DIVISION OF THE STATE
Another Speech by Senator Carlile.
Mr. PRESIDENT - I have already said so much on this subject that I feel that it would be inflicting unusual punishment upon the Convention for me to enter into anything like an extended line of remarks now. I do not design to do so; but will be brief as I can be and pointed as I may.
We should not, sir, in the heat of discussion, in our zeal, or in the confidence we have in the correctness of our judgements, allow that zeal to run away with those judgements in the discussion of the question now under consideration. I have been astounded at listening to speeches from very patriotic and able gentlemen who seemed to argue this question as if our loyalty to the Union was bounded by State lines. My friend who has just taken his seat (Mr. Hubbard) imagines in one moment that our loyalty to the Union ceases the instant the people of this country should run a line separating them from the residue of the State, and in the same breath, almost, he shows conclusively that that cannot be, for he pays a well merited compliment to our loyal friends across the river.
Mr. HUBBARD - I was simply commenting upon the remark of a member that we should fortify along the boundary of the new State when run, and merely referred to our Ohio friends in showing how unpatriotic was such a suggestion.
Mr. CARLILE - Well, if I had supposed that loyalty was bounded by state lines, I would be the last to claim the State of Virginia as she stands to-day upon the question of loyalty, as my own. If gentlemen will convince me that the running of a line on the top of the Allegheny mountains, or anywhere else separating the Northwestern portion of the State from the residue of the State, and erecting it into a separate and independent State would relinquish the patriotism of its people, I would be the last man to do so. Or if you can satisfy me that the action we propose here will embarrass the Federal Government in the slightest degree in the effort that is now making to maintain the Union and the supremacy of the laws, I will join hands with you gentlemen and vote the proposition down. That is the only argument I have heard in which all those who have spoken on the other side of the question concur in the opposition to this movement - that it will embarrass the Administration. How, sir? How? Does the Ohio river that divides us from the State on the other side embarrass the Administration in the efforts it is making to put down rebellion? Is Ohio disloyal? Does she send fewer troops here? Does she respond less eagerly to the call for men and money to aid the government than she would if were included within her State limits the soil upon which we stand? Away with the idea that imaginary lines, defining the boundaries of States, crushes the power out of the government to maintain and protect itself. And, sir, I was surprised to hear that here in the city of Wheeling, the constituents of my friends on this floor will feel themselves constrained, in the event that the people of Northwestern Virginia shall be consulted as to the division of the State, to propose that they should be allowed to cut off what they call the "Panhandle" and attach themselves as an appendage to the small end of Pittsburgh! Wheeling, the city of the West, that in the event of a new State being erected here would be the great manufacturing and commercial city of the State - Wheeling, which has had to struggle with the State of Pennsylvania to be allowed the privilege of erecting the beautiful and magnificent structure that now spans the beautiful Ohio - Wheeling seeking to be an appendage to the small end of Pittsburgh! Let the question be put. We will vote to-day if desired; and I know the good sense and interest of the people of these four counties will prompt them to vote it down. I have no fears that ever Wheeling will commit such suicide as that would be to her.
Now, sir, tell me how the government is to be embarrassed by what we wish to do towards dividing the State. We cannot divide the State. What, then, do we propose to do. We propose that the people within a certain boundary may be allowed to declare their wishes on this subject. That is all; and the bare fact of consulting the people upon a question that has long been agitated by them is denounced upon this floor in unmeasured terms. But the act, it is said, will embarrass the government in its military operations. Now, will any gentleman be kind enough to point out how? Show us in what manner this embarrassment is to be effected. I listened attentively and with pleasure, as I always do, to the very sensible and able argument of my friend from Mason (Mr. Polsley), and with all his ability and good sense, he contented himself upon this branch of the argument by merely announcing the fact. Now, sir, I pledge myself to him, and to any other gentleman opposed to this movement, that, if they will assign one solitary reason - one reason true in itself - if they will point out and show to me how the passage of the proposition now under consideration will embarrass the Federal Government in the effort it is making, I will vote with him.
Mr. HUBBARD - How is Eastern Virginia to be restored to the Union, if the State is divided.
