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Rhett fulminated anathemas against it through the Charleston Mercury, especially on account of its tariff clause, the prohibition of the African Slave-trade, and the adoption of the three-fifths rule of representation for slaves, in the National Constitution. "Let your people," he said, "prepare their minds for a failure in the future permanent Southern Constitution, for South Carolina is about to be saddled with almost every grievance, except Abolition, for which she long struggled, and has just withdrawn from the United States Government. Surely McDuffie lived in vain, and Calhoun taught for naught, if we are again to be plundered, and our commerce crippled, destroyed by tariffs-even discriminating tariffs. Yet this is the inevitable prospect. The fruit of the labors of thirty odd long years, in strife and bitterness, is about to slip through our fingers." Of the threefifths rule, he said: "It most unfairly dwarfs the power of some of the States in any Federal representation." He called that rule, which was really a compromise in favor of the slaveholders, "one of the many Yankee swindles put upon us, in the formation of the old Constitution." As the slave population of South Carolina was the majority, he complained that two-fifths or more of the people were unrepresented. "South Carolina," he said, "is small enough without again flinging away what legitimate power she possesses. That power is in her slaves-socially, politically, economically." He complained of the prohibition of the Slave-trade. "A stigma," he said, "is thus broadly stamped upon the whole institution, before the whole world, and sealed by ourselves. It is an infamous slur upon the whole
institution-the lives and the property of every 'slaveholder in the land." Rhett and his fellows were restive in view of the restraints to which the "sovereignty" of South Carolina would be subjected as a member of a Connable federacy, and seemed inclined, at one time, to reject all leagues, and have their "gallant State" stand alone as an independent nation.'
On the sixth day of the February 9, session," the President of the Convention and all of the members took the oath of allegiance to the Provisional Constitution, and at noon the doors of the hall were thrown open to the public, and the Convention proceeded to the election of a President and Vice-President of the "Confederacy." Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, received six votes (the whole number) for President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, the same number, for Vice-President. The announcement of the result was received with the most vehement applause
1 See third clause, second section of the first Article of the Constitution.
2 The arrogance of the South Carolina politicians was sometimes gently rebuked by their friends. The Mobile Mercury, at this time, said:-"They will have to learn to be a little more conforming to the opinions of others, before they can expect to associate comfortably with even the Cotton States, under a federative Government."
STEPHENS'S ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICE.
253 by the vast multitude that thronged the building, inside and out; and a salute of one hundred guns, in honor of the event, was immediately given. That evening, Stephens was serenaded. He made a brief speech to the crowd, in which he spoke of the new government as one which, while it surrendered none of their ancient rights and liberties, would secure them more perfectly. He predicted for the "Confederacy" a glorious career, if it should be supported by "the virtue, intelligence, and patriotism of the people." With institutions, he said, so far as regarded their organic and social policy, "in strict conformity to nature and the laws of the Creator, whether read in the Book of Inspiration or the great Book of Manifestations around us, we have all the natural elements essential to attainment in the highest degree of power and glory. These institutions have been much assailed, and it is our mission to vindicate the great truth on which they rest, and with them exhibit the highest type of civilization which it is possible for human society to reach." He was followed by Keitt, and Chesnut, and Conrad, who all made predictions of the future grandeur of the nation they were then attempting to create.
On the following day, Stephens formally accepted the office to which he had been chosen, and made a speech to the Convention, acknowledging with gratitude the expression of their confidence in calling him to that high station. He was in an embarrassing position. His Union speeches in November and January' were yet ringing in the ears of the people, and his present attitude needed explanation. He thought it prudent not to attempt any explanation, and simply remarked: "It is sufficient for me to say, that it may be deemed questionable if any good citizen can refuse to discharge any duty which inay be assigned him by his country in her hour of need." At Milledgeville, in November, Mr. Stephens's vision of his " country embraced the whole Republic, from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, and from the region of ice to the region of perpetual bloom, with a population of more than thirty millions. At Montgomery, in February-ninety days later-he saw his "country" dwarfed to the insignificant area of six Cotton-producing States on the coast, with a population of four millions five hundred thousand, nearly one-half of whom were bond-slaves, and a seventh (Texas) just marching up to join the sad assemblage of recusants.
After the election of Davis and Stephens, the Convention directed its chairman to appoint Committees on Foreign Relations, Postal Affairs, Finance, Commerce, Military and Naval Affairs, Judiciary, Patents and Copy-rights,3 and Printing. All the laws of the United States, not incompatible with
See pages 54 to 57, inclusive.
2 See page 54.
The first application to the Confederate Government" for a patent was made on the 16th of February, when J. M. Waldron, of Georgia, asked leave to file a caveat and drawings, setting forth an improvement he had made in railroad switches.
