A Report of the Debates and Proceedings in the Secret Sessions of the Conference Convention
by Lucius Eugene Chittenden
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[Transcriber's Note: A table of contents has been provided for the reader's convenience.]
















ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by D. APPLETON & CO., In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.




If I had been guided by my judgment alone it is not probable that these notes of the debates in the Conference, held upon the invitation of Virginia, at Washington, in the month of February, 1861, would have been made public. From the commencement of its sessions, a portion of the members were in favor of the daily publication of the proceedings. I was disposed to go farther and have the sessions open to the public; but this proposition was opposed by a large majority. Strong reasons were urged for excluding the multitude which in the excitement of the time would have thronged the hall wherein the Conference held its sessions. But these reasons did not apply to the publication of the debates, and a considerable minority were strongly of opinion that the people should be informed daily, of the votes and remarks of their representatives in that body.

I commenced taking notes on the first day of the session. For the first few days, and until the reports were presented from the general committee, there was but little discussion, and that related to questions incidental to the general subject. On the 15th of February, and before the committee reported, Mr. ORTH offered a resolution authorizing the admission of reporters, which, after some discussion, by a close vote was laid upon the table. On the 18th, finding the labor of taking notes greater than I had anticipated, and desiring that a complete record should be preserved; I introduced a resolution providing for the appointment of an official stenographer, who should report the proceedings and hold them subject to the order of the Conference. I urged the adoption of this resolution as strenuously as was proper, but the feeling of the majority appeared to be still adverse to its passage, and it shared the fate of its predecessor. I then revised the notes already taken, and finding them more complete than I had anticipated, determined to make as accurate a report as I was able of the general discussion. I could not then anticipate whether such a report would be useful to the country or not; but I thought if the Conference should propose amendments to the Constitution, and these should be ultimately submitted to the States for adoption, a knowledge of the motives and reasons which influenced the action of the Conference as well as the construction which the members gave to the propositions themselves, might become of as great importance as the same subjects were in the convention which framed the present Constitution. I attended every session of the Conference, and, so far as my strength would permit, made as full and accurate notes as I could, both of the action of the Conference and the observations of its members.

These notes were carefully examined and revised immediately after the close of each daily session. After the passage of the resolution introduced by Mr. BARRINGER, removing the injunction of secrecy and authorizing their publication, I determined to write them out for the press. I was engaged in this work when the rebellion commenced, and was shortly after called to the performance of the duties of an official position, which for many months left me no leisure for other employments.

My notes were then laid aside. As it was known by every member of the Conference that I had taken them, I was often pressed to permit selections from them to be made. These requests I invariably declined, as I desired the publication, if made at all, to be entire, as well as accurate. As time passed, these appeals became more frequent and pressing, and claims were made in relation to the course of several of the members which could only be sustained or refuted by a publication of their remarks. At length I was earnestly requested to write out one of these speeches, and after some weeks of delay consented to do so.

After the publication of this speech, which took place about the time of the fall elections of 1863, previous to which the action of the Conference had been much discussed, the desire to see a full report of the proceedings of that body appeared to be excited anew. Letters and personal interviews upon this subject became very numerous. I finally determined to take the advice of a number of gentlemen who were prominent in the convention and the country, as to the propriety of yielding to this desire, and to be guided by it. I did so, and found among them a remarkable unanimity of expression in favor of making the history of the Conference public.

When this question was settled, I desired to avail myself of every opportunity to secure the highest degree of accuracy and fidelity. I addressed notes to such of the members as were accessible, asking them to transmit to me such memoranda of the proceedings of the Conference as they had preserved. The response to these letters was very gratifying; not because the materials furnished were very full, but because so general a purpose was shown by all the members thus addressed, to furnish me every facility and aid in their power.

I have found much difficulty in determining what control each member ought to be permitted to exercise over his own remarks. The most agreeable course to me would have been, to have written out each speech and submitted it to its author for correction or revision; but to this there was a decisive objection. It would have depreciated, if not destroyed, the accuracy of the report. Although I do not believe that any gentleman would have been tempted to change the tenor of his remarks by subsequent events, the view of the public might not have been so charitable.

I have therefore made my own notes the standard of authority, and have admitted nothing into the report which has not been justified by them aided by my own recollection. The manuscript has not been changed or added to, except by my own hands. The few instances in which I have availed myself of the materials furnished by others, are distinctly stated either in the notes or the appendix.

During the sessions of the Conference I was able to secure but little practical assistance from the members. Although many of them desired that my purpose should be accomplished, and some were taking brief and general notes, I soon discovered that an accurate report of a speech required an amount of labor and a degree of attention to the subject, which few gentlemen were inclined to give. The work, therefore, was thrown almost exclusively upon myself. Some idea of its amount and severity may be formed when it is stated, that the sessions usually commenced at about ten o'clock in the morning, and with a brief intermission were continued late in the evening, in one instance as late as the hour of two o'clock, A.M. The necessity of these long daily sessions, arose from the fact, that the Congress then in existence terminated on the fourth of March, and but few days remained in which to discuss and perfect the report, and to submit it to that body for its action.

I do not claim to have furnished a verbatim report of the speeches delivered in the Conference of 1861, but I insist that I have given an accurate account of all its official proceedings, and the substance of the remarks made in the course of those proceedings. I think, also, that I have preserved nearly all the propositions made in the course of the debate, and generally have presented the ideas in the very language used. The gentlemen who have critically examined the report, all concur upon the question of its general accuracy, and I am content in this respect to rely upon their testimony.

I have suggested these considerations simply by way of explanation, and not for the purpose of avoiding criticism. I have endeavored to follow, so far as was in my power, the example of the illustrious Reporter of the Constitutional Convention of 1787; and while my notes lack the beauty and felicity which characterize his, I trust they are not less full and accurate. I submit them to the country as the best contribution which I can make to its history, at a most important and interesting period of our national existence.

The three short years which have passed since the Conference of 1861, have witnessed singular vicissitudes among its members. Many of them have entered into the military or civil service of the country, or of the rebellion which it was the avowed purpose of some members of that Conference to nourish into vigorous life. Death, also, has been busy with the roll. BALDWIN, BRONSON, SMITH, WOLCOTT, TYLER, and CLAY, are no more. ZOLLICOFFER fell at the head of a rebel army. HACKLEMAN sealed with his blood his devotion to the principles he advocated upon the field of Corinth, and now, while I am writing these pages in a morning of beautiful spring, when tree, and shrub, and grass, and flower, are bursting into life and beauty; from the roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, and the deadly storm of lead and iron, which bearing destruction upon its wings is waking the echoes of the "Wilderness," comes the mournful tidings that WADSWORTH has fallen. In that Conference or in the world, there was never a purer or a more ardent patriot. Those of us who were associated with him politically, had learned to love and respect him. His opponents admired his unflinching devotion to his country, and his manly frankness and candor. He was the type of a true American, able, unselfish, prudent, unambitious, and good. Other pens will do justice to his memory, but I thought as I heard the last account of him alive, as he lay within the rebel lines, his face wearing that calm serenity which grew more beautiful the nearer death approached, after having given so abundantly of his goods, now yielding his life to his country in the hour of her trial, that hereafter the good and true men of the nation would emulate the illustrious example of his patriotism, and would prize the blessings of a free government the more highly, as they remembered that it could only be maintained and perpetuated by such expensive sacrifices.


May, 1864.


Washington, D.C.

MONDAY, February 4th, 1861.

Commissioners representing a number of the States, assembled at Willard's Hall, in the City of Washington, D.C., on the fourth day of February, A.D. 1861, at 12 o'clock M., in pursuance of the following preamble and resolutions, adopted by the General Assembly of the State of Virginia, on the nineteenth day of January, A.D. 1861:

Whereas, It is the deliberate opinion of the General Assembly of Virginia, that unless the unhappy controversy which now divides the States of this confederacy, shall be satisfactorily adjusted, a permanent dissolution of Union is inevitable; and the General Assembly, representing the wishes of the people of the commonwealth, is desirous of employing every reasonable means to avert so dire a calamity, and determined to make a final effort to restore the Union and the Constitution, in the spirit in which they were established by the fathers of the Republic: Therefore,

Resolved, That on behalf of the commonwealth of Virginia, an invitation is hereby extended to all such States, whether slaveholding or non-slaveholding, as are willing to unite with Virginia in an earnest effort to adjust the present unhappy controversies, in the spirit in which the Constitution was originally formed, and consistently with its principles, so as to afford to the people of the slaveholding States adequate guarantees for the security of their rights, to appoint commissioners to meet on the fourth day of February next, in the City of Washington, similar commissioners appointed by Virginia, to consider, and if practicable, agree upon some suitable adjustment.

Resolved, That ex-President JOHN TYLER, WILLIAM C. RIVES, Judge JOHN W. BROCKENBROUGH, GEORGE W. SUMMERS, and JAMES A. SEDDON are hereby appointed commissioners, whose duty it shall be to repair to the City of Washington, on the day designated in the foregoing resolution, to meet such commissioners as may be appointed by any of said States, in accordance with the foregoing resolution.