Mr. CARLILE - I will tell my friend how. Who is to restore Eastern Virginia to the Union? Who restored Northwestern Virginia to the Union? Why, sir, the loyal people of the Northwest restored it; and the loyal people of Eastern Virginia will have to restore it. That is the way Eastern Virginia is to be restored - by the action of the loyal people residing within its limits. But, sir, this does not prevent us from aiding the restoration of the rest of the State. The passage of this proposition will not defeat that object; it will not render us less powerful than we now are. When do gentlemen suppose we will have assembled here representatives from all of Virginia? Will they fix any time? I suppose, sir, that if that sight is ever to be presented to our view, it will be presented before the meeting of the next session of the General Assembly. I suppose, sir, that this object which gentlemen desire if not effected by that time, will be postponed an indefinite period of time; and I should be willing to accept as true the remarks made by Governor Sprague of Rhode Island - than whom a more gallant and loyal heart has not exhibited himself during this controversy, marching at the head of his own regiments, regiments composed of men worth their hundreds of thousands of dollars - when he told his Legislature upon his return the other day that this was to be a long protracted war. It is to be a long and protracted war; and if we are not to take care of our material interests until that war shall have been ended, as is intimated by the gentleman from Mason - if this is to be so, let us know it, and let our people understand it. He says he is for no action until we see represented here every potion of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Then, sir, what is that declaration? What does that declaration amount to? I put it to his candor - I ask him to answer me sincerely, and say if he believes that if we postpone action until we have here a full representation from every county in the State, a separation ever will be obtained? Sir, if he does, he has more faith than I have. I have none. This State never will be divided if you consult every individual county through representation in the General Assembly. Gentlemen seem to think, sir, that it is ungenerous, unkind, to our eastern "brethren" to take this advantage of them now. Unkind! Who among them dares to make that charge? How much, sir, was our interest or advantage consulted when they took upon themselves to throw off their allegiance to that Constitution which Washington formed, when they inaugurated a revolution in our midst and made this the seat of War?
Mr. SMITH, of Marion - Does the gentleman have reference to the remarks I made?
Mr. CARLILE - Not unless you said so.
Mr. SMITH - No reference was made by me to the rebellious sentiment in Eastern Virginia, no sympathy expressed for them; but a sympathy was expressed for the Union men there who are now, Mr. President, trampled down by this worse than despotism. That is their situation there; and we believe that if they could be relieved by any effort of our's, a Union sentiment would be eliminated there which, in gratitude to us, would magnanimously grant to us our rights, and if we would change our present Constitution so as to rest our representation upon the white basis, that we will then have a majority, and we can control the East in these matters. Not that we should hesitate a single moment because of the rebellious sentiment in the East, but because of the loyal sentiment there.
Mr. CARLILE - The gentleman talks of controlling Eastern Virginia by a legislative majority. Sir, we never had, and I venture to say, never will have, a majority in the Legislature of Virginia.
Now, sir, when gentlemen speak of the West, they speak of it as defined by a natural line. Sir, in political sense, there is no West, and never has been, save the Northwest. That is the fact as the records and the journals of the Legislature for the last half century will testify. The only West, in its political sense, is the Northwest. Where was the fight made and the battle fought - as my friend from Wood (Mr. Van Winkle) well knows - but in the Northwest?
Mr. VAN WINKLE - In the Valley.
Mr. CARLILE - In how much of the Valley.
Mr. VAN WINKLE - Nearly all.
Mr. SMITH, of Marion - Yes, and in the east.
Mr. CARLILE - Yes, in the east! Wise fought for it. You had Wise over there then; but where is he now?
But, sir, look at the lines of improvement in Western Virginia outside of the Northwest. Where do they lead? Where is the railroad that penetrates Monroe and Greenbrier and the whole Southwest? It is the road that runs from Richmond. And the canal that has its commencement there and extends on into Covington? They all lead into and connect with the east. It is idle for gentlemen to talk of any other west save the Northwest. All the rest and residue of the State is bound by iron bands and commercial ties to the Eastern part of the State, and can never have any commercial interests or intercourse with us.
