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SECESSION CONVENTION IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

and he entered into the schemes of the conspirators with all the powers that he possessed.

The members of the Convention were chosen on the 3d of December. Not one had been nominated who was

1860.

opposed to secession; and • December, when, on the 17th," they assembled in the Baptist Church at Columbia, they were all of one mind in relation to the main question. David F. Jamison, a delegate from Barnwell District, was chosen temporary chairman. He made a brief speech, in which he counseled the members to beware of outside pressure, and disputations among themselves. He trusted that the door was now forever closed "from any further connection with our Northern confederates;" and then, either ignorantly or wickedly, asserted that "every Northern State" had trampled the Constitution under foot, "by placing on their books statutes nullifying the laws for the recovery of fugitive slaves!" He concluded by saying that he could offer them nothing better, in inaugurating such a movement, than the words of Danton at the commencement of the French Revolution: "To dare! and again to dare! and without end to dare!"

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DAVID F. JAMISON.

A difficulty now presented itself. A motion was made, by Charles G. Memminger, to receive the credentials and swear in the members. It was suggested that the Constitution of South Carolina provided that they should, on such an occasion, take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. "But we have come here," said ex-Governor Adams, the discoverer of this lion in the way, "to break down a government, not to take an oath to support it." The difficulty was a slight one, in the opinion of lawless men. What did they care for any constitutions? There was, to them, no sanctity in oaths; and so they formed their Convention without oaths, in defiance of the Constitution of South Carolina. They elected their temporary chairman permanent President of their body, and appointed B. F. Arthur the clerk. They well knew that the Constitution of South Carolina declared their Convention, when organized, to be an unlawful assemblage, and that their acts could have no legal effect. If secession had been lawful, the ordinances of those usurpers were never legally binding upon a soul on the earth.

If these men had no respect for written constitutions, they had for the unwritten and inexorable laws of being, and heeded their menaces. They were about to proceed in their revolutionary schemes, after the Rev. Mr. Breaker had invoked the blessings of the Almighty upon their proposed work, when intelligence came that the small-pox was raging as an epidemic in Columbia. Men who were professedly ready to die for the cause turned pale at the message, and proposed an immediate flight, by railway, to Charleston. William Porcher Miles, just from his abandoned seat in Con

1 See a refutation of this misstatement in note 1, page 63, concerning Personal Liberty Laws

FLIGHT OF THE CONVENTION.-ITS PREPARATIONS.

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gress, who feared public ridicule more than the contagion, begged them not. to flee. "We shall be sneered at," he said. "It will be asked on all sides, 'Is this the chivalry of South Carolina ?' They are prepared to face the world, but they run away from small-pox." He was afraid of an hour's delay in their treasonable work. He said that the last thing urged upon him by Congressmen from the Cotton-producing States, when he left Washington, was to take South Carolina out of the Union instantly. "Now, Sir," he said, "when the news reaches Washington that we have met here, that a panic arose about a few cases of small-pox in the city, and that we forthwith scampered off to Charleston, the effect would be a little ludicrous." The "chivalry of South Carolina" did "scamper off to Charleston" the next morning, where they were received with military honors, and at four o'clock in the afternoon re-assembled in Institute Hall.

At the evening session in Columbia, before their flight, John A. Elmore, of Alabama, and Charles E. Hooker, of Mississippi, were introduced to the Con vention as commissioners from their respective States. They successively addressed the Convention in favor of the immediate and unconditional secession of the State; and so anxious was Governor Moore, of Alabama, that South Carolina should not delay a moment, for fear of the people, that he telegraphed to Elmore as follows:-"Tell the Convention to listen to no proposition of compromise or delay."

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a December 18,

WILLIAM PORCHER MILES.

1860.

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December 18.

On assembling at Charleston, the Convention proceeded at once to busi ness. They appointed' one Committee to draft an ordinance of secession; another to prepare an address to the people of the Southern States; another to draft a declaration of the causes that impelled and justified the secession of South Carolina; and five others, consisting of thirteen persons each, and entitled, respectively, "Committee on the Message of the President of the United States, relating to property;" "Committee on Relations with the Slaveholding States of North America;" "Committee on Foreign Relations;" "Committee on Commercial Relations and Postal Arrangements;" and "Committee on the Constitution of this State."