Resolved, That if said commissioners, after full and free conference, shall agree upon any plan of adjustment requiring amendments to the Federal Constitution, for the further security of the rights of the people of the slaveholding States, they be requested to communicate the proposed amendments to Congress, for the purpose of having the same submitted by that body, according to the forms of the Constitution, to the several States for ratification.

Resolved, That if said commissioners cannot agree on such adjustment, or if agreeing, Congress shall refuse to submit for ratification, such amendments as may be proposed, then the commissioners of this State shall immediately communicate the result to the executive of this commonwealth, to be by him laid before the convention of the people of Virginia and the General Assembly: Provided, That the said commissioners be subject at all times to the control of the General Assembly, or if in session, to that of the State convention.

Resolved, That in the opinion of the General Assembly of Virginia, the propositions embraced in the resolutions presented to the Senate of the United States by the Hon. JOHN J. CRITTENDEN, so modified as that the first article proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, shall apply to all the territory of the United States now held or hereafter acquired south of latitude thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, and provide that slavery of the African race shall be effectually protected as property therein during the continuance of the territorial government, and the fourth article shall secure to the owners of slaves the right of transit with their slaves between and through the non-slaveholding States and territories, constitute the basis of such an adjustment of the unhappy controversy which now divides the States of this confederacy, as would be accepted by the people of this commonwealth.

Resolved, That ex-President JOHN TYLER is hereby appointed, by the concurrent vote of each branch of the General Assembly, a commissioner to the President of the United States, and Judge JOHN ROBERTSON is hereby appointed, by a like vote, a commissioner to the State of South Carolina, and the other States that have seceded or shall secede, with instructions respectfully to request the President of the United States and authorities of such States to agree to abstain, pending the proceedings contemplated by the action of this General Assembly, from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms between the States and the Government of the United States.

Resolved, That copies of the foregoing resolutions be forthwith telegraphed to the executives of the several States, and also to the President of the United States, and the Governor be requested to inform, without delay, the commissioners of their appointment by the foregoing resolutions.

[A copy from the rolls.]

WM. F. GORDON, JR., C.H.D. and K.R. of Va.

The Conference was called to order by Mr. MOREHEAD, of Kentucky, who proposed the name of the honorable JOHN C. WRIGHT, of Ohio, as temporary Chairman.

The motion of Mr. MOREHEAD was unanimously adopted.

Mr. WRIGHT was conducted to the Chair by Mr. MEREDITH, of Pennsylvania, and Mr. CHASE, of Ohio, and proceeded to address the Conference as follows:

My warmest thanks are due to you, Gentlemen, for the undeserved honor which you have conferred upon me, in selecting me for the purpose of temporarily presiding over your deliberations. We have come together to secure a common and at the same time a most important object—to agree if we can upon some plan for adjusting the unhappy differences which distract the country, which will be satisfactory to ourselves and those we represent. We have assembled as friends, as brothers, each, I doubt not, animated by the most friendly sentiments.

If we enter upon, and with these sentiments carry through, a patient examination of the difficulties which now surround the Government, the result will be, it must be, a success, earnestly hoped for by every lover of his country; a result which will establish the Union according to the spirit of the Constitution.

For myself, I may say that I have come here with the earnest purpose of doing justice to all sections of the Union. I will hear with a patient and impartial mind all that may be said in favor of, or against such amendments of the Constitution as may be proposed. Such of them as will give to the Government permanence, strength, and stability, as will tend to secure to any State, or any number of States, the quiet and unmolested enjoyment of their rights under it, shall receive my cordial support. My confidence in republican institutions, in the capacity of the people for self-government, has been increased with every year of a life which has been protracted beyond the term usually allotted to man. That life is now drawing to a close, and I hope, when it ends, I may leave the Government more firmly established in the affections of my countrymen than it ever was before. To this end I have always labored, and shall continue to labor while I live. I pray GOD that He will be with us during our deliberations, and that He may guide them to a happy and wise conclusion.

Mr. BENJAMIN C. HOWARD, a commissioner from the State of Maryland, was unanimously appointed temporary Secretary.

The Roll of the States was then called over, and commissioners representing the following were found to be present:

New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana.

Mr. PRICE, of New Jersey:—I am informed that a number of Reporters for the press are at the door of the hall, desiring admittance to this Conference, for the purpose of reporting our proceedings. Whatever may be the ultimate action of the Conference in this respect, I can see no objection to the admission of reporters to-day, for our business will relate wholly to organization. I hope we shall admit them, and I make that motion.

Mr. SEDDON, of Virginia:—I hope this motion will not prevail. I do not see that any good can possibly come of giving publicity now, to our proceedings. On the contrary, in the present excited condition of the country, I can see how much harm might result from that publicity. It is not unlikely that wide differences of opinion will be found to exist among us at the outset. These we shall attempt to harmonize, and if we succeed, it will only be by mutual concessions and compromises. Every one should be left free to make these concessions, and not subject himself to unfavorable public criticism by doing so. If our deliberations are to attain the successful conclusion we so much desire, it certainly is the course of wisdom that we should follow the illustrious example of the framers of the present Constitution, and sit with closed doors.

The motion was thereupon, by viva voce vote, decided in the negative.

Mr. MEREDITH:—I move the appointment of a committee to consist of one member from each delegation present, to be named by the delegation and appointed by the President, who shall recommend permanent officers of this, body, and also report rules for its government.

Which motion was agreed to.

The following gentlemen were then appointed such Committee on Rules and Organization:

Kentucky, Charles A. Wickliffe, Chairman; New Hampshire, Amos Tuck; Rhode Island, William W. Hoppin; New Jersey, Joseph F. Randolph; Pennsylvania, Thomas E. Franklin; Delaware, George B. Rodney; Maryland, John W. Crisfield; Virginia, William C. Rives; North Carolina, Thomas Ruffin; Ohio, Reuben Hitchcock; Indiana, Godlove S. Orth.

The Conference then adjourned to meet at 12 o'clock M. to-morrow.


WASHINGTON, TUESDAY, February 5th, 1861.

The Conference was called to order by the Chairman pro tem., pursuant to adjournment, and the journal of the proceedings of the first day was read and approved.

Mr. FRANKLIN, of Pennsylvania:—It is usual in bodies of this description to take measures to ascertain who are and who are not duly accredited members. We should have the names of all the Commissioners present brought on to our records. I therefore move that a Committee of five be appointed by the Chairman, to whom all credentials of members shall be referred for examination and report.

The motion of Mr. FRANKLIN was adopted unanimously, and the Chairman announced as such Committee Mr. Summers, of Virginia; Mr. Franklin, of Pennsylvania; Mr. Guthrie, of Kentucky; Mr. Morehead, of North Carolina, and Mr. Smith, of Indiana.

Mr. WICKLIFFE, of Kentucky:—I rise at this time for the purpose of making the report of the Committee on Organization. I am instructed to report that we recommend that the permanent officers of the Convention be a President and Secretary, and that the Secretary have leave to appoint assistants, not exceeding two in number, to assist him in the discharge of his duties; and that the President of this Convention be JOHN TYLER, of Virginia, and that CRAFTS J. WRIGHT, of Ohio, be its Secretary. The committee also report a series of rules for the government of the Convention.

Mr. CLAY, of Kentucky:—I move that the question upon accepting the report be divided, and that it be first taken on that part of the report which relates to the officers of the Convention.

Which was agreed to without objection.

It was then moved, and unanimously voted, that the part of the report relating to officers, be accepted, and the officers designated be appointed.

The President pro tem. then appointed Mr. EWING, of Ohio, and Mr. MEREDITH, of Pennsylvania, to conduct the President elect to the chair.

President TYLER upon taking his seat proceeded to address the Convention as follows:

