The Convention was opened with prayer by Rev. J. L. Clark, of the M. E. Church.
After reading and approval of the journal, Mr. Pinnell offered the following resolution:
"Resolved, That a debate on the resolution now pending close today at the hour of four o'clock and the vote be then taken."
The resolution was adopted.
Mr. Stevenson of Wood offered the following for reference to the Committee on Revision:
"RESOLVED that this Convention should appoint a committee of five persons to be called the Central Committee, whose duty it shall be to appoint sub-committees in each county to act in conjunction with the committee appointed by the legislature and adopt such measures as may be necessary to insure a thorough and successful canvass on the Amended Constitution."
MR. VAN WINKLE. The legislature appointed two of that business committee. They are now appointed in nearly every county.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I was not aware of the fact. I did not want to bring it before the Convention immediately but thought I would refer it to the committee and let them exercise their judgment whether to appoint such a committee or not.
THE PRESIDENT. It will be so referred.
MR. HERVEY. I desire to offer a resolution and ask that it be laid on the table and printed. Following is the resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Revision:
"Within twenty days after the proclamation of the President of the United States declaring West Virginia one of the states of the Union, the volunteers in the army of the United States, who are citizens of the State of West Virginia, shall be entitled to vote at all elections during the continuance of the war, said vote to be taken and certified as provided in the ordinance for taking the vote upon the ratification of the Amended Constitution."
The Convention resumed consideration of the motion made by the chairman of the special committee to adopt the two resolutions reported by the committee.
MR. SINSEL. Mr. President, as I stand solitary and alone, and have been made the subject of a little fun and whims, I feel it due to myself to make a further defense.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I would like to inquire whether the gentleman has not already made one speech on the subject before the house. I am not certain whether he spoke to the amendment or the original resolution. If he did, I wish to inquire whether there is a rule that no member shall speak twice until each member who desires to speak shall have spoken once.
MR. SINSEL. If there is objection, of course I will give way.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I object because the discussion is cut off at 4 o'clock. If there are any members who have not addressed themselves to this subject, they have a right to be heard.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I think the gentleman has not a right to raise that objection, because I think it was understood that whole rule was suspended. That it was not the object to put it in operation. I suppose the object is to have free and open interchange of opinion on this subject.
MR. RUFFNER. Will it be in order to offer an amendment to the resolution pending?
THE PRESIDENT. I suppose so.
MR. RUFFNER. I move to strike out the words from the resolution "from the State," so that if the amendment should be adopted the resolution would read:
"RESOLVED, That in the opinion of this Convention, the owners of slaves in being at the time the Constitution goes into operation, and emancipated under its provisions, will be constitutionally and legally entitled to recover the actual value of such slaves at the time of emancipation, if they have not forfeited that right by disloyal acts."
I simply wish to make a remark or two on this question now before the house. The amendment if it prevail will resolve it as a simple proposition that compensation should be made to the owners of slaves thus emancipated. I think myself it is due to us representatives of the people and to the community that it be left in this condition. The Convention at its session forming this Constitution, agreed upon a compromise principle upon which this question of slavery should be settled. That compromise settled the opinion of the Convention and was ratified by the people, that this question of slavery should be left to future legislation, and it was understood on all hands that in our good time we would adopt the system of emancipation. The compromise prevailed with great unanimity, I believe but one member voting against it. It took from the State for the time being this agitating question; but, sir, I am sorry to be compelled to say that it only transferred it to the House of Congress. And in this connection I must be permitted to say for myself that I do not very well justify the ex parte vote that was taken on this question of emancipation before the people - I must say a private vote; for I confess in our part of the country we did not know that such a vote was about to be held; that vote was carried to Congress and made the basis upon which this act was passed, representing that the people of West Virginia since the adoption of the Constitution had expressed a wish to have this very section incorporated in the act of Congress. Now, sir, was that fair, was it just, to this Convention or to the people who had thus quieted for the time being this question of slavery and bring it again into Congress and before the community? It seems to me, sir, it was unjust to us; it was unfair; and they bring thus upon us the necessity of adopting this very question and compensation shall result from it. I am sorry to see gentlemen place themselves in a very unenviable position when, while they confess our Constitution and the Constitution of the United States does provide for emancipation compensation, that this is acknowledging that principle, they oppose this resolution. Why, what do they mean by this position? Do they mean that because Congress has substituted to those words of our Constitution the imperative obligation to pay for the slaves has set aside that obligation and left it as a matter of question, whether under the law of Congress which we shall subsequently have we had ourselves placed in doubt the obligation of the State to pay for the negroes emancipated? How do gentlemen propose to go before their constituents with the question in this aspect; argue here that the Constitution provides yet unwilling to acknowledge it. Does not this open a question of the most agitating character before the community? Will not it be a handle for demagogues to misrepresent the actual state of facts - both sides, the pro-slavery and the anti-slavery men? I know sir, it is a very ungracious matter for a man who is a slave holder in these times of madness on that question to say anything about a just protection of the rights of a slave holder; but, sir, this madness will pass away and justice will have to be done sooner or later to all classes of our community if we expect to maintain in its integrity the principles of our Constitution. I look upon the stand taken by the members opposing this proposition as abolition in its sentiment. No class in the community except abolitionists outright ask for the abolition of slavery without compensation; and gentlemen who advocate the ground taken here in opposition place themselves in that category according to my conception.
MR. TICHENELL. I wish to call the gentleman to order. I deem it a slander on me to call me an abolitionist. I do not wish to be called an abolitionist in this hall.
MR. RUFFNER. I did not say that the gentlemen were abolitionists, but they place themselves on the footing of abolitionists by thus denying the right of slaveholders to compensation for their slaves; because in fact they do that by the arguments they urge here.
This is all I wish to say in reference to this matter, sir. Gentlemen may consider it as they please; but instead of leaving this question to the State they bring it now as a probable source of agitation throughout the State. We had in our previous action placed this thing out of view, to come up in its own time and our own way. I favor and have always favored emancipation; but I propose not to do it under coercion, which is now brought upon us, unless it is clearly understood we are to be compensated for our property. Notwithstanding, sir, the possessors of this odious - as the matter now stands - description of property, we are as much entitled to protection as any other class of people who own property. I think in that view, sir, we may justly leave it to be entered that we look to Congress at all events for compensation and place it entirely on our own obligation to make compensation.
MR. PARKER. I agree with the gentleman from Kanawha. It was the feeling of this Convention last winter, I think, to let the question alone provided the new State could be got without it. That is my feeling. If it could have been let alone and the new State obtained, it was my feeling and I believe the feeling of a large majority of our people. But of course, after we had gone as far as we had last winter, we wanted to go through with it; and of course, we were obliged to use the means necessary to obtain the vote. That is the way. Either do a thing or let it alone. We have got so far. We have been to Washington. There is no reflection upon anyone. Now, the only question is: can we take what has been prescribed, which they have a perfect right to prescribe, as the gentleman from Monongalia most ably demonstrated to every man's mind. They have a right to do it. No dictation on the part of Congress. They have a perfect right to say on what terms they will let us in. In order to get in we have got to comply with those terms. So far as the Constitution is concerned, we have to adopt or reject the specific prescribed amendment. I am not going to occupy the time but a short time. As every one seems to be defining his position it rather admonishes me to define mine. Now, the act of Congress presented here provides that West Virginia shall be a state, a member of the "Union, under the present Constitution, upon the fulfilling of a certain specified condition, namely: the Convention is to make and the people are to ratify the certain prescribed amendment to the Constitution. If we do less than this the condition will not be complied with. If we do more than this; if other amendments are attached and ratified along with the one prescribed, then the State would come into being with a different Constitution from that to which Congress consented. Therefore, of course, the President in looking it over will say, you have not done all that Congress approved. Therefore it is my duty instead of issuing a proclamation to refer this altered Constitution to Congress. That is an idea, I believe, we all agree on. We have got to keep within the prescribed amendment so far as the Constitution is concerned. But this Convention being the only body of West Virginia, is not precluded from doing any other act which does not take from nor add to the prescribed amendment that in the judgment of this body will be calculated to facilitate the adoption of the prescribed amendment and secure the practical effects contemplated, namely: the getting of a new and free state. I apprehend it is perfectly clear it is competent for this Convention to do anything not affecting this particular amendment but as an auxiliary to help carry through what we have been working for so long and consummate our wishes, why, we can do it. The only question seems to be whether the resolution should be amended as proposed by my friend from Kanawha. I should like it better in that shape. The only question about this resolution is whether it is going to help us in this great measure, or whether it will be a matter of policy and expediency - that is all. That is to be decided by the Convention from the best light and experience we have. Now, the object sought to be attained by the prescribed amendment requires a sacrifice of certain rights to or in slaves claimed by some of our loyal citizens, valued, as the gentleman from Ohio has shown, at about $450,000. We have got to do this in order to secure the new and free State with all its immense benefits and blessings. It will enrich us; it will bring us everything that is glorious and desirable. The land we all agree is going to double in value, one item showing the public good that is ahead. Our Constitution provides that private property shall not be taken without just compensation. Is the right to slaves such property as is contemplated in this provision? Then is the public exigency such, because there must be a public necessity before you can take individual property. Otherwise, the State would go round and take all and become a great monopolist. There must be a public good; the public exigency that must exist - that is one great point. Then the next point is whether the sacrifice or the infringement, the wiping out of this right of property, whether the wiping out of a certain number of slaves is a taking of it for public use? Now, there are three distinct questions. The first is about the property - whether it is such as contemplated there. The next is: does the public exigency exist which warrants it? And the next is: whether the sacrificing of this property is such public use as comes within the fair interpretation of that clause. Now, I understand if we fail to make out any of these we cannot take the property. These three conditions must exist. Well, now, as I understand, and I think I am right, nowhere in this country has either of these questions been judicially settled - that is, the particular points applying to our particular case. I do not understand that they have been judicially settled. Now, the question is: is it the property? Are these rights in the slaves that this sacrifice must be made in order to obtain our rights? The question is whether they are such property as is contemplated in this act. Does an exigency exist, and is it for the public use? There being no judiciary, certainly the acts of late respectable legislative bodies on this question is entitled to great consideration. If it has not been adjudicated by the courts, why, then legislative expositions become the authority. Now, we see here the act of our Congress, which is the highest legislative body known to the country - we see what they have done in the District of Columbia; simultaneously with their passing the act to abolish slavery they make a provision for compensation. Simultaneously, the appraiser goes to appraise the slave before the emancipation takes place. The money is paid over. Well, now that is pretty high authority. It is the highest legislative body in the land. Then there is the instances recited by the gentleman from Wood, the course taken by England, Russia, and those other countries. But it seems to me this act of Congress comes right home to us. Still, it is not a judicial decision which binds all parties; it leaves the question still a political and debatable question.
Well, now, what I desire to say is that the question can be settled here by this Convention and by all authorized bodies and powers just as far as it can be possible to settle it. We all agree, except my friend from Taylor, whom I was in hopes to hear before I made any remarks that he had fully gone through with his views; except that gentleman, if he is to be excepted - we, here, every one of us, representing every county in the State, we all agree on these points; that the property is there; that the exigency exists; that it is such a taking of it for the highest public good as we all feel and see and that therefore it is for the public use. We all agree. Now, the question is: is there any use in our proclaiming it? That is the question. While I believe and have from the beginning that that proclamation of ours, that declaration, from the position in which we stand as a body, is the best thing we can do. So far as paying, I want to see them paid for. I would not touch them without payment. A loyal man who has invested his property in purchasing his negro; but you have got to sacrifice a thousand dollars. I don't sacrifice anything. I own land; you own slaves. Here is a great public act for us both and our children and the whole community. I could not do it. Says I, my friend, I will help you. The sacrifice is to be made for the public good of a property which a neighbor has honestly acquired with our sanction. Now, our loyal slaveholders being a small minority ask before they vote for this amendment a public declaration of this body that has made the Constitution that slave property is intended to be embraced and that the emancipation for the purpose of complying with the prescribed amendment is such a public use as is contemplated and such as will entitle them to the just compensation. They ask it, as I understand for the reasons, first that it will place on record with the Constitution the judgment of this body on the points carrying home to the minds of all our constituents whether slaveholding or non-slaveholding what we all agree to be the truth; what we all agree to be the local rights and duties of all. Need we be afraid to do it? I am not afraid to cast my vote for it. If my constituents are made up of such thin skin as that, let them go and get somebody else to represent them. I believe my constituents know a great deal more than I do; they are a great ways ahead of me. Now, I want this so that our constituents when they vote on this important measure shall have all the light which their loyal representatives can give on the subject. I know my friend from Hancock - I know him so well he would not abate a tittle on the subject. Now, will this be any more than doing our duty to our constituents? It strikes me not. Shall we do our whole duty if we withhold it? That is the question. If we withhold it, shall we do our own duty as honest, conscientious representatives. They want us frankly to tell them how it is going.
The second reason is because it will enable every loyal slave owner to vote for the amendment without any apprehension that by a silent vote without a protest he may waive his right. I know it will prevent a great many honest men. There are loyal men that have got some property, just as loyal as we are. I am going to vote for that because I consent to it. It is an honest question and men disagree on it.
Well, third, because it will satisfy all loyal slave owners - satisfy them all, and therefore no just ground for complaint to any honest man. No just ground. Well, you conciliate all these loyal friends. You want them. We have got a great enemy, however, that is pressing upon us. We want no differences between us here. We want to mingle into one. We shall find it, probably before six months more, perhaps before, we get through this election. My feeling is to embrace them all in one harmonious united sympathizing whole. Then we will be strong. We cannot afford to have differences, to go along different ways. Therefore that point is very important in my point of view; and I do feel, and I don't think I am mistaken, if we pass this resolution without telling who is to pay, acknowledging the right; we tell the loyal slaveholders throughout the new State and their friends, if they have friends. Of course, to do that to our constituents the non-slaveholding, we take from them nothing. That is the safe way of reasoning.
Fourth, because it will be a contemporaneous and solemn declaration of the intention of the makers of the Constitution; and, sir, in future time serve as a guide to future legislatures and courts; and, which is very important, it will estop better than anything else the demagogue, the political demagogue, in and out of the legislature who will seek to sacrifice justice and right for the sake of their own base ends. We shall have them as long as the world stands, like the poor the blessed Savior says, we have always with us. So we have the political demagogue and always will have. Well, now, when you come to look at a legislature, don't you suppose there will be all sorts of interpretations on these three points. Of course, there will. Well, the demagogue will lay hold of them. But I tell you, Mr. President, if we can pass a unanimous declaration here of this body that made the Constitution, the voter can stand up with that thing in his hands and let the demagogue "holier." It will be the greatest estoppel against demagogues. It is the greatest one that is within our reach. It will be such an estoppel that it will settle the question. We shall never be together again to make this public declaration of what we agree to be right. If it were wrong, I am against it; but it is right, and I am for it.
