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Secession  Washington Peace Convention of 1861 proposes amendments to the U.S. Constitution
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Washington Peace Convention of 1861 proposes amendments to the U.S. Constitution

 

When some of the slave states started to secede, a committee named after  was formed to come up with some proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution so that the slave states would be convinced not to secede.  The final proposals are worth considering in that they reveal what a committee of congressional representatives of both the slave states and free states thought the issues were that were driving slave states to secede.

 

Also, a great many historians will write about the failure of compromise and how the great compromisers of 1850 were no longer on the scene in 1860-1861 to prevent the Civil War. Think about how America would have been changed if these compromises had been adopted and also, if these compromises had been adopted, would American have been worth saving? From the speeches by congressional representatives and senators of the slave states, it is quite clear that nothing but a perpetual guarantee of slavery and acquiescence in all pro-slavery policies would have been sufficient.

 

From, A Report of the Debates and Proceedings in the Secret Sessions of the Conference Convention for Proposing Amendments to the Constitution of the United States held at Washington, D.C. in February, A.D. 1861, by L.E. Crittenden, published by D. Appleton & Company, 1864, pages 440 to 452, is the last day of the conference with each section of the amendment and the vote on them. Footnotes are boxed at the bottom of the page or in some cases where the footnote runs page the end of the page at the bottom of the page and the top of the next page.

 

[Page 440]

 

NINETEENTH DAY

 

Washington, Wednesday, February 27th, 1861.

 

The Conference assembled pursuant to adjournment, and was called to order by President Tyler. Prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. Gurley.

 

The PRESIDENT: ―The Conference will now proceed to the consideration of the order of the day, the proposals of amendment to the Constitution reported by the majority of the committee.

 

Mr. GUTHRIE:―I suppose, under the rules which the conference has adopted, discussion of these proposals is no longer in order. I hope now the Conference will proceed to the vote. The opinions of each delegation are undoubtedly fixed, and cannot be changed by farther argument.

 

I move you, sir, the adoption of the first section of the report as amended, which I ask to have read by the Secretary.

 

The section was read by the Secretary, as follows:

 

Section 1. In all the present territory of the United States north of the parallel of 36° 30’ of north latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, is prohibited. In all the present territory south of that line, the status of persons held to involuntary service or labor, as it now exists, shall not be changed; nor shall any law be passed by Congress or the Territorial Legislature to hinder or prevent the taking of such persons from any of the States of this Union to said territory, nor to impair the rights arising from said relation; but the same shall be subject to judicial cognizance in the Federal courts, according to the course of the common law. When any Territory north or south of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population equal to that required for a member of Congress, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted

 

[Page 441]

 

into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, with or without involuntary servitude as the Constitution of such States may provide.

 

The vote upon said section resulted as follows:

 

Ayes,―Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee―9.

 

Noes,―Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Virginia―8.

 

So the section was adopted.

 

The vote of New York being called, Mr. King, temporary Chairman of the delegation, said:

 

The question arises concerning the vote of New York. Mr. Field, one of the delegates from this State, is necessarily absent from the Conference, having left to attend to the argument of a cause in the Supreme Court noted for argument this morning. It is his understanding, and with him that of a majority of the delegation, that the vote of New York is to be cast against this section, and the whole report. Under these circumstances I propose to give the vote of New York as it would be given if Mr. Field was present.

 

Mr. CORNING:―I object to this. The vote of the state should be given as the majority of the commissioners present decide. And I think this is a matter for the delegation, and that the Conference has nothing to do with it.

 

The PRESIDENT:―An absent member cannot participate in the control of a vote except by general leave of the Convention.

 

Mr. KING:―If Mr. Field is not to be taken into the account, the vote of New York upon this section is divided.

