.
a united power and foreign commercial nations; and
Such are some of the considerations, very rapidly stated, which address themselves to this subject.
It is contended that the same limitation of the power to levy duties, and that to regulate commerce, (and perhaps other provisions of the said Constitution,) may be desirable, and are in fact so to some of the committee; yet these modifications may be safely left to a period when the articles of a permanent government may be settled; and that, meantime, the Constitution referred to will serve the purpose of temporary confederation, which the committee unite in believing ought to be sought, through all proper measures, most earnestly.
It is also submitted that if the tender of the said Constitution, even as a Provisional Government, should, in the opinion of the Convention, be accompanied by a condition that it be subject to specific limitations, expositions of ambiguities, or modifications, the committee would respectfully refer to the Convention itself such matters; and this is done, not because the committee would not willingly consider and report upon such subject, but because they deem it due to the Convention and the public interest that they should now lay before the Convention the substantial propositions contained in the following resolutions, which the majority of the committee recommend to the Convention as fit to be adopted, viz: Resolved, First, that this Convention do appoint a Commissioner to proceed to each of the slavehold ing States that may assemble in Convention, for the purpose of laying our Ordinance of Secession before the same, and respectfully invite their co-operation |
Second. That our Commissioners aforesaid be further authorized to submit, on our part, the Federal Constitution as the basis of a Provisional Government for such States as shall have withdrawn their connection with the Government of the United States of North America.
Third. That the said Commissioners be authorized to invite the seceding States to meet in Convention at such time and place as may be agreed upon, for the purpose of forming a permanent Goverment for such States.
On the question of sending copies of the Ordinance and the accompanying Declaration of Causes and the Address, to the Governors of the slaveholding States, there was a debate, in which Mr. Dargan urged the propriety of notifying the authorities of all the States, which being objected to,
Mr. Dargan said: A statement of the reasons is required, as well as the Ordinance of Secession. Courtesy to our late Confederates, whether enemies or not, calls for the reasons that have actuated us. It is not true, in point of fact, that all the Northern people are hostile to the rights of the South. We have a Spartan band in every Northern State. It is due to them they should know the reasons which influence us. According to our apprehensions the necessity which exists for our immediate withdrawal from association with the Northern States is that this hostile Abolition party have the control of the Government, and there is no hope of redress for our grievances.
Speech of Alexander H. Stephens, November 14th, 1860.
As against these allegations, we insert the speech of Hon. ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS of Georgia, before the Legislature of Georgia, November 14th, 1860, and an extract from his speech in the Convention of Georgia, of January, 1861 :
Fellow-Citizens:-I appear before you to-night, at the request of members of the Legislature and others, to speak of matters of the deepest interest that can possibly concern us all of an earthly character. There is nothing-no question or subject connected with this life-that concerns a free people so intimately as that of the government under which they live. We are now, indeed, surrounded by evils. Never, since I entered upon the public stage, has the country been so environed with difficulties and dangers that threatened the public peace, and the very existence of society, as now. I do not now appear before you at my own instance. is not to gratify a desire of my own that I am here. Had I consulted my own ease and pleasure I should not be before you; but, believing that it is the duty of every good citizen to give his counsels and views whenever the country is in danger, as to the best policy to be pursued, I am here. For these reasons, and these only, do I bespeak a calm, patient and attentive hearing.
My object is not to stir up strife, but to allay it; not to appeal to your passions, but to your reason. Good governments can never be built up or sustained by the impulse of passion. I wish to address myself to your good sense, to your good judgment, and if, after hearing, you disagree, let us agree to disagree, and part as we met, friends. We all have the same object, the same interest. That people should disagree, in republican governments, upon questions of public policy, is natural. That men should disagree upon all matters connected with human investigation, whether relating to science or human conduct, is natural. Hence, in free governments, parties will arise. But a free people should express their different opinions with liberality and charity, with no acrimony toward those of their fellows when honestly and sincerely given. These are my feelings to-night.