Fifth, because it will show to the world that we have been honest in our professed desire to have a free state, by showing readiness to use the necessary means to make the necessary sacrifice; and not after having used this amendment for the sake of getting into the Union let it remain a dead letter afterwards, rather than make the paltry sacrifice required. The gentleman from Logan yesterday established the great right in this matter beyond all question. We have got to pay before the emancipation takes effect. The State takes it; the State becomes the debtor. But we all hope it don't come. And our worthy Senator thinks we have a good deal of chance if we would only fit him out with the right resolution.
And, lastly, because it will place the new State upon high moral ground, expected by our friends everywhere, where the mother so long and gloriously stood. We may think we are not much of a body, but the whole country is looking to us. We are upon a hill. That by other and different kinds of feeling, it will entitle the new State not only to the mother's motto "Sic Semper Tyrannis" but to the far grander motto: "Justice and Equity to all men." Put them both together and they make a grand motto. I believe our loyal constituents are prepared to sustain us in doing whatever is honest, just and right though it shall involve us in a small additional tax and also in declaring whenever and wherever the occasion shall demand that such is our fixed purpose; in declaring the purpose when occasion demands it. It is not going to hurt anybody. I feel that such is the fixed purpose of our body. I feel that the occasion demands it in the form it is now. I would not say make the legislature pay. Make it look as well as you can but have the substance. I feel assured that my constituents will sustain me to a man. I believe the present occasion calls for a public declaration that the amended Constitution secures to loyal slave owners just compensation for all sacrifices required to be made by the prescribed amendment. I therefore shall give my vote for the resolution as it stands now. But I like it much better since that is stricken out. It will be less usable in the hands of demagogues. Our constituents will take care of themselves. Let us give them the light.
MR. CARSKADON. Coming as I do from one of the counties most interested in this institution, I hope I will not be considered intruding if I take a few moments to give the reasons for the vote I shall give on this resolution. I am sorry to see so much feeling evinced here on this subject by many gentlemen on either side. I don't think the occasion demands it, neither the subject under consideration. I had hoped we would adopt the amendment under consideration proposed by Congress without discussion but I cannot see the harm that some gentlemen see in the mild discussion of the subject before the house; and I am at a loss to understand gentlemen when they say this right is so plainly laid down in the second article yet evince so much fear that this Convention may reiterate that right. Do they presume their constituents do not know a right is in the Constitution already; and is it their idea that they will hide from their constituents this right in the Constitution of compensation for property? Gentlemen upon the other side accuse certain gentlemen of agitating the question to the injury of the object to be accomplished. Yet these very men had it in their power if they don't wish agitation to have passed the resolution when it was brought before the house without agitating it at all and causing the discussion which they say is to be to the material injury of the new State. They had it in their power to have passed the resolution without this discussion, because the gentlemen who brought in this resolution did not care to have it discussed. They were willing for the Convention to simply pass upon the resolution, to let it pass by; but they, sir, chose to raise this discussion; they, sir, must be permitted to speak upon it and to bring the discussion more before the house and with them rests a great part of the responsibility of this discussion. It might have been unnecessary, and I don't say it was not, to bring the resolution before the house; but as the gentleman from Doddridge says the lawyers choose the less evil, for the greater evil was by discussing the question. Why not have passed it at once? As they say, it contains nothing new whatever, but simply a reiteration of the facts contained in the Constitution. It seems from the drift of the remarks of some gentlemen yesterday evening as though the Convention had resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the state of the Union. If that is the case I hope I may be indulged in a few general remarks in answer to the gentleman from Doddridge. He seems to be very much alarmed at the negro being brought before this Convention. I admit I was very willing to leave it out and would not have brought it up here myself before this Convention. But allow me to say to the gentleman from Doddridge and to any other member that neither he nor this Convention can keep this subject from before the people. It is the great question of the day, acknowledged as such by our able and patriotic President, who wishes to treat it as a principle subject before the country for action at this time and more especially, gentlemen, before the State of West Virginia. It is before us and you cannot hide it. The amendment proposed to the Constitution by Congress brings it up before this State, before this Convention. It is useless to attempt to hide the fact. And, sir, this great idea, this great desire that action upon the part of the South and on the part of the gentlemen who advocate this institution has been the cause of not only an agitation in this State but of the whole world. Where, gentlemen, has the freedom of speech been denied but in that country that is now controlled, ruined almost, by this very thing. The founders of this government, the men who framed this Constitution, for whom you all seem to have such great reverence, they, sir, did not hesitate to say that the institution was a political, a moral and social evil; but the time came and has been but a few years since when if a man south of Mason's and Dixon's line had dared to utter those sentiments, he would have been fortunate if he escaped the halter.
This subject I say is up for discussion. It is being discussed on the field of battle. It is up for settlement by this country; and I may be allowed to say, gentlemen, though I have been raised with slaves, and though my father lived and died a slaveholder and I have a right to know something of the institution as well as other men, I say I believe today this institution is in the way of a permanent restoration of this government; that if you restore the power which has brought about this rebellion you do but restore the country again to the conditions which but a few years ago made life impossible in nearly one-half of the country to any man who was unveiling to surrender his right to free speech and liberty of action. Not that I would have any unwarrantable means taken against an institution tolerated by the letter of the law, but I say let us have freedom of speech, and let this like any other subject bear the light. If there is any question of public policy that cannot bear the light that very fact is the best reason in the world why it should be made to bear it.
But I say, gentlemen, that this resolution of the gentleman from Kanawha is but acting upon this great principle that we must settle the question. Why do you propose to refuse to ask Congress to appropriate money for that purpose. Why, I say, when it is before us, when the Constitution itself makes provision for the emancipation.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. Nobody here opposed the resolution asking Congress.
MR. CARSKADON. Well, if they do not oppose the resolution itself I understand there are gentlemen opposing anything but the amendment proposed by Congress. I have understood that to be the drift of gentlemen on this floor. They have wished nothing else whatever but the amendment of Congress. Well, I say that would have been well enough; but I say, at the same time that I see no reason why this Convention in its official capacity should not ask of Congress this appropriation. For that reason, I am for the resolution of the gentleman from Kanawha. It simply asks the President that the money be appropriated to assist in this emancipation.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. That resolution is not before this body for discussion. It is not proposed.
MR. CARSKADON. Well, I understood it was offered by the gentleman and that the committee had it before them.
MR. STUART. Laid on the table. Not been called up.
MR. LAMB. A great many things have been discussed that were not before this body. It might be well to let the rule work on all sides.
MR. WILLEY. I understand the gentleman from Hampshire as rebutting the argument - which has certainly been repeated here time and again - that this Convention was brought here to do nothing at all but to respond to the act of Congress; and it is perfectly in order, as I understand to rebut the argument by allusion to the resolution.
MR. CARSKADON. That was my object, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman is in order.
MR. CARSKADON. I was struck with the remarks of the gentleman from Logan yesterday with regard to this institution, and he beautifully illustrates it by saying his father freed his slaves and removed to a place where his sons might be raised with the idea that men should be estimated not according to the number of negroes they owned but according to their mental and moral worth. It is upon this ground I say such action by this Convention as proposed in this resolution of the gentleman from Kanawha is appropriate. Because we have to get rid of slavery in some way. It is a part of the national issue, and I see no harm to accrue to the new State by making this request of Congress.
These, gentlemen, are my sentiments; these are my opinions, after due and candid consideration of this subject. I am not for ultra measures; for precipating things in an unjust way; but I am for looking the subject in the face; not desiring to shirk from it. We have got it to settle in some way; and I hold we must deal with it as a principal question and settle it as one; and that being the case, the measure proposed in the amendment made by Congress to the Constitution of West Virginia, to free the slaves, being before us for ratification, I hold it is proper and right in this Convention to assist our representatives in Congress by giving the expression of this Convention that we would receive an appropriation of Congress for that purpose.
MR. HAGAR. I live about the center from the Ohio river to the upper edge of Raleigh county. I have been traveling over the country very much for the last nine or ten years, born and reared and living there. I know a good deal about the minds of the people on this subject in that country. I believe now in reference to the country from Raleigh county to the Ohio river, and really to the Kentucky line, I am satisfied the majority of the people would be perfectly willing - perhaps six out of seven of them - to pay all the loyal slave-owners in that country for their slaves. I as one think it is right; and as much as may have been said in other days concerning it, I have always thought that where the law made slavery right that a man has as much right to invest his money in slaves as in anything else. I think it is right loyal men should have compensation for their slaves freed by the proposed amendment that Congress has inserted in the Constitution; and one reason that they are willing, among others: I am acquainted with all the slaveholders in Wyoming, Logan and Boone. I think I know every slaveholder, some forty or fifty of them; and I think there is one loyal slaveholder, John McCook, in the lower corner of Wyoming county. The balance have been engaged in this rebellion against the constitution that gave the right to their slaves as property. The people in that country have become soured and prejudiced to some extent against the slaveholder. They universally, with the exception of the man spoken of, were leaders in this rebellion. The Union men have been oppressed, their property destroyed - captured and carried off by these men; but if half of them were loyal men and each owned forty slaves that would come under the act proposed by Congress, I would be willing to pay my full part of the expense. I have tried to be a just man; ought to be an honest man, for I have tried to teach it to others. I for my part could not see why it was indispensably necessary this bill be added to the Constitution. I once thought I was in favor of it; and when I heard the excellent argument and exposition of the law by the gentleman from Logan, who proved as clear as a sunbeam that the slaveholder had a right under the Constitution to recover pay, I have no serious objection against giving my assent or wish or expressing my desire they be paid if they be done in the way that will not admit all these rebels to come in with their slaves, making the poor Union men pay for them. For Virginia for years, and ever since I can recollect, oppressed the poor by exempting large slaveholders from taxation and only paying a proportion on the balance; only paying a part on the balance of the property they owned in slaves over twelve years old and all under exempt. But that is all passed by. We are fixing a better constitution; better state; better law. I want the slaveholders - the Union slaveholders - to act as honest men. Gentlemen presume because they own a few slaves that they should rule the whole Union, or state. There has been too much of this; and when I hear it said on this floor that unless this compensation is voted for you cannot get the vote of the slaveholders on these important matters - we heard such talk last winter. I was opposed to it then and am yet. It is an evidence of a principle we ought to frown down. We can carry it without you, but we want you and as one, I am willing you should be paid for your slaves. Perhaps in the Kanawha valley there are a hundred slaveholders and if there are nine of them loyal, I have never seen where they are. This is so - the men in Charleston, Patrick and perhaps one or two more, are loyal - in all Kanawha county. If they can hold slaves and be Union men under the present condition of things there, they ought to be paid for them!
Then you have my principle on this subject. I want to represent my constituents. I know more about the country from Kanawha to the Sandy river and Ohio to the far edge of Raleigh to Mercer, than any other man can know, does know or will know. I don't know so much about the surrounding country here but we who have traveled over it for twenty years know more about the people. I don't know much about law. I try to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly before God. It is an important matter we get the new State; and so I said last winter when we wanted Battelle's resolution in the Constitution. Now there would have been a Constitution going on. But we could not speak the truth then. We were not allowed to. But now the thing has come up. I want the Constitution and the new State, cost what it will. What are my few thousand dollars if we fail? Give us the new State and live; without it we will die. In this matter it is victory or death in western Virginia. Let us have it. We expect to get the new State. But the enemy's point in this matter is this: I heard a Union man say we would like to have the new State, but if the negro is to be paid for we will be burdened to death with taxes. I tell you this will be used against us. I want a vote unanimous on the amendment; and if any differ on the other let us differ. I say the honest and loyal slaveholder ought to be paid; but those holders - as nineteen to twenty - throughout western Virginia have been engaged in the rebellion: I don't want them to be paid. I want it shaped so as not to affect the Constitution. I am to some extent pleased with the last amendment, and I will vote for it, as it suits me, when the thing comes up.
MR. BOGGS. I just rose up to show the position of Pendleton county, and what I was sent here to do. I am sorry to look over this audience and see so much confusion about this matter. Now, we way down on the frontier thought that was all done away with. We hoped so at least; but I see it is agitated on one side and upon the other. Now I don't raise here on this floor to agitate the subject. I rather got up as a compromise. The object I was sent here for was to insert in this Constitution the amendment of Congress and there by that all persons in the new State would be perfectly satisfied that the Constitution showed them that they had provisions made for every thing that was necessary. But I see that there are troubled waters here as well as yonder. We had no idea in Pendleton county that we have anything in the rear. We concluded it was all in front. We have got a good many there, but we had no idea we had negro behind us. And I come here, Mr. President, sorry to sit and listen to the jangling and wavering about that matter. We are perfectly willing in Pendleton to do justice by the loyal people of the new State. But there may be in this portion of the country, as we have got there, some little doubts about their loyalty I don't know - 1 don't wish to - don't get up for that purpose, to throw any insinuations on any set of men in this house. They have treated me kindly; but I can tell you one thing: you are going wrong, all of you!
Now, this is the opinion of Pendleton: We go in for the new State. We consider ourselves loyal there, I believe as loyal as any people, any county, in the new State. We are willing to do justice to all loyal men owning slaves. But yet, I am sorry - and I know my constituents would be sorry if they were to know the state of things existing here which does. The negro question, that is the thing that drove us off from eastern Virginia, because we were in bondage by the negro. Our foes there owned them and we wished to be free, and therefore we clung to that thing called the new State. We did it under arms, because what voting we do we are compelled to do in that way. It does appear to me at least the money spent in arguing this negro question, if it had been appropriated to the defense of the frontier, it would have done more good than all your arguments (Laughter). Although we are willing to do anything called honest. One says - the gentleman from Hancock - he has rode in the night when he could not see his horse's head; but if he was down in our county, we would show him something more about loyalty than riding in one night, or two either. The gentleman from Doddridge says he has sacrificed a great deal. We will admit all that; but we contend we are right at the point where if there is any suffering going, it is. I have now come up here to vote on this question and agreeable to the opinion of my constituents. Therefore, I am sorry that there is so much difference of opinion about what way it shall be done. We think the Constitution as it stands in our county is perfectly right. We hold on to all things which are right, and therefore we go in for it.
