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190

REVOLUTION IN TEXAS.

On the 20th, the Convention proceeded to depose Governor Houston and other State officers who refused to take the new oath. The disloyal Legislature sanctioned the measure, and on the 21st, the seals and the archives of the Commonwealth were resigned into the hands of Lieutenant-Governor Clarke, who assumed the functions of Provisional Governor, and who speedily issued a proclamation, forbidding all intercourse with the people of the Northern States.

Texas was now under the absolute control of the secessionists, and they managed public affairs with a high hand. They persecuted every proclaimer of Union sentiments; and Houston himself actually renounced his allegiance to his Government, and, descending from the proud patriotic position which he at first assumed, became a maligner of the President, and used the vocabulary of treasonable speech with great fluency. He declared that he was loyal so long as there was any loyalty left in Texas. So early as the 18th of May, in a speech at Independence, he recognized the validity of the “Southern Confederacy,” and recommended obedience to its government. In September following, he found it necessary to explain his position, which he did in a long letter, in which he declared that “ Union ” and “reconstruction” were obsolete terms. “ If there is any Union sentiment in Texas,” he said, “ I am not aware of it.” He charged Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet with the crime of usurping the powers of Congress and waging war against “Sovereign States,” thereby absolving their allegiance to the National Government. He also charged that they had, “with more than Vandalic malignity and Gothic hate, sought to incite a servile insurrection in Missouri.” He denounced the President as an invader of Virginia, and declared that the South could never unite with the North, and that the latter could never subjugate the South. The course of Governor Houston was a painful assurance to the people of Texas that the heel of a vile despotism was too firmly planted upon their necks to give them any hope of relief while the war continued, and they sat down to wait with faith and patience for the bour when Right should triumpb and they should be redeemed.

We have now noted the principal events connected with the so-called secession of seven Cotton-growing States, namely, South Carolina, Florida,

expense for an army, where no army was needed, and left unprotected those who needed protection. It has exposed the State to ridlicule, and wounded the chivalry and historic pride of the people, by sending an army of over a thousand men to attack a single post upon the Rio Grande, which has been permitted to defy them, until such time as its commander saw fit to withdraw. It has assumed to appoint agents to foreign States, and created offices, military and civil, unknown to the laws, at its will, keeping secret its proceedings.

* This (Convention has deprived the people of a right to know its doings, by holding its sessions in secret. " It has appointed military officers and agents under its assumed authority.

" It has declared by ordinance that the people of Texas ratify the constitution of the provisional government of the Confederate States, and has changed the State Constitution and established a test oath of allegiance to the Confederate States, requiring all persons now in oflice to take the same, or suffer the penalty of removal from office; and, actuated by a spirit of petty tyranny, has required the executive, and a portion of the other officers at the seat of government, to appear at its bar at a certain hour and take the same.

" It has assumed to create organic laws, and to put the same in execution. It has overthrown the theory of free government, by combining in itself all the departments of government, and exercising the powers belonging to each. Our fathers have taught us that freedom requires that these powers shall not be all lodged in, and exerciseel by, one boly. Whenever it is so, the people suffer under a despotism.

" Fellow-citizens, I have refusel to recognize this Convention. I believe it has derived none of the powers which it has assumed, either from the people or the Legislature. I believe it guilty of an usurpation, which the people cannot suffer tamely, and preserve their liberties. I am ready to lay down my life to maintain the rights and liberties of the people of Texas. I am ready to lay down office rather than yield to usurpation and degradation."

THE POWERS OF THE PEOPLE USURPED.

191

Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and their preparations for a convention of delegates from each, to be held, by common consent, at the city of Montgomery, Alabama, on the 4th of February, 1861, for the purpose of forming a confederacy of Slave-labor States. We have seen how, in these States, the serpent of Treason was hatched from the egg of Secession. We have seen how absolutely the secession movement was the work of ambitious politicians, evidently in opposition to the feelings of the great majority of the people, and how carefully they excluded the people from any participation in the matter, after they had used them in putting the revolutionary machinery in motion. Only in Texas did they ask them to sanction their acts, and the concession in that case, as we have observed, was a most transparent fraud, to cheat the world into a belief that secession was accomplished by the legally expressed will of the people. Each convention unwarrantably stretched the powers given it, by choosing from among its own class of partisans, without the consent of the people, delegates to a General Convention to form a confederacy independent of the old Union; and in order to carry out the bold design of the conspirators, of having that confederacy consist of the fifteen Slave-labor States, four of the conventions appointed commissioners to go to these several States as seductive missionaries in the bad causc.' We have had glimpses of these Commissioners at several conventions.

