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January 9th, 1864, the Union people of New Orleans assembled to endorse the action of the committe, and to give sanction to the request of Governor Shepley to order an election for delegates to the Constitutional Convention, with a view to making Louisiana a State, in accordance with the principles suggested by the proclamation of the President issued on the 8th of December, 1863. The President of that meeting was R. F. Flanders, Esq. Among the Vice-Presidents were Dostie, Shupert, Hire, Graham, Heath, Duncan, Howell, Waples, Shaw and Heistend. Mr. Flanders, in addressing the meeting said, "he thought the time had arrived for organizing a State Government in Louisiana. Six months before, a plan had been prepared by the Union men of the city for that purpose and presented to Governor Shepley. It was by him forwarded to the President, considered in a Cabinet meeting, approved and returned to Governor Shepley with the approval of the Administration endorsed upon it. Now it was necessary to appoint a committee to present resolutions to further the proposed plan." The following were the resolutions adopted:
"Resolved, That the future slavery of persons of African descent in Louisiana is a moral, legal and physical impossibility, and the proposed new constitution in declaring its non-existence within the borders of the State, will only assert a fact within the knowledge of all her loyal men.
"Resolved, That we cordially approve of all the proclamations of the President of the United States in regard to slavery in the insurrectionary districts, but more particularly the one recently issued under date of 8th December, 1863; that the means pointed out by him for the rebellious States to return to the Union are, in our opinion, eminently just and wise; and that the loyal men of Louisiana are now ready and willing to adopt them, and have nearly the required number of registered loyal citizens, good men and true, to bring back the State into the great nationality our fathers founded.
"Resolved, That the action of the "Free State Committee, in calling upon Brigadier-General Shepley, Military Governor of Louisiana, soliciting him to order, in the name of the people, an election for delegates to a Convention to form a State Constitution, is approved and ratified, and he is hereby authorized and requested to take all necessary steps to have such an election at an early day."
At that meeting Mr. Durant said, " It will be a glorious thing if we can make Louisiana the first State that declares for freedom among the late rebellious States."
Jan. 11th, the following proclamation by General Banks was issued:
"Headquarters Department Of The Gulp, ) Jscw Orleans, Jan. 11, 1864. J "To the people of Louisiana:
"I. In pursuance of authority vested in me by the President of the United States, and upon consultation with many representative men of different interests, being fully assured that more than a tenth of the population desire the earliest possible restoration of Louisiana to the Union, I invite the loyal citizens of the State qualified to vote in public affairs, as hereinafter prescribed, to assemble in the election precincts designated by law, or at such places as may hereafter be established, on the 22d day of February, 1864, to cast their votes for the election of State officers herein named, viz:
"I. Governor. II. Lieutenant Governor. III. Secretary of State. IV. Treasurer. V. Attorney General. VI. Superintendent of Public Instruction. VII. Auditor of Public Accounts; who shall when elected, for the time being, and until others are appointed by competent authority, constitute the civil Government of the State, under the Constitution and laws of Louisiana, except so much of the said Constitution and laws as recognize, regulate or relate to slavery, which being inconsistent with the present condition of public affairs, and plainly inapplicable to any class of persons now existing within its limits, must be suspended, and they are therefore and hereby declared to be inoperative and void. This proceeding is not intended to ignore the right of property existing prior to the rebellion nor to preclude the claim for compensation of loyal citizens for losses sustained by enlistments or other authorized acts of the Government.
"II. The oath of allegiance prescribed by the President's Proclamation, with the condition affixed to the elective franchise by the Constitution of Louisiana, Avill constitute the qualification of voters in this election. Officers elected by them will be duly installed in their offices on the Fourth day of March, 1864.
"III. The Registration of voters, effected under the direction of the Military Governor and the several Union associations, not inconsistent with the Proclamation, or other orders of the President, are confirmed and approved.
"IV. In order that the organic law of the State may be made to conform to the will of the People, and harmonize with the spirit of the age, as well as to maintain and preserve the ancient landmarks of civil and religious liberty, an election of delegates to a convention for the revision of the Constitution, will be held on the first Monday of April, 1864. The basis of representation, the number of delegates, and the details of election, will be announced in subsequent orders.
"V. Arrangements will be made for the early election of members of Congress for the State.
"VI. The fundamental laAV of the State is martial law. It is competent and just for the Government to surrender to the people, at the earliest possible moment, so much of military power as may be consistent with the success of military operation; to prepare the way by prompt and wise measures, for the full restoration of the State to the Union and its power to the people; to restore their ancient and unsurpassed prosperity; to enlarge the scope of agricultural and commercial industry and to extend and confirm the dominion of rational liberty. It is not within human power to accomplish these results without some sacrifice of individual prejudices and interests. Problems of State, too complicate for the human mind, have been solved by the national cannon. In great civil convulsions, the agony of strife enters the souls of the innocent as well as the guilty. The Government is subject to the law of necessity, and must consult the condition of things, rather than the preferences of men, and if so be that its purposes are just and its measures wise, it has the right to demand that questions of personal interest and opinion shall be subordinate to the public good. When the national existence is at stake, and the liberties of the people in peril, faction is treason.
"The methods herein proposed submit the whole question of government directly to the people—first, by the election of executive officers, faithful to the Union, to be followed by a loyal representation in both houses of Congress—and then by a convention which will confirm the action of the people, and recognize the principles of freedom in the organic law. This is the wish of the President. The anniversary of Washington's birth is a fit day for the commencement of so grand a work. The immortal Father of his Country was never guided by a more just and benignant spirit than that of his successor in office, the President of the United States. In the hour of our trial let us heed his admonitions!
"Louisiana in the opening of her history sealed the integrity of the Union by conferring upon its government the Valley of the Mississippi. In the war for independence upon the sea, she crowned a glorious struggle against the first maratime power of the world, by a victory unsurpassed in the annals of war. Let her people now announce to the world the coming restoration of the Union, in which the ages that follow us have a deeper interest than our own, by the organization of a free government, and her fame will be immortal!
"N. P. Banks, M. G. C."
Who shall be Governor? was now the question asked by the loyal people of Louisiana. Said Dostie, in refering to that subject, " I will never vote for any man to fill that important office whom I do not know to be loyal to the Government, a strong opposer of slavery and a firm advocate of the just policy of President Lincoln." Durant, Halm, Flanders, Fellows and Howell were among the most prominent names. February 1st, 1864, the State Nominating Convention met at Lyceum Hall. The delegates chosen by the several ward meetings in the city of New Orleans, and those from the county parishes within the Union lines, met for the purpose of nominating candidates for the State offices. It was soon discovered that the clouds were thickening in the political horizon, and apprehensions were felt by those assembled that their cherished plans might be broken up. Soon harmonious action gave place to faction. A disposition was shown by several members of the Convention to spend the time in angry dispute and selfish intrigue.
A motion was made that Durant be invited to address the Convention. Amid great confusion the question was put, and the chair declared it lost. It was then moved that Dostie be invited to address the Convention. The motion was put and declared lost. In great confusion the meeting adjourned. It was then proposed to