MR. LAUCK. It is with much trepidation I enter on the discussion of this subject. The honorable committee has reported just precisely as eastern Virginia would have done - the negro, first, last and always. We are to say it is a fact, and then we are told the question is upon us and we are bound to meet it. We are told, Mr. President, that we are bound to vote for this or else we are branded at home by our constituents that we denied the right of emancipation. We believe, just as our people believe that the relation between master and slave is a sacred relation. The man that owns a servant, it is his property, just as his house, or ox, or anything else. But, sir, we here in this body believe those doctrines to be true. We have passed that constitutional provision that no property shall be taken for public use without just compensation covers the whole of it. I suppose the owner of the negro has it as safe as anybody else; but why do the owners of slaves wish to elevate that species of property above all other kinds of property. I am the owner of a slave; my friend from Monongalia is the owner of an ox. Has not he as much right to ask compensation for his ox as I for my slave? We are not a legislative body. We have declared a fundamental principle, and I say the fundamental principles we have adopted in our Constitution covers all species of property, and I regard one as sacred as another. But they are determined to force on this Convention an expression of opinion, to convert us into a legislative body, to say that we are bound to give our opinion about negro property. I am willing to give my opinion in reference to all kinds but I am not willing to except one species there above another. Now, Mr. President, I admit the truth of the whole proposition. I cannot vote against it, nor I cannot vote for it. I say that we have provided for it; that the owners of that peculiar kind of property abide the issue as all other kinds of property abide it. I am sorry this question is sprung among us and that they are trying to force us to pass a resolution and interpret our acts here. We can do it by amendments, we can do it bysubstitutes; but as a. question that we cannot vote upon I dare not go to my constituents and tell them that master and slave is a legal relation; I cannot tell them that I believe it. I believe that if the owner of a slave is justly entitled to compensation, if his slaves are taken for public use, the case is not different from other property. This Convention in its wisdom says the time is now present when we shall sever the relation and it is absolutely necessary the slave should be taken for the public good; that the necessity now does arise, and the Congress think so, and that all that species of property should be taken for the public good. Now, sir, if we are morally bound, constitutionally bound, because we think that exigency has arisen, and that is absolutely the fact, are we bound then to say that there is a difference between such property and other property ? Congress says the time has now arrived when that relation should be severed and the slaves taken from the masters for the public good. Congress says that necessity now exists; and of course as we are going for the new State, we are bound to take it.*** We wish this question to be brought right down to the constitutional provision. We don't want to exalt one species of property over and above another and attempt to extort an opinion of that kind. You must not mistake us - that in our zeal for a new State we will override principles. We want it all on the same level, and we are determined to have it. That is all there is of it. I know these are the views and sentiments of our people.
My idea is we should go before the community untrammeled by this resolution. We shall be asked why single out a certain, particular and favored species of property? Why should negro property over-ride everything else? That is what has brought on this rebellion. Why did we complain? Look at the taxes assessed on the northwest while that species of property was not half taxed? That is what we have been grumbling about; and the first thing we did when we came together the same aristocratic idea is brought into this Convention by that resolution. The old fogyism of eastern Virginia. The same old doctrine. Smother it up as you please, the same old doctrine sticking out there. I had hoped all those appendages had been lopped off but I find they are still sticking there. When we get a new State we want to come on an equal footing, to stand on equal ground. I was delighted to hear my friend from Pendleton make those remarks, plain and to the point. He comes from the border where he suffered and his friends suffered. He says he expected when he came here he would find harmony, but he finds dissension and discord.
(NOTE: The reporter finds in his notes a memorandum that much of Mr. Lauck's address was inaudible at the reporter's table owing to the frequent dropping of his voice, so that parts of sentences, and sometimes whole sentences would be lost. The foregoing is therefore a very inadequate report of his remarks.)
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I had designed, sir, making some remarks on the resolution, but as the Convention must be wearied with the discussion, which has been protracted now for two days, however anxious I might be to speak on the subject if there is no disposition on the part of the gentlemen who favor the resolution to make any further remarks, I shall forego the privilege of speaking myself and let the vote be taken either now or immediately after recess. If any others, however, are disposed to make remarks either for or against the resolution, of course I will feel at liberty to claim my privilege.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I understand we had a rule that stops anyone from speaking more than once until all others who wish have spoken once. If the gentleman intends speaking it is just he should not do so until others who have not spoken should have the opportunity.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. Mr. President, as I have not spoken yet, the gentleman's remark does not apply.
MR. STUART. I understand on the amendment very few speeches have been made.
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman from Wood has the floor.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. In the discussion of amendments the practice certainly has been to embrace the entire question.
Mr. President, it seems to me that the great bulk of the argument used by the different gentlemen to support the second resolution has been to say the least of it, unnecessary. For instance, my colleague from Wood gave a very excellent argument of a historical kind, in which he undertook to prove that the principle of compensating parties whose private property had been taken for public purposes was the correct principle, and that the states of Holland and our humble and unselfish neighbor across the Atlantic, England, had settled this principle; that even the autocrat of the Russias, who sways his iron scepter over his sixty-five millions of subjects had also recognized the correctness of this principle; and so of other countries. The argument, sir, was a most excellent one, indeed, and would have been a very forcible one in favor of his position in reference to that particular matter if there was anybody here or anywhere else to dispute it. So far the argument really amounted to nothing as sustaining the position because it was not disputed. Otherwise, I say, it was an instructive and useful and edifying argument, and I was much pleased with it. And so with the argument of my friend from Logan county yesterday, where he made John Calvin burn Michael Servetus to a cinder because of a difference with him in matters of religion, and carried us back to the time when the darkness of the middle ages was just passing away and when a brighter morning of civilization and religion was just bursting upon the world - to the time of the good noblemen, to the times of Windsor Castle and King John, and Magna Charta, in order to show the same principle. And so I may say of the legal argument apart from this historical one over which gentlemen have labored with so much eloquence and with such numerous appeals to this body. The whole argument, sir, I repeat it, was unnecessary and uncalled for, as the principle they undertook to establish by it, that of compensating persons whose private property was taken for public uses, is not disputed by any body of men in the civilized world, in any Christian country that I know of at the present time, and certainly has not been questioned by a single individual in this Convention. Now, sir, if I am correct in that I have already disposed of the great mass of argument which has been delivered on this floor for the last forty-eight hours or more. There was an argument of a different character introduced by my friend from the county of Ohio; an argument based on arithmetic, one of figures; and I presume no person in the Convention will deny that if an argument can be made that is conclusive and unanswerable upon that question the gentleman from Ohio is the very man who can do it, and he has made such an argument, unfortunately for the position he assumes, which I think proves too much. I think instead of being in favor of the resolution, his argument, to my mind, if not conclusive is at least very strong against it. Let us see. The gentleman tells us that in 1860 there were 12,600 slaves within the counties of the new State; and that by a certain process of depletion and reduction from certain causes at work, which continue to work and will continue to work as long as there is a slave within the boundaries of the new State, the number of slaves within the short space of less than two years are reduced from 12,600 until at this moment there are but 1,500 slaves within the limits of the new State to be paid for; and that at a high estimate which my friend puts on these slaves, $300.00 apiece, it would require but $450,000.00 to buy the whole batch. Assuming the number of slaves he has calculated to be correct, I suppose a quarter of a million dollars would be a fair estimate for the value of them to be paid; and a much less amount if the position of the gentleman from Morgan that they had sold in his county for a dollar apiece, is correct. Now then, sir, he supposes the number of slaves within the limits of the State has been reduced from 12,600 until at the present moment there are but 1,500. Then how many will there be for us to be taxed to purchase when the new State has gone into full operation, when the first legislature has met and gathered all the facts in reference to this matter, and when it has adjusted, as it will adjust, a policy by which all the parties can be compensated.
MR. LAMB. Will the gentleman just allow me to correct him there. He has misunderstood the calculation. The calculation as stated by me was that there would be 1,500 slaves to be paid for at the time when they would have to be paid for. The gentleman says my calculation was that there were 1,500 here now. My idea was that when the time arrived to pay for them there might be 1,500 to be paid for.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I will accept the explanation of my friend from Ohio. I took it down on paper at the time and was under the impression he said the number of slaves at the present time would be 1,500. However, suppose it to be that at the time when the owners are to be compensated. The gentleman says he is satisfied there will not be that many. I question whether there will be half that many. I doubt, indeed, seriously, whether there will be a number sufficient to make it a matter of any importance even then in the legislature. Now, the insignificance of the number and the rapidity with which the number has wasted away and become smaller; the trifling amount necessary to compensate the loyal owners of these slaves when the time for the payment of compensation arrives - is it not too insignificant a matter to bring into this Convention and ask that the Convention take an action which is unprecedented, without a parallel, I venture to say in any other constitutional body that ever assembled in this country or any other? Would it not be the part of wisdom to leave this matter until that time where the figures of my friend from Ohio county brought him; leave it to the circumstances that will then exist; and leave it to the courts and to the legislature which we have established by this Constitution to settle - as unquestionably they will settle at that time this whole question entirely to the satisfaction of all the parties interested?
I intend to use that very identical argument, and I am very glad my friend from Ohio county, in the exercise of that faculty with which he is peculiarly gifted, has brought the figures here on which I could base a calculation to make that argument. And I present it as one of the considerations, to my mind, why this Convention is entirely out of its place in entertaining or passing upon that question at all, at least in the shape in which it is presented in this resolution.
Now, I have disposed of this legal history and arithmetical arguments introduced here in favor of that position. Upon the legal question, sir, of course I do not undertake to venture an opinion of my own; but since the gentlemen on that committee, who are among the best in legal capacity in this Convention have agreed among themselves that the power is already in the Constitution so unequivocally, so undeniably, so plainly that there is no disputing it, I do not undertake to put myself or my judgment in opposition to theirs in that matter. I let it rest with them and consider the matter decided by them and, therefore, against the resolution which they intended to support by that very argument. So of this historical argument, however eloquent and beautiful. Strong in itself, it seems to have no bearing on the question, unless the principle intended to be established by it is -
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I should like to ask whether you have any opinion as to whether the Constitution contains the provision or not?
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I shall give the gentleman that opinion by-and-by, if it is worth anything. I say now, I am willing to take as my opinion the opinion presented by the gentleman from Kanawha upon that question, and I am willing to take his argument just as he delivered it and put it on my side of the question to oppose the resolution which he intended to maintain by it. Now, if he understands what his argument was in regard to the construction of that 6th section, he has got mine precisely. Is that satisfactory?
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. No, sir; I don't consider it an answer.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. Well, now, sir, having disposed of that part of his argument I don't know any other that remains that I can recollect of. But let me suggest now some objections against the introduction of the resolution and apart from this. I believe my friend from Kanawha and my colleague from Wood and I do not know but all the gentlemen as far as I can comprehend their argument in favor of this resolution admit that this Congressional amendment does not affect in any way the 6th section of the 2nd article of our Constitution in regard to taking private property for public use without compensation. They tell us this Congressional amendment leaves that article untouched, unimpaired, just as it came from the hands of the Convention. Is that so? Well, sir, if it is, I ask what construction the members of this Convention, or what construction can any sensible man (for there are a few sensible men living, outside of this Convention) put on the action of this Convention if it puts that resolution on its record? What but this: that this Convention while holding a session of some three months, after deliberating day by day on this Constitution actually inserted in it a provision so uncertain in its language, so ambiguous, so difficult of interpretation that neither the Convention itself nor the people outside the Convention could understand what it meant unless the Convention made a resolution to explain what it actually did mean. Now, if that don't put the Convention in an awkward, ridiculous and childish position, I confess I don't understand what would. I defy any man to look at it and put any other construction upon it. If it is true that it is left unimpaired, untrammeled, unaltered and unaffected by this Congressional amendment, then no other construction can be put on the adoption of this resolution than the one I have just given to it. And I would not for the little reputation I have as a member of this Convention have that thing thrown into my teeth as it may be a hundred times even before the vote is taken on the amended Constitution that the people had selected us to make a Constitution simple, plain and easily understood in its provisions, and yet there was a provision so uncertain and ambiguous and difficult we had actually to accompany it with explanations of our own in order that our constituents might understand what it meant. Now, I have, in addition to the argument made by my friend who has just taken his seat, which he has anticipated here, that this gives this slave property some advantages which no other property has in this Constitution and thereby creates a distinction that will be justly offensive to men who hold other kinds of property - and there are a few left besides those who hold negroes within the limits of this new State, and I am one of them. In addition to that, sir, we have the prospect - a very good prospect it seems to me at the present time - if we act wisely on this subject, of having this payment made to these loyal owners by the general government itself. Now, sir, let us put upon our record the original resolution as offered, or even with the amendment proposed by my friend from Kanawha, which implies at least that the people of the State may be taxed to pay for these negroes, and there you have committed a blunder; committed the people in favor of paying for these slaves by taxation and have weakened your prospects of getting compensation by the general government. That is as plain as the nose on any man's face. You do it to that extent. I will admit it is only a paper resolution; it don't amount to anything as a legal provision one way or the other; but its moral effect will be such that when you go up to Congress, and when you go - as my friend of Doddridge was about to put us all - into Father Abraham's bosom - and ask him to compensate these loyal slave owners for their slaves, it will be said: why, you, in your Convention, representing the sovereign people have implied by a resolution which you put upon the record there that you do not desire the general government to pay for these slaves; you intend to pay for them yourselves by taxing your people. I urge that, sir, as a consideration of some weight in opposition to the adoption of the resolution.
Well, now, I have another consideration, and a number of them, that are stronger than any, I think, yet presented; and I deem any one of these leading considerations sufficient in itself to debar favorable action on the part of this Convention on that second resolution. And I tell the gentlemen of this Convention before they vote in favor of putting this resolution on the record of their proceedings they should consider well what they are here for; consider well what the loyal people who are just now trembling on the verge of uncertainty about this new State have sent us here to do. It is just as clear as the shining sun at noonday that nine-tenths - ninety-nine out of every hundred of the loyal people within the limits of this new State don't desire the introduction of that subject at this time and in this manner into this Convention. I have not seen the first man - not a single man, in all my intercourse with the people since this Convention last assembled outside of this Convention that desired the introduction of this in that shape into this Convention. Since I came to the city of Wheeling, I have conversed with men from the different counties of the State and I have yet to see the first man, private or public, not a member of this Convention, who desired the introduction of this subject in this way into this body. On the contrary, I have not met any such man who did not consider the introduction of this question in this shape at this time and in this body as extremely impolitic, unwise and calculated to do a vast amount of mischief to the prospects and success of the new State Constitution in the coming political contest. Now, you are here not to put your own private opinions on the record. I am not here for that purpose, nor any of you. You are here to reflect the will of the people on this question. The people have confided to this Convention the delicate task not of embarrassing or overloading the issues of this new State question but of giving efficacy, giving strength, giving certainty to the last grand effort they shall be called upon to make for this new State at the coming election and in order that they may realize what they have so long labored for and hoped for and gain a final triumph on this new State question. I know, sir, we have been told by some of the gentlemen here, but so far as my inquiry has gone - and I have taken some pains to inquire about it of gentlemen from different parts of the country - that it is a mistake to suppose that any considerable number of people within the limits of this new State desire the introduction of this question at this time and in this shape into this Convention. Now mark it, as you please, as a prediction, for I shall make the prophecy, like my friend from Hancock, now and then as I go along, you will discover if you do adopt this resolution you will have done what a large, and overwhelming, majority of your constituency desired you would not do. The people expected us to come on here; they expected us to take deliberate, cautious, considerate action upon the amendment proposed by Congress to our Constitution. They desire us, after having done that, to make such regulations as would fairly and successfully put the machinery of this new State into successful operation. I am satisfied, sir, that the people did not desire, did not expect should go any, certainly not much, farther than that. Above all things, sir, they do not desire that any outside question should be introduced here, especially if that question was calculated to bring discord and disunion into the Convention, to be carried out of the Convention amongst the people. I am not prepared to say the people would be displeased, that they would very seriously object to a proposition simply declaring the wish of this Convention that the general government would make the compensation to loyal owners of slaves within the limits of the new State; because that is a matter it seems to me about which there would be very little division of sentiment among our constituency. But even that I would regard as a matter of supererogation. But still I do not know that the people would seriously object to that. But certainly they did consider that our special and I might say almost our only business here was to act on this proposed amendment and make the ordinances necessary to give effect to the Constitution and put the new State into operation.
