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posed in the report, nor would she consent to separation. He made the prediction: "If the South persists in the course on which she has entered, we shall march our armies to the Gulf of Mexico, or you will march yours to the Great Lakes." At the close of the debate, Mr. Johnson's amendment was adopted by a decided vote.
The spirit and purpose of the convention were also revealed by a sharp debate on a motion to limit speeches to ten minutes each. In support of this motion, Robert L. Carruthers of Tennessee, its mover, said: "We have come here for the purpose of acting; not to hear speeches. There is no use of talking over these things. Our minds are made up, and talking will not change them. I want to make an end to all discussions. I move that the debate close at three o'clock to-day." Joseph F. Randolph of New Jersey expressed his agreement with the sentiments of Mr. Carruthers, but moved to defer the vote till the next day. Robert F. Stockton of the same State made a frantic appeal for union and immediate action, urging the convention to "bring a speedy termination to this whole business." "We stand," he said, "in the presence of an awful danger. We feel the throes of an earthquake which threatens to bring down ruin on the whole magnificent fabric of our government." "Yielding to Southern demands" was "too small a matter," he claimed, to justify hesitation when such vital interests were at stake. "You cannot," he said, "destroy your country for that. You love it too much. I call on you, Wadsworth and King, Field and Chase and Morrill, as able men, as brothers, as good patriots, to give up everything else if it is necessary to save your country. . . The Union shall not be destroyed. I tell you, friends, I am going to stand right in the way. You shall not go home; you shall never see your wives and families again until you have settled these matters, and saved your good old country, if I can help it."
But all were not alike impetuous and impatient; nor did the policy of peace at any price command the united assent of even that conservative body. Against the injustice and impolicy of limiting debate and thus hurrying prematurely to a result, Mr. Field of New York entered his earnest protest.
"Is it seriously contemplated now," he asked, "after gentlemen on one side have spoken two or three times and at great length, after the questions involved in the committee's reports have been thoroughly and exhaustingly discussed on the part of the South, and when only one gentleman from the North has been heard upon the general subject, to cut us off from all opportunity of expressing our views? Such a course will not help your propositions." Charles Allen of Massachusetts, one of the bravest and most honest men of his State, a man of clear convictions and intrepid purpose, reminded the convention that their meeting was for the very purpose of consultation on the condition of the country. "The questions before us," he said, "are the most important that could possibly arise. Before our present Constitution was adopted, it was discussed and examined for more than three months. We are now practically making a new Constitution. . You may force a vote to-day, but the result will satisfy none." It was, indeed, this radical character of the proposed amendments that seemed to arrest more particularly the attention and to excite more profoundly the few earnest friends of freedom and thoughtful lovers of their country, who were members of that convention. This was well expressed by William Curtis Noyes of New York, mild and gentle as a man, eminent as a lawyer, and a firm friend of freedom. "Sir," he said, "I speak for New York! Not New York of a time gone by! Not New York of an old fossiliferous era, remembered only in some chapter of her ancient history, but young, breathing, living New York, as she exists to-day. We are asked to
consider new and important amendments to the Constitution, alterations of our fundamental law; and in the same breath we are told we must not discuss them, that we must take them as they are offered to us without change or alteration. ... I submit to the conference, is it kind, is it generous, is
proper to stop here? Is it best to do so?" His colleague, Francis Granger, who had, in the presidential election, supported the so-called "Bell-Everett" ticket, had assured the convention that New York would support the report of the committee. He expressed his doubt of the gentleman's authority to
speak for the State, with the assurance that the political principles of their constituents did "not sit thus lightly on their consciences." On another occasion and in another connection Mr. Field said: "To change the organic law of thirty millions of people is a measure of the greatest importance, .. and yet, though the convention has devoted but five days to the consideration, we are urged to act at once without further deliberation or delay."
This Peace Congress, as it has been sometimes termed, was called in the interests of slavery, was designed by its movers and leaders to strengthen that system, and in its debates and final decisions very generally carried out that purpose. Though it came together hurriedly, at a memorable crisis, and deliberated under a terrible pressure, and though it was the last act of the great drama of conciliation and compromise, if not the first of rebellion and revolution, there were enunciated during its sessions, in its animated and able debates of three weeks, in the form of assertions and demands, of questionings and their answers, threats and their rejoinders, apprehensions and appeals, avowed purposes, if not plans, the seminal ideas of what was soon to take definite shape and to meet in deadly conflict. Though there was great variety of motions, resolutions, and amendments, the debates ranged themselves generally on the one side or the other of the great dividing line.
