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admit frankly that I entertain perhaps as much prejudice as any other
I have spent two years of the morning of my life in the war carried on for the purpose of crushing the rebellion of this people. All these things should be forgotten now. We are not here to incorporate these prejudices and hatreds into the Constitution and ordinances that we adopt. We are not to pass laws to represent vengeance that we may individually entertain against anybody. Nor are we to withhold relief from any class of persons because they happen to be in a position heretofore of open hostility to us. Nor are we to withhold relief because they choose to defame us in our present capacity. Indeed, it would be giving them the power, the cue with which to whip us hereafter. ''Assembled as we are now, representing the people of South Carolina, our sole object should be to pass laws that will benefit the whole people of South Carolina. And if we see any class of people suffering here, it is our duty, our privilege, to relieve them. I care not where they belong, what they have been heretofore, what they may be hereafter; I care not what they may be belching forth to the community, whether they are people crying "ring-streaked-and-striped” or not, these things should have nothing to do with the action of any man that has been elevated to the dignity of a member of this body. Here we should forget all preju. dices, and not be swerved from our purposes for anything so far below the dignity of the body to which we belong. We should now, if we never have before, examine critically, as representatives, the position of the people. Every man here should feel that he is the representative of the people of South Carolina. No matter what may be the opinions of others; no matter what the Governor may have said with regard to the representative portion of the people; no matter what may be the opinions of the journals of this city, I say every member of this body who does not feel that he is the representative of the entire people is unworthy of the position he occupies. And if you are the representatives of the people of South Carolina, you know the needs, wants and necessities of that people, and should do that which is best calculated for their good.
Now I come to the question. Is this measure one of the best calculated for the good of the people of South Carolina. I say unhesitatingly that there may be some circumstances in which the poor man of South Carolina would be benefitted by these sales, but in a great number of instances, from the very nature of things, and from all the circumstances existing, the property thus sold must pass into the hands of the land sharks, and you have declared in your platform that large land monopolies are ruinous to the best interests of the State. That is the platform
upon which every member of this body was elected. Yet we are to set here in dumb silence whilst, under the auctioneer's hammer, a very large portion of the lands of the people of the State passes from the people, passes
from those whose object is to cultivate, into that of a merciless set of legalized robbers. I ask you, gentlemen, are you ready and willing to suffer this act of injustice to take place, or by the passage of that resolution stay the hand of angry justice.
These are matters that must come home to you. Will you suffer this land to pass, as it necessarily will, into the hands of land monopolists ? Will you
allow it without an attempt on your part to stay their hands ? Will
you allow these lands to be sold, and see whole families thrown upon the cold charities of the world ? Remember the many, too, that are to be made the victims of these sales, are perfectly innocent of the crimes which brought desolation to their homes; many of them have been ushered into existence since the war was settled; many were in a position that rendered them innocent. In many instances these executions are upon the estates of those who were forced into the war by a power they could not resist, and by the fate of war have been carried down to an untimely grave.
Is the auctioneer's hammer to carry into the hands of these land monopolists these estates, when we, the representatives of the people, are assembled in a body, and can extend a helping hand, if that is the first thing to be done ? What will then be the amount left to the creditor? In nine cases out of ten the creditor will get nothing, and the debtor will be thrown out of doors, and the land passed into the hands of the land monopolist. Another mistaken idea is, that the men who are going to buy the land will be of that class who will sell it out for the benefit of the people. They are not coming here for the special interest of the poor man; they seek only their own interest. When once they gobble up the lands, they will sell only at their own fixed price, and they will wait until the land rises in value before they sell.
The land monopolist can sit securely in New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, and wait the rise in value of these lands, while we, the representatives of the people, will then too late regret our mistake.
I hope there is not a man in this body, whatever may be his course, will suffer himself to be swayed by passion or prejudice. I hope whatever you do here, you will do it, at least, feeling that it is for the good and for the best interests of the people you represent. I hope it will not be done in the feeling manifested by the gentlemen from Charleston who addressed you yesterday. I hope it will not be done as a measure of punishment to a people already punished too severely. Whatever you do, above all I hope it will not be done for the purpose of revenge. The time was when I, as much perhaps as any man, was anxious to see some of these men hung. When General Lee surrendered, I would have hung every leader of the rebellion. I would have given them a short, shrift, and a speedy death; but that time is past.
When I left the army at the close of the war, I was zealous to see the leaders of the rebellion hung, and every man engaged in it disfranchised and their lands confiscated. The government of the country has thought proper to pursue a different course. I think for us to act now and suffer anything to be done that savors of anything like vengeance is wrong, cruel, and unjust. If we are truly the representatives of the people, we will suffer nothing of the kind. I shrink from no responsibility, but I will oppose anything that savors of vengeance. These executions, as I have said, must of necessity punish a very large number that were not at all engaged in the rebellion, or in any way responsible for it.