Let us now observe relative events in the other States of the Union.

1 The names and destination of these Coinmissioners were as follows:

South Carolina.-To Alabama, A. P. Calboun; to Georgia. James L. Orr; to Florida, L. W. Spratt; to Mississippi, M. L. Bonham; to Louisiana, J. L. Manning; to Arkansas, A. C. Spain; to Texas, J. B. Kershaw.

Alabama.–To North Carolina, Isham W Garrett; to Mississippi, E. W. Pettus; to South Carolina, J. A. Elmore; 10 Maryland, A. F. Hopkins; to Virginia. Frank Gilmer; to Tennessee, L. Pope Walker; to Kentucky, Stephen F. Hale to Arkansas, John A. Winston.

Georgia. - To Missouri, Luther J. Glenn; to Virginia, llenry L. Benning.

Mississippi.-To Sonth Carolina, C. E. Hooker; to Alabama, Joseph W. Matthews; to Georgia, William L. Harris; to Louisiana, Wirt Adams; to Texas, H. H. Miller; to Arkansas, Gew. R. Fall; to Florida, E. M. Yerger; to Tennessee, T.J. Wharton; to Kentucky, W. S. Featherstone ; to North Carolina, Jacob Thompson; to Virginia, Fulton Anderson; to Maryland, A. H. Handy; to Delaware, Henry Dickinson; to Missouri, Rassell.—McPherson's Political llistory of the Great Rebellion, page 11.

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192

POSITION OF THE VIRGINIANS.

CILAPTER VIII.

ATTITUDE OF THE BORDER SLAVE-LABOR STATES, AND OF THE FREE-LABOR STATES.

W

HILST the politicians of the Gulf States were perfecting

their scheme for forming a confederacy, there was universal agitation on the subject all over the Union, and especially in the Border Slave-labor States, where there were bonds of interest, and association, and consanguinity with both sections. Emissaries of the con

spirators, resident and itinerant, were in those States, working assiduously for the corruption of public sentiment concerning nationality, and for the seduction of leading and influential men into ways of treasonable transgression. They were specially active in Maryland and Virginia, because the co-operation of the people of those States would be vitally important, in efforts to seize and hold Washington City in the interest of the conspirators. That city lay in the District of Columbia, contiguous to and between Maryland and Virginia, and was completely surrounded and filled with a Slave-holding population.

In Virginia, where disunion sentiments had been uttered and fostered, and from which they had been widely disseminated ever since the birth of the nation, the conspirators and politicians were anxious, at first, not so much for secession by States, or the formation of a new confederacy, as for a combined effort to seize the Capital and national archives, and establish an

aristocratic government, with Slavery for its corner-stone, on the ruins of the Republic. In the day-dreams of the politicians, Washington City appeared as a deserted capital (for the seat of government was to be nearer the Gulf), and its magnificent buildings were to be

consecrated to the genius of Southern Institutions." At the same time, the great majority of the people in those States were loyal to the Constitution, and willing to be obedient to the laws; and those of the western section of Virginia—the mountain region--as we

shall observe hereafter, remained so, and were spared much of the misery inflicted by civil war.

John Letcher, formerly a member of Congress, and a willing instrument of the conspirators, was then Governor of Virginia. He and his associates

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JOIN LETCIER.

THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA CAUTIOUS.

193

• 1861.

watched the course of public events with great interest, for it was difficult for them to choose the most expedient course of action. While the authorities were cautious, the press was loud in its demands for revolutionary action.

Thoughtful men clearly discerned portents of a desolating storm, and, on the solicitation of many citizens, Governor Letcher called the Legislature to meet in extraordinary session on the 7th of January." In his message, he renewed a proposition previously made by himself, for a convention of all the States; and, with a seeming desire to save the Republic, he proposed that all constitutional remedies should be exbausted before withdrawing from the Union, saying :-“Is it not monstrous to see a Government like ours destroyed, merely because men cannot agree about a domestic institution which existed at the formation of the Government, and which is now recognized by fifteen out of the thirty-three States comprising the Union ?” At the same time, he instituted inquiries concerning the strength and garrison of Fortress Monroe, within the limits of his State, and the probability of success, should available Virginia troops attempt to seize it. He was advised, by a competent judge, that the attempt would fail, and he abandoned the contemplated scheme.