Sir, in looking to this, for the first time in my life, last fall I traveled through the entire Southwest. I saw these things for myself, and if gentlemen have never been there they cannot appreciate the utter impossibility of ever forming anything like business connections between that portion of the State and this. The wealth of Croesus would not construct a single line of improvement, running anywhere from the Northwest into the Southwest, and even if it were possible to build commercial lines it would be an unnatural direction for trade.
Now, sir, tell me if you can, how the loyal people of Eastern Virginia are to be retarded in any effort they may hereafter make in extending over them the protection, as has been said, of that flag, (pointing to the Stars and Stripes suspended over the President's desk.) Do we propose to take up our Government and people and walk over into Rockingham and Shenandoah and take a position there? Or is it, - and it is but fair to suppose that gentlemen believe - that there are within all these counties patriotic and loyal hearts panting for an opportunity to show their allegiance to the government formed for them by their fathers, and their hatred to those who have involved them in this rebellion? Is not that the idea? Does any man suppose that ever Eastern Virginia is to be restored to the Union as she was before the inauguration of this rebellion, unless it be by the act of her own people residing within her own limits, and living there, precisely as Northwestern Virginia has done? Then, sir, tell me how this is to be accomplished. As the armies of the United States march through that portion of the State and drive before them and out of the country, those who are engaged in rebellion, and leave the "loyal hearts" free, can they not act for themselves? What, then, is to prevent them? Have they not the same General Government we have? Have they not the same Constitution that we have? Have they not the same "loyal hearts" and the same wise heads that we have? If they have not, God help them. (Laughter.) I fear that even with our efforts they could not be saved. (Renewed laughter.) Sir, this great movement that is "worth more than an army with banners," which as was well said by the gentleman from this city, is the movement which is to restore the Union - this movement has to be made and effected, and inaugurated, and persisted in by the people inhabiting and residing within the limits of the respective counties that have suffered from secessionism and rebellion. Have they not within their midst loyal men, wise men, men capable of being Governors and members of the Legislature? If they have not they could not send them here. They must have members of the Legislature, and those members must of necessity be selected from among their midst, and how do you prevent their patriotic action, by either bringing them to sit in a legislative body at Wheeling, or allowing them to sit in one east of the mountains? Would they be less wise or less patriotic sitting in a legislative body there, than they would be sitting in one here? I grant you they would not have the benefit of our counsel, but in days gone by they have been unwilling to take our counsel. We have endeavored to force it upon them, but we have always been told in effect, to stand aside, and we have been spoken of as the "disgraced Northwest." And it is to these, "our brethren," who have brought upon us the calamities under which our whole country is reeling and tottering - who have involved us all in one common ruin - it is tender consideration for these gentlemen that is to stay us in an effort made to relieve us from a dominant and arrogant governmental majority, and place us where and make us what nature and nature's God designed us to be, a free, separate, independent political community, occupying a place upon that flag, a star as large as either of them, side by side with the thirty-four now there. That is to be sacrificed; our material interests are not to be considered; the wealth contained within the surface of our soil is to remain as it has always been, undeveloped; and we are to seek in other States and in other communities, that sympathy that we should share and which we would share in our own State, if we were not separated from the rest of it by natural insurmountable barriers.
But, sir, a resolution offered by my friend from Upshur, (Mr. Farnsworth,) at the last session of the Convention, is referred to as having been defeated, and it is sought, by constructions placed upon this and upon the action of the former Convention, to deny this Convention the power to do anything that will affect, in the slightest degree the status of our people, or any portion of them. They deny that the object of calling this Convention was to provide a way by which the people could declare their wishes on this subject, and then quote resolutions, all of which go to show that the object of this Convention was "to take such steps and adopt such measures as will best promote the welfare and secure the safety" of our constituents. Now, sir, there are some of us here foolish enough to believe that our interests and welfare will be best promoted by a separation from the rest of the State. I would like to know if we so believe, if we have not the right, under and by the authority of these resolutions referred to, to endeavor if possible to induce the Convention to allow the people to speak their views on this subject. No definite action, under prescribed rule was laid down for our government by the plan of any of these Conventions; but when that very resolution of my friend from Upshur was tabled - and I take it for granted I voted to table - when it was under discussion here for two days, as mentioned by the gentleman from the city of Wheeling (Mr. Hubbard), I know one member of this Convention that did say that he opposed such propositions then because we had no legislature that could give the consent required by the constitution to our separation, but who did, in the very same speech in which he opposed the resolution, say that at the very instant, as soon as could be, after we have such a Legislature, he would be foremost among those who sought a division of the State. He who now addresses you said that on the 13th of June.