A good deal has been said here touching the expediency of this resolution, and although gentlemen seem to think expediency should not have much to do with the action of this Convention, I must be allowed to differ with them in that opinion. It is a matter of very great importance that we shall introduce no question into this Convention, however important it may be, unless it is absolutely necessary that will carry outside this Convention any new issue to be brought into this canvass. Gentlemen have said with a good deal of exultation, don't you admit the resolution contains the truth? Well, suppose I do admit it, why, sir, you might begin with the first article of this Constitution and go to the end and make a resolution explaining each provision, every part, each article, every section in each article; and all these resolutions might be true in themselves; but would it be wise to put all those resolutions on the journal? And what is true of a large number of resolutions is equally true, as far as it goes, of one resolution. The resolution may contain the truth or it may not. There may be differences of opinion upon that. A red rag is a harmless thing in itself; but if we are going to cross a field where a bull is grazing we do not flaunt that red rag in his face.
My position is this: that we have as many issues already growing out of the adoption of this new State Constitution as we can successfully explain to the people in the several counties.
The hour for recess having arrived, the Convention took a recess.
The Convention re-assembled at 2 o'clock P. M.
Mr. Ross presented a petition of about eighty citizens of Ohio county, praying that their fellow citizens serving their country in the Union army outside the State be allowed to vote on the ratification of the amended Constitution.
The Convention resumed consideration of the second resolution reported and recommended by the special committee.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood resumed his remarks and spoke as follows:
Mr. President, when the Convention took a recess I was about to urge another consideration in addition to a number which I had already presented why this Convention should not express an opinion such as is presented in the second resolution under consideration. I trust the Convention will bear in mind the considerations which I have already presented, because I don't propose to refer to them again except by way of recapitulation when I have got through with the entire number which I intended to offer.
It is not properly the business of this Convention to put constructions upon the instrument which it is assembled here to make. I am not aware - although my information probably is limited - I think I am correct in saying that in very few cases, if indeed it is true in any case, has a body of this character undertaken by resolution to explain and construe articles in the Constitution framed by them. I do not know of any precedent that will justify action of this kind in this Convention. There may be such, but I think the gentlemen will admit, all of them, that if there are any, there are very few. So far then as the ipatter of precedent is concerned, I think we ought not to act favorably upon the resolution. This Convention was called together for the particular purpose of framing an organic law for the government of the people of West Virginia. I do not understand that it was called together for the purpose of putting a construction on the Constitution when they should submit it to the people, with a view of influencing the judgment of the people upon their work, or for the purpose of influencing the action of the legislature or the courts when they came to act under that Constitution. I should admit this Convention might have the power but not that it has the right to put itself in the position and assume functions of the very tribunals it has created to pass upon or act under its provisions. There is an obvious impropriety in it, to say the least. Is it not the business of the courts provided for in this Constitution to pass upon the meaning of the provisions found in it? Or is it so that this Convention is so "omnipotent" - that is the expression, I believe, that it is not only invested with the particular power to frame a constitution but that it embodies within itself all the powers and can perform all the functions which belong to the bodies created by the Constitution they have made, such as the courts and the legislature? If it has such power, if it is so "omnipotent" as this, I think it would be very injudicious, to say the least, to exercise the power. It is the duty of the legislature created by this Constitution, to pass such laws, to make such provisions, to adopt such regulations as will put this organic law into successful operation; and it is the duty of the courts of justice created by this same instrument, where there is any doubt, any contest, any difference of opinion, any conflicting interest that may grow out of this Constitution, it is the business of those courts - and that is the purpose for which they are instituted - at least one of them - to put a construction on the provisions of the Constitution which may be in question. Now, sir, if this is correct, then to say the very least of it, it would be very improper and very unusual for this Convention to convert itself into a legislature or into a supreme court of the State of West Virginia to pass on the nature, the character, the meaning of the provision or any provision, in the Constitution they have made.
We are told the adoption of this resolution is necessary in order that the courts may understand how to construe a certain provision of this Constitution. Is not it just as important that we should put a resolution on the record explaining every other provision, and especially those that may be doubtful. If there is a propriety in one case is it not equally proper in every other, if it is the business of this Convention to do so? It is said that kind of authority - I believe our friends call it "cotemporaneous" authority - is useful and proper in putting a construction upon the provisions of an instrument which may have been made for the government of the people. That is to say, that the debates which occurred upon that Constitution, the opinions which were expressed by the body that made it, that the comments published at the time in reference to it, are all to be taken into consideration by the tribunal that puts a construction on a constitution. That matter, sir, has been very fully answered, but I propose here to interpose an idea or argument which has not been, I believe mentioned in connection with that position. I give it to you as my opinion as a lawyer. I hope it will be cited to by the other legal gentlemen in the Convention. And that is this: that this kind of authority, this "cotemporaneous interpretation," as it is called is used only to put a construction upon a provision of a constitution when that provision is doubtful. Gentlemen of excellent legal attainments have informed me that such has been the practice in the courts; that they put constructions on the provisions of their State or national Constitution; that in other cases such authority is comparatively worthless; that where the language of the article is unambiguous, where its expressions are clear, where its meaning is unquestioned and undoubted, such authority is not deemed admissible for the purpose of construing the provision. Now, I appeal to my friends here, my brethren of the legal profession, whether there is any ambiguity about this 6th section of article II. I appeal to the speeches - the eloquent, impressive, pathetic appeals which have been made to this Convention, whether or not there is any doubt about the meaning or can be any doubt about the construction put on this provision: "Private property shall not be taken for public use without compensation." A man who can see beyond the point of his nose can see there is no ambiguity there. "No person in time of peace shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law." If that was written with a sunbeam on the face of the sky, it could not be plainer. These gentlemen have shown to every unbiased mind in this Convention that the practice of every civilized country and every Christian nation from the time people extorted the Magna Charta from the unwilling hands of King John at Windsor Castle this principle has been practiced and acted upon and is now a part of the common law of all these countries. Now, what becomes of your cotemporaneous argument if that position is a correct one?
When the Convention took a recess, I was about calling the attention of the Convention that it was very dangerous for us to introduce into this coming canvass where we were to take a vote on this amendment, any new issue. I don't doubt that you might properly raise a dozen of different issues on this Constitution; and they will be properly raised at the proper time. But for the sake of the success of this new State movement I ask the Convention not to inject any new unnecessary issue into this canvass. We have got as much as we can carry through. We are loaded down already with issues growing out of the Constitution, the provisions of which are nearly all new, at least to the people of our State who have not had the benefit of the discussions here and the reasons for many things which may seem to them of doubtful propriety. Remember, gentlemen, there is some truth in the proverb that it is the last pound that breaks the camel's back. The entire contents of your Constitution are about to be submitted to the people for examination. We have made radical changes in the organic law of our State compared with the institutions under which we have been living. Here we have introduced, for instance, a system of free schools - a new feature. Not entirely new, it is true. We have something resembling it in the code of Virginia; but as a general system of public instruction for all the children of the State and to be supported by the State as a State, it is a new system. There is one issue you have got to meet before the people. You have your anti-free school men, to meet and overcome the prejudice on that subject. You have to meet and if you can conquer and explain away the best way you can. I tell you that system, however noble it is and however desirable and however inestimable in point of value to the people of this new State, is one that will meet with vigorous opposition on the part of those who probably conscientiously think or from interested motives will act in opposition to it. There is one feature of your Constitution that raises an issue before the people upon which you have to meet them and combat them. Here comes in your court system. You have abolished the old system which you had; you have made a radical change in the judiciary of the new State compared with what it was under the old one. You have the adherents and friends of that old system as well as the friends of the new one. The new system, if it has no real objections at least has many imaginary ones in the minds of these gentlemen. They will tell you if the old court system had its abuses, so has this system of courts by judges its abuses, and they can point out the cases, the states and the times where these abuses have occurred. There is another issue you have to meet before the people. There is another class of men you have to convince or confound on that question. Well, sir, does it stop there ? The financial feature of the Constitution is entirely different from the old. You have the internal improvement men; you have the men connected with corporations, connected with great companies of improvement, with banking institutions, with councils, with railroads and slack water navigation companies, and a dozen of others to meet and to them you will have to explain if you can the provisions you have introduced into this Constitution in regard to the contraction and payment of debts of this new State. There is another issue that is raised necessarily because the feature introduced is a comparatively new one. Does it stop there ? No, I could go from one end of this Constitution to the other and almost every feature is a new one and necessarily involves the discussion of the principle introduced in that provision. The township system is a new and novel feature in the organization of this State. What does it involve? All the elements in the social organization of the people of the State - an entire change. In everything almost in reference to the government of the people, in the primary assemblies and in the districts or portions of country which they are cut up into by the introduction of this provision in reference to the system of townships. You have your men who cling to fond associations and recollections - the present system of division of counties, districts, precincts, etc., you have that class of men to satisfy. You have to convince the people who are to vote now on this Constitution; because all these issues will again be brought into the canvass, that this township system is a system calculated to contribute more to the prosperity, to the elevation, to the advancement of the people in the new State than the social system under which we now live. There is an issue raised upon that question and one that will require all the time that even my friend from the county of Logan, who makes his speeches by the hour, can give it. It will require all the time he can occupy in a single speech to explain that one feature of this Constitution satisfactorily to the people, particularly those who object to its introduction. I speak so not because there are not other subjects which give rise to issues in this canvass but to show you that we have already introduced into this contest about this new State as many issues as we can successfully meet, explain and carry through in one single campaign. And hence I say, as I said a few moments ago, that although there are a hundred issues that must ultimately grow out of the operations of this Constitution; and I say that likewise men we should let them slip until the proper time and when they are to be brought out before the people and canvassed. Do not let us hold down this new State movement that is already overburdened with opposition and with objection on the part of those who have conspired for its defeat and overthrow.
Now, sir, what about this matter of expediency? I was not only astonished but almost amazed when I heard the gentleman here from Boone, a man who knows the people and their associations, who has been associated with what gentlemen term the common people. He knows the sentiments of the people; knows the sentiment of these particular gentlemen who are par excellence so anxious to have protection under this Constitution; and he tells us that in a number of counties which he enumerated, out of all the slaveholders in them with whom he was well acquainted, there was one man, one righteous man in Sodom, who stood up in defense of his country; and that even here in the county of Kanawha, so ably represented on this floor the number of loyal slaveholders were so inconceivably few that they could be numbered by a few dozen.
MR. RUFFNER. I beg to correct the gentleman. I did not accept the statement of the gentleman from Boone as true in regard to Kanawha.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I wish to add, Mr. President, that the gentleman from Boone in wholly mistaken in his statement in regard to Kanawha. That I know to be so; and if he is not better posted in regard to his statements as to the other counties, I could rely very little upon them.
MR. HAGAR. I did not profess to understand Kanawha county. I said as far as my information was, there were three citizens there; that there was but few Union slave owners there and three gentlemen from Charleston, Doctor Patrick and a few others.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. It is simply a matter of veracity between these gentlemen - perhaps a little difference in the standard of what constitutes a loyal man. They all represent the same district of country.
MR. SMITH. It is a matter of knowledge, information, not of veracity.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. The gentleman does not know.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. The very matter of knowledge is a matter about which the Convention is to judge; they are to judge between the declarations of these gentlemen; and if they dispute the statements of each other then it becomes only a matter of knowledge, of veracity, and about that the Convention is the judge. But, sir, I will suppose that to be an exaggeration, if you like; but I have not yet heard anybody dispute the computation made by the gentleman from Doddridge - and he made it twenty-four hours ago - that out of all the slaveholders within the boundaries of this new State there are about two hundred slaveholders that are loyal men. Now in reference to the men whose money is invested in this slave property, how many votes will gain from them by the adoption of this declaratory resolution. Suppose you get the whole two hundred that are loyal. It is a very important consideration to know how many votes you are going to lose by it, on the question of expediency. I put it to you without regard to other features. The argument necessarily brings it up. But simply as a question of policy, as it was urged, in order to conciliate these men, in order that they might be protected against evidence that might be brought up to show that they had voted for this Constitution and thus assented to the taking of their property, that this Convention should take the unprecedented and extraordinary course of spreading upon its journal an explanation of what the 6th section of the second article in this Constitution meant.
While I am upon this subject, I desire to make a few remarks that I did not get the opportunity of making before dinner, whether the position taken by the gentleman from Wetzel when he says that the introduction of a resolution so unusual as this in reference to a particular kind of property is a discrimination against the other property held by citizens of this State that is not slave property. I think sir, it will bear that construction; and if it don't, you may rest assured of one thing that the men who have leagued together for the purpose of destroying this new State project will put that construction on it for you. You know how justly sensitive the minds of the people in this new State are on that question. And why? Because ever since they were a people, for a number of generations, special legislation and special laws and special enactments have been made to discriminate against the property of the non-slaveholder and in favor of property held in slaves. Now, what will the demagogue say when he gets on the stump to the people of this new State? Will not he be justified if we pass this resolution in reminding the people how they have suffered heretofore in this State from the discrimination in favor of slave property, of which they complained for generations; that every enactment of the legislature in reference to taxation discriminated against the rights of the non-slaveholding citizen in favor of the man who held that particular kind of property; that even when this rebellion broke out every slave under twelve years of age escaped taxation altogether while everything the non-slaveholder had down to the smallest articles were taxed on their full cash value, while a slave worth $1,500 to $2,000, under the same kind of legislation could not be taxed more than $300 worth of real estate. Mr. Demagogue will say to the people: that is the way you suffered; that was the kind of discrimination kept up year after year in favor of the man who owned a negro and against every man who did not. And now this Convention, he will say, who got together in the city of Wheeling to make a constitution to remedy this state of things, has stepped out of its proper place and proper duties to spread upon its minutes a resolution that proposes that same kind of discrimination in favor of the owner of a negro against the white people of the State. I can see, sir, that these issues will grow out of this action; that it will re-open this old question; and hence I dread its introduction.