Gentlemen, I fear you have committed a great error in appointing me to the honorable position you have assigned me. A long separation from all deliberative bodies has rendered the rules of their proceedings unfamiliar to me, while I should find, in my own state of health, variable and fickle as it is, sufficient reason to decline the honor of being your presiding officer. But, in times like these, one has but little option left him. Personal considerations should weigh but lightly in the balance. The country is in danger; it is enough; one must take the place assigned him in the great work of reconciliation and adjustment. The voice of Virginia has invited her co-States to meet her in council. In the initiation of this Government, that same voice was heard and complied with, and the results of seventy-odd years have fully attested the wisdom of the decisions then adopted. Is the urgency of her call now less great than it was then? Our godlike fathers created, we have to preserve. They built up, through their wisdom and patriotism, monuments which have eternized their names. You have before you, gentlemen, a task equally grand, equally sublime, quite as full of glory and immortality. You have to snatch from ruin a great and glorious Confederation, to preserve the Government, and to renew and invigorate the Constitution. If you reach the height of this great occasion, your children's children will rise up and call you blessed. I confess myself to be ambitious of sharing in the glory of accomplishing this grand and magnificent result. To have our names enrolled in the Capitol, to be repeated by future generations with grateful applause—this is an honor higher than the mountains, more enduring than the monumental alabaster. Yes, Virginia's voice, as in the olden time, has been heard. Her sister States meet her this day at the council board. Vermont is here, bringing with her the memories of the past, and reviving in the memories of all, her Ethan Allen and his demand for the surrender of Ticonderoga, in the name of the Great Jehovah and the American Congress. New Hampshire is here, her fame illustrated by memorable annals, and still more lately as the birthplace of him who won for himself the name of defender of the Constitution, and who wrote that letter to John Taylor which has been enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen. Massachusetts is not here. (Some member said "She is coming.") I hope so, said Mr. TYLER, and that she will bring with her her daughter Maine. I did not believe it could well be that the voice which in other times was so familiar to her ears had been addressed to her in vain. Connecticut is here, and she comes, I doubt not, in the spirit of ROGER SHERMAN, whose name with our very children has become a household word, and who was in life the embodiment of that sound practical sense which befits the great lawgiver and constructer of governments. Rhode Island, the land of ROGER WILLIAMS, is here, one of the two last States, in her jealousy of the public liberty, to give in her adhesion to the Constitution, and among the earliest to hasten to its rescue. The great Empire State of New York, represented thus far but by one delegate, is expected daily in fuller force to join in the great work of healing the discontents of the times and restoring the reign of fraternal feeling. New Jersey is also here, with the memories of the past covering her all over. Trenton and Princeton live immortal in story, the plains of the last incrimsoned with the hearts blood of Virginia's sons. Among her delegation I rejoice to recognize a gallant son of a signer of the immortal Declaration which announced to the world that thirteen Provinces had become thirteen independent and sovereign States. And here, too, is Delaware, the land of the BAYARDS and the RODNEYS, whose soil at Brandywine was moistened by the blood of Virginia's youthful MONROE. Here is Maryland, whose massive columns wheeled into line with those of Virginia in the contest for glory, and whose state house at Annapolis was the theatre of the spectacle of a successful Commander, who, after liberating his country, gladly ungirthed his sword, and laid it down upon the altar of that country. Then comes Pennsylvania, rich in revolutionary lore, bringing with her the deathless names of FRANKLIN and MORRIS, and, I trust, ready to renew from the belfry of Independence Hall the chimes of the old bell, which announced Freedom and Independence in former days. All hail to North Carolina! with her Mecklenberg Declaration in her hand, standing erect on the ground of her own probity and firmness in the cause of public liberty, and represented in her attributes by her MACON, and in this assembly by her distinguished son at no great distance from me. Four daughters of Virginia also cluster around the council board on the invitation of their ancient mother—the eldest, Kentucky, whose sons, under the intrepid warrior ANTHONY WAYNE, gave freedom of settlement to the territory of her sister, Ohio. She extends her hand daily and hourly across la belle riviere, to grasp the hand of some one of kindred blood of the noble states of Indiana, and Illinois, and Ohio, who have grown up into powerful States, already grand, potent, and almost imperial. Tennessee is not here, but is coming—prevented only from being here by the floods which have swollen her rivers. When she arrives, she will wear the badges on her warrior crest of victories won in company with the Great West on many an ensanguined plain, and standards torn from the hands of the conquerors at Waterloo. Missouri, and Iowa, and Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, still linger behind, but it may be hoped that their hearts are with us in the great work we have to do.

Gentlemen, the eyes of the whole country are turned to this assembly, in expectation and hope. I trust that you may prove yourselves worthy of the great occasion. Our ancestors, probably, committed a blunder in not having fixed upon every fifth decade for a call of a general convention to amend and reform the Constitution. On the contrary, they have made the difficulties next to insurmountable to accomplish amendments to an instrument which was perfect for five millions of people, but not wholly so as to thirty millions. Your patriotism will surmount the difficulties, however great, if you will but accomplish one triumph in advance, and that is, a triumph over party. And what is party, when compared to the work of rescuing one's country from danger? Do that, and one long, loud shout of joy and gladness will resound throughout the land.

Mr. EWING:—I move that the remaining portion of the report of the Committee on Organization be postponed until to-morrow.

The motion of Mr. EWING was agreed to.

Mr. WICKLIFFE. I offer the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Conference shall be opened with prayer, and that the clergymen of the city of Washington be requested to perform that service.

The resolution offered by Mr. WICKLIFFE was adopted, and prayer was then offered by the Rev. Dr. P.D. GURLEY, of Washington.

The PRESIDENT:—I have received a communication from the Messrs. Willard, placing the Hall in which the Conference is now sitting at the service of the Conference, while its sessions may continue; also, a communication from the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Washington, offering police officers to attend our sittings.

It was moved, and agreed to, that these offers be severally accepted.

Mr. JOHNSON, of Maryland:—I move that the President of the Conference be requested to furnish a copy of his address to the Conference upon taking the Chair, that it be entered upon the journal as a part of this day's proceedings, and that the same be published.

Which motion was unanimously agreed to.

Mr. GRIMES, of Iowa:—I have received from the Governor of the State of Iowa a communication, requesting myself and my colleague in the Senate of the United States, and also the members representing that State in the House of Representatives, to represent the State of Iowa here. I desire to present his communication, that it may be referred to the Committee on Credentials.

The communication was so referred, and on motion of Mr. WRIGHT, of Ohio, the Conference adjourned.


WASHINGTON, WEDNESDAY, February 6th, 1861.

The Conference met at twelve o'clock, at noon, and was called to order by the PRESIDENT.

The Journal of yesterday was read, and after amendment, was approved.

Mr. SUMMERS:—I am instructed by the Committee on Credentials to make a report. That committee has examined the credentials which have been submitted to it, and finds the following-named gentlemen duly accredited as members of this Conference:

New Hampshire.—Amos Tuck, Levi Chamberlain, Asa Fowler.

Vermont.—Hiland Hall, Lucius E. Chittenden, Levi Underwood, H. Henry Baxter, B.D. Harris.

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.—Samuel Ames, Alexander Duncan, William W. Hoppin, George H. Browne, Samuel G. Arnold.

Connecticut.—Roger S. Baldwin, Chauncey F. Cleveland, Charles J. McCurdy, James T. Pratt, Robbins Battell, Amos S. Treat.

New Jersey.—Charles S. Olden, Peter D. Vroom, Robert F. Stockton, Benjamin Williamson, Joseph F. Randolph, Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Rodman M. Price, William C. Alexander, Thomas J. Stryker.

Pennsylvania.—Thomas White, James Pollock, William M. Meredith, David Wilmot, A.W. Loomis, Thomas E. Franklin, William McKennan.

Delaware.—George B. Rodney, Daniel M. Bates, Henry Ridgely, John W. Houston, William Cannon.

Maryland.—John F. Dent, Reverdy Johnson, John W. Crisfield, Augustus W. Bradford, William T. Goldsborough, J. Dixon Roman, Benjamin C. Howard.

Virginia.—John Tyler, William C. Rives, John W. Brockenbrough, George W. Summers, James A. Seddon.

North Carolina.—George Davis, Thomas Ruffin, David S. Reid, Daniel M. Barringer, J.M. Morehead.

Kentucky.—William O. Butler, James B. Clay, Joshua F. Bell, Charles S. Morehead, James Guthrie, Charles A. Wickliffe.

Ohio.—John C. Wright, Salmon P. Chase, William S. Groesbeck, Franklin C. Backus, Reuben Hitchcock, Thomas Ewing, Valentine B. Horton.

Indiana.—Caleb B. Smith, Pleasant A. Hackleman, Godlove S. Orth, E.W.H. Ellis, Thomas C. Slaughter.

Iowa.—James W. Grimes, Samuel H. Curtis, William Vandever.

Mr. WICKLIFFE:—I move that the Secretary be authorized to employ one or more assistants. I am advised that the Secretary cannot perform his duties without assistance, and I see no objection to giving him this authority.

The motion of Mr. WICKLIFFE was agreed to.

Mr. WICKLIFFE:—I now desire to call up the remaining portion of the report of the Committee on Rules and Organization, and to move its adoption at the present time. These Rules are substantially the same as those which were adopted by the convention which proposed our present Constitution. The rule which we have reported securing secrecy, so far as our proceedings are concerned, has been made the subject of much discussion in the committee; and it was at first thought best to recommend a modification of it. But upon reflection and consideration, and in view of the fact that, while the rule reported requires that secrecy should be preserved in regard to all that is said or done in this Conference, it does not prevent any member from expressing his own hopes or predictions upon the final result of our deliberations, we have thought best to let it remain as it is.

Mr. SEDDON:—I desire to offer an amendment to this portion of the report of the committee, which I will read for the information of the Conference. It is as follows:

"Resolved, That no part of the Journal be published without the order or leave of the Conference, and that no copies of the whole or any part be furnished or allowed, except to members, who shall be privileged to communicate the same to the authorities or deliberative assemblies of their respective States, when deemed judicious or appropriate, under their instructions, and that nothing spoken in the House be printed or otherwise published; but private communications respecting the proceedings and debates, while recommended to be with caution and reserve, are allowed at the discretion of each member."

