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The Charleston Convention–Fresh Rumors and Calculations.


May/June 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, May 1, 1860.





A Salute in Honor of the Seceders.

CHARLESTON, Monday morning, April 30.—The Tribune’s correspondent says the friends of Mr. Douglas will begin the contest to-day, in great confidence of his nomination on the third ballot.

The friends of Dickinson are equally confident, as it is believed that the South will rally on him.

An effort will be made to-day to take the Cincinnati Platform without addition.

Weather very cold.


CHARLESTON, April 30.—The Convention met at 10 o’clock A. M. After prayer the President addressed the Convention, apologizing for the harsh language used by him during the disorder on Saturday evening. He, however, considered it his duty to speak plainly and positively.

The President announced the first business in order was taking a vote on the main question, which was the substitute offered by Mr. Butler in behalf of Massachusetts, Minnesota, Indiana and New Jersey, presenting the Cincinnati platform, with a resolution for the protection of citizens of foreign birth.

A vote being taken, the Butler platform was rejected by a vote of the nearly two-thirds against it; ayes 105, nays 190.

When New Jersey was called, a delegate stated that the convention appointing them as delegates had recommended them to vote as a unit.

The President decided that the word recommended was equivalent to an instruction.

The decision of the Chair was appealed from.

A motion to lay the appeal on the table was lost-ayes 146, nays 150.

The question then recurred on sustaining the appeal; ayes 145, nays not given, thus reversing the decision of the Chair.

This result is a gain of two in favor of Douglas in New Jersey; and Georgia will obtain the right to vote by districts.

The next vote will be on the adoption of the minority report, when Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, in a body, and a portion of Louisiana and other States will present their protest and withdraw from the Convention.

After nearly an hour spent in discussing points of order and various parliamentary movements, Mr. Butler moved to lay the whole subject on the table, and proceed to vote for President. Cries of “agreed,” “no,” “no,” &c.

Mr. Winthrop, of Alabama, contended that the motion of Mr. Butler was out of order, and that a vote on the platform must now be taken.

Mr. Clark, of Mississippi, was unwilling to reach a result by subterfuge that we cannot reach by plain dealing.

Mr. Gettings, of Md., attempted to address the Chair, but was called to order.

Mr. Butler withdrew his motion to lay on the table and proceed to balloting.

The President was about to state the question when a voice cried out, “Mr. President, a mistake. I didn’t second that man’s motion down there.”

Mr. Gettings rose to demand an explanation. He would like to know who it was who spoke so disrespectfully to him. He claimed to be a delegate from Maryland.

Mr. Hooper rose. He did not intend anything disrespectful to the gentleman, but his name was Tom Hooper of Ala.

Mr. Gettings-If no insult was intended, the gentleman will call at my room and take a drink.

The question was then taken on adopting the minority report as a substitute for the majority report, and it was adopted. Ayes, 165, Nays, 138.

Mr. Flournoy asked permission to make a personal explanation, declaring himself for Douglas, and unwilling to obey the instructions to leave the convention in case the minority report was adopted.

The question then recurred on the adoption of the minority platform.

Mr. Ash, of North Carolina, stated that if these minority resolutions are adopted he would be compelled to abandon the convention and disconnect himself from the Democratic party. [Cheers from the South.]

Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, contended that the preamble of the minority resolutions controverts the Cincinnati platform. Cries of order and the gentleman talking at the top of his voice until drowned in the uproar.

Mr. Butler demanded that the question be first taken on the first part of the resolution affirming the Cincinnati platform separately, and it was adopted-ayes 233; nays, 70.

When Mississippi was called, Mr. Glenn rose and voted no, declaring that Mississippi believed the Cincinnati platform as explained at the North and South an unqualified swindle. His voice was drowned in cries of order.

The last half hour up to one o’clock was spent in discussing the right of the Georgia delegation to vote by districts, the President having repeated his decision, that the word requested in the case of Georgia is equivalent to a provision or intimation to vote as a unit.

Mr. Seward appealed, and whilst the vote was being taken withdrew his appeal.