The most important committees were constructed as follows:
Foreign Affairs-Messrs. Rhett, Nisbett, Perkins, Walker, and Keitt.
Finance.-Messrs. Toombs, Barnwell, Kenner, Barry, and McRae.
Commercial Affairs.-Messrs, Memminger, Crawford, Martin, Curry, and De Clouet,
Judiciary.-Messrs. Clayton, Withers, Hale, T. R. Cobb, and Harris.
Naral Affairs.-Messrs. Conrad, Chesnut, Smith, Wright, and Owens.
Military Affairs.—Messrs. Bartow, Miles, Sparrow, Keenan, and Anderson.
Postal Affairs.-Chilton, Hill, Boyce, Harrison, and Curry.
Mr. Brooke, of Mississippi, was made Chairman of the Committee on Patents and Copyrights-an al nost ⚫aseless office.
A FLAG FOR THE CONFEDERACY CONSIDERED.
the new order of things, were continued in force, temporarily. The Finance Committee, in the face of the solemn promises of the conspirators to the people and to foreign governments to the contrary, were instructed to report a tariff bill; and a committee was appointed to report a Constitution of Permanent Government for the "Confederacy." The committee consisted of twelve, or two from each State; and nothing was now wanting but the presence of the President elect to make perfect that powerful legislative and executive engine, of which Davis became chief manager, that waged a desolating war for four years against the Government of the Republic.
While the Committee had the matter of a permanent government under consideration, the Convention discussed the important subject of a national flag, during which much warmth of feeling was exhibited. Several models had been offered. Two of these were presented by Mr. Memminger. One of them was from some young women of Charleston, and was composed of a blue cross on a red field, with seven stars; the other was from a gentleman of the same city. It was a cross with fifteen stars. On presenting them, Mr. Memminger said:
"Now, Mr. President, the idea of Union, no doubt, was suggested to the imagination of the young ladies by the beauteous constellation of the Southern cross, which the Great Creator has placed in the Southern heavens, by way of compensation for the glorious constellation at the north pole. The imagination of the young ladies was, no doubt, inspired by the genius of Dante and the scientific skill of Humboldt. But, Sir, I have no doubt that there was another idea associated with it in the minds of the young ladies-a religious one-and although we have not seen in the heavens the In hoc Signo vinces,' written upon the Labarum of Constantine, yet the same sign has been manifested to us upon the tablets of the earth; for we all know that it has been by the aid of revealed religion we have achieved over fanaticism the victory which we this day witness; and it is becoming, on this occasion, that the debt of the South to the Cross should be thus recognized. I have also, Mr. President, another commission from a gentleman of taste and skill in the city of Charleston, who offers another model, which embraces the same idea of a cross, but upon a different ground. The gentleman who offers this model appears to be more hopeful than the young ladies. They offer one with seven stars-six for the States already represented in this Congress, and the seventh for Texas, whose deputies we hope will soon be on their way to join us. He offers a flag which embraces the whole fifteen States. God grant that his hope may be realized, and that we may soon welcome their stars to the glorious constellation of our Southern Confederacy."
These remarks were highly applauded, and a committee, consisting of one delegate from each State, was appointed to report upon a device for a national flag and seal.'1 Mr. Brooke, of Mississippi, offered a resolution to instruct the Committee to report a design for a flag as similar as possible to that of the United States, making only such changes as should give them distinction. In his speech he talked with the fervor of a patriot of the associations which clustered around the old ensign-associations which
The Committee consisted of Messrs. Shorter, Morton, Bartow, Sparrow, Harris, and Miles.
A FLAG FOR THE CONFEDERACY.
could never be effaced. "Sir," he said, "let us preserye it as far as we can. Let us continue to hallow it in our memory, and still pray that
"Long may it wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.""
His eulogy of the old flag, which the leading traitors now affected to despise, was so full of Union sentiment that it was regarded as almost treasonable, and Brooke was severely rebuked. William Porcher Miles, of South Carolina, the Chairman of the Committee, protested against the resolution and the utterances of the, mover. He gloried more a thousand times
in the Palmetto flag of his State. He had regarded, "from his youth, the Stars and Stripes as the emblem of oppression and tyranny." This bold conspirator was so warmly applauded, that menaced Brooke," at the sugges tion of a friend," withdrew his motion.
