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Wednesday, January 15, 1868.
The Convention assembled at 12 M., and was called to order by the Chairman, Mr. T. J. ROBERTSON.
The proceedings were opened with prayer by the Rev. B. F. RANDOLPH as follows:
Almighty God, Creator and Ruler of the Universe, we praise and adore Thee for Thy goodness, which Thou hast manifested to us, Thy undeserving creatures. Thou seest the purposes for which we have assembled. We pray that we may be guided by Thy spirit and wisdom. Thou knowest the grave responsibilities resting upon us. Thou knowest we have' assembled for the purpose of framing the Constitution for the legislative guidance of this State. We pray that Thou will fill our hearts with love for the general welfare of the citizens of the State, and that in all things Thy wisdom may guide us, and all our actions redound to Thy honor and glory. We pray that we may remember our accountability to Thee and the people of South Carolina. Help us, oh Lord, in these our great responsibilities. Help us in our work here, and when we finish our earthly course, receive us into that welcome abode in heaven; and all we ask is in the name of God our Father and Jesus our dear Redeemer. Amen.
The CHAIRMAN requested Mr. H. E. HAYNE, Delegate from Marion District, to act as temporary Assistant Secretary.
On the call of the roll, one hundred and nine Delegates answering to their names, the CHAIRMAN announced a quorum present.
The minutes of yesterday were read by the Secretary.
Mr. F. L. CARDOZO asked a correction of the minutes by inserting the motion offered by him previous to adjournment yesterday. He also thought that motion should be taken up as unfinished business.
Mr. T. HURLEY said he supposed his motion to proceed to a nomination at large was the last business of yesterday.
Mr. N. G. PARKER said the motion of the gentleman from Charleston, Mr. F. L. CARDOZO, was pending yesterday when the motion of the gentleman from Berkley, Mr. HURLEY, was offered, as a new motion, not as an amendment, and he thought, therefore, the first motion took precedence in the order of unfinished business.
Mr. B. O. DUNCAN moved that the Convention now proceed to ballot for a permanent President, the Convention voting by Districts, and that two tellers be appointed to count the votes.
Mr. B. F. RANDOLPH thought they should act first on the pending motion of yesterday, to appoint a Committee on permanent organization,
Mr. RICHMOND called attention to the fact that a number of members had arrived since yesterday, whose credentials had not been examined.
The CHAIRMAN said that would be the duty of the Committee on Credentials.
Mr. DUNCAN said he had signed a number of credentials this morning, and the doorkeeper had been instructed not to admit any one whose credentials were not signed. He was informed, however, that no doorkeeper had been appointed, and moved that a temporary doorkeeper be appointed until a permanent organization was effected.
On motion of Mr. R. C. DELARGE, the Janitor of the building was appointed temporary doorkeeper.
Mr. DUNCAN renewed his motion to proceed to a permanent organization.
Mr. F. L. CARDOZO called for the unfinished business of yesterday.
The CHAIRMAN decided that there was no unfinished business pending
Mr. B. F. RANDOLPH said there was a motion pending at the hour of adjournment, and it ought to be disposed of.
Mr. DUNCAN moved that the unfinished business be laid upon the table, and the motion was agreed to.
Mr. DUNCAN again renewed his motion to proceed to balloting, amending it so that each delegate, when the Districts were called, should come up and vote.
Mr. R. C. DELARGE moved to go into an informal ballot for President, with the view of obtaining the sense of the House. The motion was agreed to.
Mr. J. M. ALLEN moved that the two persons receiving the highest number of votes on the informal ballot should be considered candidates. The motion was agreed to.
Messrs. B. 0. DUNCAN and T. K. SASPORTAS were appointed tellers.
On motion of Mr. ALLEN, the Convention took a recess of fifteen minutes.
On reassembling, the Secretary proceeded to call the roll of the delegates by Districts, and each delegate came forward to the President's desk and deposited his vote.
Mr. DUNCAN reported the result of the informal ballot as follows:
Dr. A. G. MACKEY 74, B. F. WHITTEMORE 37, T. J. ROBERTSON 1, and J. M. RUTLAND 1. Total 113.
Mr. G. PILLSBURY moved that Dr. A. G. MACKEY be unani. mously declared the President of the Convention.
Mr. WHITTEMORE begged the gentleman to withdraw the motion temporarily.
Mr. PILLSBURY assented.
Mr. President: I understand that the election we have gone into thus far has simply been an informal election, and that the expression of the Convention thus far has been declared, as far as the two higher candidates are conc
cerned, as favorably disposed towards Mr. Mackey and myself
I arise to express my thankfulness to the gentlemen upon this floor for the kindness they have shown in their expression of a preference for and the presentation of my name in connection with the Chairmanship of this Convention. I assure them of my appreciation of the compliment and trust that I have truly merited its bestowment; but, in justice to myself, and that the most earnest wish of my heart may be gratified, I. deem it proper to say, that I have not been, nor am I at the present an aspirant for any other position than that to which I have been, by my constituency, elected, namely, an humble delegate, with the freedom and privilege to labor on the floor or in the committee room. My earnest desire is that harmony may prevail in all the deliberations of this bodythat the work for which we have been sent may be immediately prosecuted, and that success may attend our every honest effort. That, therefore, a permanent organization may be at once effected, I do respectfully withdraw my name from the canvass, and move that Hon. A. G. Mackey be unanimously declared as the choice of this Convention for President.
The motion was agreed to amid applause, and the CHAIRMAN announced that Dr. A. G. MACKEY was unanimously elected permanent President of the Convention.
