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military ruler that has been appointed over us. We thank Thee for the beneficent government of one who has been appointed over us in a semi-military position, whose rule has been one of integrity and patriotism. “We pray that Thy blessing may rest upon these Thy servants, who have been charged with the performance, and who have assumed the trusts which a confident people have reposed in them. “We pray, further, that under the shadow of the government which may be organized, free institutions, public education and religion may prosper and flourish for all future time, even until the coming of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all its power and glory in this beautiful land that Thou has given to our common country. “May Thy richest blessing rest upon those whose business it is to train the minds of these children and upon those little ones whose voices have given us the national anthems on this occasion. “May Thy blessings rest upon the Executive of these United States in the further and future discharge of the onerous duties of his position, and grant that when another year shall have passed, and we are again called upon to place one in the highest position of authority and power in the gift of a free people that it may be to witness a complete and final destruction of the rebellion in every State, and that the whole people of the nation may feel that as a nation we shall be one and inseperable through all coming time. “We ask it in the name of Thy dear Son, to whom, with the Spirit, we would ascribe all honor and power, world without end. Amen.”
Three things were evident to the reflecting minds of those who were interested in the political affairs of Louisiana in 1864. That the revolutionary movement advanced step by step to the complete restoration of the rights of suffering humanity; that it assailed tyranny and THAT aristocracy which sprang from despotic slavery, and that the social and political emancipation to which events pointed, would give to all the power to speak and act, according to the rights which emanate from true Liberty. It was a revolution in right—a revolution in ideas—a revolution in facts. The form of slavery was no longer visible, but it had left its foot-prints upon the Constitution of the State and the black code lay like a bloody pall upon it, a disgrace to the Nation and its Government.
On the 28th of March, 1864, an election was held, and delegates appointed to a convention to be held for the revision and amendment of the State constitution. On the 1st of April the convention met at Liberty Hall. Much has been said and written against the members of that convention. There were corrupt men in that Assembly. There was a Judas among the twelve Apostles; there was an Arnold among our Revolutionary patriots; a Davis ir. our National councils, a Johnson among the Presidents of our Republic, and there were traitors and conspirators in that Convention. Its objects were to amend the Constitution, and abolish the name of slavery in Louisiana. Those acts were consummated on the 11th of May, 1864. There are two names connected with this Convention, which it will be well to remember, as future events present them in strange contrast. Judge Howell first agitated the slavery question in that Convention. Said he “I have not troubled this Convention so far with any attempts at speech-making, or presented any propositions; but I think it is time to go to work. With a view to that purpose, I offer the following resolution: “1. Resolved, That a committee of members be appointed by the President of this Convention, to whom shall be referred the subject of immediate and permament emancipation of slavery within the State of Louisiana, with instructions to report as early as practicable ordinances and provisions in relation thereto, to be incorporated in the Constitution of this State.”
When the vote was called for upon the amendments of the Constitution, Judge Abell said, “I consider this one of the most tyrannical things I have ever seen. In the name of the people of Louisiana I vote, no.” As Judge Abell is somewhat conspicuous in the history of Louisiana, it may be well to trace some of his movements in the Convention of 1864. May 20, he says in defence of slavery, “It is both a Scriptural and historical institution, and should not be abolished. It only slumbers and will be called into life when the people have their will and are free from military law.” On the Same day he opposed the cducation of colored children. ZIay 4th, in a lengthy argument he attempted to prove the right to hold men as property. Said, “the idea of tearing property to the amount of 900 million dollars from slave-holders—the honest earnings of the people of Louisiana was a wrong he would fight on all occasions.” Thus he labored in that Convention to carry his infamous doctrines against freedom, equality and education, foreshadowing his future murderous course. The friends of progressive freedom in that Convention looked with the same contempt upon the impotent assaults of Judge Abell upon the cause of Liberty, as did the majority of Congress upon the futlie arguments of a Davis or a Saulsbury, who opposed the Constitutional Amendment in the Senate of the United States. An eventful and interesting portion of Dr. Dostie's life is associated with the Louisiana Convention of 1864. From the first day of the meeting until its close, he watched its deliberations with intense interest. In every important debate, he might be seen at Liberty Hall, watching its movements with pale and thoughtful countenance, his intellectual forehead flashing with emotion, and his penetrating eye lit up with patriotic fire as he noted the onward march of the principles of Liberty in the councils of his adopted State. In the official minutes of the Convention of 1864, we find this interesting relic. Mr. Abell rose to a question of privilege, and stated that he had received a communication of an extraordimary character, and believing it to be a breach of privilege, he wished to lay it before the Convention, and for
“E. ABELL, Esq.,
“JDear Sir: I entertain so strong an aversion to the incorporation into the ‘organic law” of the words “white,’ ‘black” and “color,’ that I am induced in this confidential note, (accompanied by a proposed “rider”) to ask you to consider the propriety of altering the language of certain portions of the new constitution, so as to harmonize with the principle contained in this proposed ‘ rider.” Many members of the Convention have had the kindness to say to the governor and myself, that they will do what they can to expunge the obnoxious words from the militia and educational bills, before the question of final adoption, as a whole, comes up.
“Very respectfully, yours,
This “extraordinary letter” was no doubt a criminal thing in the eye of Judge Abell, and his wrath, in view of the philanthrophy of Dostie, was treasured up for future action.