Judge Magrath moved to refer to a committee of thirteen so much of President Buchanan's Message as related to the property of the United States within the limits of South Carolina, and instruct them to report "of what such property consists, how acquired, and whether the purpose for which it was so acquired can be enjoyed by the United States after the State of South

1 The American Annual Cyclopedia, 1861, page 649,

This committee was composed of John A. Inglis, Robert Barnwell Rhett, James Chesnut, Jr., James L. Orr, Maxey Gregg, Benjamin Faneuil Duncan, and W. Ferguson Hutson.

3 This committee was composed of Robert Barnwell Rhett, John Alfred Calhoun, W. P. Finley, Isaac D. Wilson, W. F De Saussure, Langdon Cheves, and Merrick E. Carn,

This committee was composed of C. G. Memminger, F. H. Wardlaw, R. W. Barnwell, J. P. Richardson B. H. Rutledge, J. E. Jenkins, and P. E. Duncan.

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ALLEGED POSITION OF THE ADMINISTRATION.

Carolina shall have seceded, consistently with the dignity and safety of the State; also, the value of the property of the United States not in South Carolina, and the value of the share thereof to which South Carolina would be entitled upon an equitable division thereof among the United States." The President, he said, had affirmed it to be his high duty to protect the national property in South Carolina, and to enforce the laws of the nation within its borders. "He says he has no constitutional powers," said Magrath, "to coerce South Carolina, while, at the same time, he denies to her the right of secession." He was afraid that an attempt would be made to coerce the Commonwealth, under the pretext of protecting the property of the United States within its limits, and he wanted to test, at the very threshold of their deliberations, the accuracy of the President's logic.

This brought out William Porcher Miles, who assured the Convention that they had nothing to fear from any hostile action on the part of President Buchanan. There was not the least danger of his sending any re-enforcements

1860.

to the forts in Charleston harbor. He (Miles) and some of his • December 9, colleagues, he said, had conversed with the President on the subject, and had orally and in writing admonished him, that if he should attempt to send a solitary soldier to those forts, the instant the intelligence reached South Carolina, the people would forcibly storm and capture them. They assured him that they would take good care to give that information to the people, and that they had sources of information at Washington (the traitorous Secretary of War?) which made it impossible for an order for the sending of re-enforcements to be issued, without their knowing it. They further said to the President, that "a bloody result would follow the sending of troops to those forts;" and at his request they assured him, in writing, that in their opinion there would be no movement toward seizing them by South Carolinians before an offer should be made, by an accredited representative, to negotiate "for an amicable arrangement of all matters between the State and Federal Governments; provided, that no re-enforcements should be sent into those forts." There was, he said, "a tacit, if not an actual agreement," between the President and the South Carolina delegation in Congress,' that the relative military condition should remain the same, while each party forbore hostile movements. This statement of Miles satisfied the Convention that they might play treason to their hearts' content until the 4th of March; provided, they kept violent hands off the property of the United States. The President, as we shall observe hereafter, denied that he ever gave such pledge, and pronounced the accusation untrue, as it undoubtedly was.

After resolutions were offered and referred, which proposed a Provisional Government for the Slave-labór States that might secede, on the basis of the National Constitution; also, to negotiate for the cession of the limits of South Carolina; and the from Slave-labor States, for the

send Commissioners to Washington to property of the United States within the election of five delegates, to meet others purpose of forming a Southern Con

1 The written communications to the President were signed by the following named persons, then Representatives in Congress from South Carolina:-John McQueen, William Porcher Miles, M. L. Bonham, W. W. Boyce, and Lawrence M. Keitt.

THE ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.