Mr. A. J. RANSIER moved that a Committee of three be appointed to apprise Dr. MACKEY of his election, and conduct him to the Chair.
Mr. F. J. MOSES, Jr., moved as an amendment that a Committee of two, to consist of Messrs. B. F. WHITTEMORE and R. C. DELARGE be appointed for the purpose.
The amendment was not adopted.
The motion of Mr. RANSIER was then agreed to, and the PRESIDENT appointed Messrs. A. J. RANSIER, B. F. WHITTEMORE and R. C. DELARGE.
On motion of Mr. PARKER, the Convention took a recess for fifteen minutes.
After recess, Mr. WHITTEMORE, Chairman of the Committee app pointed to wait upon the President elect, reported that they had discharged that duty, and now begged leave to state that they had the honor of introducing the President elect.
Dr. MACKEY was then conducted to the chair, and formally presented to the Convention by Mr. T.J. ROBERTSON, the Chairman.
In entering upon the duties of his office the PRESIDENT addressed the body as follows:
Gentlemen of this Convention :- While I return you my thanks for the honor that you have conferred on me, in selecting me to preside over your deliberations, I confess that I assume the Chair with great diffidence as to my capability to discharge its duties. I cair, however, safely promise a determination to perform the important task. with the strictest impartiality, and with all the judgment in my power.
The position in which your kindness has placed me, will necessarily preclude me from a general participation in the debates of the house, and will condemn me to silence on many questions, on which, if I were on the floor, I would wish to be heard. You will perhaps, therefore, pardon me, if I take the present occasion, once for all, to define my position and to express my sentiments on some of the great topics, which are now agitating our country.
The Convention in which we are. Ilow sitting is marked by two pecu-liarities, which has distinguished no other Convention that has preceded it in South Carolina--peculiarities which demand for it the commendation of every lover of liberty and respecter of human rights.
Convened, as I contend it has been--for else, I had not been here-by competent legal authority, it is the first Constitutional Convention in this State, in the selection of whose members, the ballot box, the true palladium of rational liberty, has been made accessible to every man who was not disqualified by legal or political crime. In the call for the five South Carolina Conventions which have preceded it, and which were held in 1776, in 1777, in 1790, in 1860, and in 1865, but a portion of the people were permitted to exercise the elective franchise, because slavery, that vile relic of barbarism, had thrown its blighting influence upon the minds of the people, and for the noble doctrine that governments were constituted for the good of the whole, was substituted that anti-republican one, that they were intended only for the benefit of one class at the expense of another. But in the call for this body, every true man who could labor for the support or fight for the defence of the commonwealth has been invited to a representation. Manhood suffrage has for the first time been invoked to convene a body which is to make the fundamental law for all. This is, then, truly and emphatically a people's Convention -a Convention by the representatives of all who have minds to thinkand to think for themselves, or muscle to work and to work for themselves.
Again. In the five Constitutional Conventions held in this State, to which I have already alluded, the fundamental law therein framed was made a finality. The people were ignored as a part of the body politic by the Convention, which declared itself possessed of despotic and irresponsible authority; and, in every instance, refused to submit its proceedings, and the Constitution which it had framed, to the people for their ratification. This was but a natural and necessary result of the influences of the political sentiment that then prevailed. It was but consistent that those who deemed one-half of their fellow-citizens to be chattels, should forget, or overlook the political rights of the other half.
But we, who in these days, when the rising beams of political truth, promise, after so much storm, a brighter sky for the republic; we who are emerging from that cloud of false opinion, into the full sunshine of that truth, know and claim ourselves to be only the representatives of the people. We arrogantly assume no final action, no irresponsible power, but recognize the rights of all men, of all races, the poor as well as the rich, the ignorant'as well as the wise-of all men who make the State their home and identify themselves with its interests. We dare not present to them an organic law for their government, as something with which they have nothing to do but to hear it and obey. Our work here is not to be considered as completed until the people shall have reviewed it and ratified it:: Not we, ourselves, but they who sent us here; are to say whether we deserve the reward of a “well done, good and faithful servants." For the first time in the history of South Carolina, will the people be recognized as the true framers of their own organic law. Of such a Convention, organized on the great acknowledged principles of Democratic Republicanism, I am proud to be a member; far more proud to sit here beneath the folds of that beloved flag which is this day floating from our roof, than I should have been to have been in that other body which met in this city in 1860, with no such loyal symbol to protect it, but which rather sought to tear its stripes to tatters and to dash its stars to the earth.
Yielding to none in sentiments of devotion for that flag of my fathers, and in abhorrence of every sentiment of disloyalty and treason to that Government, to which I owe a paramount allegiance, I yet have no vindictive feelings towards those of my fellow-citizens who were led by the abstractions of their political leaders, to entertain different and opposing sentiments-sentiments which I deemed errors, but which they believed to be truths. I grant to them that liberty of thought which I demand for myself. Hence, I profess myself to be a moderate man. 'I am opposed to all confiscations of property, because the confiscation of all the lands of rebel owners in the State can have no effect in promoting the welfare of that State in elevating its political condition or advancing its commercial and agricultural prosperity. I am opposed to any general disfranchisement of the masses of the people. It is too late now to disfranchise as a punishment for treason. Punishment should be inflicted for the sake of reform. To inflict it now would be only to gratify revenge. I want no more disfranchisement either as to number of persons or as to duration of time, than is absolutely necessary to secure the safety of the nation, and if that can be secured by none at all, then would I favor a general amnesty.
I call God to witness, that in taking my seat in this august body, I do so only because I desire to contribute what little abilities or influence I