Mr. Briggs, of New York, now that the Cincinnati platform was adopted, moved that all the balance of the resolutions be laid on the table.

Mr. Gettings, of Md., rose to know whether he had been ruled out of order simply because he came from a slave State. [Cries of order amid great confusion.] Mr. Gettings continued to proclaim himself from a border State, and succeeded in getting himself laughed at, which seemed to be his object.

The Chair stated that he had not to his knowledge called the gentleman to order, except when he was clearly out of order.

Mr. Gettings replied, “Perhaps so,” and then added that he had not had the pleasure of meeting the President since 1849, when he made the most violent Whig speech he had ever heard. [Cries of order.]

Mr. Stuart raised a point of order, that a motion to lay on the table would carry the whole subject with it.

The President decided that it would not carry to the table the Cincinnati platform just adopted.

Mr. Gettings rose to a personal explanation. He did not mean any personal insult to the Chair when he remarked that he had first seen him at a Whig meeting, making a Whig speech. He honored such men. He honored any man who dared to be a Democrat in Massachusetts.

Mr. Yancey, of Alabama, said the motion to lay the balance of the minority platform on the table was out of order, as it is equivalent to a motion to strike out all but the first resolution, which would be clearly out of order.

The President declared the motion to lay on the table in order.

After the vote had commenced, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida desired to withdraw their votes, and Arkansas withdrew three of their votes on the subject. The result was then announced. Yeas, 81, nays 181. So the Convention refused to lay the minority platform on the table. The Convention then proceeded to vote separately on the resolutions.

Mr. Brown, of North Carolina, warned gentlemen that if they adopted these resolutions, the Democratic party would cease to exist as a National party.

Mr. Stuart, of Michigan, rose to a question of order. [Cries of down, down, by the Southern members.]

Mr. Richardson, of Illinois, rose and desired to address the Convention. Great excitement ensued, and the Southern members demanded a decision on the point of order, refusing to hear Mr. Richardson, and crying him down.

Mr. Richardson maintained his position, and great anxiety was manifested to hear him. He made several attempts to speak, but was called to order by the Alabama and Mississippi delegations.

Judge Meek, of Alabama, demanded that the Convention proceed to vote, and that no other business be allowed.

Mr. Cochrane, of New York, asked a suspension of the rules, to allow Mr. Richardson to speak.

The motion was declared out of order. Another half hour was spent in points of order and questions of privilege, when a vote was taken on the motion to strike out the preamble and first resolution, relating to the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court relative to slavery.

Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida declined to vote. The delegations generally went out to consult, and the vote was finally announced as follows: Yeas 40, Nays 230. The only yeas were, Massachusetts 10½, New Hampshire 1, Rhode Island 4, Connecticut 4, Pennsylvania 9, Maryland 2½, Missouri 5, Kentucky 4. This was regarded as yielding to the South.

The President then announced that the preamble with the first resolution is rejected.

Mr. Butler proposed that the balance of the platform be voted down without division.

Mr. Stuart, of Michigan, demanded a separate vote on each resolution.

The vote was then taken on the resolution to protect foreign born citizens. Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Alabama declined to vote, and the resolution was adopted unanimously. A vote was then taken on the Pacific railroad resolution, and it was adopted, the same States refusing to vote, and there being but twenty negative votes.

Mr. Cook gave notice of a motion to reconsider the vote, with an object unchecking Arkansas in joining the Alabama movement.

The remaining resolutions were then voted on successively, the same States declining to vote and Arkansas voting but three votes. All of the resolutions were adopted nearly unanimously, the yeas numbering 252.

Mr. Stuart, of Michigan, obtained the floor on a motion to reconsider the resolutions, and proceeded to address the Convention, complaining that whilst those on his side had given a respectful hearing to the South, they had not been allowed to say one word and he and those associated with him had agreed never to agitate the subject in or out of Congress and they had kept the agreement. He was ready to yield money or property for peace and harmony, but he would not consent to yield his honor. This was demanded of him by the South.

Mr. Yancey replied at some length, declaring that Congress has the right to protect the property of slaveholders against the encroachments of territorial legislation, wherever it may occur.