We knew how that resolution was tabled. That vote was no expression of sentiment, and it was so said by men who voted for tabling the resolution. I recollect my friend from Monongalia (Mr. Dorsey), who came here from a county, at a town of which eight hundred and twenty-one votes were cast on the twenty-third of last May for a division of the State, and but eight hundred against the ordinance of secession. He took the very same ground whenever he saw that there was a constitutional difficulty in the way, that no good whatever could be accomplished by agitating the subject then, and he, with others, voted against this proposition, and they pledged themselves to use every effort in their power to bring about a division whenever it could be accomplished. That is the ground we all took, and the published debates show it to be so.
Mr. HAWXHURST, of Fairfax - Why then did you invite the Union people of the East to meet you in Convention?
Mr. CARLILE - Why, sir, we want you here, we are glad to have you with us; you came, however, without our invitation in the first place, allow me to say. That call as read this morning by the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Hubbard), was a call for the Northwest, and it alone. But when you come here to participate with us we like you to do so, so long as we have a government claiming to be the government of Virginia - not only have you here that are here, but have an addition to your number.
Mr. LAMB - According to my recollection of the call the language of the call was very different.
Mr. CARLILE - I drew that resolution with my own pen.
Mr. LAMB - I do not allude to the call for the first Convention.
Mr. STEWART - Mr. President, the hour of half-past twelve has arrived, and I believe that is the hour fixed for adjournment.
Mr. CARLILE - I would be glad if I could have a few minutes to finish; it would take but a few minutes.
Several members "Go on!" "Go on!"
General consent was given and Mr. Carlile proceeded:
Mr. President, my recollection of that call is as it was read; it was a call to the Northwest, drawn up by myself and adopted by one of the largest and most respectable assemblages that ever met in Harrison county, and, sir, we took occasion to send messengers with the proceedings of that Convention into every county of the Northwest.
Mr. LAMB - I referred to the call for the June Convention. It will be found that the purpose of that call was very different.
Mr. CARLILE - I take it that was an invitation to all loyal citizens to participate here. Reference to that call has been made and it is used as an additional argument why we should "wait!" "wait!" - wait until it is too late for the accomplishment of our purpose. Our friends from the Eastern part of the State ask us to "wait." We have been waiting upon them ever since the 13th of last May. We called upon you then; we called upon you in June, and we call upon you now in August; and because you are not disposed to put your necks into the halter here, as some gentlemen have talked about doing - I have never talked about it - it may be for that or for some other reason, you have not heeded our call. Are we to "wait," and "wait," and "wait," until we are bound hand and foot by that same old governmental dominance, and the power has passed from our hands, and that which our people have hoped for, prayed for, worked for, be forever denied?
Sir, nations, and political communites are governed, so says every writer upon the laws of nations and every writer upon the morals that govern political communities, by interest. Interest is at the base of all political action; and if we believe it to be to our interest to sever the bonds that connect us to old Virginia we are justified in the eyes of the world. We have the highest authority for our availing ourselves of the opportunity now (I think) providentially presented to us, of obtaining that which we believe to be essential to our interest. Sir, I am enlisted in this war for the maintainance of the Union as much as any man; I will do no act, take no step that will in the slightest degree, if I know it, prejudice the Union cause in any way shape or form; and I will say here now what I have always said that the first object with me, is the preservation of the Union, (a member "that's it.") Satisfy me that that first object is to be enfeebled and endangered by any act now looking to a division of the State and I am with you. I make a division of the State, subordinate to the maintainance of the Union. But I cannot believe that it is to come in conflict with any effort that is to be made by us or by any one else for the preservation of the Union; and until I have a reason assigned me, showing how it is to conflict, will I not yield the position I have taken upon this subject.
