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The Charleston Convention–Reports and Rumors.


March/April 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, April 25, 1860.


The Charleston Convention-Reports and Rumors.

CHARLESTON, S. C., April 23.—The city is quiet to-night. There is no public speaking at headquarters. The votes of the delegations to-day are regarded as indicating the nomination of Douglas. All the Douglas delegates voted in favor or the Soft Delegation from New York. The Committee on Credentials will report largely in their favor, and also in favor of the Illinois Douglas Delegates. It is believed the Softs will vote for Douglas. Alabama will demand a slave code, and an effort will be made to ballot for a candidate before the Committee on Platforms reports. The indications are that the Convention will adjourn by Thursday.

Mr. Wright, of Pa., made a strong appeal for harmony. If harmony did not prevail, the nomination to be made would not be worth the paper on which it was recorded when brought before the people. He was in favor of the rule that every delegate should be permitted to cast his vote in accordance with his convictions and with those of his constituents. Pennsylvania had never voted as a unit except when their sentiment was unanimous. He closed by demanding the previous question, and the vote was taken on that part of the report relating to presiding officers, which was adopted unanimously.

Mr. Flourney then returned thanks, counseling moderation and harmony. We are all marching under one flag-the flag of our country. He denounced sectionalism, and hoped no more allusions would be made to such divisions.

Hon. Caleb Cushing was then introduced to the Convention, and made a most eloquent and patriotic speech. His allusion to Calhoun, and his motto of truth, justice and the Constitution, called forth prolonged cheering. It was the destiny of the Democratic party, he said, to stand upon this and strike down and conquer the traitorous fanaticism, arrayed against it in one section of the Union. Mr. Cushing was again loudly cheered.

Upon the conclusion of his address, about half and hour was spent in settling the Vice Presidents and arranging for the Secretaries and also preparing for a formal and energetic enforcement of parliamentary rules in the future proceedings of the Convention.

A warm debate then sprung up on the rules reported by the Committee on Organization, in which Messrs. Richardson, McCook and Cessna, of Pa., Barry, of Miss., Josiah Randall, and many others took part.

Several of the Southern delegates opposed the rules.

Mr. Randall also opposed it, declaring that certain refractory members in the delegation proposed to violate and misrepresent their constituents in voting for Douglas, whose nomination, in his opinion, would lead to certain defeat. He then went into a review of the preceding Democratic Convention on this subject.

Mr. Richardson rose to reply, and asked Mr. Randall who made him an expounder of Democratic principles and precedents? How long had the gentleman been in the Democratic ranks?

This caused cries of order and great excitement.

Several persons rose to points of order.

The Chairman decided that Mr. Richardson was entitled to the floor, and then changed his decision, denying his right.

Mr. Richardson, standing on a chair in the centre of the hall with his sleeves rolled up and determined to be heard, was finally allowed to go on and again attack Mr. Randall, as having recently come into the fold, alluding to his political antecedents as entitling his opinions of Democracy to but little consideration. He did not desire, after a life’s service, to be reproved by the recruits of yesterday.

A warm debate ensued.

At twelve o’clock the convention was called to order again.

Mr. Jackson rose to a question of privilege relative to his State delegation.

A motion to adjourn till 4 o’clock was lost.

The question was then called on the motion to strike out the rule relative to the right of members of each delegation to vote as they think proper, unless instructed by the convention that appointed them.

During the call of the roll the greatest excitement existed.

The Tennessee and Virginia delegations protested against the announcement of the Chairman, giving the votes as a unit against the adoption of the rule.

Ten of the twelve Tennessee delegates were opposed to the manner in which the vote of that State had been recorded.

The vote was finally announced as follows: Ayes 101, nays 198. So the rule was adopted, and, a majority of a delegation cannot compel the minority to vote with them as a unit, unless instructed by the convention that appointed them.

The resolution offered yesterday for the appointment of a committee on resolutions and platform was then called up, and an amendment offered that no balloting be allowed for President or Vice-President till the committee have made their report.

The vote was then taken on the resolution for the appointment of the committee, which was adopted.