W. W. Boyce, of South Carolina, who had been a member of the National Congress for seven years, presented a model for a flag, which he had received, with a letter, from a woman of his State (Mrs. C. Ladd, of Winnsboro'), who described it as "tri-colored, with a red union, seven stars, and the crescent moon." She offered her three boys to her "country;" and suggested "Washington Republic" as the name of the new nation.' In presenting the flag and letter, Boyce indulged in the usual turgid oratory of his class, saying:-"I will take the liberty of reading her letter to the Congress. It is full of authentic fire. It is worthy of Rome in her best days, and might well have been read in the Roman Senate on that disastrous day when the victorious banner of the great Carthaginian was visible from Mont Aventine. And I may add, Sir, that as long as our women are impelled by these sublime sentiments, and our mountains yield the metals out of which weapons are forged, the lustrous stars of our unyielding Confederacy will never pale their glorious fires, though baffled oppression may threaten with its impotent sword, or, more dangerous still, seek to beguile with the siren song of conciliation."
Chilton, Toombs, Stephens, and others, also presented devices for flags.' They were sent in almost daily from various parts of the Cotton-growing States, a great many of them showing attachment to the old banner, yet accompanied by the most fervid expressions of sympathy with the "Southern cause." The Committee finally made an elaborate report on the subject, in which they confessed that they did not share in the sentiment of attachment to the "Stars and Stripes" too often repeated in communications.
1 Many members liked the suggestion, but the more radical men, like Rhett and Toombs, opposed it, probably because it might have such strong associations with the old Government as to cause a tiesire for * reconstruction." So powerful became the feeling in the Convention in favor of the name of Washington Republic" that it was voted down by only one majority.
* Two young women, Rebecca C. Ferguson and Mollie A. D. Sinclair, in the Art Department of the “Tuscogee Female College," sent in seven designs. In their accompanying letter they said, that "amidst all their efforts at originality, there ever danced before them visions of the star-gemmed flag, with its parti-colored stripes, that floated so proudly over the late United States. . . . Let us snatch from the eagle of the cliff our idea of independence, and cull from the earth diamonds, and gems from the heavens, to deck the flag of the Southern Confederacy. With Cotton for King, there are seven States bound by a chain of sisterly love that will strengthen by time, as onward, right onward, they move up the glorious path of Southern independence." In the seven devices offered, the principal members were an eagle, stars, and a cotton-bale. These devices were presented with highly commendatory words by Mr. Chilton, of Alabama.
*These drawings are among the archives of the "Confederate Government," at Washington City,
FIRST ASSUMPTION OF SOVEREIGNTY.
They thought there was no propriety in retaining the emblems of a Government which had become so oppressive and injurious to their interests as to require a separation from it. Yet they did pay deference to that sentiment in others, by recommending a flag that had a certain resemblance to the one they were deserting. It was to consist of "a red field with a white space extending horizontally through the center, and equal in width to one-third
the width of the flag"-in other words, three stripes, two of them red, and one white: the union, blue, extending down through the white space, and stopping at the lower red space. In the center of the union a circle of white stars, corresponding in number with the States of the Confederacy." This was the flag under which the maddened hosts of that "Confederacy" rushed to battle, at the beginning of the war that ensued. It was first displayed in public on the 4th of March, when it was unfurled over the State House at Montgomery. The first assumption of sovereignty on the part of the Convention was on the 12th," when it was resolved that the new Government should February, take under its charge all questions and difficulties then existing "between the Sovereign States of this Confederacy and the Government of the United States," relating to the occupation of forts, arsenals, navy yards, and other public establishments. The President of the Convention was requested to communicate this resolution to the Governors of the several States. This was extremely offensive to the South Carolinians. They saw in it dark visions of the passing away of the "sovereignty" of their State. That Commonwealth, so lately proclaimed a "nation," was thereby shorn of its greatness, and placed on a common level with "sister States." The Mercury, speaking for the Hotspurs of the coast region, at once preached rebellion against the usurpers at Montgomery. It declared' February 14. that Fort Sumter belonged to South Carolina alone. It was the pet victim of the Palmettoese, and no other wolf should seize it. "After two efforts," said the Mercury, "to obtain peaceable possession of Fort Sumter, and a submission, for two months, to the insolent military domination in our bay of a handful of men, the honor of the State requires that no further intervention, from any quarter, should be tolerated, and that this fort should be taken, and taken by South Carolina alone. By any other course, it appears to us, unless all the positions of the Governor are false, the State must be disgraced." The South Carolinians were pacified by promises, and, as we shall observe, were gratified in their belligerent desires.
On the 13th, John Gregg, one of the delegates from Texas, appeared' and took a seat in the Convention, although the Ordinance of Secession adopted in that State had not been ratified by the people, according to legal requirement. The rest of the delegation were on their way. In this act, as in all others, the conspirators utterly disregarded the will of the people. On the same day, the Convention commenced preparations for war, by instructing
1 The delegation was composed of Louis T. Wigfali, J. H. Reagan, J. Hemphill, T. N. Waul, John Gregg, W. S. Oldham, and W. B. Ochiltree.