Why, sir, I was surprised to hear gentlemen enumerate difficulty after difficulty, all of which as was well said on yesterday by my friend from this city, (Mr. Paxton) has existed and will continue to exist throughout all time, with the solitary exception of the embarrassment of the Administration in this struggle. These reasons are assigned by gentlemen who tell us that they are in favor of a division "at the proper time," and that "proper time" is when all Virginia is represented in the Legislature, and then the time is when you never can get the consent of the Legislature. Now, sir, I have my own views about the position of gentlemen when they tell me they are in favor of a division of the State, and say they intend to postpone it until that time; for they must know if they postpone it until then they never can get the consent of the Legislature. Then, sir, there is an argument which I alluded to the other day and will repeat, that is a full answer to all that has been said on this question of embarrassing the government. If it is believed by the Congress of the United States that a separation of this State will embarrass the efforts making to suppress the rebellion, will they admit us as a State? Each one can put that to himself and answer. It is not worth while for us to say what Congress will do or will not do. That is all speculation. I do not think that any gentleman is authorized to speak for any deliberative body, because they very often, in a very short period of time reverse their own opinions. Now, sir, if we act as is proposed, and provide that the sense of the people within the boundary shall be taken upon this question of a new State, and they declare for it, and the Legislature consents to it, and Congress gives its assent, why it will be very best evidence in the world that gentlemen are mistaken in supposing that it will embarrass the Administration; but if Congress should withhold its consent - should it be the opinion that the Administration or the Government is to be embarrassed in the slightest degree, my word for it they will postpone action on your application. Congress will not admit you; they may not reject your application; they may let it lie over and say to you: "When the proper time arrives we will admit you," but they will not admit you now. Tell me how the initiatory steps, the proceedings taken here, are to affect in the slightest degree the power of the government to determine this question of embarrassment for itself. That is the question I put. Answer that. Depend upon it Congress, according to its members, is just as loyal as we are. Congress will guard the interests of this Union with as much care as we can; and if our application should be made to that body for admission into the Union as a State, and they believe it will embarrass the government in the slightest degree, they will either refuse our application at once or postpone action upon it. They will take care that the public interests suffer no detriment whatever by any action we have had out here in the country try, and that action is the assembling on a given day of voters in their prescribed districts to declare their wishes upon a separation of the State, and their adoption or rejection of a Constitution proposed to them to govern them if they do vote for a new State, and the action of the Legislature upon it; all of which is nothing, affects nothing, binds nobody, changes the relation of no one, affects no political organization whatever until it has obtained the assent of Congress. Such consent will not be given, we may rest assured, if gentlemen shall be found right in their predictions, and if it is found that the government is to be embarrassed in the struggle.
A word or two more, and I have done. I thrust my opinions unwarranted upon no one. I have heretofore shown that I am willing to yield the cherished principles that I have advocated with warmth and zeal. I yielded to the gentleman from Mason, and others who thought with him in the Convention of May. I yielded as my friend knows, after doing all I could in that Convention for a separation. I am willing now, if any compromise that looks to any reasonable accomplishment of the object we, nearly all of us, profess to have at heart, can be agreed upon, to go with you. I would dislike exceedingly, I assure you, that any action of this body should go out to our people by a meagre vote. I should dislike exceedingly, that those of us who believe our people almost unanimously demand at our hands that we should provide a means by which they might be allowed to their opinions on this subject, that they should be denied that expression by a bare majority of one or two. I should dislike exceedingly to have a minority go away dissatisfied, determined to make an opposition. Whatever may be our conclusions here, let us all resolve that we will support them unanimously; and if we have the good luck to beat you by two or three votes, which I think we will, just come in as we do, you know, when we want to elect our party candidates, and make it unanimous.
Mr. SMITH, of Marion - And you won't go away and break up the government?
Mr. CARLILE - No, sir.
Mr. VAN WINKLE - You will do it if you agitate this subject.
Mr. CARLILE - Why, sir, how can that be? this question is agitated all the time; it has been agitated for a long while.
Mr. BURDETT - Yes, for thirty years.