The vote against unit voting is regarded as a test vote. The vote to lay it on the table was as follows:

Massachusetts 6, Pennsylvania 14, Delaware 1½, Maryland 3½, Virginia 15, North Carolina 7, South Carolina 8, Georgia 10, Florida 3, Alabama 9, Louisiana 6, Mississippi 7, Texas 4, Arkansas 1½, Missouri 2, California 2½, Oregon 3. Total ayes 101.

The rule was the adopted by acclamation, and it was referred to the Committee on Platforms.

The Committee on Credentials announced that they would not be able to report before to-morrow morning.

After the Committee on Platforms was announced, the motion was renewed n the proposition that no balloting shall take place until the report of the Committee on Platforms be adopted.

A motion to lay the resolutions on the table was rejected. Ayes, 32½; Nays, 270½.

The vote was then taken on the resolution, and it was adopted by acclamation.

A long debate then ensued on a proposition to limit members speaking more than once on the same subject, and it was finally laid over until to-morrow.

The President was directed to invite ministers of the gospel to open the Convention with prayer.

Judge Leek presented the Alabama platform.

Adjourned till 10 A. M. to-morrow.


Tribune’s Correspondence.

NEW YORK, April 24.—The Tribune’s Charleston correspondence says: The present inclination is to nominate first in accordance with usage previous to the Cincinnati Convention, but this is opposed by the Douglas men and the extreme South. New York favors such a policy as is best calculated to harmonize the differences of the New York delegation, because some of their absentees are expected to-night. Mr. Barr was appointed vice Mr. Church, on the Committee to fill their spaces.

It is now decidedly anti-Douglas. George N. Sanders will be refused a seat, which has a significance of the feeling in the delegation. Present signs conspire against the nomination of Mr. Douglas, and rumor says that New York will go for Mr. Hunter, which has dampened the hopes of his friends, who concede the unexpected defection in the South, where he will probably receive seven votes. The combination between New York and the Northwest is now contradicted, and the former is waiting for fear or united the South against their admission. The South is concentrating on Mr. Hunter. The delegates from South Carolina reconsidered their purpose to vote for Mr. Davis this morning and agreed on Mr. Hunter. His champions claim Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, half of Maryland, Mississippi, half of Missouri, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia-about 90 votes. Kentucky and Tennessee stand by Guthrie and Johnson. If Kentucky had come here uncommitted, Mr. Breckinridge could have been nominated easily on the second ballot, with the admitted support in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England.

The Pennsylvania delegation did not reach the question of voting as a unit this morning, but had professions of conciliation from Messrs. Wright, Cessus, and other Douglas men who express a willingness to adopt the Cincinnati Platform, and the Dred Scott decision. There are thirty-one for Breckinridge in the delegation. Mr. Wood has brought only forty delegates to be appointed, but is attended by a large body guard of outsiders. Mr. Dickinson is industriously pressed by a few personal supporters. The only contingency in which he can possibly be considered, is a case of threatened rupture, when the South may tender him as a compromise, besides he has ten votes in the New York delegates, and the rest are adverse. Until Mr. Douglas be disposed of, no safe opinion as to the candidate can be formed. Some new men may be sprung on the Convention at a fortunate moment like Mr. Polk. If any is in reserve, Mr. Pearce of Maryland, is suggested by some Douglas men who have resolved to stand by him resolutely, and prevent two-thirds for any other candidate, but they cannot hold the Eastern delegation for such a purpose as they anticipate, hence they will fail, if the experiment be tried.

The Committee on organization has chosen Mr. Cushing President, with one Vice President and Secretary from each State. Some slight dissatisfaction was expressed by a few members who were not present. The Committee on Credentials are still sitting, but will admit Illinois without doubt. There will probably be a minority report on New York.

P. S.—12 P. M.-The Pennsylvania delegation have just adjourned after another stormy session. The majority are ready to abandon Breckinridge for Guthrie. An animated contest may be expected in the Convention to-morrow on the question whether a majority of a delegation may cast the vote of the State, it being necessary to confirm the precedents of 1852 and 1856. The Southern delegations have just adjourned after a most exciting meeting. Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana announce emphatically that they would go out of the Convention unless their Platform was adopted. South Carolina said she was not authorised to speak yet, but would doubtless follow the lead of Mississippi.