In addition to all these considerations, I have to ask this question: what good will the introduction and passage of this resolution do? If we understand public sentiment outside this Convention, we ought to know and realize the evils to grow out of the putting this kind of a question before our people with this amended Constitution. Now, what good is to result from it? Is it going to give any additional security to our loyal friends who are either so fortunate or unfortunate, as the case may be, as to hold property in slaves? They tell us it gives no additional security, throws no additional light on this 6th section of article II; that they are perfectly secure now in their property rights under that section. If that is the case, I want to know why in the name of common sense we should encumber the journals of this Convention with a resolution that according to the reasoning of our friends on the other side must be, to say the least of it, entirely superfluous, and I have tried to show you harmful.
One word more about the expediency of this matter. It is said we should not be afraid to go before the people with a truthful construction of the provisions of this Constitution. I will grant it; but I have already shown that if you multiply the issues that necessarily and inevitably grow out of the discussion of this Constitution you endanger its success; because the multiplication of these issues will render it difficult if not impossible to explain them all satisfactorily to the different classes of objectors who will rise up necessarily as the canvass progresses. But it is not a truthful construction we dread. It is a misconstruction that these gentlemen will put on these different provisions and on this resolution, that evil will arise out of it. It is upon a subject that of all others can be misconstrued, can be distorted and misrepresented. It is one upon which the public mind is more tender and agitated at the present time than probably any other - that of taxation. These gentlemen who have leagued together to destroy this amended Constitution will not be as honest as my friend from Ohio, and you will learn that, gentlemen, every one of you before the end of this canvass. They will not tell the people there are only 1,500 slaves to be paid for and it will only take a quarter of a million of dollars to pay for them. No sir, they will have the census of 1850 and the census of 1860 and go out into the mountains where the people have probably never seen a census, or at least very few of them, where they do not conceive it their interest particularly to be acquainted with it, and show them the number of slaves within the boundaries of the new State when the census was taken. They will be careful not to tell them about the causes which my friend says have been operating to decrease the number. They will tell you about the ten to twelve thousand slaves that these poor men will be taxed to pay for, and that instead of being a quarter of a million or half million it will be three or four millions. I tell you falsehood in this case will prove like it does in many others: It will travel a mile while truth is getting its boots on. These misrepresentations, these distortions of what we do here by a simple resolution will be so magnified that I feel confident it would drive hundreds, perhaps thousands, from the polls or induce them to vote against this Amended Constitution.
I propose to occupy the Convention only a few minutes in restating the positions which I have endeavored to establish in opposition to the passage of this resolution. (A pencil memorandum was here handed to Mr. Stevenson, who remarked: "Doctor, you have been writing prescriptions so long I cannot understand your writing.")
My first position is, sir, we are here to reflect the will of the people; and so far as I have been able to gather from my own observation, from my own knowledge and from information received from others - and I have been very careful in making inquiries - I am led to believe firmly, solemnly that if we pass this resolution - if we introduce this subject in this place and express an opinion upon it, we will not reflect the wishes of the great majority of the people within the limits of this new State - the loyal new State people; but, on the contrary, we will commit an act that we may regret ourselves when too late to remedy the evil, and one which nine-tenths of our people will condemn.
My next is, that if we pass this resolution, either expressly state or by implication will bear the construction that the people of this State are to be taxed for the payment of this particular kind of property that we commit these people in advance by our very act in favor of the position that these slaves must be paid for by taxation on our people, and by that very act weaken our prospects which are very bright at the present time of receiving compensation from the general government. I feel confident, sir, that if this Convention, in its wisdom, would see proper to put no such provision as that on the minutes, that the loyal owners of these slaves will receive within a short period of time a full and fair compensation for their slaves and that they will have all the benefits of free state and of the value of their property, and the general government will pay for it and not ask us to pay a single cent. But if we adopt this policy now it will be implied, it will be understood, it will be used as an argument against us, that we do not desire, we are a little too independent, a little too saucy as a new State to take any such compensation from the general government, and that we are able to pay for our slaves and we intend to do it; and that we have committed the people of this State by the action of this Convention in favor of that mode of paying for this property.
In the next place, I have endeavored to show that it is not particularly the business of this Convention - that it would be unusual, unprecedented; that by doing so the Convention would convert itself into a court and undertake to put a construction upon the provisions of the instrument which itself had made but which is properly the business of the tribunals which in this Constitution the Convention has established.
I have endeavored to show, and other gentlemen have conclusively shown, and I think it has been admitted if I recollect without a single exception by the gentlemen who have favored the passage of this resolution, that this proposed amendment of Congress does not impair, does not change, does not affect the 6th section of article II of our Constitution in reference to the taking of private property for public use without compensation, and this being true, no other construction could be placed upon this resolution if passed than this: that this Convention inserted a provision that was so difficult of construction, so ambiguous in its language and of such doubtful interpretation that the Convention actually did not know what it was doing and that they had, in order to enable the people to understand what that provision meant and passed a resolution here to put it on the record for that purpose.
In addition to all that, sir, I have endeavored to show that the introduction of the resolution and its passage is entirely superfluous, that it cannot accomplish any good purpose; that it adds no additional strength to any provision in the Constitution; that it gives no additional guaranty to the men who have this kind of property, who are as well secured as they possibly can be by the provisions of our Constitution, and that if they were not they can appeal to the higher law and the Constitution that has been tested by our people for 75 years and maintain their rights; and that hence the introduction of the resolution is entirely uncalled for an entirely superfluous.
In addition to all that, sir, I have urged an argument, and I urge it here in all sincerity and in the confident belief it is true, that it is impolitic and unwise to put upon the minutes of this Convention a resolution of that character because it will be distorted, misrepresented and tortured into every conceivable shape within the short time this canvass shall last by men who have determined to use every means fair or foul for the defeat of this great object which the people of this new State have cherished and hoped for for many generations. Remember that the people understand this issue better than this Convention does. We must be exceedingly careful to introduce no issue here that we do not feel confident the people generally desire, especially if it is one that is likely to impair the success or injure this new State. The people cherish this new State project more dearly just now than they do anything on this side of heaven. They know better than we know that every hope, all there is, every interest, everything connected with their material and social prosperity depends upon this issue; that without it everything in the future is dark and unpromising; that without it every interest and every hope of this people is blasted for this generation at least. They know that without this new State their homes will be desolate, their cities depopulated and that every mountain and valley in the great northwest will be a desolation. I call upon gentlemen to think well and to weigh well the appeals that have been made here so pathetically and so eloquently and with so much learning and be not deceived into putting upon record a resolution of that character which may work a vast amount of injury and can do no good whatever to the prosperity of this new State.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I inquire of the gentleman if he would answer me a question when he commenced and I understood him to say he would do it before he sat down; but I have listened with all attention and have been unable to ascertain whether the gentleman intends me now to understand that it is his belief that the Constitution contains a provision for compensation to the slaveowner or not.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I said I believed as you did. I said as I was not a lawyer I was willing to go with that line of argument and adopt it as mine; but I felt it was my duty to use it against the resolution and not in favor of it. So far as I understand the argument, I think the gentleman has made a plain case. If it is possible to overturn it, I might change my opinion. But my position is that the gentleman has made a pretty clear case that he has a right to his property under that provision, and that hence the assertion of this Convention by a declaration to the effect will not secure his property any further.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I only desire the gentleman to answer the question. It is what I expected, sir, and I will put it to the gentleman and every member of this house if after the very lucid argument he has made, the objection that is made on the other side, and as I believe I heard an eminent lawyer say in the case.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I must call the gentleman to order. I believe he has made one speech on this question and is not entitled to make another if anybody else who has not spoken desires to do so. I suggest the rule would give that person the floor instead of him.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I wished to reply to the gentleman when he was through.
THE PRESIDENT. It can be done only by unanimous consent.
MR. LAMB. I take it for granted the question of order can only be raised by some member who has not spoken claiming the floor. If any member claims the floor, he can take it from the gentleman from Kanawha.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I myself give notice that I shall claim the privilege - It is usually accorded to the chairman of the committee, to close this debate with a few remarks.
MR. WILLEY. I beg leave to say I had intended to express my opinion on this matter, but as it would be eminently unjust to the gentleman who wished to reply, I shall waive it entirely. But I shall give notice now that I intend offering the following substitute for the resolution and the amendments:
"RESOLVED, That in the opinion of the Convention every right of every kind of property is amply provided for and secured by the Constitution as it now stand, and that no addition or amendment thereto in that behalf is necessary or proper."
MR. GRIFFITH. It was not my intention to say anything on the resolution. It has been ably, honorably and fairly discussed on both sides of the question. I came here with the intention and was sent here by the people of Mason, as loyal a county as in the bounds of the new State - a county that has done as much towards crushing out the rebellion as any other. I came here for the purpose - was ordered or required to come to vote on the Amended Constitution and do some other business and go back home. It was not expected by my constituency that there would be any explanatory resolution made. We wanted the "Willey Bill," the Constitution as Congress gave it to us without the crossing of a "t" or the dotting of an "i". This is what we wanted, and this is what we intend to fight for to the bitter end. I say we are loyal. We are a new State county; we are all in favor of the new State. It is paramount to everything else save the government of the United States and our Creator. We do not wish - it is not our intention - to do anything that will jeopardize the new State. But, Mr. President, such has not been the case. There is something rotten in Denmark, behind the curtain yet to be shown. The epithet "abolition" is an old one. I had it thrown at me at the commencement of this rebellion. I heard it today from the gentleman from Kanawha. It is nb stigma. I consider it no stigma. I was one who, when I dared say anything against secession was termed an "abolitionist." It is the old thing that is brought before this Convention. Everything that was not "secession" was "abolition." Everything that could not see a negro in it was "abolition." It seems to be the same here. I had hoped we would have got along smoothly; that the negro would not have made his appearance; but like Banquo's ghost he has made his appearance and will not down at our bidding. Who has sprung this question upon us? I for one did not intend to allude to the negro nor the right nor title in slave property until the gentlemen who have such tender consciences, who have come from a region of country where all their interests are identified with slavery, have sprung it; and if there is any defect brought about in the new State, if it is defeated in consequence of the passage of this resolution, upon them rests the responsibility of the loss of all the hope and brightness and honor. But I truly hope, after the elaborate, the sound, the logical and convincing argument of my worthy friend from Wood that they are now ready to repent of their sins, and if my friend from Marion (Tichenell) would invite them to the altar, I think they would forsake their sins and show fruits for repentance by their work for the new State in fact and in deed.
Now, it is not my intention to detain this Convention long, but I felt that I was bound to speak out something in behalf of my constituency. They have all spoken their pieces. I think it would perhaps be best for me to speak mine. We are a new State people, first, last and forever, and will oppose anything that will jeopardize the new State. The constitutionality or the right of compensating owners for their slaves none have pretended on this floor to dispute. But it is a question of practicability. Is it practicable? If by passing this resolution you defeat our darling object, the new State, will it not be proof conclusive that such could not be the case, that the resolution should not have passed? Now, I say for one that I know something about the panhandle. In Marshall my eyes first saw the light. I know how they stand in Marshall, on Fish Creek, Bonar's Ridge, Fork Ridge, Rock Ridge. They are a loyal people. If the Convention pass this resolution, two-thirds of them will vote against the new State, and two to one in the city of Wheeling will vote against it. I have talked to several in the city and all say they will never consent to the principle of paying rich aristocrats, slaveholders, who have ruled everything from the commencement of the government until now; have broken up the government for their negroes, a species of property that never did them any good; they will not do it. Whether the principle be correct or incorrect, they will not do it. Hence it is a practical question. We want the new State, and intend to have it. As to the loyalty, I give my reasons just as they bubble up. As to the loyalty of the slaveholders, there are some - I thank God for it who have taken the bull by the horns; but nine-tenths of them have gone over to the enemy. I am well acquainted with a great many slaveholders of Mason. I know one who is loyal and willing to sacrifice his slaves for the success of the new State. John McColloch, of Kanawha is likewise willing. We have another down there who is a good Union man. He is for the new State provided the negro is not brought up; provided he can get compensation for his negroes, if it is a clear case that he can. I heard him say the new State might go to the devil; and this represents a majority of the slaveholders of Mason county. I have been credibly informed such is the case in the Kanawha valley. Now it happened once upon a time, I was hunting a location to practice medicine. I designed going to Charleston and stopped at Columbia, met with some persons who formerly lived at Charleston. They asked me if I was going to Charleston. I asked what the prospects were. They said it depends on circumstances. Do you own anegro? Told them I did not; would not be willing to own one if they cost only a dollar apiece. They said lots of people got sick at Charleston; but unless I owned a "nigger" - if I had the daring independence to saddle and bridle my own horse - 1 would not be recognized amongst the "upper ten," and consequently could not get anything to do.