Mr. CARLILE - Yes, sir, and you may say "down!" "down!" But, gentlemen, it will not go down. It will be agitated. It is a question, sir, as was stated by one of my colleagues (Mr. Lewis) yesterday, that has been looked to and expected from the foundation of our government. It was predicted, as we were told by one of the brightest lights in the Convention which formed our first Constitution, that this part of the State would not submit to a continuance of its connection with the rest of the State. Why take the map of Virginia and look at it, and you will see at once, that this is an unnatural connection, and works injuriously to the interests of the people thus connected; and upon that great rule, that all political communities will do that which best promotes their interests, they say this separation will have had. You cannot affect the government at Wheeling. It is by that government that we expect to get the separation. Sir, we cannot turn our backs upon it.
Mr. VAN WINKLE - You will bring it into contempt.
Mr. CARLILE - Sir, you cannot bring a government into contempt while my friend from Wood is a member of it. [Laughter.] No man ever brought himself into contempt, except by his own misconduct; and no government can but by the same. But, sir, I will tell you what will bring it and every one into contempt - weakness in its knees. Scarcity of funds, sir, will bring it into a position where contempt might reach it. How are you going to get funds? Thus far we have been fortunate. The great Democratic party has conferred upon us a boon by refusing in our State to take the share of the public proceeds of public lands, which belong to us under the act of 1841. [Laughter.] We eagerly jumped at it, sir, and it has been the means of supplying our empty treasury; but in consequence of the many drafts which are made upon it, it is fast dwindling away; and if we stay here much longer, the forty-one thousand dollars will be entirely gone. [Laughter.]
Mr. HAWXHURST, of Fairfax - If we of the east are to be cut off will the gentleman tell me how we are to get our share of it?
Mr. CARLILE - Why, take it out in $4 a day and mileage, as the member from Fairfax is doing now. [Laughter.] As long as you remain in Virginia you throw into market your Virginia bonds at a nominal value of about forty or fifty cents; but divide the State, and your bonds will go into market at par, and you will leave the funds necessary not only to pay us in legislative assemblies, but to improve our country and start the iron horse snorting through all these hills. [Applause and laughter.] Sir, that is a question I have looked at from the beginning. No government ever was respectable, no government ever will be respectable without money, and very few men, I think. [Laughter.] That has been the cause of my want of respectability all my life. [Laughter.] And, sir, I appreciate it, I have felt it, I know it, and therefore, while I may, as an individual, lack the respectability, that funds would give me, yet, as a member of a State, with plenty of money, I may feel at least that I have political respectability. Now, sir, how are you to get the money - where is it to come from, that is to grace this Wheeling government? Echo answers, where. But, sir, take these steps, if your people really do, as we believe they do, desire a division and will vote for it, and the Congress of the United States admits you, you start upon a new career, unembarrassed by debt. For sir, when ever there is a settlement made between this portion of the State and the residue, and a correct balance struck, it is in our favor.
Mr. VAN WINKLE - Does the gentleman mean to say that by separating we get rid of the debt.
Mr. CARLILE - I say whenever we divide this State, and settle this question of debt, and there is a correct balance struck we bring the other side in debt, that is what I say.
Mr. SMITH, of Marion - How is it to be settled?
Mr. CARLILE - That, sir, is to be left for yourself and other eminent gentlemen who will be in the future legislative assemblies of Virginia to determine. [Laughter.] "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It will be time enough to consider this matter when the time for considering it arrives. The subject of this settlement is to be a subject for gentlemen who are to fill the legislative seats of a new State.