It may be thought, that in offering this resolution, I am seeking a different end from the one I proposed yesterday, when I advocated the proposition of excluding reporters from our sessions, and insisted that our proceedings should be at all times under the seal of secrecy. Such, however, is not my purpose. But some discretion must be allowed us, in order that we may conform to and carry out the spirit of the resolutions under which we respectively act. This is especially true in relation to myself and my colleagues. The resolutions under which we are acting, require that we should from time to time communicate to the legislature of Virginia the proceedings of this body, and to express our own opinions of the prospect which may exist of the settlement of existing difficulties. The Commissioners from Virginia would be placed in a delicate, not to say an awkward position, by the adoption of a rule here which would absolutely prohibit such communications. I hope my amendment may be adopted.

Mr. TUCK:—Would not the purpose of the gentleman from Virginia be answered by giving any delegation leave to communicate any action actually taken by the Conference, with their own opinions as to the probable result of our deliberations?

Mr. SEDDON:—Those opinions would possess no value, unless the facts and circumstances are communicated upon which they are founded. It is very clear to me, that the best course will be to entrust to the discretion of each member the privilege of making these communications, trusting that he will not abuse the confidence thus given.

Mr. WICKLIFFE:—I hope we have all come here with an earnest desire to harmonize our conflicting opinions, and to unite upon some plan which will settle our troubles and save the union of the States. The South has spoken of the North in very severe terms, and the North has not been slow in returning the compliment. If we come finally, to any definite result satisfactory to either side, it must be by mutual concessions, by confessing our sins to each other, and endeavoring to live harmoniously together in future. In my judgment, secrecy is absolutely indispensable to successful action here. I do not wish to be precluded from abandoning a position to-morrow, if I see cause for it, which I have taken to-day. If the proceedings, and especially the debates of this Conference, are made public from day to day, they will go into the newspapers and be made the subject of comment, favorable or otherwise. The necessary result will be, that when a member is understood to have committed himself to a particular proposition, or any special course of policy, that pride of opinion, which we all possess, will render any change of policy on his part difficult, if not impossible. I should sincerely regret the adoption of the resolution of the gentleman from Virginia.

Mr. RANDOLPH:—I move that the portion of the committee's report under consideration, together with the resolution of Mr. SEDDON, be recommitted to the Committee on Rules and Organization.

The motion of Mr. RANDOLPH was agreed to.

Mr. GUTHRIE:—I have an idea relating to the plan which should be adopted to carry into effect the purpose of this Conference. I wish to propose it. We have come together upon the invitation of the glorious old commonwealth of Virginia, the mother of States and Statesmen. We have come from the North and the South, from the East and the West, to see whether our wisdom can devise some means to avert the dangers which threaten to destroy this noble Republic, founded by the wisdom and patriotism of our ancestors. I hope we are animated by a common purpose. The storm is threatening. The horizon is covered with dark and portentous clouds. Section is arrayed against section, and already seven of our sister States have separated from us and are proceeding to establish an independent Confederation. War! Civil War! is impending over us. It must be averted! Who does not know that such a war, among such a people, must be, if it comes, a war of extermination.

Mr. PRESIDENT, I move the adoption of the resolution which I now send to the chair.

The resolution of Mr. GUTHRIE was read as follows:

Resolved, That a committee of one from each State be appointed by the Commissioners thereof, to be nominated to the President, and to be appointed by him, to whom shall be referred the resolutions of the State of Virginia, and the other States represented, and all propositions for the adjustment of existing difficulties between States, with authority to report what they may deem right, necessary, and proper to restore harmony and preserve the Union, and that they report on or before Friday next.

Mr. SEDDON:—It appears to me that the mode pointed out by the resolution introduced by the gentleman from Kentucky, is neither the one most appropriate nor expeditious for accomplishing the result desired. We are convened under the invitation of the State of Virginia; and the same invitation that brings us here, proposes the basis for our deliberation and action. Virginia has stated what will be satisfactory to her; not as an ultimatum, but as a basis of adjustment. It appears to me that the proper course would be, to take up the propositions of Virginia—propose amendments to them—discuss them, and in the end determine how far they shall be adopted. The adoption of the resolution proposed, transfers the labors of this Conference, not in itself too large for convenient deliberation, to a committee. That committee is to discuss the various propositions offered and report the result. What, in the mean time, is this Conference to do? Nothing whatever! We are to meet here from day to day and adjourn, no one knows how long, until this committee reports, and then the discussion will commence which ought to commence now. Mr. PRESIDENT, if any thing is accomplished, it must be accomplished speedily. Events are on the wing. Already in my State the delegates are elected to a Convention, which is to meet next week, to consider the subject which now engrosses the minds of the American people. I hope my suggestion may meet with favor in the Conference.

Mr. EWING:—I cannot agree with the gentleman from Virginia, for reasons which must be obvious to all. I do not think Virginia intended to dictate the terms upon which we were to act. I am in favor of the resolution, but would make one suggestion in relation to it. By its terms the committee is to report on Friday, if it can properly do so. I suggest that the committee should have leave to sit during the sessions of the Conference. In this way our business may be greatly expedited.

Mr. GUTHRIE:—It gives me pleasure to accept the modification proposed by the gentleman from Ohio. I should have incorporated it into my resolution.

The resolution as modified was then adopted by the Conference without a division.

The PRESIDENT:—I will take this occasion to announce a committee to carry into effect the determination of the Conference relating to the obtaining of the services of clergymen to open the proceedings of the Conference daily with prayer. The Chair appoints as such committee, Mr. RANDOLPH, of New Jersey, Mr. WICKLIFFE, of Kentucky, and Mr. JOHNSON, of Maryland.

Mr. JOHNSON:—It appears to me very appropriate, in view of the occasion which has brought us together, that the members of this Conference should pay their respects in a body to the President of the United States. I therefore move that we call upon him in a body at such a time as will be most agreeable to him; such time to be ascertained by the President of this Conference.

Which motion was unanimously agreed to.

Mr. CLAY:—I move the reconsideration of the vote by which the portion of the report of the Committee on Rules and Organization not yet adopted was recommitted to that committee. I do this in order that the Conference may now proceed to the consideration of those rules which may be adopted without much difference of opinion.

The vote was thereupon reconsidered, and the following rules were severally read and adopted. The remaining rules recommended were recommitted to the committee:


I. A Convention to do business, shall consist of the Commissioners of not less than seven States; and all questions shall be decided by the greater number of those which be fully represented. But a less number than seven may adjourn from day to day.

II. Immediately after the President shall have taken the chair, and the members their seats, the minutes of the preceding day shall be read by the Secretary.

III. Every member, rising to speak, shall address the President; and while he shall be speaking none shall pass between them, or hold discourse with another, or read a book, pamphlet, or paper, printed or manuscript; and of two members rising to speak at the same time, the President shall name him who shall first be heard.

IV. A member shall not speak oftener than twice, without special leave upon the same question; and not a second time before every other who had been silent shall have been heard, if he choose to speak upon the subject.

V. A motion made and seconded, shall be repeated; and if written, as it shall be when any member shall so require, read aloud by the Secretary before it shall be debated; and may be withdrawn at any time before the vote upon it shall have been declared.

VI. Orders of the day shall be read next after the minutes, and either discussed or postponed, before any other business shall be introduced.

VII. When a debate shall arise upon a question, no motion, other than to amend the question, to commit it, or to postpone the debate, shall be received.

VIII. A question which is complicated, shall, at the request of any member, be divided and put separately upon the propositions of which it is compounded.

IX. A writing which contains any matter brought on to be considered, shall be read once, throughout, for information; then by paragraphs, to be debated, and again with the amendments, if any, made on the second reading, and afterwards the question shall be put upon the whole, as amended or approved in the original form, as the case may be.

X. Committees shall be appointed by the President, unless otherwise ordered by the Convention.

XI. A member may be called to order by another member, as well as by the President, and may be allowed to explain his conduct or expressions supposed to be reprehensible. And all questions of order shall be decided by the President, without appeal or debate.

XII. Upon a question to adjourn for the day, which may be made at any time, if it be seconded, the question shall be put without debate.

XIII. When the Convention shall adjourn, every member shall stand in his place until the President pass him.

XIV. That no member be absent from the Convention, so as to interrupt the representation of the State, without leave.

XV. That Committees do not sit while the Convention shall be, or ought to be sitting, without leave of the Convention.

XVI. That no copy be taken of any entry on the Journal, during the sitting of the Convention, without leave of the Convention.

XVII. That members only be permitted to inspect the Journal.

XVIII. Mode of Voting. All votes shall be taken by States, and each State to give one vote. The yeas and nays of the members shall not be given or published—only the decision by States.

After the adoption of the foregoing Rules, the Conference adjourned until 10 o'clock to-morrow morning.


WASHINGTON, THURSDAY, February 7th, 1861.

The Conference convened, pursuant to the adjournment yesterday, at 10 o'clock A.M.

It was called to order by President TYLER, and prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. PYNE, of Washington.

The Journal of yesterday was read, and after sundry amendments, was approved.