Letcher, no doubt, knew the plans of the conspirators of his section, and counseled inaction for the moment, until the revolutionary movements in the Gulf region should be more fully developed. “A disruption is inevitable," he said, “and if new confederations are formed, we must have the best guaranties before we can attach Virginia to either.” His counsel was denounced by the more Southern leaders, as selfish and unpatriotic. Yet they applauded his declaration, that he should regard any attempt of the National troops to pass through Virginia, “ for the purpose of coercing any Southern State, as an act of invasion, which would be repelled." In support of this assertion, the Legislature passed resolutions, declaring that “any attempt to coerce a State” would be resisted by Virginia.

Governor Letcher was at first opposed to a State Convention, but the Legislature authorized the assembling of one on the 15th of February, and appointed the 4th of that month as the day on which the delegates should be elected. It also decreed that, at the same election, the question whether the acts of the Convention on the subject of secession should be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection, should be decided by the popular vote. The secessionists denounced this decree as an emasculation of the Convention Bill, and subjecting to imminent peril" all that the people of Virginia hold most sacred and dear, both as to the Federal Constitution and the honor of the State"l-in other words, imperiling the scheme of the conspirators to drag the people of Virginia into revolution. The decree delighted the loyal people of the State, and numerous Union meetings were held in Western Virginia.

While the Legislature seemed to be thoroughly inoculated with the revolutionary virus, it felt the restraints of the popular sentiment too forcibly to allow it to disregard the popular will, and several measures looking to a

January 8.

i Richmond Enquirer.

Von.. 1.-13

194

A PEACE CONVENTION PROPOSED.

settlement of existing difficulties were proposed in that body. Finally, on the 19th of January, a series of resolutions were adopted, recommending a National Convention to be held in the City of Washington on the 4th day of February, for the alleged purpose of effecting a general and permanent pacification ; commending the “Crittenden Compromise,” as a just basis of settlement; and appointing two commissioners, one to go to the President of the United States, and the other to the Governors of the “Seceding States,” to ask them to abstain from all hostile action, pending the proceedings of the proposed Convention. Copies of these resolutions were sent by telegraph to the President and to the Governors of all the States, North and South.

The proposition for a Peace Convention was received with great favor. President Buchanan laid the matter before Congress, with a commendatory Message, in which he said: “If the seceding States abstain from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms, then the danger so much deprecated will no longer exist. Defense, and not aggression, has been the policy of the Administration from the beginning.”

The Virginians accompanied their propositions for securing peace with a menace. On the same day they resolved, “ That if all efforts to reconcile the unhappy differences between the sections of our country shall prove abortive, then every consideration of honor and interest demands that Virginia shall unite her destinies with her sister Slaveholding States.” Virginia was made to say to the North, substantially in the words of an epigrammatist of the time:

“FIRST.--Move not a finger; 'tis coercion,

The signal for our prompt dispersion. “Second.-Wait, till I speak my full decision,

Be it for Union or division.

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The Virginia Legislature appropriated one million of dollars for the

defense of the State," and made other hostile preparations; and January 23.

the conspirators were so alarmed by the Peace Congress proposition, and by the waning hope of seizing Washington, that they took measures to precipitate the people of that Commonwealth into revolution. In order to stir up the smoldering fires of enmity against the people of the

Sce page 59.

? Already a joint resolution hail been introducerl, to appoint a commission to represent to the President that, “in the judgment of the General Assembly of Virginia, any additional display of military power in the North will jeopardize the tranquillity of the Republie; and that the evacuation of Fort Sumter is the first step that should be taken to restore harmony and peace."

For the purpose of procuring abstinence from hostile action, pending the proceedings of the proposed Peace Congress, ex-President John Tyler was sent to President Buchanan, and Judge John Robertson to Governor Pickens, and the Governors of “other seceding States." The President informed Mr. Tyler that he had no power to make such agreement; and the Legislature of South Carolina saill haughtils, hy resolution. “The separation of this state from the Ferleral Union is final, and we have no further interest in the Constitution of the l'nited States. The only appropriate negotiations between South Carolina and the Federal Government are as to their mutnal relations as foreign States."

3 New York Commercial Adrertiser, March 1, 1961.

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