But, sir, instead of embarrassing the Government by this movement, I maintain it would relieve it to a very great degree, and how? If we had a defined line to defend, all we would have to do would be to put our military there. But, sir, where have we any definite boundary to protect? Tell me the definite boundary we have to protect. With 20,000 to 30,000 Government troops to-day in our midst, they are scattered from county to county, with no force capable of resisting anything like an armed force brought against us. Give us a line; and the line we propose for the new State that we will have to defend is only the line that divides us from the rest of the State, and if there are "loyal hearts" there they will soon be able, with the advancing march of the Federal Army to save us all trouble of protecting it. Then we shall have a definite boundary which alone we could call upon the Federal Government to aid us in protecting, for we will rely upon the brave hearts and strong arms of our loyal citizens to protect us against secessionists in our midst. For, sir, once get that line established, those of them who are disposed to give us trouble will "leave their country for their country's good." But so long as they are here, encouraged and assured by the presence of the confederate army within our limits, so long will they prove a thorn in our side, and so long will they resist successfully the operation of our Wheeling government. There is an advantage which it seems to me we would derive from this separation, that nothing can give us. With a defined line beyond which secession forces dare not approach without violating the "sacred soil" and sovereignty of a free and independent State, we could defend it with fewer Federal troops and less of the Government's money than it will take to suppress an indiscriminate rebellion, and protect indiscriminately a population scattered all over this section of the State. There is another argument, sir; it will relieve the confederate forces from all obligation they feel to protect their own soil. Once let them see that this portion of Virginia is beyond their grasp; once let them see that this is a separate and independent political community, a State to themselves, recognized as such, they may in the language of Wise, be willing to let the "disgraced northwest" go, and take their armies where they may be wanted more for home protection of secession than they are in this region. There will be no longer what I may call an honorable obligation resting upon the State to protect its soil, because that soil will be no longer hers, and we may in this way relieve our people from these secession armies in their midst. And we can confidently tell them "beyond this line you cannot and dare not come."
These may be all insufficient reasons, but they are some of the reasons that induced me to advocate the proposition now under consideration. I shall, as I remarked, however, bow to the decision of a majority of this body, and I will go as far as he who goes furthest to suppress anything like a revolutionary movement. We hope by fair argument, we hope by holding up before you the honest wishes of the people, we hope by appealing to all that we think should influence and govern men in a representative capacity, to obtain the sanction of this body to the proposition now under consideration, which is not a proposition to divide the State, which I repeat works nothing, effects nothing, changes no relation on earth until it has the assent of the Congress of the United States, who will judge of the propriety of giving or withholding their consent.
Now, sir, I desire to notice a remark made in relation to what I said the other day, that a new State would deprive me -
Mr. STEWART (interrupting) - Mr. President, I must insist on an adjournment; it is now within a few minutes of one o'clock, which is dinner time for most of us, and we have to be back here at half-past two.
Mr. CARLILE - I will forbear willingly, and thank the Convention for having indulged me so long already.
The Convention took a recess, and on its re-assembling at half-past two, Mr. Carlile took the floor and concluded his remarks as follows:
Mr. President, the great argument, the main argument, and the one that seems to be relied upon by all who have opposed this measure publicly, is the embarrassment to the Administration in consequence of our government here not extending itself over other portions of the State. Now with all kindness and with all respect for our friends who like myself are filling offices under this government, I would say according to my view, it would be a little more modest to say the least of it, in us allowing the loyal citizens of Eastern Virginia whenever the armies of the United States allow them to do so, to select for themselves their own governmental officers, and not for us by virtue of our power to spread over them our own. It is a fact well known, sir, that only those who have been represented in the Conventions here, and in the Legislature had a voice in the selection of any of these officers. Therefore I repeat again I cannot see how our action is to embarrass the Federal Government in restoring the former government to the loyal people of Eastern Virginia unless it is to be done without the consent of the people who are to be governed and without allowing them to determine who shall be their officers under the government, or unless it is presumed that we will have the military power to govern them by mere force which I presume no one desires or would advocate.
Then, sir, without delaying the Convention longer, I think I have successfully met the main argument of the opposition to this measure. I meet it first by showing there can be nothing in it, for nothing we can do affects or changes our relations in the slightest degree to the people of the Union or the people of the State. All that we do is initiatory, and is void, and can be of no effect, unless consented to by Congress. If consented to by Congress, it is the best evidence in the world that the government will not be embarrassed by our action. They have full and entire control over the whole subject, and we all know that if Congress should suppose for an instant that the legalizing, acknowledging and recognizing of our action would embarrass the Administration, they would refuse to do so.