 

Mr. EWING:―The vote of Kansas is also divided.*

 

[The footnote for the asterisk is]

 

 

*I have not heretofore expressed my own opinions upon the action of the Conference or of delegations; but as much has been said about the vote given by New York, or rather the division of the delegation, under which no vote was given, it is due to the parties concerned that I should sate my own understanding of the practices of the Conference in this respect. After the rejection of the motion of Mr. Chase (found on page 209), and the adoption of the proposition of Mr. Dent, so far as my own knowledge goes it was never deemed necessary that the entire delegation from a State should be present in order to cast its vote. I was present all the time, and frequently cast the vote of my own State upon previous consultation with my colleagues, when a majority of the delegation was absent. This was frequently done, to my personal knowledge, by other States: by none more frequently than Virginia. During several of the session the President himself was absent, and the chair was filled for the greater part of the time by Mr. Alexander, or Mr. Morehead of Kentucky. I can recall to mind several occasions when the vote of Virginia was cast by Mr. Seddon alone, no other member of his delegation being present. When the question arose upon the vote of New York, I was surprised that this point was not insisted upon; but deeming it a matter exclusively for the delegation from that State to settle, I did not think the case one in which others should interfere.                      L.E.C.

 

[Page 442]

 

Mr. HACKLEMAN:―The vote of Indiana is divided. The commissioners of Indiana were appointed by virtue of resolutions passed by the Legislature of that State, which require them to report to the Legislature any proposition before voting for it finally, so as to commit the State either for or against it. It is impossible, under the circumstances, to submit this proposition of amendment to the Legislature of Indiana for approval or rejection. Indiana, therefore, declines to vote.

 

Mr. SLAUGHTER:―As the delegation from Indiana declines its vote, I desire to have my individual vote entered in the affirmative upon this section.

 

Mr. ELLIS:―For the same reason I desire to have my vote entered upon the negative.

 

The following gentlemen dissented from the vote of their respective States: Mr. Clay and Mr. Morehead, of Kentucky; Mr. Ruffin and Mr. Morehead, of North Carolina; Mr. Meredith and Mr. Wilmot, of Pennsylvania; Mr. Totten, of Tennessee; Mr. Cook of Illinois; Mr. Rives and Mr. Summers, of Virginia; and Mr. Chase and Mr. Wolcott, of Ohio.

 

Mr. GUTHRIE:―I move the adoption of the second section of the report as amended, and ask that it may be read.

 

Section 2: No territory shall be acquired by the United States, except by discovery, and for navel and commercial stations, depots, and transit routes, without the concurrence of a majority of all the Senators from States which allow involuntary servitude, and a majority of all the Senators from States which prohibit that relation; nor shall territory be acquired by treaty, unless the votes of a majority of the Senators from each class of states hereinbefore mentioned be cast as part of the two-thirds majority necessary to the ratification of such treaty.

 

The vote on the adoption of section two was taken, and resulted as follows:

 

Ayes:―Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia―11.

 

Noes:―Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Vermont―8.

 

[Page 443]

 

New York and Kansas were divided.

 

So the section was adopted.

 

The following gentlemen dissented from the vote of their States: Mr. Meredith and Mr. Wilmot, of Pennsylvania; Mr. Ruffin and Mr. Morehead, of North Carolina; Mr. Tyler, of Virginia; Mr. Clay, of Kentucky; and Mr. Hackleman and Mr. Orth, of Indiana.

 

Mr. GUTHRIE:―I now move the adoption of the third section of the report as amended, and request that it may be read.

 

The secretary proceeded to read as follows:

 

Section 3. Neither the Constitution nor any amendment thereof shall be construed to give Congress to regulate, abolish, or control, within any State, the relation established or recognized by the laws thereof touching persons held 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 District of Columbia, retaining and taking away, persons so held to labor or 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, by sea or river, of touching at ports, shores, and landings, and of landing case of distress, shall exist; but not the right of transit in or through any State or Territory, or of sale or traffic, against the laws thereof. Nor shall Congress have power to authorize any higher rate of taxation on persons held to labor or service than on land.

 

The bringing into the District of Columbia of persons held to labor or service for sale; or placing them in depots to be afterwards transferred to other places for sale as merchandise, is prohibited.

 

The question of adoption of said section resulted in the following vote:

 

Ayes.―Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey7, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia―12.

 

Noes.―Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont―7.

 

New York and Kansas were divided.

 

So the section was adopted.

 

The following gentlemen dissented

 

[Page 444]

 

from the vote of their States: Mr. Clay, of Kentucky; Mr. Cook, of Illinois; Mr. Slaughter, of Indiana; and Mr. Chase, and Mr. Wolcott, of Ohio.