Messrs. J.H. PULESTON, JOHN STRYKER, W.W. HOPPIN, Jr., and —— Olcott, took their places as Assistant Secretaries.

President TYLER:—Gentlemen of the Conference, as directed by the resolution which you adopted yesterday, I addressed a note to the President of the United States, asking at what hour it would be agreeable to him that this Conference should call on him in a body. To this note I have received a reply which will be read by the Secretary.

The Secretary then read the following note from the President:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 6th, 1861.

My DEAR SIR:—I shall feel greatly honored to receive the gentlemen composing the Convention of Commissioners from the several States, on any day and at any hour most convenient to themselves. I shall name to-morrow (Thursday) at 11 or 3 o'clock, though any other time would be equally agreeable to me. I shall at all times be prepared to give them a cordial welcome.

Yours, very respectfully,


His Excellency, JOHN TYLER.

The PRESIDENT:—What order will the Conference take upon the subject?

Mr. GUTHRIE:—I move that the members of this Conference call in a body upon the President of the United States this morning, at 11 o'clock.

Mr. GUTHRIE'S motion was adopted unanimously.

Mr. SUMMERS:—I am instructed by the Committee on Credentials further to report, that the committee have examined the credentials of the following gentlemen, and find them duly accredited as members of this body:

New York.—William E. Dodge.

Tennessee.—Samuel Milligan, Josiah M. Anderson, Robert L. Carruthers, Thomas Martin, Isaac R. Hawkins, R.J. McKinney, Alvin Cullom, William P. Hickerson, George W. Jones, F.K. Zollicoffer, William H. Stephens, A.W.O. Totten.

Illinois.—John Wood, Stephen T. Logan, John M. Palmer, Burton C. Cook, Thomas J. Turner.

Which report was accepted, and the names of the Commissioners were entered upon the record.

Mr. WICKLIFFE:—Certain printing has been ordered, but no provision has been made for paying for it. The Committee on Rules have therefore requested me to report the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Secretary procure for the use of the Convention the necessary stationery, and also provide for such printing as may be ordered. That the Journal, up to and including this day's proceeding, as well as the Rules, be printed for the use of the members.

The resolution of Mr. WICKLIFFE was agreed to.

The PRESIDENT:—The respective delegations have recommended, and the Chair announces the names of the following gentlemen to compose the committee ordered to be raised under the resolution of Mr. GUTHRIE, which was adopted yesterday:—New Hampshire, Asa Fowler; Vermont, Hiland Hall; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Samuel Ames; Connecticut, Roger S. Baldwin; New Jersey, Joseph F. Randolph; Pennsylvania, Thomas White; Delaware, Daniel M. Bates; North Carolina, Thomas Ruffin; Kentucky, James Guthrie; Ohio, Thomas Ewing; Indiana, Caleb B. Smith; Illinois, Stephen T. Logan; Iowa, James Harlan; Maryland, Reverdy Johnson; Virginia, James A. Seddon.

Mr. WICKLIFFE:—The Committee on Rules have further considered the rule relating to the secrecy of the debates and proceedings of this body, and their convictions as to the necessity and propriety of its adoption remain unchanged. The prospect of an ultimate agreement among the Commissioners composing this body, in the opinion of the committee, would be materially lessened if all or any of its debates should be made public, for reasons which have already been stated. If any gentleman should desire to communicate with the Executive or Legislative authorities of his State any facts, during the progress of our business, I apprehend little difficulty would be experienced in obtaining the leave of the Convention. We therefore recommend the following Rule:

XIX. That nothing spoken in the Convention be printed, or otherwise published or communicated, without leave.

Mr. SEDDON:—I do not desire to discuss the adoption of the rule under consideration any further than I have already. The Commissioners from the State of Virginia are appointed under resolutions which make it their duty to communicate from time to time with her deliberative assemblies. We do not wish to have our right to do so subject to the action of this or any other body. It is no answer to this to say, that there is no doubt that the leave to make the necessary communications will be accorded to us when we ask it. We do not wish to ask it. We insist upon our rights in this respect, as it is our duty to the State that sent us here to do.

The rule was adopted upon a count of the members voting.

On motion, the Convention adjourned.

After the adjournment, the Convention in a body called upon the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES, when the several delegations were introduced by President TYLER, and the several Commissioners were presented by the chairmen of the several delegations.


WASHINGTON, FRIDAY, February 8th, 1861.

The Convention was called to order at 12 o'clock by President TYLER. Prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. BUTLER. After sundry amendments, the Journal was approved.

Mr. SUMMERS:—I am directed by the Committee on Credentials to report that they find the following gentlemen duly accredited as members of the Convention:

New York.—David Dudley Field, William Curtis Noyes, James S. Wadsworth, Erastus Corning, Amaziah B. James, James C. Smith, Addison Gardner, Greene C. Bronson, John A. King, John E. Wool.

Massachusetts.—John Z. Goodrich, John M. Forbes, Richard P. Waters, Theophilus P. Chandler, Francis B. Crowninshield, George S. Boutwell, Charles Allen.

Missouri.—John D. Coalter, Alexander W. Doniphan, Waldo P. Johnson, Aylett H. Buckner, Harrison Hough.

On motion of the respective delegations the following gentlemen were added to the committee raised on the resolution of Mr. GUTHRIE:

New York.—Mr. Field. Missouri.—Mr. Doniphan. Tennessee.—Mr. Zollicoffer.

Mr. GUTHRIE:—I am instructed by the committee raised upon the resolution introduced by myself, to inform the Convention that that body is not able to report to-day, agreeable to the suggestion made at the time they were appointed. Several States are yet unrepresented on the committee, and delegations from some of them have only arrived this morning. I am therefore directed to ask for further time to make a report, assuring the Convention, at the same time, that a report will be made at soon as a proper regard to the interests of all sections will permit it to be done.

Mr. CLAY:—I move that the time for the report of the committee be extended until Monday next. As in the mean time there will be little business for the Convention to do, and that of a formal character, it might be as well to adjourn from this time until Monday; and I move further, that if delegates arrive from States now unrepresented, they may present their credentials to the committee, and if no question arises on them, they may then select a member of the committee on Mr. GUTHRIE'S resolution, and report his name to the Secretary of that committee.

Mr. SEDDON:—I object to an adjournment until Monday. We can meet here to-morrow and do any business which may come before us.

The several motions of Mr. CLAY, with the alteration suggested by Mr. SEDDON, were then agreed to without a division.

Mr. ELLIS:—I move that the President be requested to issue cards of admission to the members and officers of this Convention.

Which motion was adopted.

Mr. HITCHCOCK:—I would like to understand whether we all construe the rule referring to the secrecy of our transactions alike. I am told that different constructions are placed upon it by different members, and would suggest the propriety of the PRESIDENT'S giving his views of the meaning of the rule.

The PRESIDENT:—I understand, by the correct interpretation of the rule, that nothing which is said or done in the Convention having reference to any subject of business in it, can be spoken of or disclosed to any but members.

The Convention then adjourned.


WASHINGTON, SATURDAY, February 9th, 1861.

The Convention was called to order by the PRESIDENT. Prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. BULLOCK. The Journal was read, corrected, and approved.

Mr. SUMMERS:—I am directed by the Committee on Credentials to report as members of this Convention the names of the following gentlemen from the State of Maine:—William P. Fessenden, Lot M. Morrill, Daniel E. Somes, John J. Perry, Ezra B. French, Freeman H. Morse, Stephen Coburn, Stephen C. Foster.

Mr. MORRILL, of Maine, and Mr. CROWNINSHIELD, of Massachusetts, were announced as members of the committee under the resolution of Mr. GUTHRIE.

Mr. TUCK:—I offer certain resolutions, which I desire to have printed and referred to the Committee on Resolutions.

The resolutions of Mr. TUCK were read, ordered to be printed, and referred. (These resolutions will be found on a subsequent page.)

Mr. CLAY:—I hold in my hand the proceedings of a very large Democratic meeting recently held at New Haven, in the State of Connecticut. Among them are certain resolutions, breathing a spirit of fervent devotion to the Union, and expressing an anxious desire for the settlement of the difficult questions now before the country. They have been sent to me with a request that I should lay them before this Convention. Why I was selected by them for the performance of this duty, I do not know, unless it was because, from my name and associations, they thought an assurance might be found that I participated in the sentiments expressed in the resolutions. I present them with great pleasure, and ask that they may be referred to the Committee on Resolutions.

The motion of Mr. CLAY was agreed to.

Mr. RANDOLPH:—I move that the Secretary be requested to furnish for the use of the members a printed list of the delegates to and officers of this Convention.

Which motion was adopted, and the Convention adjourned.


WASHINGTON, MONDAY, February 11th, 1861.

The Convention was called to order by the PRESIDENT. Prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. GURLEY.