On the side of the South, and of concession, Rives of Virginia, though expressing his strong desire to bring back the seven seceded States, denied that force could be used. "Coercion," he said, " is not a word to be used in this connection. There must be negotiation. . The army and navy are impotent in such a crisis." "Is it the purpose of the incoming administration," asked Seddon, " to attempt the execution of the laws in the seceded States by an armed force?" George W. Summers of the same State said, if the two extreme portions would not lend their aid, the border States on both sides of the line must unite with the Northwest "to save the country." Thomas Ewing, though representing the free State of Ohio, spoke contemptuously of the "sickening sentimentalism" of Northern antislavery and of the "incompatibility" of
the two races. Frederick F. Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, though speaking, he claimed, in the interests of "piety and patriotism," made the strange vaunt that there were never any underground railroads in New Jersey, that she never rescued a fugitive slave from the custody of law, that no "personal-liberty" bills ever disgraced the pages of her statute-book, and "never will." He expressed the opinion that "nineteen twentieths of the North" were in favor of giving the South all the guaranties it asks," and affirmed his belief that, in both sections, "the family prayer ascends to the Father of us all for a blessing on our common country and for the preservation of the Union." William E. Dodge of New York counselled conciliation, styled the New England delegates "obstinate and uncompromising," expressed doubts of their declaration that New England was "opposed to slavery," for the not very creditable reasons that they knew "how to get the dollars and how to hold on to them," and that they would never permit the government which had contributed so much to their wealth and prosperity to be sacrificed to a technicality, a chimera.
On the other hand, it was said, among others, by Lot M. Morrill of Maine, that "the sentiments and convictions of the North could not be trifled with nor set aside in any settlement that could be made." To the question whether the incoming administration would employ force to coerce the seceding States, he replied, though disclaiming all authority to speak for Mr. Lincoln, that if it did not "use every means which the Constitution has given them to assert the authority of the government in all the States, to preserve the Union in all its integrity, the people will be disappointed." Speaking to
the same point, Mr. Field said, if the government does not use coercion it will be "disgraced and destroyed." "There is," he said, "no middle ground; we must keep this country unbroken or give it up to ruin." Amos Tuck of New Hampshire made a conciliatory but firm speech. After alluding to the conflicting claims of patriotism and fraternity on the one hand, and principle and conscience on the other, and saying that he had "listened to appeals stronger and more eloquent than I ever expect to hear again," he added: “But we
cannot act otherwise than we do. Ideas and principles control, and we and those we represent will act in accordance with them, whatever be the consequences." James C. Smith of New York also spoke of "the immutable principles by which nations and individuals are and must be governed." After saying that the entrance of slave labor was the practical exclusion of free, he said: "We may talk around this question,— we may discuss its incidents, its history, and its effects as much and as long as we please, and after all is said, disguise it as we may, it is a contest between the great opposing elements of civilization, whether this country shall be possessed and developed and ruled by the labor of slaves or of freemen."
The fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth days were occupied with speeches not very much unlike those that had preceded them. The eighteenth was devoted to attempts to amend the report; all of which, however, failed. Among the amendments offered were those by Mr. Field denying the right of secession and affirming freedom of speech; by Mr. Baldwin of Connecticut, calling a convention for amending the Constitution; by Mr. Seddon, proposing the Crittenden resolutions with the Virginia modifications; by James B. Clay, son of Henry Clay, proposing the Crittenden resolutions simply; by Mr. Tuck, proposing an address to the people of the United States and a petition to Congress to call a convention for amending the Constitution. During the day Salmon P. Chase made a very able speech, in which he defined the position of the Republican party, its principles and purposes. They had triumphed on that basis, he said, and they were not prepared to throw away that triumph, nor forsake the vantage-ground which that triumph gave. Speaking of the return of fugitive slaves, he said their consciences would not allow that, but they could "compensate"; the "cost" of which, he said, "would be as nothing in comparison with the evils of discord." On the next day, the nineteenth of the convention, the report of the committee was adopted, section by section, although each section did not receive the same majority. The president was appointed to present the doings of the convention to Congress, when it adjourned without day.