Mr. Stuart moved to lay the motion to reconsider on the table, and called the previous question, but gave way to Mr. Walker, chairman of the Alabama delegation, who rose and announced that he had a communication from that delegation to make to the Convention. He then proceeded to read a statement giving their reasons for withdrawing from the Convention. He also read a resolution declaring that in case the delegates from Alabama should withdraw, as adopted by the convention of that State, no other person should represent that State in the Convention. The delegation rose to depart, when Mr. Barry, of Mississippi, rose and stated that the delegation of that State authorized him to state that their delegation also withdraw from the Convention.

Mr. Wm. Mountain, of Louisiana, was authorized to state on the part of the delegation from his State they no longer retained their seats in this Convention. We have heretofore declared the Democratic party was harmonious, but we are now parted forever, and separated in principle if our friends from the free States cannot join us in fighting Black Republicanism. He concluded by saying that two of the delegates declined to join the majority, but as the majority contends that as they are instructed to vote as a unit, no one has authority to cast the vote of the State after they leave.

Gen. Simmons, Chairman of the South Carolina delegation, read in behalf of that delegation, a resolution protesting that the platform adopted is in contravention of the principles of their State Convention, and therefore the delegation withdraws, with the exception of three of its members.

Mr. Glenn, of Miss., delivered in behalf of that State a powerful and exciting address, telling the convention that in less than sixty days they will see a united South acting in concert. [Deafening applause, in which the galleries joined.] “The time will come when you will want us.” He concluded by giving notice that all who sympathize with the retiring delegates could meet with them at St. Andrew’s Hall to-night.

Mr. Milton, of Florida, in behalf of that delegation, presented their protest and withdrew, telling the North and Northwest that as they had hardened their hearts and stiffened their necks, they parted with them with but little regret. He read a long protest signed by the whole delegation, and refusing to allow any other to call the vote of Florida in the convention.

Mr. Boylon, of Texas, had long looked forward to this result. After a few remarks he presented the protest of Texas, declaring that a persistence in the principles maintained by a majority of the Convention will ultimately dissolve the Union.

Mr. Burrows, of Arkansas, in behalf of the delegation of his State, then entered a protest that they could not consent to place an unsound man on an unsound platform, and expressed the opinion that the chief of the Squatter Sovereigns should receive the nomination. The protest is signed by three of the delegates, who protest that no one else shall cast the vote of the State in convention.

The Georgia delegation asked leave to retire that they might consult on the question.

Mr. Gettings again kicked up another excitement on the floor to make a personal explanation, but was ordered by the President to take his seat.

Mr. Merrick, of Illinois, addressed the Convention, asserting that the chairmen of some of these delegations were withdrawing their States without consulting their delegations. He therefore proposed an adjournment to enable them to properly consult.

At the request of Mr. Russell, of Virginia, Mr. Merrick temporarily withdrew the motions to enable him to say a few words.

Mr. Russell then spoke for Virginia, expressing deep sympathy for the Southern States, asking that an adjournment be made to allow a consultation.

Mr. Bayard, of Delaware, in behalf of himself and one other of his colleagues, withdrew from the Convention. He said, “We came here to join a Convention of thirty-three States, nine of which have now withdrawn, and we refuse to fetter our State by participating in the action of those remaining.”

Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, said that he and a majority of the delegation are now prepared to act. He therefore asked leave to retire for consultation.

Mr. Merrick moved to adjourn at eight o’clock to-night.

John Cochrane, of New York, moved to adjourn till to-morrow morning. The motion was adopted, and the Convention adjourned after a continuous session of six hours.

The excitement in the city is great. A salute is firing in honor of the Southern delegations. The seceders will meet to-night and nominate Dickinson, with probably Stevens for Vice President. There is considerable feeling against the three South Carolina delegates who refused to secede. North Carolina stands firm and so also does Maryland.

Virginia and Georgia are discussing and part of the delegates have withdrawn. Kentucky is also consulting.

Douglas will be nominated to-morrow on the first ballot. The Convention will have some difficulty to obtain a Southern man for Vice President.