The Convention met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 o'clock A. M. Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Walker, of the Baptist Church.
I beg the indulgence of the Convention while I make an explanation
which is due to my friend from Doddridge
It will be recollected, Mr. President, that I said yesterday that my constituents were ready and willing to stand up in defence of the rights and institutions of the people of the Eastern portion of this State. In saying so I did not wish to be misunderstood as meaning that the people of the West are willing to take the course pressed by those whom we call the ultra men of the Eastern portion of the State; but simply that the people of the West are sound on this question of slavery and are willing, at all hazards, to stand up for the rights and interests of the people of the Eastern portion of this State.
I desire to be understood that we are not in favor of the doctrine of the Constitutional right of secession. We believe in the right of revolution. We believe that when our Constitution has been perverted to our injury and oppression, we have the right to throw off the shackles, and appeal to our natural rights. But revolution pre-supposes, in my opinion, a remedy; and, if the fact of dissevering ourselves from the Federal Government would be a remedy for the evils of which we complain, then we would be in favor of it. But I cannot see, for my life, how, under present circumstances, secession or revolution would be a remedy for the evils complained of. Will it relieve us from any of our grievances? If we had to complain of a perversion of the Constitution by the Federal Government, then revolution, if successful, would be a complete remedy; but if the complaint is in regard to the action of separate States, then secession from the General Government would be no remedy. If it were even successful, we would still find ourselves in identically the same position in which we now are. The institutions and laws of those States, derogatory of the rights of the South, would still remain on their statute books.
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They appeal to us to come to their rescue and help them to save the Union. They have fought for us in days gone by, and now they appeal to our brotherly feeling to come to their aid and to save the Union. If we pursue the course indicated here by the secessionist party, we will cut ourselves loose from our friends in the free States, and array them against us. The whole civilized world will then be arrayed, by our action, against the institution of slavery. If we say to those in the North, who have heretofore stood up for our rights, "We will have nothing more to do with you," can you expect or hope to retain the good will and kind feeling of that people ? No sir. By pursuing this course, you will, in my humble opinion, unite the people of the North in one solid mass against our institutions. Then we will have the whole world arrayed against us. Can we expect our friends in the North to stand by us, after we have destroyed the Government and brought ruin upon them? It is hopeless to expect so. Then I hold that secession or ,revolution is no remedy for the evils complained of, but is an aggravation of them, and will, if persisted in, lead to the extermination of slavery.
I find, Mr. President, that I have but four minutes left before the Convention goes into Committee of the Whole, and, as I could not discuss any other proposition within that time, I will now yield the floor.
Mr. President, I feel that I should offer an apology to the
Convention for detaining them on this question, but it will be
recollected that I only had some fifteen minutes each morning before
the hour of going into Committee of the Whole. Being anxious to
proceed, without delay, to the business of the Convention, I was
willing, at any moment, and am now willing to have the question
submitted to a vote. I attempted, last evening, to get the floor to
conclude my remarks, but was prevented by my friend from Harrison
I desire now to set myself right in some things in which I may be misunderstood.
It will be recollected, Mr. President, that I said yesterday that my
constituents were ready and willing to stand up in defence of the
rights and institutions of the people of the Eastern portion of the
State. In saying so, I did not wish to be understood as meaning that
the people of the West were willing to take the course pressed by
those whom we call the ultra men of the Eastern portion of the