After the reading and amendment of the Journal, Mr. GUTHRIE, from the Committee on Resolutions, asked for further time to make a general report of the matters submitted to them, which was given; and thereupon Mr. GUTHRIE, from the same Committee, made the following report upon the resolutions of a meeting in the State of Connecticut, which were referred to that committee on motion of Mr. CLAY:

The committee to whom were referred certain resolutions of the Democratic party of the State of Connecticut, report that in the opinion of the committee it is inexpedient for this Convention to act upon any resolution purporting to emanate from any political party whatever; and that the member of the Convention by whom they were presented have leave to withdraw the same.

The PRESIDENT:—I take this opportunity to announce to the Convention that the Door-keeper of the House of Representatives has transmitted to the Chair cards admitting members of this body on to the floor of the House. These cards will be delivered by the Secretary to such members as call for them.

Mr. CHASE:—I move that any propositions or resolutions which members of this Convention desire to have considered by the Committee on Resolutions and Propositions, may be presented to the committee through the Secretary, without being presented in Convention.

The motion was agreed to, and on motion the Convention adjourned until Wednesday the 13th instant, at 12 o'clock M.


WASHINGTON, WEDNESDAY, February 13th, 1861.

The Convention was called to order by the PRESIDENT, and prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. EDWARDS. The Journal, after sundry amendments, was approved.

Mr. GUTHRIE:—The Committee on Resolutions, &c., have labored diligently, and held protracted sessions, in the hope of being able to make their report to-day. This they find themselves unable to do. They are fully impressed with the necessity of immediate action, in view of the short time that will remain for Congress to consider the action of this Convention, if it shall become necessary to submit any proposition of this body to be acted upon by that. I have no doubt we shall be able to report on Friday, and I ask that we may have until that time to make a report.

The request of Mr. GUTHRIE was acceded to.

Mr. SEDDON:—The time has now arrived when, as one of the Commissioners from the State of Virginia, I find it necessary to ask the leave of the Convention to communicate to the Legislative authorities of Virginia, and to her Convention now in session, the state of the proceedings before this body, and the committee. I ask for liberty to do so, and believe that a proper regard to the instructions of the Legislature of the State under which my appointment is made, requires that my request should be granted.

Mr. BARRINGER offered the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Commissioners of any State represented in this Convention, upon their joint application, have leave to communicate to the Legislature, Governor, or Convention of said State, the proceedings of this body, or so much thereof as they may deem expedient.

Mr. SEDDON:—The passage of this resolution is all I ask.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN:—I move to amend the resolution by adding thereto: "But not to communicate what has transpired in the committee, before said committee has reported to the Convention."

Mr. SEDDON:—I do not deem the passage of the resolution at this moment as very important. At the suggestion of several gentlemen, I will move to lay it on the table, subject to be called up after Friday.

The Convention then adjourned to Friday at 12 o'clock.

On the evening of February 13th, the members of the Conference were informed of the death of Hon. JOHN C. WRIGHT, of Ohio, who officiated as temporary chairman previous to the permanent organization. In view of the anxious desire of all the members to recognize their appreciation of this act of Divine Providence, in removing from the sphere of his earthly labors one of the most valued Commissioners in attendance, President TYLER was requested to summon a special meeting of the Conference. In pursuance of his invitation, all the members attended on the morning of February 14th, when the following proceedings were had:

THURSDAY, WASHINGTON CITY, February 14th, 1861.

The Convention met in special session, pursuant to the call of the President.

The proceedings were opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. HALL.

The following letter from the Secretary, CRAFTS J. WRIGHT, was read, and ordered to be entered upon the minutes:

WILLARD'S HOTEL, } WASHINGTON CITY, February 13th, 1861. }

Hon. JOHN TYLER, President of Conference Convention.

DEAR SIR:—I grieve to communicate to you the fact, that the delegate from Ohio to this Conference Convention, the Hon. JOHN C. WRIGHT, departed this life this day, the 13th February, at half-past one o'clock.

Judge WRIGHT came to this Convention with a heart filled with fear for the safety of the Union. Though at an advanced age and nearly blind, he was filled with an earnest desire to add his efforts to that of others of the Convention called by the State of Virginia, and seek to agree on some measures honorable to each and all, to effect the object. Since the arrival of my father in Washington, he has been constant in his efforts to effect the end in view, and he has had his heart cheered with the belief that the object would be accomplished. Almost the last words that he uttered were, that he believed the Union would be preserved. He desired me to say, if the Union were preserved, he would die content. He called me to read to him, at 12 o'clock, the sections in the Constitution in regard to counting the votes, and this request, and this reading, terminated his knowledge on earth. In this desire of my father to do what he could, he pressed me to accompany him on account of his blindness. Since the Convention honored me with the appointment of Secretary, he required of me a promise that I would not leave the position. When I read the section of the Constitution to him, he required me then to leave him for the Convention. Whatever my personal feelings may be, I deem the pledge made sacred. I therefore ask that I may have leave of absence, until I carry the remains home to Ohio, and return to my duty.



P.S.—J. HENRY PULESTON will act for me in my absence.

The PRESIDENT informed the Convention that the request of the Secretary had been complied with. The PRESIDENT asked what action the Convention proposed to take on the subject for which they had been specially assembled.

The Hon. SALMON P. CHASE, of Ohio, then said:—Mr. PRESIDENT, since we assembled yesterday in this Hall, it has pleased God to remove one of our number from all participation in the concerns of earth. It is my painful duty to announce to the Convention that JOHN C. WRIGHT, one of the Commissioners from Ohio, is no more. Full of years, honored by the confidence of the people, rich in large experience and ripened wisdom, and devoted in all his affections and all his powers to his country, and his whole country, he has been called from our midst at the very moment when the prudence and patriotism of his counsels seemed most needed. Such are the mysterious ways of Divine Providence. Judge WRIGHT was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut, on the 10th of August, 1784. The death of his parents made him an orphan in infancy; and he had little to depend upon in youth and early manhood, save his own energies and God's blessing. He was married, while young, to a daughter of Thomas Collier, of Litchfield, and for several years after resided at Troy, New York. When about twenty-six years old he removed to Steubenville, in Ohio, where he commenced the practice of the law, and rapidly rose to distinction in the profession. In 1822 he was elected a representative in Congress, where he became the associate and friend of Clay and Webster, and proved himself, on many occasions, worthy of their association and friendship.

After serving several terms in Congress, he was elected a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, and, in 1834, removed from Steubenville to the city of Cincinnati. Resigning his seat soon afterwards, he resumed the labors of the bar, and, ever zealous for the improvement and elevation of the profession, established, in association with others, the Cincinnati law school.

In 1840, upon the dying request of CHARLES HAMMOND, the veteran editor of the "Cincinnati Gazette," Judge WRIGHT assumed the editorial control of that Journal, and retained that position until impaired vision, in 1853, admonished him of the necessity of withdrawing from labors too severe.

Thenceforward engaged in moderate labors, surrounded by affectionate relatives, enjoying the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens, and manifesting always the liveliest concern in whatever related to the welfare and honor of his State and his country, he lived in tranquil retirement, until called by the Governor of Ohio, with the approbation of the Senate, to take part in the deliberations of this Conference Convention.

It was but a just tribute, sir, to his honored age, illustrated by abilities, by virtues, and by services, that he was unanimously selected as its temporary President. His interest in the great purpose of our assembling was profound and earnest. His labors to promote an auspicious result of its deliberations were active and constant. And when fatal disease assailed his life, and his enfeebled powers yielded to its virulence, his last utterances were of the Constitution and the Union.

Mr. PRESIDENT, Judge WRIGHT was my friend. His approval cheered and encouraged my own humble labors in the service of the State. Pardon me if I mingle private with public grief. He has gone from his last great labor. He was not permitted to witness upon earth the result of the mission upon which he and his associates, who here mourn his loss, were sent. God grant that the clouds which now darken over us may speedily disperse, and that through generous counsels and patriotic labors, guided by that good Providence which directed our fathers in its original formation, the Union of our States may be more than ever firmly cemented and established.

Mr. PRESIDENT, I offer the following resolutions:

Resolved, That in the death of our late venerable colleague, the Hon. JOHN C. WRIGHT, we mourn the loss to the State of Ohio, and to the nation at large, of one of our most sagacious statesmen and distinguished patriots; and to the cause of Union and conciliation, one of its most illustrious supporters.

Resolved, That while we deplore with saddened hearts the affliction with which an All-wise Providence has visited us, we know that no transition from life to immortality could have been more grateful to him who has fallen than this, in which his life has been offered a willing sacrifice in an effort to restore harmony to his distracted country.

Resolved, That the members of this Convention tender their heartfelt sympathies to the family of the deceased in this their great affliction.

Resolved, That these resolutions be spread upon the records of this body, and a copy of the same be transmitted to the family of the deceased.

Mr. CHARLES A. WICKLIFFE, of Kentucky, moved the adoption of the resolutions, and said:

Mr. PRESIDENT, I rise to tender my most cordial sanction and second to the resolutions which have just been read.