This, gentlemen, from what acquaintance I have had with the peculiar institution of slavery is the nature of it and the nature of a majority of the loyalty of the Kanawha valley, in the neighborhood of Charleston. These are the gentlemen who have sprung this question upon us. They have been instrumental in bringing about indirectly the difficulties which now agitate this house. We all know, too that this has been the cause of the difficulties which is now shaking the republican institutions from center to circumference - the peculiar institution of slavery. A few slaveholders were bound if they could not rule they would ruin; they would break up our country. The same principle is being inaugurated in the new State. A few slaveholders must have everything or they will defeat the movement. Mark the reason for my opposition to the resolution. It will defeat the Constitution though I would vote for it right or wrong fiat justitia. I would vote for it though the heavens fell. But there are gentlemen who will not. Take this congressional district. Our honorable chivalrous Sherrard Clemens is announced to canvass the district. I have heard him on the stump. He is a wily, cunning politician. He will go over to Fish Creek where he used to go - the Tenth Legion of Democracy - Democracy then; Democracy yet - a majority of the loyal but their old love can be revived. He will get on the stump and say: you Germans, you hard-fisted yeomanry, are you willing to be taxed to death to pay these rich nabobs for their "niggers" ? He don't care. Others will not care, so they carry their point. They will not put the estimate at $300; they will put it at a thousand. In the eyes of some people a "nigger" is worth as much as he ever was. Such will be the principle; such will be the course conducted to defeat the new State. Beyond this, Mr. President, there is an organization now working calculated to defeat the new State movement. Rebels and their sympathizers are moving heaven and earth to defeat it. There is something behind the curtains, gentlemen. There is something rotten in the state of Denmark. About two years ago, down in South Carolina there was a peculiar kind of disease sprung up. Its symptoms were various. It baffled the skill of the best physicians and raged as an epidemic. The rich principally, though many of the poor, were victims. It spread east and west, north and south, confined to politicians principally, editors, such as the Cincinnati Enquirer - papers of that class. People got crazy on it many of them had to be imprisoned. They were sent to Camp Chase. Their cry all the time was "Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!" "We are deprived of our rights!" That disease is now being cured by sulphur-nitre, saltpeter and brimstone, with the addition of hemp. That disease is called "nigger on the brain." I am afraid members of this Convention will catch it. Some constitutions are peculiarly susceptible to take on diseases. Any disease is born with it. It is a peculiar predisposition of the system to take it on, the same as consumption. The disease is showing itself here, and if it is not checked it may show itself to an alarming extent. We intend, though curing it by the defeat of that resolution by an overwhelming majority. It has to be done. It will be done. If so strong free-state men as the author of this resolution are content to adopt this resolution, they need a little religious refreshment. Brother Tichenell can tell you it is characteristic of a good Christian to make any sacrifice to a good cause. Is not that good theology? Cannot these loyal Union men, then, who hail from the regions of sin and darkness of Kanawha, are they in Wheeling to sacrifice their interests in the negro for the sake of harmonizing the Convention and giving us a new State? Are they not gentlemen of intelligence sufficient to know that they are behind the times? Why gentlemen, you are fifty years behind the times. You will be ashamed of yourselves four years hence to think that you advocated a resolution so repugnant to the people of West Virginia. The principle for which we are now standing is onward and upward, the principles of constitutional liberty. So waken up. You are attempted to be destroyed by the peculiar institution of slavery. The "irrepressible conflict" doctrine has got the ascendency. The people are no longer going to be imposed upon by a few aristocratic slaveholders. The people of West Virginia whose interests are not peculiar, in accordance with the peculiar institution, are not in favor of slavery. They are opposed to it. Therefore, gentlemen, do not pass the resolution. It is opposed to the interests of the people. And, by the way, while we are on the Kanawha valley, these gentlemen represent some of the loyal people, I don't doubt, but I will venture that a majority of the loyal people whom they represent are anti-coercion men; opposed to the prosecution of the war; uncompromisingly opposed to the President's proclamation; opposed to arming the negroes; opposed to everything that will bring about a speedy restoration of peace and the crushing out of the rebellion. They are "loyal men"; but the negro - they are "loyal men"; but don't hurt anybody! The thing behind the curtain is this: many of them got tired of living in Dixie. They have come home. They want to get back to the old ship. Don't blame them. Anybody would get tired of living in Secessia, where fine-combs are legal tender (Laughter). They are tired of it. They come home poor, as a matter of course. No money out there. They had interests in negroes. No ex post facto law is to be passed. They will come home and take the oath of allegiance - and they want to get paid for their negroes. That is the great secret of it. It is to pay disloyal men for negroes. It is to pay secession sympathizers for their negroes. That is the object. That is why the thing is so urgently brought before this Convention. The practicability of the thing they know is plain and clear. They have found out a majority of the Convention is opposed to a resolution; and why don't they come over on the Lord's side? We intend putting down the resolution for reasons already given. Let me ask, let me plead with you, in the name of reason, by all the bright hopes of a glorious future which is to redound to the new State if it is adopted, not to pass the resolution. I plead with you. If I could only cry, I would weep, (Laughter) not to pass that resolution. If you do, the dog is dead. The new State is defeated if the resolution is passed. The people will condemn us if it is passed. I for one do not want to go. I do not know where I would go. I would not go to Dixie. I would have to go to Canada. The people have taken into their own hands, and if the resolution is passed, they will vote it down. They will form another convention and send men of the right stamp who will make a constitution to suit them, and a new state to suit them. But this resolution will not pass; I am satisfied of that.
A word on constitutional guaranties and I have done. Now I concede freely the arguments presented by the distinguished gentleman from Logan yesterday. I do not wish to take any property from any individual without just compensation; but there is always a thing of practicability. Is it practicable to bring this question now before the house before the people, seeing that it will jeopardize the new State? If it will, can we not in all justice forego any declaration of that principle for the present and thereby secure the speedy admission of the State, leaving the question to the tribunals to which it belongs. I for one am willing to make a sacrifice - anything that is reasonable or unreasonable; but I am opposed to any compromise. If principle is right, it is right, and there is no such thing as compromising principle. But the peculiar institution of slavery seems to show itself in everything that goes. It has divided our churches; it has divided our nation. But the thing is to soon "play out," and I hope we will give it a death-blow in the new State today. It is dying hard. It always makes me feel bad to see a person die hard. Gentlemen die hard in holding up their cause. I sincerely sympathize with them, but they might have known. They have sowed the storm and reaped the whirlwind. It is their fault. We have pleaded with them; we have urged them time and again to wipe the thing out, to let it go. Why hold on to it with such a grasp when it is going to drag you down? We are making history, gentlemen, and forming reputations which are to last as long as the memory of the new State lasts. I for one would not have my name on the record that I voted for that resolution and let my children after me find it there that I have given them such a system, such a resolution as was calculated to defeat our new State. I know not what course the honorable gentleman from Monongalia will take. I understand he is ready to speak; but I think from the nature of the resolution that he is on our side. I shall not detain the Convention any longer.
MR. HERVEY. I feel, Mr. President, that it is due to the little county of Brooke which I have the honor to represent on this floor that her voice should be heard on this question. I feel proud that I am from the county of Brooke. There are men on this floor who will bear me out in this declaration: it was the county of Brooke which first enunciated the movement to drive back rebellion from the State of Virginia. I stand upon this floor as the representative of the county which first struck the blow to drive back rebellion. I, too, have been in the habit of being considered somewhat conservative touching this negro question, although I knew, as the gentleman who has just taken his seat remarked, that if those men - 1 speak of the men at large, not in the Convention, undertook to sow the wind that they must reap the whirlwind.
Now, sir, when this question is sprung here; when this Convention is solemnly abjured to take a position extra-judicial, a position into which they cannot force this Convention - a position which we warn them not to take, they must abide the consequences. What is the character of this Convention? Is it a court? Are we deciding upon law and upon evidence? Are we here enacting law? No, sir, but the fountain source of law, the Constitution. Now, sir, by a side issue, by a side thrust, whether it is nolens or volens, I do not declare, but by a side thrust as it were under the fifth rib of this Convention, they determine that this Convention shall come to the rack - fodder or no fodder. Well, sir, whenever and wherever it is sought to force upon me or the loyal people whom I represent - I do not claim to represent anything else - any issue unwarranted by the facts, unwarranted by our true position, I will hurl it from me. I will vote no upon this resolution. Gentlemen will not force me into any position here which alleges that I am bound to take a construction so or not. I am not in the position of the gentleman from Cabell. I will not stand up here in the face of this Convention and say he fools his constituents. Sir, I cannot fool my constituents.
MR. PARKER. The gentleman entirely misunderstood me.
MR. HERVEY. I took the remark down. It may have been playful. You drew that inference from the fact that a former convention had enacted a constitution which was plighted with the people. Sirs, this new State has a deep-seated, determined, unflinching, untiring enemy. We will meet them in the breach; we meet them everywhere. The papers this morning allege that the proposition has been introduced into the Congress of the United States which proposes to destroy the Constitution on the ground that certain counties within the boundaries of this new State have not been heard from on this question. I tell you, sir, and I tell the authors of it, that trickery, that attempt to play with the rights of the people of the new State will most surely fail. What does that mean, sir? Why that this Constitution must go back to be declared null and void by Congress; that after while we will have another Congress inimical to us. There are men within and without the new State who have determined that they will go back to the fleshpots of Egypt; men who formerly acted with us - some of them; some of those men who initiated this movement. That the whole thing shall be overthrown and destroyed. Mr. President, if the gentlemen who advocate this resolution could show by any process of reasoning, right or wrong, that it was proper and right that we should so declare, I would have no objection to voting for it.
There is another point, of figures. It will be admitted that whenever the friends of a particular measure differ widely upon any particular point that they have disproved their own cause. Let us take the figures of the gentleman from Ohio and of the gentleman from Kanawha. The gentleman from Ohio has by a process of mathematics undertaken to demonstrate to this Convention that $450,000 will settle this whole bill. What has the gentleman from Kanawha figured upon this subject? He has told this Convention he desires the Congress of the United States to pass a bill appropriating $2,000,000 for this purpose.
MR. LAMB. Will the gentleman excuse me a moment. I want to show the gentleman he is entirely mistaken. The proposition of the gentleman from Kanawha is to free all the blacks instanter. He supposes very properly it will take two millions of dollars. The proposition embodied in the congressional amendment is a different proposition entirely and would require a different measure of compensation altogether. The discrepancy even between the gentleman from Kanawha and myself, which the gentleman is imagining exists, is solely in his imagination.
MR. HERVEY. I would have told the gentleman before he gave his explanation the purport of it; but, sir, take the figures of the gentleman from Ohio as to the number of slaves within the boundaries of the new State at the present time and divide two millions by that number of slaves and see what product you will have. It will take two millions of dollars to buy these slaves. One thing I know according to the papers: Certain members of Congress have come to the opinion that a million and a half of dollars will be required.
Now, sir, there is another thing I am sorry. The inquiry has been so often put to members who have addressed the Convention on the other side of the question. That is this: are you opposed to getting the compensation? Do you intend to take them without paying for them? That question has been put repeatedly to almost every member.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. That is not the question: do you believe the Constitution as it is provides for it? I put it to you now.
MR. HERVEY. I will answer any question the gentleman can propose. It is the same thing in Dutch. I propose this, that instead of shouldering up the law, placing the entire responsibility or weight of this debt on the people of the State, which I contend the gentleman from Kanawha would inevitably aid by his resolution asking this Convention to say that the State should do it, I propose in lieu of that to say to Congress on the part of this Convention, the highest body in the State, I believe: members of Congress - we respectfully ask you in the multiplicity of your benefactions as you have initiated a process by which you propose to do this very thing, inasmuch as you have voted $20,000,000 to the State of Missouri; inasmuch as you have a bill before the Congress of the United States which provides a million and a half of dollars paid to West Virginia, $400,000 to Delaware; $10,000,000 to Maryland, I propose to join in this band of border states and shout our way rejoicing. It does strike me that our worthy friends from Kanawha, Putnam and these border counties have got into the slough of despair. We are not your enemies; we are not opposing your interests; we do not desire to do it; we will not do it. But we say, come. You have been harassed; you have been plundered and robbed in company with all those loyal men along the border here. Why not now take a course which will relieve you from this thing? Why not now take a course which will relieve our people from this thing? I tell you we can go before the people with this thing. The gentleman cannot make any club that can beat our brains out; but they are trying to get one to beat their own brains out with. We propose to say to the people of West Virginia: fellow citizens, State of West Virginia, the members of this Convention have had this most mischievous hobgoblin question up - the negro - and they have adopted a plan which will not only relieve you pecuniarily but which will forever relieve you from all liability, from all difficulty. How have you done it? The gentleman from Hampshire well said that our people are well posted as we are. How have you done it? Why, in this way. We thought of your sufferings, we thought of your wrongs, we thought of this robbery, this rebellion, that now you were tattered and torn, property destroyed, and, gentlemen, we have proposed a plan by which you shall be remunerated without taxation so far as yourselves are concerned.
Now, why in the name of common sense do you not stop? What is the use of discussing abstract right here? What is the use of setting the new State on fire upon a proposition about which there is no dispute? If you love it, we don't. Go with us and get out of it in the economical money-saving way. Why, I tell gentlemen on the other side of this question you are certainly acting in the most ungracious way towards your constituents. In addition to all these disasters turn round and tell them we have been up here at Wheeling at a sort of solemn conclave. Their conclusion is you have got to lose all your negroes and you have got to pay for it too. We have heard the paramount call of the visible Uncle Sam on the one hand and you on the other. We said to Uncle Sam although you are scattering your benefits all around to everybody, we will not look at it. We will not have anything to do with that. We standing back, sir, upon the Old Virginia notion which prevailed in the State-of Virginia, take money out of the treasury which has been lying there for years subject to our call, appropriations out of the land fund lying in the treasury of Virginia for years. We were too proud; to self-sufficient, to reach out our hands and accept it. That money laid there until the reorganized Government of Virginia stepped forward and accepted the money.
Now, I do hold, sir, that all this allegation of this charge that we propose to perpetrate a fraud on the people is unfounded. Why, we agreed to your proposition, but we prefer a different course. Now, sir, that is the whole of it so far as I am concerned.
Mr. President, every interest which a loyal West Virginian holds dear is wrapped up in this movement. Let us go together as a band of brothers, not fighting, squabbling, searching every woodpile we come to to find a negro in it. We can meet the blow directly. Permit Congressional payment. Stops the thing forever and at once. The provision of the Willey amendment passed by Congress will not do. Twenty-five, thirty or forty years may find the dregs of slavery in our midst. Now, why affirm a political thesis upon a basis which looks towards the continuance of this institution forty years. For that is based upon the figures of the gentleman from Ohio. I hope that five, three or two years will not find a solitary slave in the boundaries of West Virginia. I say the proposition of the gentleman from Ohio, I mean his figures are based upon a wrong hypothesis and looks right in the very face of a proposition for Congressional remuneration. It is based on the fact that slavery is to remain and continue. How if his plan is to be worked out, it entirely defeats the other, for you cannot embrace the other. Now, I prefer the direct road. I don't see any propriety in traveling away round Robin Hood's barn. I don't see any propriety in carrying a stone in one end of the bag and corn in the other. The result will come. That is a fixed fact. It will come, new State or no new State - I mean the broken institution so far we are concerned. Now, then, sir, drive your arrow straight to the mark. No propriety in cutting cover, as farmers say. We have got the ground all cleared off. We are ready with one act of ours to end the entire question. That is my plan. That is my answer to these interrogatories about compensation. They are satisfactory to me. They furnish the basis on which I shall act. And, consequently, so appearing to me, it is a wonder to me everybody else don't see just as I do.
MR. POWELL. Mr. President, I had thought I would say nothing on this question. There is such a small portion of time allotted to me it is scarcely necessary to enter into the discussion of the question. I wish to remark, however, that I am in favor of the first resolution. I do not know that any gentleman has expressed himself as opposed to the first resolution; but we have been told here that if we did not give them the second that at least they would be inclined not to grant us the first. I am in favor of the first and opposed to the second, notwithstanding threats that have been made. I might if I had time give many reasons, some that perhaps have not yet been brought forward. There is one thing, however, that has been urged on the opposite side that has not been noticed by any of the gentlemen who have spoken on our side. We were told by the gentleman from Kanawha here that a private election was held; that the vote polled on that private occasion was carried up to Congress and that was the cause of our now being engaged in the squabble here. Now, if it is a private affair to publish it in the papers for weeks that such an election will be held, and we contend that there was no private election held; it was a public affair, published to the world; and if gentlemen did not see fit to open polls in their counties and precincts, we are not to blame for that; and if that election was the cause of our being here, reassembled, for the purpose for which we are here, I am glad it was held. Because today our prospect is bright for a new State and a free State. Then, Mr. President, as I have remarked I am glad that election was held. There are other things that had I time I would notice; but the hour is at hand fixed for taking the vote and closing the discussion; consequently I yield the floor.