The Latest From Charleston.

CHARLESTON, April 24.—The National Democratic Convention re-assembled at ten o’clock this morning. The Committee on Permanent Organization reported in favor of Senator Caleb Cushing for President, and one Vice President and Secretary for each State in the Union. Those of New York are Erastus Corning and J. Edward Coop; W. B. Bowie and D. L. Low, Maryland; Thos. Cunningham and F. Vansant, Pennsylvania.

A dispatch from Washington was shown around the Hall from a member of the Cabinet, declaring that the reports of dissension in the Cabinet, growing out of Walker’s testimony, are entirely destitute of foundation, and that the Cabinet were never more entirely harmonious.

The Committee on Permanent Organization also reported an additional rule, to wit: That in any State in which it has not been provided or directed by its State Convention how its vote may be given, the Convention will recognize the rights of each Delegate to cast his individual vote.


New York Tribune’s Correspondence.

CHARLESTON, April 24.—All the speakers at the meeting of the Southern Delegation last night were decidedly radical and uncompromising. Nothing short of an extreme platform will satisfy them except a Southern candidate, and he must be Hunter. Douglas’ defeat, or a disruption of the Convention, seems inevitable. If a combination can be formed to give him the necessary number, six States would abruptly withdraw, and probably nominate Davis, seconded by Fernando Wood and his followers.

Mr. Buchanan’s letter of withdrawal is in the pocket of a delegate.


Caleb Cushing’s Speech.

CHARLESTON, April 24.—The following is Mr. Cushing’s address on taking the Chair. After the cheering had subsided he said:

GENTLEMEN OF THE CONVENTION: I respectfully tender to you my most earnest expression of profound gratitude for the honor you have this day done me, in appointing me to preside over your deliberations. It is, however, a responsible duty imposed, much more than a high honor conferred. In discharging that duty in the direction of business and of debate and on the preservation of order, it shall be my constant endeavor faithfully and impartially to officiate as your Minister, and most humbly to reflect your will. In a great deliberative assembly like this, it is not the presiding officer in whom the strength resides; it is not his strength, but yours, your intelligence, your sense of honor, your sense of order, your instinct of self respect. I rely, gentlemen, confidently upon you, not upon myself for the prompt and parliamentary dispatch of the business of this Convention.

Gentlemen, you have come here from the green hills of the Eastern States, from the rich States of the imperial centre, from the sun-lighted plains of the South, from the fertile States of the mighty basin of the Mississippi, from the golden shores of the distant Oregon and California: you have come hither in the exercise of the highest function of a free people-to participate and aid in the election of the future rulers of the Republic. You do this as the representatives of the Democratic party-of that great party of the Union whose proud mission it is to maintain the public liberty, to reconcile popular freedom with Constitutional order, to maintain the sacred reserved rights of the Northern States. [Long and continued cheering.] To stand, in a word, the popular sentinels of the outposts of the Constitution. [Cries of “that’s the talk,” and loud cheering.] Ours, gentlemen, is the motto inscribed upon that scroll in the hands of the monumental statue of the great statesman of South Carolina, “Truth, Justice and the Constitution.” Opposed to us are those who labor to overthrow the Constitution under the false and insidious pretense of supporting it; those who are aiming to produce in this country a permanent sectional conspiracy, a traitorous sectional conspiracy of one half of the States of the Union against the other half; those who, impelled by the stupid and half insane spirit of faction and fanaticism, would hurry our land on to revolution and civil war-those damned enemies of the Constitution. It is the part, the high and noble part, of the Democracy of the Union to withstand, to strike down and conquer; aye, that is our part, and we will do it; in the name of our dear country and with the help of God we will do it! [Loud and enthusiastic cheers.] Aye, we will do it; for gentlemen, we will not distrust ourselves, we will not despair of the genius of our country, and will continue to repose in the undoubted faith in the good providence of Almighty God. [Loud cheers.]