This measure is far short of what we should have done, and what I would have it do. I believe we have a right to pass an Ordinance for the relief of the people. We should have passed an Ordinance suspending these debts for any time necessary, and asked the military to enforce it. This is the course we should have pursued, what, in my opinion, we should have done, and what we had a right to do. But knowing the existing feelings, I consented to the present measure. I am willing to attribute to the opposition, honesty in their position. I am not disposed to argue against it. I think them mistaken with regard to the benefit the poor people of the South are to reap from the sale of these lands, for the very people to be sold out are as poor as it is possible for them to be, saving entire bankruptcy. And I say more than that. The creditor is not to be benefitied by the measure, or at least, not in extent to the waste of property that must necessarily follow. If you sell the lands, what is the result? The lawyer is to be paid, the Sheriff is to be paid, and all the whole string of officers who had a hand in getting up these executions.
Again, it has been shown that the very men to be benefitted, are the lawyers, men who have been leaders, who hatched up treason and brought on the war. They are responsible for it. . Who was it carried this State out of the Union ? Was it the poor honest farmer, who lived far away in the country, coming, perhaps, once or twice a year to town, or was it the men who will reap the benefit of these executions, the lawyers? How many leading men were there in South Carolina before the war? They may be counted, perhaps, only by the dozen. But those they have wronged, those they have deceived, may be counted by hun
dreds, yea, by thousands. The Government having magnanimously declined to punish the men who led the State into ruin, I ask that we should save the men who were forced into rebellion by those leaders. I ask it as a matter of justice. As the supreme power of the State of South Carolina, we should interpose our arm for the protection of suffering humanity. This is my earnest desire, prompted only by the feelings of a warm heart toward every citizen of our State.
Mr. F J. MOSES, Jr. I move that the Committee do now rise and report that we have had the subject committed to us under consideration, and have come to no conclusion. I desire to state that I make this motion not with any view to stop discussion, but that the Convention may adjourn at the time fixed by rules of the house.
Mr. R. J. DONALDSON. I move as an amendment, that we rise and report progress.
Mr. L. S. LANGLEY. I am decidedly opposed, after the opposition have fired off their big gun, and suppose they have now sufficient influence to carry their measure through, to adjourn without a reply. If we do this, the previous question may be sprung upon us.
Mr. R. J. DONALDSON. The motion of the gentleman from Sumter, was not seconded in parliamentary form. No member can second a motion without rising and addressing the Chair.
Mr. R. C. DELARGE. I rose and seconded the motion.
The Chair decided the motion of the gentleman from Sumter, to be before the house.
Mr. R. B. ELLIOTT. I rise simply to make a correction. The gentleman from Sumter offered as an excuse for this motion, that the rules by which we are governed, would compel us to adjourn at 3 o'clock.
Mr. B. F. WHITTEMORE asked if the Committee of the Whole were governed by the rules of the house.
Mr. J. J. WRIGHT. I am in favor of the Committee rising and submitting the question to the house and decided there.
Mr. F. J. MOSES, Jr. My motion was strictly parliamentary and in order.
Mr. B. F. WHITTEMORE. I move that when this Committee does rise, it shall rise at three o'clock. Mr. T. HURLEY. I move as an amendmentthat the Committee
. rise five minutes before three o'clock.
The amendment was agreed to, the Committee rose and reported progress, and the Convention then adjourned.
Saturday, January 25, 1868.
The Convention assembled at 12 M., and was called to order by the PRESIDENT.
Prayer was offered by the Rev. T. W. LEWIS
The roll was called, and a quorum answering to their names, the PRESIDENT announced the Convention ready to proceed to business.
The journal of the preceding session was read and approved.
The PRESIDENT read the following communication, which was received as information : OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY UNITED STATES,
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
CHARLESTON, S. C., January 23, 1868. Hon. C. J. STOLBRAND,
Secretary of Constitutional Convention, Charleston, S. C.; Sir : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 21st, informing me that by a resolution of the Convention I have been elected one of the Solicitors of your honorable body, and entitled to such per diem and mileage as are accorded to delegates. I beg leave to thank the Convention for this high honor so une
nexpectedly conferred upon me, and though greatly distrusting my ability to assist, will accept the position and do all in my power to aid in the great. work which the Convention has in hand.
I am, very respectfully,
D. T. CORBIN.
The PRESIDENT. I deeply regret that in consequence of a monition from the United States District Court, it will be necessary for me to be present at that Court on Monday. I may not be present at the opening of the Convention, and if I hear of no objection, I will appoint Mr. LEMUEL BOOZER President during my temporary absence.
Mr. L. S. LANGLEY. I object to an appointment by the President, I think the Convention should appoint its own Chairman.
The PRESIDENT. The objection is well taken, I hope the Convention will elect a member to préside during my absence.
Mr. R. O. DELARGE. I move that Mr. LEMUEL BOOZER, delegate from Lexington, be chosen temporary Chairman during the PRESIDENT'S absence.