MR. DILLE. I think, Mr. President, it is due to this Committee upon Revision that the time for this discussion be extended, that the chairman or some member of the committee be permitted to close this discussion. It is usual. I believe it has been the uniform practice of the Convention always and under all circumstances to permit the chairman of a committee at least to close a discussion. I think we are very generally satisfied with the discussion; and for the purpose of letting the chairman or any member of the committee who may represent that committee to close the discussion, I move that the time be extended a half hour.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I want to call the gentleman to order. Not that I have any particular desire to cut off this discussion if I supposed any new light could be thrown on this question. The only way to do it is to reconsider the vote we took fixing this hour for closure, and I hope this body will not do it.
MR. DILLE. I voted for this. I think it is due, although I am as willing and anxious as the gentleman from Doddridge can be to have this discussion closed; but I move a reconsideration of this question.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I should be very happy to have the gentleman from Monongalia reply.
MR. WILLEY. Not intending to do so, I have taken no notes at all; and expecting the chairman of the committee would reply, I waive the courtesy and hope he will do so.
MR. WHEAT. I want ten minutes myself, and would not vote to extend the time unless I can have it. I have much to gain and nothing to lose.
MR. PINNELL. I certainly entertain the kindest feelings towards all the gentlemen present; but I offered that resolution this morning early so that all might have ample time to conclude - which I thought myself much too long. I am here to perform a duty to my constituents and my business urges me to leave here, and not over an hour ago I received a telegraphic dispatch from Parkersburg that my son is dangerously ill. I cannot leave without voting on this question. While it would be courteous to extend the time to any member of that committee, yet common courtesy would then require that other gentlemen who have not spoken should be permitted to do so. The thing would go on ad infinitum. I am in hopes therefore that the Convention will not re-open the door to discussion; that they will abide by their resolution to close debate at the hour fixed, and proceed at once to vote.
MR. HALL. I was just going to remark, if I may be privileged to make it, I believe I occupy the position of the most resolute advocate of closing debate, as I rose last evening for that purpose. But, gentlemen, I never saw a case when the chairman of a committee or some member of it was not permitted to reply to a discussion. The whole day has been occupied by the other side, with a notice from the chairman that he desired to close the debate. Yet you occupy the time up to the hour fixed; and it would be a thing I never saw done in any deliberative body, and it has been the universal practice here since this Convention began. I am anxious to close this discussion; at the same time I am unwilling to play anything that is not fair. I think it becomes us to look to this thing. It is a matter of downright right.
MR. PINNELL. I would say to the gentleman that no argument he has made would induce me -
MR. POMEROY. I would like just to correct one mistake. I have listened to this discussion; and if I was able to understand when gentlemen have spoken, this has not been a one sided discussion. The gentleman from Kanawha, when he offered an amendment this morning made a speech on one side and the gentleman from Hampshire made a speech on the same side. The gentleman from Cabell made a lengthy speech on the same side.
MR. HALL. I referred to the time occupied since the matter was spoken of this afternoon.
MR. POMEROY. Exactly so. The suggestion was made for the whole of it. Yesterday nearly the whole day was occupied by gentlemen on the other side - speeches two hours long on the other side. I have no objection if gentlemen wish to open up this discussion again. The chairman has a right to close discussion only as a matter of courtesy. As such this Convention has extended it time and again; but there is no such rule. I have no objection to its being done now if the Convention sees proper to reconsider the vote; but it would certainly be very uncourteous and unkind for any gentleman at the close of the chairman's speech to call for the previous question and cut off debate. If you open up discussion you open it up ad infinitum, until you see proper to close; and I do not think you ought then to close it until all others who wish to speak have had an opportunity to do so. There are other gentlemen on this floor who have been taking notes and are anxious to speak. The chairman of this committee knows I have treated him with the utmost kindness and am always ready to do so hereafter. If there has not been light enough thrown on the subject yet, let the gentleman go on.
MR. POWELL. I am opposed to the reconsideration of the resolution of this morning. If it had been a motion to extend the time a few minutes to allow the chairman of the committee to make a few statements, I should not have had such serious objections; but I am opposed to a reconsideration and thereby opening up a way for the resumption of general discussion. If we reconsider and allow one gentleman to speak, we must allow others, and when this debate will end no one can tell. If it was to extend the time just for the chairman of the committee to make a few remarks, I should not have such serious objection; but to reconsider I cannot consent.
MR. DILLE. I expressly announced when I moved a reconsideration it was for that purpose and that alone of permitting the chairman to close this debate. I do this because the chairman of that committee when he had the opportunity of closing the debate within the time fixed by the Convention announced that he would claim the right. The time was consumed up to the hour and he had no opportunity to do so.
MR. LAUCK. The motion to close this discussion passed unanimously. I was looking for this; calculated that would be the end of it. That was the calculation, too, on the other side. So far as the discussion has been carried on, the friends of the resolution have had an opportunity to discuss it. The chairman has perhaps made the most lengthy address to this house, but four very long speeches were made on that side. But, sir, I for one don't feel willing to extend the time. I am willing to open it up today and tomorrow and next day, and all the time; but, sir, when we all voted for that resolution this morning, I think we should abide by it.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I want it to be understood before I vote an opportunity to these gentlemen on the committee - I believe there are five of them - we have heard from four of them at least - I sincerely hope we will not open up this discussion again, as a reconsideration would do. Like my friend from the county of Upshur, I want to leave and will have to leave and I want to pass upon these momentous questions before I go. Although I would be willing to extend to my friend from Wood every courtesy possible, but, sir, it conflicts with my interests and the interests of others. We have had the combined argument of the committee in their report and have had four separate and lengthy arguments from members of the committee. If it was any gentleman who had not yet made a speech appealing to be heard it would be different; but it is these gentlemen who have been voluminously heard who are asking to be heard again.
On the motion to reconsider, Mr. Pinnell asked for the vote by yeas and nays. The vote was taken and resulted: Yeas, 30; Nays, 24. So the motion to reconsider was agreed to.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I will now move the discussion close at half-past five o'clock.
MR. RYAN. I move to amend by making it five.
MR. STUART. I will accept the amendment.
The motion was agreed to.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Mr. President, I am obliged to the Convention for the consideration extended to me. My friends have brought me out into a very conspicuous place in the Convention; but I hope the Convention will not therefore infer that I expect to make any great things of a speech, or a very lengthy one.
In endeavoring to claim the usual courtesy on such occasions, or rather in notifying the Convention that I would expect it, I had most in view the rebuke of the aspersions that have been thrown on the motives of the committee and those who have acted with them. I am not going to recapitulate them or state what they were. And I could not perhaps remember all of them if I tried; but I wish to say this, sir: that the resolution that is now pending before this house, reported by the committee, was considered, and was in fact, a compromise when it was offered here. When I arrived at this place, before the opening of the Convention, I was told it would be difficult here on account of there being no provision for compensation; that by the amendment of Congress slaves in existence at the time the Constitution went into operation would be freed by the mere operation of the Constitution. It was to me, sir, a novel case. I had not known of one such happening within the United States, unless, indeed, when Massachusetts offered the few slaves that remained in her territory, I think about the time of the revolution; and when New York, after her gradual emancipation laws had been in force for at least thirty years, on the establishment of a new constitution, freed the few slaves remaining by one act, who must have been rather old people. But I believe there was a prohibition ordained that those who had had their services should support them, that they should not be allowed to go on the counties as paupers. But there is no single instance of a state setting out for the purpose of freeing itself from slavery at one stroke. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, to say nothing of the New England states all passed laws for the emancipation of their slaves, but for gradual emancipation, and they all guarded it with certain checks for the benefit of the slaves which were to become freemen and for the benefit of their citizens; but in neither of these cases did they pretend to make emancipation without compensation.
Well, sir, .the very argument used on this floor so often, merely that the Constitution was sufficient; that it was there in the Constitution, that private property shall not be taken for public use without compensation, was urged. I went to see gentlemen whom I supposed to be of both parties here. I exerted myself, in conjunction with some friends, principally those of the committee in talking this matter over, in trying to get some arrangement with those who thought the interest was so large in the counties they represented that something must be done in reference to the subject. They very kindly agreed to accept instead of a constitutional provision, which even if we might with propriety have introduced it here might have been the means nevertheless of subjecting us to delay. I mean to say if that addition to the Constitution would not in fact have changed any substantial feature of it, advantage might have been taken of it to make objections, and so have injured the great object we all have in view. Now, under these circumstances, with a sincere desire to effect a compromise so to accommodate matters that there should be no hard feelings even between members of this Convention - and I desire to be thankful with all my heart that we did separate at the close of the last session with, I believe, entire absence of any ill or unkind feeling in the breast of a single member. My associates of the committee kindly co-operated in this, and I had reason to believe when I offered the proposition that a committee should be appointed to consider this matter that what the committee might do would be acceptable to gentlemen who called themselves the other side. I had hoped there was no sides in this Convention. And now what have they proposed? What is to be the consequence? We find in the Constitution we have ourselves made this provision in reference to making compensation for private property taken for public uses. Now, sir, to quiet the doubts, to enable this Convention again to come together as a whole and to act in such a way would be to its own credit and to meet the approbation of every intelligent man throughout the entire State when he will reflect seriously upon it and examine into the circumstances connected with it, to guide themselves and go again before the people, as we are bound to do, with the endorsement of a united Convention, of a fraternal convention, as it proved itself at the former session, we offered simply a declaration of this Convention.
Now, sir, what is this declaration? It amounts to simply this, that a fact is a fact; and if gentlemen can make anything more of it I should like to know how they will do it. It simply affirms that the slaves in being when this Constitution goes into operation or are freed by its provisions, that the owners of such slaves are entitled to receive compensation from the State. Now, sir, if there is any gentleman prepared to deny that proposition, in or out of the Convention, I do not know who he is, if he has at all undertaken to look into the subject. I say, sir, I believe this confidently because if the case is as I have stated it, that it does propose on the one hand to take private property for public use, it does provide on the other hand, that if it is taken, just compensation shall be made for it. No sane man - for it requires no great degree of intelligence to perceive it - no sane mind, one that is not twisted and contorted and turned aside from everything that is good and true and right, can deny that proposition. Because, sir, to deny it would be a very solecism in language. You would have to make your words on the one hand, express a different meaning from the meaning the same words have on the other hand, and that I believe is beyond the power of logic. Now, sir, these are the circumstances under which this resolution has come before this body. Gentlemen will bear me witness that I have been endeavoring since this matter has been before the Convention to find out from them what they would have short of the absolute defeat of the resolution, and, sir, I have not had a proposition of that kind. It is true, it has talked of a substitute for it, a resolution in reference to the compensated emancipation which is under consideration in Congress under the resolutions of the President, as they are called; but, sir, that does not apply to nor affect this case. It does not meet the difficulty found on one side here; it does not meet at all the difficulty that these gentlemen representing a slave-holding interest may be assailed if no satisfactory assurance about compensation shall be given. At any rate if Congress shall be willing to make the appropriation, on such terms as they are making others, I suppose the slaves all through their country will be freed by a given year; and unless the aid tendered to the State will be so managed as then to make the compensation. But that has nothing to do with this. And yet gentlemen have talked so much about slave holders wanting to perpetuate slavery. Where does the resolution come from that proposes to free the whole State of all the slaves in it? Why, sir, gentlemen who have been talking of that kind of philanthropy for years, who have seen that slavery was an injury to the State; who have supposed the continuance of it here would be an injury to our best interests. They have not been willing to accept this concession from those who they say are standing up here for the slaveholders; will not enter into the spirit of harmony and compromise in which it was offered and adopt this resolution by which they may satisfy their immediate constituency. I hear talk of the slaveholder; of his haughtiness; that a man must not saddle his own horse. Sir, I repudiate the doctrine. There may have been cases in the east; but I appeal to any man around me here if he ever saw anything of the kind in western Virginia. I know the answer will be, as it has been given to me by my friend on the right, from every quarter. Why, they are as good at least as any of our citizens. Doubtless they have their faults, and it may be true that a majority of them have gone over to secession. I should regret very much if they have; but those who in the face of the inducements held out have remained faithful are doubly worthy the consideration of this Convention. Now, sir, again, it is simply proposed to make a declaratory resolution. One gentleman from Kanawha has proposed to strike out the words which confined the compensatory feature to the State; but finally the gentleman from Monongalia who has had the very burden and worry of all this battle and who has stood up in the Senate of the United States and fought your battle there; who is daily assailed in the press of your city; this gentleman also, as one of the committee asks you to pass this resolution; and he himself in the same spirit of compromise, has offered a resolution in still more general terms, but I do not find that this is received with any more consideration or favor at the hands of gentlemen than the one originally offered by the committee.
Sir, I take the liberty to say here that I was opposed to the insertion of the emancipation clause in the Constitution at last session believing it would lead to the indulgence of negro feelings of which we have had some specimens here this afternoon. It never entered my mind for a moment that the perpetuity of slavery in this State would be a consequence of excluding it there. Sir, we all saw it was dying out, and we thought the insertion of the clause, which we did as a compromise forbidding the importation of slaves from outside would be sufficient to assure the gradual extinction of the system. And therefore there was but one voice throughout this whole commonwealth but what acknowledged its willingness that slavery should cease within its borders. I wish to take the opportunity to say this here: when I found we could obtain the assent of Congress on no other terms than those which are to be put into our Constitution now, I wrote to the gentleman from Monongalia and other friends in Congress to tell them to urge it with that in. I was willing, when I thought that was the only condition on which it could be had, to take it; and I promise now that wherever that gentleman may be assailed for placing that clause in the bill before the Senate, I shall feel it my duty to defend him.
Now, sir, we have no objections to the emancipation clause itself. These gentlemen whom it is attempted to deride because they have a few slaves to help them are willing this Constitution should go on; and what do they ask? Any extraordinary provisions for the benefit of the slaveholder; any provision that the free holders (those who have been called that) even the "abolition" party - the original anti-slavery men, the Garrison set who have led the movement for abolition before there could be said to have been a political party on the subject, has not their cry always been "compensation?" Where did the project originate? It originated in the North, sir, and so it has been that good intelligent men there opposed slavery; but I do not know that they have ever proposed to take the slave without compensation.