Mr. WRIGHT and myself entered the councils of this nation thirty-seven years ago. We served together during a period when party excitement ran high upon questions more of a personal than a constitutional character. I can bear witness not only to his ability, but to his personal integrity, and his purity of political action through our term of service in the House of Representatives. I have seldom met him since we separated at the termination of his service and mine in that body, which occurred at pretty near the same period; but whenever I have met him, I have found him the same stern advocate of the Union and of constitutional liberty. I rejoiced, therefore, when I found him in this hall on the day we first assembled here. I knew his conservative disposition and principles, and I promised myself that with his aid I could be more useful to my country and to my State than without him. In conversing with him upon the difficulties which now divide and distract our common country, I found him ready and willing, conscientiously and patriotically, to do that which I thought that portion of the country which I represent has a right to demand and expect of those who represent a different portion of our Union. And if my friend from Ohio (Mr. CHASE) and his colleagues will permit me to mingle my sorrow at the public loss, I will say nothing of the private bereavement of the family of our deceased colleague. I leave him to his country, and to you, with this testimony which I leave to his memory, his honesty of purpose and his patriotic love of country.

The Hon. A.W. LOOMIS, of Pennsylvania, said:

Mr. PRESIDENT, I desire to mingle my sincere regrets with those of the members of this assemblage at the sad and unexpected occurrence which deprived us of an able, experienced, and patriotic associate. My relations with the deceased were, for many years, probably more intimate than those which existed between him and any other member of this Convention. Forty years have elapsed since I first made his acquaintance. He was then in full, active, and extensive practice; a learned lawyer, an accomplished, skilful, and successful advocate. During the succeeding year I came to the bar, and resided and practiced in the same judicial circuit with our departed friend. For many years the most kind and intimate relations existed between us—sometimes colleagues, but usually opponents. So kind and genial was his nature, so fair and liberal his practice, that during our entire intercourse not an unkind word was uttered, and, so far as I know or believe, not an unpleasant feeling existed in the bosom of either.

Though not gifted with the highest order of eloquence, he was clear, distinct, and persuasive. His style of speaking resembled not the babbling brook or the dashing cataract, but usually the limpid stream, gliding gracefully amid fields and fruits and flowers, though sometimes assuming the power and proportions of the majestic river, cutting its sure and certain way to the mighty ocean.

His professional position, his kindness of heart, and genial humor, made him an object of high respect and warm regard among his professional brethren. And now, sir, as memory passes in review the pleasant incidents which marked our social and professional intercourse, the smitten heart shrinks in sadness and sorrow from the contemplation of our bereavement. He adorned, sir, the bar, the bench, and the halls of Legislation. He discharged, in all the relations of life, his obligations with fidelity. Of him it might be truly said:

His life hath flowed a sacred stream, in whose calm depths The beautiful and pure alone are mirrored; Which, though shapes of ill may hover o'er the surface, Glides in light, and takes no shadows from them.

But, sir, the great crowning virtue and glory of his life was his acceptance of the mission which brought him here. Though whitened by the frosts of nearly eighty winters, neither lofty mountains nor intervening space could restrain his patriotic heart from a prompt response to the call of his country to mingle his influence in a sincere and sacred effort to save the Constitution and perpetuate the Union. He accepted the great trust; he mingled in our deliberations, and has fallen in the discharge of his duty. He has justly earned a title to the gratitude and respect of his country. May we not, sir, fondly hope that he, who was called from the discharge of such duties to the presence of his God, has passed from the sorrows of earth to the happiness of Heaven, and to the full fruition of joys pure, perfect, and eternal?

The Hon. THOMAS EWING, of Ohio, said:—I rise to bear my tribute of respect to the memory of the deceased. I have known him long. On my first entrance into active life, at the bar, I found him an able and distinguished member. Since that time down to the present day, he has been largely associated, in mind and person, with all the acts and progress, professional and political, of my life. I feel his loss intensely; and I feel it with more regret, because I know that on this occasion his voice would have been potential in our counsels, and would have been united with all of us who labor most earnestly for the preservation of the Union.

I tender my sympathies to the family of the deceased. I unite with them in their regrets and in their hopes of the happy future to which he may have attained.

The Hon. WILLIAM C. RIVES, of Virginia, said:—Though wholly unprepared to say any thing worthy of the solemnity of this occasion, I feel that I should be wanting, sir, in that sentiment of respect which is due to the character of a distinguished citizen, if I were not to add to what has been so eloquently spoken by others, a few words of personal recollection in regard to our deceased friend Judge WRIGHT. It so happened that we entered the public councils of the country at the same moment, and continued in them for the same period of time. It is now just thirty-seven years since I had the pleasure of meeting Judge WRIGHT, for the first time, in the House of Representatives of the United States. I may be permitted to say, that there were giants in those days. My honorable friend from Kentucky (Governor WICKLIFFE), who has already so feelingly addressed the Convention, will recollect that on the roll of the House of Representatives at that time stood the names of WEBSTER and EVERETT, of OAKLEY and STORRS, of SARGEANT and of HEMPHILL, of LEWIS McLANE, of the immortal CLAY, and BARBOUR and RANDALL, and other gentlemen known to fame from the State which I have the honor to represent in this body, and LIVINGSTON of Louisiana, McDUFFIE and HAMILTON of South Carolina, and other gentlemen who, on the spur of the occasion, I am not now able to recall, but whose names will forever shine upon the rolls of their country's glory. And yet in that body Judge WRIGHT, then in the maturity of his powers, though not previously known to the nation, vindicated an equal rank in debate with those gentlemen whose names I have mentioned. Sir, I shall never forget with what earnestness, with what manliness, with what integrity, with what ability, he ever uttered his convictions of public duty, whatever they were, in that consecrated hall.

After remaining here, I think, for six years, he retired to his own State for the purpose of assuming the duties of a highly-important and dignified office, which was soon followed by his retirement into the bosom of private life, where he met a rich and ample solace for the storms of his public career. He was followed there by the respect of his fellow-citizens throughout the country, and the confidence of his own State, as we have recently seen, by his being called from that honorable retirement to take part in the grave and solemn duties of this assembly. Sir, he came among us in obedience to the solemn call of patriotic duty, at a most exigent and distressing period in our national annals. He came here on an errand of peace, in the spirit of peace and conciliation. Such was the feeling entertained toward him by the whole of this assembly, that without the slightest preconcert, so far as I know, he was invited by general consent to preside during the preliminary stages of the organization of this Convention. I had an opportunity, from time to time, of private conversation with the aged statesman. I found no member of the assembly I met here, and, indeed, I have found nowhere any citizen of this wide Republic of ours, whose heart was more deeply imbued with the spirit of conciliation and of peace—of that spirit which was so solemnly and impressively uttered in his last prayer, "May the Union be preserved." Sir, it is not given to mortal man to choose the manner of his death; but if such were the privilege accorded to any human being, what more glorious end could he, appreciating a true fame, covet, than that which has been the lot of our departed friend? Sir, I speak what I feel, and I dare say I express a sentiment which has impressed itself upon many other bosoms in this assembly, when I say that his sudden death in the midst of our deliberations, seems to me to exalt—in some degree to canonize—our labors. This manifestation of the visible hand of God among us, brings us in the immediate presence of those solemn responsibilities which attach themselves to the discharge of our duties here. I doubt not that every member of this assembly is already deeply impressed with the solemnity of those duties, and I feel convinced that there are few, if any, in this assembly, who would not lay down their fleeting and feverish existence, and follow our deceased brother to his final account, if by doing so they could restore peace and harmony to this glorious Republic of ours.

It does not become me to make any professions of devotion to my country—to my whole country—but this I will say, in the spirit of the last prayer of my friend, that I should regard my poor life, such as it is, a cheap purchase—the cheapest imaginable purchase—for that great boon to our country, the restoration of its peace, of its harmony, of its unity, of its ancient confederated strength and glory.

The question was taken, and the resolutions were unanimously adopted.

The body of Judge WRIGHT was then brought into the hall, preceded by Rev. Dr. HALL, who read the impressive service of the Episcopal Church. A number of the members of the family, and of the friends of the deceased, were present during the services.

The funeral cortege proceeded from the hall to the depot of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

The following gentlemen were designated to act as pall-bearers on the occasion:

Mr. Ewing, Mr. Hitchcock, Mr. Chase, Mr. Loomis, Mr. Backus, Mr. Wolcott, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Vinton, Mr. Groesbeck, Mr. Stanton, Mr. Harlan, Mr. Gurley.

The proceedings upon the death of Judge WRIGHT were, by the Conference, ordered to be published, and the special session closed.


WASHINGTON, FRIDAY, February 15th, 1861.

The Convention was called to order by President TYLER, and prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. RENNER. The Journals of the 13th and 14th were read and approved.

The PRESIDENT:—I have this morning received several communications from different persons, which will be laid before the Convention. One is an invitation from HORATIO STONE, inviting the members of the Convention to visit his studio; also, a resolution of the House of Representatives, authorizing the admission of members of this Convention to the floor of the House. Also, a letter from J.E. SANDS, offering to the Convention certain flags which possess historical interest, from the fact that they were used in the convention which adopted the present Constitution of the United States. Also, a communication from HORATIO G. WARNER.

The communications were severally read and laid upon the table.