 

Mr. GUTHRIE:―I move the adoption of the fourth section of the report as amended.

 

And the Secretary read it as follows:

 

Section 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 actions of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the persons to whom such service or labor is due.

 

The question on adoption of said section, resulted in the following vote:

 

Ayes.―Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia―15.

 

Noes.―Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire―4.

 

New York and Kansas were divided.

 

And the section was adopted.

 

The following gentlemen dissented from the vote of their States: Mr. Baldwin, of Connecticut; Mr. Hackleman and Mr. Orth, of Indiana; and Mr. Chase and Mr. Wolcott, of Ohio.

 

Mr. GUTHRIE:―I now move the adoption of the fifth section of the report as amended.

 

It was read by the Secretary as follows:

 

Section 5. The foreign slave-trade is hereby forever prohibited; and it shall be the duty of Congress to pass laws to prevent the importation of slaves, coolies, or persons held to service or labor, into the United States and the Territories from places beyond the limits thereof.

 

The vote on adoption of this section resulted in the following:

 

Ayes.―Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Kansas―16.

 

Noes.―Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Virginia―5.

 

So this section was adopted.

The following gentlemen dissented from the vote of their States: Mr. Baldwin, of Connecticut; Mr. Clay, of Kentucky; Mr. Ruffin and Mr. Morehead, of North Carolina; Mr. Chase and Mr. Wolcott, of Ohio; and Mr. Hackleman and Mr. Orth, of Indiana.

 

[Page 445]

Mr. GUTHRIE:―I move the adoption of the sixth section of the report as amended, and desire that the Secretary may read that also.

 

And the Secretary read it as follows:

 

Section 6. The first, third, and fifth sections, together with this section 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.

 

The vote of the adoption of this section stood as follows:

 

Ayes.―Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Kansas―11.

 

Noes.―Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Virginia―9.

 

The State of New York was divided.

 

And this section was adopted.

 

The following gentlemen dissented from the vote of their States: Mr. Ruffin and Mr. Morehead, of North Carolina; Mr. Chase and Mr. Wolcott, of Ohio; Mr. Cook, of Illinois; and Mr. Summers and Mr. Rives, of Virginia.

 

Mr. GUTHRIE:―I move the adoption of the seventh section of the report, as amended.

 

The secretary read as follows:

 

Section 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 from mobs or riotous assemblages, or when, after arrest, such fugitive was rescued by like violence or intimidation, and the owner thereby deprived of the same; and the acceptance of such payment shall preclude the owner from further claim to such fugitive.  Congress shall provide by law for securing to the citizens of each State the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

 

The vote on the adoption of this section was as follows:

 

Ayes.―Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Kansas―12.

 

Noes.―Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia ―7.

 

The vote of New York was divided.

 

So this last section was also adopted.

 

The following gentlemen dissented from the vote of their

 

[Page 446]

 

respective states:—Mr. Ruffin and Mr. Morehead of North Carolina; Mr. Totten, of Tennessee; Mr. Hackleman and Mr. Orth, of Indiana; and Mr. Chase and Mr. Wolcott, of Ohio.

 

Mr. CHASE:―The sections which have been adopted severally, as a whole may not be acceptable to a majority of the Conference. They have been adopted by different votes and different majorities. I think a vote should be taken upon them collectively, in order that we may know whether, as a single proposition, they meet the approbation of the Conference. I move that a vote be taken upon the several sections as a whole.

 

The PRESIDENT:―It is the opinion of the Chair that this motion is not in order. Each Section, when once approved by a majority of votes, stands as the order of the Conference. These sections have been severally taken up, amended, and adopted, and no further vote is necessary or proper, except by way of reconsideration.

 

Mr. CHASE:―I think the motion an important one, and with all deference, appeal from the decision of the Chair to this Conference.

 

The PRESIDENT:―The question is, Shall the decision of the Chair stand as the order of the Conference?

 

Mr. CHASE:―As I have no wish except to secure a fair vote, and the opinion of the Chair may be technically correct, I will withdraw my appeal.

 

Reference : Confederate Truths: Documents of the Confederate & Neo-Confederate Tradition from 1787 to the Present.
http://www.confederatepastpresent.org