Then I show, I think, conclusively, and beyond doubt, that there can be no government restored to the people of Eastern Virginia only by and through the action of the loyal people of that portion of the State. They must act, and then the government that is restored to them is a government of the people - a government deriving all its vitality, its existence, its being, from the action of the people. The government that we would thrust upon them without their expression and their action, would be as perfect a tyranny as could be established over any people. Therefore, I take it, it is not contemplated by the opponents of this measure that even if we remain as we are, one State, with no government but ours that we have restored and organized here, it shall not be extended over them without the action of the loyal citizens of Eastern Virginia, and they can just as well restore their former Government for themselves without having our Governor and Council, as they can with them. Therefore, I cannot for the life of me - it may be because I am unable to understand - I cannot see the force of the arguments that have been used.
But, sir, I desire again to call attention to the important point, and I want the question answered, if we continue as we are, if the loyal citizens of the eastern portion of the State cannot be relieved by December next, where is the money to come from that is to supply the treasury? Does my friend from Fairfax, who want his "share" of the public money - does his county contribute anything towards the expenditures that have already been incurred, and how much do we expect will be contributed towards those to be hereafter met? I say not this by way of reproach, but of sorrow. It is because of the inability of those who we say are devoted to the Union, to do so; they have been prevented from doing it; and we have not the power of ourselves to relieve them. If relieved at all, they must be relieved by the Federal power, and by our taking action here which will relieve to a small degree the federal army and will enable it to retain in our midst a less force than will be otherwise required. We to that extent early contribute to the realization of the hopes of our loyal friends east of the mountains.
But we are met with the question how is this debt to be apportioned and settled? It is a sufficient answer at any and all times to say that it is to be met whenever a division takes place, and if there is any argument in the question at all, if anything is to be inferred by its use, it is an argument against a division for all time and under all circumstances; for whenever it takes place it must be met. But, sir, I will say that if there could be no other way of meeting it we could meet it by buying up every dollar of it ourselves. If we had a separate State existence we could issue our bonds in the market and command fifteen millions of money tomorrow; and if our bonds can now be bought up at thirty cents on the dollar, as a gentleman of this city informs me, less than fifteen millions would pay the forty-six millions which Virginia owed prior to the first of January last. But there is no necessity for this. The question of an equitable assumption can be met just as well to-day as it can be a hundred years hence, if those who come after us are found as we are struggling for this separation.
Give us, then, the position designed for us. Let us avail ourselves of this opportunity. There is no reason in morals, and there is no reason in law, why we should not avail ourselves of it. There has never been a time before, in my humble judgment, when it could be accomplished, and I think it extremely doubtful if there ever will be again, when it can be accomplished peacefully, constitutionally and legally. Now is the day and now is the hour. "There is a tide in the affairs of" peoples as well as the affairs of "men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune." That tide is flowing for us. Let us avail ourselves of it. Let not the golden moments pass by, for they may never return. Let us all sacrifice all of personal pride and personal feeling and private opinion we may have entertained. Let it all go as the veriest dust; let it be thrown to the winds of heaven, and let us bring to the altar of our common country all the patriotism and all the wisdom that is within us. I repeat, sir, there is no difference of sentiment among the members of this body, or among our constituents, as to the support we should give the cause of the Union. Its flag we will maintain and uphold, and we can better do this with a separate existence than we can now, embarrassed as we are at every step we take by the innumerable burdens that are weighing upon us so long as we remain in this State.
Mr. CARLILE then proceeded to reply to charges of sympathy with secession made by Mr. Polsley against Senator Johnson, of Missouri, after which he concluded his remarks as follows:
Mr. President, with the evidences which we have of the desire on the part of the people to be heard upon this question, whether it be a majority or a minority, I think it is as little as we can do as representatives professing obedience to the will of that people, to give them an opportunity to be heard at the ballot-box upon this subject. This is all we propose; all we ask; all we will be pledged to by any action of our own; and, sir, that we may not be here an interminable length of time, and that this thing may close one way or the other, I would suggest to the friends of this measure, that we sit here and patiently vote down all motions to adjourn until a vote is had on this question. I have spent many a night in similar bodies, and I think it is the only way in which an end can sometimes be reached. I am perfectly willing to sit here until the sun rises tomorrow, and for one, I shall vote against all adjournment till a vote is taken upon this subject.
Chapter Nine: Second Session of the Second Wheeling Convention