Mr. SUMMERS:—I am instructed by the Committee on Credentials to inform the Convention that the committee has received satisfactory evidence of the appointment by the Executive of Ohio of C.P. WOLCOTT, as a delegate to this Convention, in the place of JOHN C. WRIGHT, deceased.

Mr. ORTH:—I desire to offer the following resolutions, which I ask to have read for the information of the Convention. I have no purpose to admit spectators to seats on this floor, but in my judgment it is the right of the country to know what we are doing here. My constituents will not be satisfied with my course, unless I take means to give the public knowledge of all our transactions. I am aware that this is an invasion of the rule already adopted, requiring secrecy, but in my opinion no possible harm can come from the daily publication of our debates. It is far better that true reports of these debates should be made, than that the distorted and perverted accounts which we see daily in the New York papers should be continued.

The resolutions were read, and are as follows:

Resolved, That Rules Sixteen (16) and Eighteen (18) of this Convention be, and the same hereby are, rescinded.

Resolved, That the President is hereby authorized to grant cards of admission to reporters of the press, not exceeding —— in number, which shall entitle them to seats on the floor of the Convention, for the purpose of reporting its proceedings.

Resolved, That no person be admitted to the floor of the Convention, except the members, officers, or reporters.

Mr. WICKLIFFE:—I do not wish to prolong this discussion myself, nor to cause it to be prolonged by others. I am sure that if we permit our debates to be reported, we shall never reach a conclusion which will in the slightest degree benefit the country. Every member will in that event wish to make a set speech, some of them three or four. I wish to have our time used in consultation and in action, not consumed in political speech-making. I do not care what the newspapers say of us. I know their accounts are distorted; but they would be distorted if we admitted reporters. Some of them assail us as a convention of compromisers—as belonging to the sandstone stratum of politics.

Mr. CHASE:—That is the formation which supports all others.

Mr. WICKLIFFE:—I know it, and I hope this Convention will prove to be the stratum which supports and preserves the Union and the country. Let us go on as we have begun, preserving secrecy; keeping our own counsels; making no speeches for outside consumption or personal reputation. Let us all keep steadily in mind the accomplishment of the great and good purpose which brought us here, and nothing else.

Mr. RANDOLPH:—New Jersey does not wish to have time consumed in making speeches. I think we should proceed at once to hear the report of the committee. I move that the resolutions offered be laid upon the table.

Mr. ORTH:—I suppose this motion cuts off debate. I should much have preferred to discuss the resolutions. I hope the motion will not prevail.

The motion to lay on the table passed in the affirmative by a viva voce vote.

The PRESIDENT:—Is the General Committee upon Propositions prepared to report? If it is, their report is now in order.

Mr. GUTHRIE:—That committee has given earnest and careful consideration to the subjects and propositions which have from time to time been presented to it. It has held numerous and protracted sessions, and the differences of opinion naturally existing between the members have been discussed in a spirit of candor and conciliation. The committee have not been so fortunate as to arrive at an unanimous conclusion. A majority of its members, however, have agreed upon a report which we think ought to be satisfactory to all sections of the Union, one which if adopted will, we believe, accomplish the purpose so much desired by every patriotic citizen. We think it will give peace to the country. In their behalf I have now the honor to submit, for the consideration of the Conference, the following:


ARTICLE 1. In all the territory of the United States not embraced within the limits of the Cherokee treaty grant, north of a line from east to west on the parallel of 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, is prohibited whilst it shall be under a Territorial government; and in all the territory south of said line, the status of persons owing service or labor, as it now exists, shall not be changed by law while such territory shall be under a Territorial government; and neither Congress nor the Territorial government shall have power to hinder or prevent the taking to said territory of persons held to labor or involuntary service, within the United States, according to the laws or usages of the State from which such persons may be taken, nor to impair the rights arising out of said relations, which shall be subject to judicial cognizance in the federal courts, according to the common law; and when any territory north or south of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population required for a member of Congress, according to the then federal ratio of representation, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, with or without involuntary service or labor, as the Constitution of such new State may provide.

ARTICLE 2. Territory shall not be acquired by the United States, unless by treaty; nor, except for naval and commercial stations and depots, unless such treaty shall be ratified by four-fifths of all members of the Senate.

ARTICLE 3. Neither the Constitution, nor any amendment thereof, shall be construed to give Congress power to regulate, abolish, or control within any State or Territory of the United States, the relation established or recognized by the laws thereof touching persons bound to labor or involuntary service therein, nor to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in the District of Columbia without the consent of Maryland and without the consent of the owners, or making the owners who do not consent just compensation; nor the power to interfere with or prohibit representatives and others from bringing with them to the City of Washington, retaining, and taking away, persons so bound to labor; nor the power to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in places under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States within those States and Territories where the same is established or recognized; nor the power to prohibit the removal or transportation, by land, sea, or river, of persons held to labor or involuntary service in any State or Territory of the United States to any other State or Territory thereof where it is established or recognized by law or usage; and the right during transportation of touching at ports, shores, and landings, and of landing in case of distress, shall exist. Nor shall Congress have power to authorize any higher rate of taxation on persons bound to labor than on land.

ARTICLE 4. The third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution shall not be construed to prevent any of the States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the person to whom such service or labor is due.

ARTICLE 5. The foreign slave-trade and the importation of slaves into the United States and their Territories, from places beyond the present limits thereof, are forever prohibited.

ARTICLE 6. The first, second, third, and fifth articles, together with this article of these amendments, and the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution, and the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article thereof, shall not be amended or abolished without the consent of all the States.

ARTICLE 7. Congress shall provide by law that the United States shall pay to the owner the full value of his fugitive from labor, in all cases where the marshal or other officer, whose duty it was to arrest such fugitive, was prevented from so doing by violence or intimidation, or when, after arrest, such fugitive was rescued by force, and the owner thereby prevented and obstructed in the pursuit of his remedy for the recovery of such fugitive.

Mr. BALDWIN:—I have not been able to concur in opinion with those members of the committee who have presented the propositions just submitted. I do not deem them fair or equitable to the Free States, nor do I think they are likely to secure approval in those States. As one member of the minority, I have drawn up a report embodying my own views and perhaps those of some of my colleagues, which I now present for the consideration of the Conference:


The undersigned, one of the minority of the committee of one from each State, to whom was referred the consideration of the resolutions of the State of Virginia, and the other States represented, and all propositions for the adjustment of existing differences between the States, with authority to report what they deem right, necessary, and proper to restore harmony and preserve the Union, and report thereon, entered upon the duties of the committee with an anxious desire that they might be able to unite in the recommendation of some plan which, on due deliberation, should seem best adapted to maintain the dignity and authority of the Government of the United States, and at the same time secure to the people of every section that perfect equality of right to which they are entitled.

Convened, as we are, on the invitation of the Governor of Virginia, in pursuance of the resolutions of the General Assembly of that State, with an accompanying expression of the deliberate opinion of that body that, unless the unhappy controversy which now divides the States shall be satisfactorily adjusted, a permanent dissolution of the Union is inevitable; and, being earnestly desirous of an adjustment thereof, in concurrence with Virginia, in the spirit in which the Constitution was originally formed, and consistently with its principles, so as to afford to the people of all the States adequate security for all their rights, the attention of the undersigned was necessarily led to the consideration of the extent and equality of our powers, and to the propriety and expediency, under existing circumstances, of a recommendation by this Conference Convention of any specific action by Congress, whether of ordinary legislation, or in reference to constitutional amendments to be proposed by Congress on its own responsibility to the States.

A portion of the members of this Convention are delegated by the Legislatures of their respective States, and are required to act under their supervision and control, while others are the representatives only of the Executives of their States, and, having no opportunity of consulting the immediate representatives of the people, can only act on their individual responsibility.

Among the resolutions and propositions suggesting modes of adjustment appropriate to this occasion which were brought to the notice of the committee, were the resolutions of the State of Kentucky recommending to her sister States to unite with her in an application to Congress for the calling of a Convention in the mode prescribed by the Constitution for proposing amendments thereto.

The undersigned, for the reasons set forth in the accompanying resolution, and others which have been herein indicated, is of opinion that the mode of adjustment by a General Convention, as proposed by Kentucky, is the one which affords the best assurance of an adjustment acceptable to the people of every section, as it will afford to all the States which may desire amendments, an opportunity of preparing them with care and deliberation, and in such form as they may deem it expedient to prescribe, to be submitted to the consideration and deliberate action of delegates duly chosen and invested with equal powers from all the States.

The undersigned did not, therefore, deem it expedient that any of the measures of adjustment proposed by the majority of the committee, should be reported to this body to be discussed or acted upon by them, and he respectfully submits as a substitute for the articles of amendment to the Constitution, reported by the majority of the committee, the following preamble and resolution, and respectfully recommends the adoption thereof.


Whereas, unhappy differences exist which have alienated from each other portions of the people of the United States to such an extent as seriously to disturb the peace of the nation, and impair the regular and efficient action of the Government within the sphere of its constitutional powers and duties;

And whereas, the Legislature of the State of Kentucky has made application to Congress to call a Convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States;

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