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The South Carolina Convention.


November-December 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 7, 1860.

The South Carolina Convention.

CHARLESTON, S. C., Dec. 19.—The Convention re-assembled this A. M. Dr. Curtis prayed. Several new members appeared and took their seats; 160 delegates on the calling of the roll were found to be present. The President submitted a letter from A. Huger, Postmaster at Charleston, offering a messenger to facilitate the delivery of mail matter to the members of the Convention.

The President read a letter from Hon. Jno. A. Elmore, Commissioner from Alabama, enclosing a telegraphic dispatch from Gov. Moore, dated Montgomery, Ala., 17th inst. It was as follows:

To the Hon. John A. Elmore: Tell the Convention to listen to no proposition to compromise or delay. Signed, Gov. Moore.

The dispatch was greeted with loud applause, and, subsequently, was referred to the Committee to prepare an address to the people of the Southern States.

J. P. Reed introduced a resolution: First, ordering the President to appoint a Cashier and Deputy Cashiers. Second, ordering the Clerk to superintend the printing of the Convention. Third, that reporters for public journals be allowed access to the Hall for the purpose of reporting. Fourth, that the regular hour of meeting be 10 o’clock, subject to a special order. Fifth, that an alphabetical list of the members, with their post office address, be printed. Sixth, that a journal be published and laid on the tables of members before the time of the meeting.

Mr. Keitt moved to amend by substituting 11 o’clock. Accepted.

Mr. Middleton move to strike out the last resolution. Objection was made.

Mr. Simeon desired to know how far the resolution extended respecting the admission of reporters.

Mr. Inglis moved that the reporters of the State only be admitted.

Mr. Quattlebaum moved that each resolution be voted separately. Carried.

The reporters’ resolution is still up.

Mr. Logan moved to add two.

Mr. Crevis said that a Convention of the people or deliberative body in discussion, should not sit with closed doors. To sit with open doors was essential to the satisfaction of the public mind. Visitors, whether by States or foreign countries, look at us otherwise than unfavorably. Let us sit at all times with open doors, till some question should be discussed among ourselves. We must satisfy the public mind. We had better get a more suitable hall, so that we can more readily sit with closed doors. He moved to lay it on the table.

Mr. McGrath believed the people of Charleston did not wish to intrude, although they had a curiosity. He didn’t believe there were ten men in Charleston who would not sacrifice their curiosity and strangle their desire to see her deliberations.

Mr. Richards said this is the best place in the city, and there should be no discrimination between a friend or foe, as to his knowing what is transpiring inside.

Mr. Middleton.—We should obviate the difficulty of sitting with closed doors, by employing an artisan to erect a barrier. Spectators can be admitted without interference. A motion was then made to refer the whole matter to the Charleston delegation, and the substitute to sit with closed doors was withdrawn.

Mr. Reid moved to lay the subject on the table.

Mr. Bonneau withdrew his resolution.

Mr. Dargen—“What is before the meeting is a resolution, authorizing the President to issue tickets of admission to the reporters at his discretion.” Which was adopted.

The printing of an alphabetical list was taken up.

CHARLESTON, Dec. 19.—A resolution authorizing the President to issue tickets of admission to reporters, at his discretion, was adopted. The sixth resolution was lost.

A resolution was passed, adopting the rules of other Conventions for the government of this.

A motion to take up the communication from the Georgia Legislature and refer it to the Committee on an address to the people of the Southern States elicited debate, but was not acted on.

The Committee on Commerce and Postal Arrangement was increased to thirteen. After some immaterial debate on the subject of the mails, the special order being the resolution relative to the secession portion of the message of the President of the United States was taken up.

Mr. Magrath spoke of the property of South Carolina.

Mr. Miles.—I have not the least idea that the President of the United States will send reinforcements here. In a conversation, and subsequently in a written communication, I know this to have been said to him: If you send a solitary soldier to these forts the instant the intelligence reaches our people, and we will take care that it does reach them in good season, the forts will be taken, because they are necessary to our safety.

Mr. Miles spoke of the repairs of Sumpter, and mentioned the cause of the resignation of Secretary Cass. At Fort Moultrie there were only sixty-five men; Captain Anderson is needful of troops. He (Miles) felt the necessity of being watchful, lest a few persons from Charleston should surprise the fort in the night. Let us wait a while, as all the repairs will be to our advantage. The resolution was then adopted.

Mr. Dentreville introduced a resolution for a Committee of Safety, which was transferred for a special order to-morrow.

Mr. Memminger introduced a resolution for the appointment fo a committee of seven members to draft a summary statement of the causes justifying South Carolina in withdrawing from the Union.

Mr. Hayes introduced the following:

WHEREAS, The causes which have produced a separation of South Carolina from the Federal Union, have emanated from the States North of Mason & Dixon’s line, which use hireling labor only; and, whereas, it has not been against the United States that South Carolina has opposed her sovereignty in usurpation but the Government in violation of this instrument; therefore,

Resolved, That a Commission be sent to each slaveholding State, bearing a copy of the ordinance of secession, and prefer to each State or any or more of them the existing Constitution of the United States as the basis of a Provisional Government to be adopted on the part of South Carolina and other slaveholding States after seceding from the present Federal Union who shall be willing to unite with South Carolina in the formation of a new confederacy, and we do hereby ratify and confirm from the date thereof any action taken by such Commissioner, and move the consent of South Carolina in the formation of such Provisional Union; and we do further earnestly recommend that on —- days, after two or more States, in addition to South Carolina, shall have acceded to the said Provisional Union, an election be held for Senators and members of the House of Representatives of the new Congress, and a President and Vice President of the new confederacy.

Resolved, That three commissioners be appointed to carry an authenticated copy of the ordinance of secession to Washington, to be laid before the President of the United States, with the request that the same shall be communicated to Congress now in session and read; and the commissioners are hereby authorized and empowered to treat for the delivery of the forts, magazines and light houses, and also for all other real estate and appurtenances thereto, within the geographical limits of South Carolina; that the authority to treat upon the subject be extended to the last day of February, 1861, provided that in the meantime the said forts, magazines, and other places are allowed to remain in the condition in which they may be at the adoption of this ordinance; and they shall be further empowered to treat upon the subject of public debt, and for a proper division of all other property within the above time, now held by the government of the United States, as the amount of the States now embraced in the said confederacy, until such times as the new confederacy of States shall be formed, of which South Carolina shall be one, upon a Constitution or plan of Union to be reported to said States, and said deputies shall invite a meeting of the several States and report to the Convention the articles agreed upon by said deputies. The resolutions were referred.

Mr. Mazyk offered a resolution inquiring how much of Congressional legislation would be abrogated by secession and how much of it might remain in force notwithstanding the act of secession. Adjourned to Thursday.

CHARLESTON, Dec. 20.—The chair announced the committee to draft a summary of the causes for the secession of South Carolina. Also, four standing committees.

Mr. Rhett’s resolution for a committee of 13 to provide for the assemblage of a convention of the seceding States and to form a constitution, was adopted.

Mr. Ingalls reported the following ordinance:

We, the people of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by us, in the convention of the 23d of May, 1778, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified, and all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of the State, ratifying amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, and the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.

The ordinance was passed unanimously by 169 members at a quarter past one o’clock. The news spread rapidly, and a crowd collected which did some immense cheering.

Mr. Miles moved that the Clerk telegraph the members at Washington. Carried unanimously.

The ordinance was ordered to be engrossed on parchment, and is to be signed by the President and members at half past six o’clock this evening, at Institute Hall, and to be placed on the archives of the State.

In the debate on the adoption of the ordinance Mr. McGrath said what you have done to-day has extinguished the authority of every man in South Carolina deriving his authority from the General Government. I am in favor of this body making such provisional arrangements as may be necessary in the interval which exists between this moment and the time the Legislature may act. I am not, however, to be implicated in the idea that there is no lawful authority within the limits of the State except the General Government.

Mr. Gregg thought all the laws of Congress should fall instantly to the ground.

Mr. Cheever said an immense chasm had to be made in the laws. It is necessary to avoid the inconvenience to the people, and we must make temporary arrangements to carry on the government.

Mr. Gregg—There is no law on the subject of collecting the duties in Carolina.

Mr. Haynes—The Congress of the United States is no longer our government. It will be for our Legislature to say what laws of the United States shall be continued and what not.

Mr. Gregg—Congressional laws for the collection of revenue are for the support of the Federal Government. All the post office laws fall to the ground on our dissolution with that government.

Mr. Miles—We have to deal with stern facts and realities. We must prevent confusion, anarchy and derangement of our government affairs. Things must for the present remain in statu quo or confusion will arise.

Mr. Hayne thought sudden action injurious.

Mr. Chestnut—We must revivify such laws as are best to preserve us from calamities.

Mr. Mazyk thought the present postal system a nuisance; he thought the public would be better served by private parties.

Mr. Calhoun—We have pulled the temple down which has been built three quarters of a century. We must clear the rubbish away and construct another. We are houseless and homeless, and must secure ourselves from storms.

Mr. Dunkin—If that ordinance is passed, things will go on in the Custom House and Post Office exactly as now, until other arrangements are made by this convention.

Another debate about to the same effect followed.