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federacy, the Committee appointed to prepare an ordinance of secession reported. This was on the 20th of December. Their report, submitted by Mr. Inglis, was very brief, and embodied the draft of an ordinance, in the following worás:

“We, the People of the STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, IN CONVENTION ASSEMBLED, DO DECLARE AND ORDAIN, AND IT IS HEREBY DECLARED AND ORDAINED, THAT THE ORDINANCE ADOPTED BY US IN CONVENTION, ON THE TWENTY-THIRD DAY OF MAY, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT, WHEREBY THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES WAS RATIFIED, AND ALSO ALL ACTS AND PARTS OF Acts of THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE, RATIFYING AMENDMENTS OF THE SAID CONSTITUTION, ARE HEREBY REPEALED, AND THE UNION NOW SUBSISTING BETWEEN SOUTH CAROLINA AND OTHER STATES, UNDER THE NAME OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IS HEREBY DISSOLVED."

John A. Inglis

R Barnance Thetf

James Chesmith
James L Orr
Maxcy Gregg
Bery: Faneuil Duntan
W Fergusonstuctson

SIGNATURES OF THE COMMITTEE ON SECESSION ORDINANCE.

This ordinance was immediately adopted by the unanimous voice of the Convention. The hour when the important event occurred was a quarter before one o'clock. The number of votes was one hundred and sixty-nine. W. F. De Saussure immediately moved that the Convention should march in procession from St. Andrew's Hall,' where they had held their sessions since the 19th, to Institute Hall, and there, at seven o'clock in the evening, in the presence of the constituted authorities of the State and of the people, sign the ordinance. The Governor, both branches of the Legislature, and several clergymen were specially invited to be present at the solemn act-"the great act of deliverance and Liberty."

The cry at once went out:-"The Union is dissolved! The Union is

1 See page 23.

1

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REJOICINGS IN CHARLESTON.

An immense crowd in front of the Hall caught up the words with the wildest enthusiasm, and they went from lip to lip, until the whole city was alive with emotion. A placard printed at the Mercury office, half an hour after the vote was taken, bearing a copy of the ordinance, and the words, in large letters, THE UNION IS DISSOLVED! was scattered broad-cast over the town, and diffused universal joy. Groups gathered in many places to hear it read; and from each went up shout after shout, which attested the popular satisfaction. All business was suspended. The streets of Charleston were filled with excited people huzzaing for a Southern Confederacy, and several women made a public display of their so-called patriotism, by appearing on the crowded side-walks with "secession bonnets," the invention of a Northern milliner in Charleston. Small Palmetto flags, with a lone star on each, fluttered with white handkerchiefs out of many a window, and large

ones waved over every public and many private buildings. The bells of the churches rang out merry peals; and these demonstrations of delight were accompanied by the roar of cannon. "Some enthusiastic young men went to the church-yard where the remains of John C. Calhoun reposed, and there, with singular appropriateness, they formed a circle around his tomb, and made a solemn vow to devote their "lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" to the "cause of South Carolina independence." And Paul H. Hayne, author of "The Temptations of Venus" and other poems, inspired by the occasion, produced, before he slept that night, a "Song of Deliverance," in which is the following allusion to South Carolina and her position:

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CALHOUN'S TOMB IN ST. PHILIP'S CHURCH-YARD.

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With the sting of baffled hatred hot, and the rage of false desire.
O, glorious Mother Land!

In thy presence, stern and grand,

Unnumbered fading hopes rebloom, and faltering hearts grow brave,
And a consentaneous shout

To the answering heavens rings out

'Off with the livery of disgrace, the baldric of the Slave!'"

1 This bonnet was composed of white and black Georgia cotton. the streamers ornamented with Pal metto-trees and a lone star, embroidered with gold thread, while the plumes were formed of white and black worsted.

2 At one time, during the civil war, when it was believed that the National troops would take possession of Charleston, three of Mr. Calhoun's friends, professing to have fears that the invaders might, in their anger and zeal, desecrate his tomb, and scatter his remains to the winds, removed them to a place of greater safety. They were replaced after the war. The recumbent slab over the grave, which bears the single word "CALHOUN," was much broken by his admirers, who carried away small pieces as relics and mementoes.

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