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Our Jefferson City Letter.


January/February 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, January 19, 1861.


JEFFERSON CITY, Jan, 18, 1861.

The House having passed the State Convention bill yesterday afternoon, the long agony may be said to be over, as the Senate will doubtless pass it this morning, and it will immediately become a law.  The time allowed for the day of election is so short that the Governor’s proclamation will scarcely have more than time to reach all portions of the State before the appointed time.  The opponents of the bill have, by deferring its passage by the prolonging of debate, forced its friends to submit the reference of any acts passed by the convention, affecting the relations of the State with the Federal Government, to the vote of the people.  A great point has been gained, as now the convention cannot force the people into association without their consent.  Some doubts exist as to the legality of Mr. Lacey’s amendment, whether it will bind the convention, but the best legal authorities decide that it will.

Mr. Randolph, of St. Charles, in accepting Mr. Lacey’s amendment, said that though he preferred his own, believing, as he did, that this Legislature had no power to restrict the action of the convention, yet as the passage of the convention bill was the paramount question, and as a majority seemed to prefer the latter, he would cheerfully accept and vote for it.

Mr. Stevenson, of St. Louis, resumed his speech in the afternoon, and continued until four o’clock.  I give a few of his remarks.  He differed radically from the gentleman who framed the bill, as to the remedy for the present political troubles of the country.  All the remedies to be found were in the Constitution of the United States.  They were effective and powerful enough to restore the people to their former position.  But he did not believe that Congress can ever concur in any satisfactory compromises.

He deplored the fact that the government was paced in partisan hands.  The dominant feeling in Congress is bitter partisan feeling, both North and South.  Each were afraid to compromise lest they should misrepresent the feelings of their constituents.  We find them there doing nothing, every day widening the differences.  His hope for the Union was based upon the love of the people for the Union alone.  He was opposed to the convention, because it is a remedy proposed of mysterious character.  It proposes no remedy, does not come under the Constitution.  This proposition, so far from effecting good, is clothed with great powers of evil, at war with the best interests of the State of Missouri.  The fact is not to be disguised at all, that there has been for a long time a party in this country organized for the purpose of tearing down this government.  John C. Calhoun was the founder of this party.  When the monster first reared its head, General Jackson crushed it under his iron heel.  He charged that there was a bold, open conspiracy on the part of the Southern people—a base, treasonable one—to overthrow the government.  Already, a plan had been concocted in Washington to form a new government, with Senator Mason at the head.  Yet we are blind—do not see the danger.  He looked upon this Convention bill as one of the means used to overthrow this government, however strongly its friends may protest against the idea.  He proved that every State, so far, that had held a Convention, had seceded from the Union.

This convention, if got up, will be controlled by men who have no love for the Government, but are controlled by high-toned notions and personal ambitions.  He alluded in strong terms to the disunion sentiments of the Governor expressed in his inaugural.  The great effort of that officer during the recent campaign had been to clear himself of the charge of disunionism fastened on him by the immortal Benton, yet he had, when in power, fully proved that charge by his action.  He looked upon his inaugural as the first secession, nullification document ever offered to the people of Missouri.  The policy of that inaugural foreshadows itself.  It is to place the State of Missouri in antagonism to the General Government.  His full speech will be published.

During the afternoon session, Mr. Ament rose to a privileged question.  In the Inquirer of that morning a charge had been made, that, by the permission of the Committee on Public Printing, extra allowances had been given to the public printer.  While he did not believe that the editor intended to doubt his integrity, yet, as the charge implicated him to a certain extent, he would ask that a committee of three of the opposite party be appointed to investigate the matter.

Messrs. Spedden, Burns and Carson were appointed.

When the vote upon the final passage of the convention bill was being taken, several of the St. Louis members defined their position.

Mr. Sexton, in voting for it, said that as the amendment of Mr. Lacey, in his view, secured the reference of the acts of the convention to the people as regards a secession ordinance, and as the largest mass meeting ever held in St. Louis had signified their desire for a State Convention with these provisions, he felt compelled to vote for it, even though it might not agree with his views.

Messrs. Miller, Paridge, Moore and Doehn defined their opposition in strong terms.

The convention bill, also the bill to appoint commissioners will be carried through the Senate at once.  The latter will probably meet with considerable opposition in the House, but will be carried through.  An effort is being made to take the appointing of these Commissioners out of the hands of the Governor and place it in a joint session of the legislature.  The legislature, now that the convention bill is settled, will go to work on its legitimate business, and many important acts relating to general and local welfare will be brought up.  I enclose the following classification of members of the House of Representatives now in session at Jefferson City.

There are 133 members, seven of whom are 25 years of age and under; twelve of 30 and under; eighteen of 35 and under; twenty-six of 40 and under; twenty-four of 45 and under; and twenty one of over 50 years of age.  There are from,

Kentucky 35
Missouri 15
Pennsylvania 5
New Hampshire 1
Ireland 2
Massachusetts 1
Tennessee 33
North Carolina 6
Maryland 3
New Jersey 1
Alabama 1
England 1
Virginia 31
Ohio 5
New York 2
Delaware 1
Germany 3

There are 70 farmers, 26 lawyers, 9 merchants, 13 physicians, 2 editors, 2 blacksmiths, 3 manufacturers, 3 mechanics, 1 shipper, 1 tailor, 1 contractor.

The St. Louis delegation is classified as follows:

John D. Stevenson, Va., aged 39; George Partridge, Mass., 51; Felix Coete, Germany, 40; John Doyle, Ireland, 55; John S. Cavender, N.H., 36; James Peckham, New York city, 30; John Sexton, Va., 34; Rudolph Doehn, Germany, 39; Meyer Freide, Germany, 39; Madison Miller, Penn., 45; George M. Moore, Del. 56; R. M. Hanna, Ky., 59.