The matter more immediately in hand is this: what are the evils to flow from the adoption of this resolution, in the modified form offered by the gentleman from Monongalia, if you please? I have listened to these debates with all the attention I could but I have failed to learn of any reason but that it was likely to injure this cause before the people. I have been told if you told these people, who have been longing for the new State, you can have it but these slave owners will have to be compensated by a little taxation, they will fly the track and have nothing to do with it. It is about thirty years since I came to reside in western Virginia. I profess to know something about the people of that region. I have been intimate with them in almost every relation, and I tell you that is not the character of the people of western Virginia. They are emphatically a thinking people. Although they may not have the acuteness of the "yankees" yet for good sense - common sense - I will put them against any other people that I ever was acquainted with; and if the advantages of education which people have in other states had been afforded the people of western Virginia, I have not the slightest doubt they would have been among the superior people of this country. I have more confidence in them than that. I have had to appeal to them on various occasions. In 1850 I was one of the candidates - proposed to be one - for the constitutional convention that met at Richmond in that year. The district from which I and the other delegate were to be elected consisted of seven counties. The majority in the seven was enormously Democratic. I went around the few days I had to spare, after I finally consented and was met very frequently with the remark from them when I had occasion to ask them about it: we have determined that this shall not be a political strife; and in my district, and I believe in every one but one or two in the state they did of their own accord divide honors as it were, between the two parties. Now, sir, don't tell me a people who when they see their interests require it will sacrifice party feelings on the altar of their country will be frightened from what they think just and right by a few dollars of taxes. Another instance fresh in the minds of all here. You may bring up a common political election. All our elections for Congress until within the last three or four years have been in that way. In our section we had nothing to expect from Congress. We did expect to receive patent office reports and things of that kind, but that is as far as it went. Well, then, of course, when a candidate was put up for Congress they voted according to their party sentiments. But when it fell to the people of West Virginia to be called to vote upon the question whether their state should be razed from the Union, what became of party and every other consideration except patriotism then? Sir, in my county I asked one of the best calculators there how much majority will we be able to give? He said 1200. We held the election, and the vote at the court house was some nine or ten or twelve hundred. I asked him again before the return had come in. "Well," he says, "Van, I reckon it will get to 1500." Well, sir, it went to 1700. I was at Clarksburg a little before the election. I inquired how the county was going. Smith thought it was going to be 400. Another said 700 and another, who was very sanguine said he thought they would get 800. Well, it went a thousand. Why, sir, no man knows the strength and uprightness in the hearts of this people until he gets better acquainted with them than we seem to be. I will trust them on this question, which comes home, like that did, to their hearts, and bosom. Where their interests are at stake, they are true to their interests; and I will trust them on every occasion to be true to those interests when they understand that those interests are in danger. I will trust them now, sir, if we should be under the necessity of voting millions for the sake of doing an act of sheer justice. There is no man that is so eloquent as to persuade me that any considerable portion of the people of West Virginia would reject this new State, which they have been so long seeking. It is a question they understand. No, sir, they are not going to reject it for the sake of a few dollars and cents. You tell me of other difficulties involved in the Constitution - these issues and those issues - all of them. Sir, they have already been disposed of. This Convention, which has been compelled to listen to a lecture on its conduct from a member hardly warm in his seat - 1 don't care to go into particulars; to hunt up this or that argument and compare them specially; but I place myself on the general considerations involved in this matter. It proposes simply to signify the willingness of this people to do an act of justice, to give that assurance to this community that these people are ready to do an act of justice. And where is the man that will stand up here and tell me the people of West Virginia are not willing to do this whenever demanded at their hands? Sir, I should for myself, while I continue to be one of that people scorn the imputation. I know them better. Again, sir, nothing was ever gained by concealing the truth, and if everything could be gained in this case by concealing the truth, it is already too late. Sir, these debates, with every idea on every proposition to consider this subject has gone forth, and these debates have gone with it. Do gentlemen suppose this idea sprung up here; that the payment of compensation was never heard of until this Convention assembled? Why, this thing was talked of among the populations most interested in this subject long ago. How, then, are you going to keep it from the people? You are not, I am sure. I can say it for every member, they are not going before the people with a lie on their lips. If they are asked if this Constitution does not require that compensation shall be made for these slaves, they are not going to reply that it does not. And don't you think that question will not be asked? Now, sir, prepare yourselves to show that compensation is an act of sheer justice. It seems to me you may explain to them how cheaply that act of justice can be accomplished. Sir, these statistics brought forward by the gentleman who sits before me (Mr. Lamb) are to my mind as true as they can be. I do not think the whole number to be compensated for will be 1500, and that spread over a period of 17 years, and not a dollar paid for four years. This may be something to frighten children, but depend on it, it is not going to frighten the intelligent citizens of West Virginia.
MR. WILLEY. I suppose my amendment is not now in order, there being two already?
THE PRESIDENT. The motion is to adopt the resolution to which an amendment has been offered by the gentleman from Morgan and another by the gentleman from Kanawha.
MR. RUFFNER. In order that the gentleman from Monongalia may have an opportunity of presenting his substitute, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
MR. WILLEY. Then I move to amend the amendment by striking out the original resolution and the amendment and substituting the following:
"RESOLVED, That in the opinion of the Convention every right to every kind of property is amply provided for and secured by the Constitution as it now stands, and that no addition or amendment thereto, in that behalf, is necessary or proper."
MR. STUART of Doddridge. If this new question is to be sprung upon us in this way, I would move to lay the second resolution and the amendments on the table; because I don't want to pass immediately on this subject without an opportunity of investigating and discussing it.
MR. POMEROY. Is it in order to make that motion until we have voted on the first resolution?
MR. STUART. My motion is in order and it is not debatable.
MR. POMEROY. Will the Chair inform me whether when two resolutions are pending before we take a vote on the first can we strike out the second or something in place of it?
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I hope the Chair will put my motion, if it is in order, to lay the second resolution and the amendments on the table.
THE PRESIDENT. The impression of the Chair is that the motion to lay on the table would not be in order until the Convention has voted on the first resolution.
MR. VAN WINKLE. It is a matter for the Convention itself to decide. The gentleman can vote for the substitute if they prefer it to the resolution offered by the committee. Why, then, the question comes up on the first resolution. The other then comes up again for its final vote.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. The gentleman from Wood -
MR. POMEROY. The Chair has decided, and I think correctly, in accordance with all parliamentary rules, that the motion of the gentleman from Doddridge is not in order until we have disposed of the first; and as the Chair has so decided, I move that the Congressional amendment be inserted in lieu of the section to be stricken out, and that the vote be taken by yeas and nays, and that we proceed to take the vote.
MR. WILLEY. The gentleman from Doddridge is perfectly in order. A motion was pending, and before it was put he moves to lay it on the table. Certainly, sir, that motion is in order; but I would say to my friend that if this substitute were adopted instead of the second resolution he would still have his substitute to be adopted by a vote the same as if the second resolution the same as if the original second resolution were pending. It only places the substitute where the second resolution stands now.
MR. POMEROY. The Chair decided that if you laid one resolution on the table, it carried the whole with it. The Chair having made that decision over again I am not disposed to question whether the Chair is right or not. It stands as the decision of this body that if you put one upon the table you carry the whole with it, both resolutions having been reported together by the committee and so taken up and considered by the Convention, with statement by the chairman of the committee and by the Chair that when we came to vote the question would be divided on demand of any member. The Chair has again decided the motion of the gentleman from Doddridge out of order. I hope gentlemen will not quibble with the decision of the Chair.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. The gentleman from Monongalia offers a substitute for the second resolution and the amendments thereto. Unless we lay that on the table now under the rule we have adopted to take a vote at 5 o'clock we are necessarily compelled to pass between the substitute and the second resolution without having examined it at all. The gentleman from Hancock understands you have to vote on this amendment before you reach the first resolution, and his amendment is out of order because it is an amendment to the amendment. Because I desire to examine or explain before I pass upon it.
MR. SMITH. When this vote is taken it may be adopted as a substitute for the other. It then takes the place of that other and becomes the committee's second resolution. In that position then you can ask that it be printed or make such other disposition as you think proper; but in the name of common sense -
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I have to vote on the proposition of the gentleman from Monongalia as a motion to substitute without having ever examined. You vote for it as a substitute.
MR. SMITH. I imagine it is not more offensive to you than the other. You have heard it read, and I know you have got sense. I don't know whether I will vote for it after it is adopted as a substitute. I may claim the privilege of determining hereafter. But this everybody has heard read. I understand the proposition of the gentleman from Monongalia is to make it as acceptable as practicable, to make it more acceptable to the Convention.
MR. DERING. Is the gentleman in order in the motion to lay on the table?
MR. SMITH. Well, I am giving reasons why it shall not be laid on the table. It looks to me like there is a determination - but I want to be quiet and calm - a determination to thrust out everything that may come in here that may be at all acceptable but that which may please yourselves. Now, I ask it as a favor of the house to give every proposition that may be offered a fair opportunity of being heard. Don't stifle it.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I think this is all a misunderstanding. I can say for the gentlemen with whom I am acting we have no desire to prevent the first vote being taken on the first resolution. We could not prevent it if we did. There can be no harm, however, in voting whether the substitute of the gentleman from Monongalia is preferred to the report of the committee. The second vote on that will be, shall it be taken as the sense of the house? If the substitute is preferred, why then we come back as if the original two resolutions, being the one providing for emancipation and the declaratory resolution (original or substitute.)
MR. STUART of Doddridge. The time has arrived for voting.
THE PRESIDENT. For the second resolution a substitute is offered, and there is a motion to lay that substitute on the table.
MR. VAN WINKLE. That carries everything with it, sir. You cannot put a part of that on the table without putting it all.
MR. STUART. Well, I differ in opinion from my friend.
MR. VAN WINKLE. That is all I have to state. I cannot see how any advantage can be taken of the course I suggest. We vote on the resolution amending the Constitution; then vote on the second resolution reported by the Committee or the substitute for it.
THE PRESIDENT. I look upon these two resolutions as so distinct that a motion of that kind cannot be entertained.
MR. VAN WINKLE. The gentleman cannot divide my motion, which was that the two resolutions be adopted. How can they divide it?
MR. PAXTON. What is the decision of the Chair in regard to the motion of the gentleman from Doddridge?
THE PRESIDENT. It is in order.
MR. PAXTON. Then it is not debatable?
THE PRESIDENT. The doubt in the mind of the Chair was this: whether or not there ought not to have been a vote on the first resolution before the vote was taken on the motion to lay on the table.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I hope we will be allowed to come to a vote. I confess I preferred the resolution as originally reported, but I do not like the amendment of the gentleman from Morgan.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. If the motion to lay on the table has been entertained, I desire that motion to be put.
MR. POMEROY. Will the Chair state decidedly what the motion is.
MR. WILLEY. I ask the ayes and noes.
THE PRESIDENT. The question is this: a substitute is offered for the second resolution of the committee, and the motion is to lay that substitute on the table. If adopted the effect would be to carry to the table also the resolution and the amendment offered by the gentleman from Morgan. Upon the motion to lay on the table the ayes and noes are demanded.
The vote was taken and the motion was agreed to by the following vote:
YEAS - Messrs. Soper (President), Brown of Preston, Boggs, Caldwell, Cook, Dering, Griffith, Gibson, Hervey, Hagar, Hoback, Irvine, Lauck, Mahon, Parsons, Powell, Paxton, Pomeroy, Pinnell, Ryan, Stevenson of Wood, Stewart of Wirt, Stuart of Doddridge, Taylor, Tichenell, Trainer, Walker, and Wheat - 28.
NAYS - Messrs. Brown of Kanawha, Brumfield, Chapman, Carskadon, Dille, Dolly, Hall, Harrison, Hubbs, Lamb, Montague, McCutchen, Mann, O'Brien, Parker, Ruffner, Boss, Sinsel, Simmons, Stephenson of Clay, Sheets, Smith, Van Winkle, Willey, Warder, and Wilson - 26.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. Now, Mr. President, I move the adoption of the first resolution reported by the committee.
The following is the resolution as reported by the Secretary:
RESOLVED, That the seventh section of the eleventh article of the Constitution be stricken out and the following inserted in its place:
"7. The children of slaves born within the limits of this State after the fourth day of July in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, shall be free; and all slaves within the limits of the said State who shall, at the time aforesaid, be under the age of ten years, shall be free when they arrive at the age of twenty-one years; and all slaves over ten and under twenty-one years, shall be free when they arrive at the age of twenty-five years; and no slave shall be perm,itted to come into the State for permanent residence therein."
The roll was called and the resolution adopted by unanimous vote as follows:
YEAS - Messrs. Soper (President), Brown of Preston, Brown of Kanawha, Boggs, Brumfield, Chapman, Caldwell, Carskadon, Cook, Dering, Dille, Dolly, Griffith, Gibson, Hall, Harrison, Hubbs, Hervey, Hagar, Hoback, Irvine, Lamb, Lauck, Montague, Mahon, McCutchen, Mann, O'Brien, Parsons, Powell, Parker, Paxton, Pomeroy, Pinnell, Ruffner, Ryan, Ross, Sinsel, Simmons, Stevenson of Wood, Stephenson of Clay, Stewart of Wood, Stuart of Doddridge, Sheets, Smith, Taylor, Tichenell, Trainer, Van Winkle, Willey, Walker, Warder, Wilson, and Wheat - 54.
NAYS - None.
ABSENT - Messrs. Hansley, and Robinson.
And on motion of Mr. Brown of Preston, the Convention adjourned.
|November 26, 1861
November 27, 1861
November 29, 1861
November 30, 1861
December 2, 1861
December 3, 1861
December 4, 1861
December 5, 1861
December 6, 1861
December 7, 1861
December 9, 1861
December 10, 1861
December 11, 1861
December 12, 1861
December 13, 1861
December 14, 1861
December 16, 1861
December 17, 1861
December 18, 1861
December 19, 1861
December 20, 1861
January 7, 1862
|January 8, 1862
January 9, 1862
January 10, 1862
January 11, 1862
January 13, 1862
January 14, 1862
January 15, 1862
January 16, 1862
January 17, 1862
January 18, 1862
January 20, 1862
January 21, 1862
January 22, 1862
January 23, 1862
January 24, 1862
January 25, 1862
January 27, 1862
January 28, 1862
January 29, 1862
January 30, 1862
January 31, 1862
February 1, 1862
|February 3, 1862
February 4, 1862
February 5, 1862
February 6, 1862
February 7, 1862
February 8, 1862
February 10, 1862
February 11, 1862
February 12, 1862
February 13, 1862
February 14, 1862
February 15, 1862
February 17, 1862
February 18, 1862
February 12, 1863
February 13, 1863
February 14, 1863
February 16, 1863
February 17, 1863
February 18, 1863
February 19, 1863
February 20, 1863
Chapter Eleven: First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia