Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

stitutionality. The laws of the United States do not allow a State to pass a law impairing the obligations of contracts. This, I think, is therefore a proper subject for the Judiciary. I am heartily in favor of relief, but I wish the Convention to have nothing to do with that matter.

The resolution was laid on the table.

Mr. R. C. DELARGE moved that the resolution offered by Mr. L. S.
LANGLEY, relative to non-confiscation and non-disfranchisement, which
had been laid upon the table, be taken up.
Mr. DELARGE called for the

yeas
and

nays. Mr. WM MCKINLAY, of Charleston, rose to explain his vote, saying that he unhesitatingly made the declaration that he was in favor of the principle embraced in the resolution, but would vote against taking it up, because he thought the discussion of the question premature.

The yeas and nays being called, resulted as follows:

YEAS— Messrs. Leslie, Parker, Chamberlain, Hurley, Wilder of Beaufort, Bell, Whipper, Langley, Mackey of Charleston, DeLarge, Bowen, Dickson, Driffie, Elliott, Wooley, Rutland, Edwards, Webb, Rainey, Allen, Runion, Cooke, Hayne of Marion, Johnson of Marion, Thompson of Marion, Duncan, Mackey of Orangeburg, Randolph, Bryce, Johnson of Pickens, Nash, Wilder of Richland Thompson of Richland, Coghlan, Lee, Moses, Johnson of Sumter, Goss, Olson, Darrington, Rose, Corley, C. D. Hayno, Camp, Wingo and Gentry~46.

Nays-Lomax, Hunter, Perry, J. N. Hayne, Mayer, Middleton, Gray, Lee, Richmond, Jervey, Becker, Byas, Smalls, Wright, Holmes, Ransier, McKinlay of Charleston, Cardozo, Cain of Charleston, Sanders, Burton, Thomas, Viney, Craig, Shrewsbury, Lang, Whittemore, Brockington, Humbird, Rivers, Harris, Arnim, Jacobs, Miller, Johnson of Greenville, Thompson of Horry, Jones of Horry, Jillson, Dill, Chestnut, Clinton, Jones of Lancaster, Davis, McDaniels, Owens, Stubbs, Jackson, Collins, Nance, Henderson, Sasportas, McKinlay of Orangeburg, Maulden, Dogan, Nuckles, Swails, Neagle, White, Mead, Milford and Foster-61.

ABSENT- Williamson, Newell, Johnson of Anderson, Jenks, Pillsbury, Alexander, Nelson, Perry, Donaldson, DeMeddis, Bonum, Boozer, Crews, Cain of Orangeburg, and Robertson-16.

So the motion to take the resolution from the table was not agreed to.

The PRESIDENT announced Messrs. E. W. M. Mackey, D. H. Chamberlain and W. E. Rose, Committee to instruct the subordinate officers as to their various duties.

Mr. C. P. LESLIE offered the following resolution, which was referred to the Committee on the Legislative part of the Constitution.

WHEREAS, the financial condition of this State, considered in connection with the future prosperity of the people, requires the earnest attention of this body,

Resolved, That a fit and proper provision for homesteads be incorporated in the Constitution of this State.

On motion of Mr. R. C. DELARGE, all the Judges of the State Courts now in the city, were invited to seats upon the floor of the Convention.

Mr. N. G. PARKER offered the following Ordinance, which was referred to the Committee on the Constitution :

AN ORDINANCE

TO ALLOW EACH HEAD OF A FAMILY IN SOUTH CAROLINA A HOMESTEA.T), AND

[blocks in formation]

Be it ordained, That hereafter each head of a family in this State shall be allowed to own a homestead, which shall consist of one hundred acres of land, with a dwelling house and other improvements thereon, if not exceeding the value of two thousand dollars ; Provided, That none of the above lands be within the limits of a city or incorporated town, or in lieu of the above land, real estate in a city or town not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars. The above named homestead shall be exempt from levy and sale by virtue of any process whatever under the law of the State.

Mr. B. BYAS offered the following, which was referred to the Legis. lative Committee :

Resolved, That a Special Committee be appointed to take into consideration the political division of the State.

Mr. F.J. MOSES, Jr., gave notice that on to-morrow he would introduce the following:

Resolved, That it be referred to a Special Committee of ten to ascertain whether or not there exists any authority in this Convention to legislate beyond and independent of the Reconstruction Acts of the United States Congress.

Mr. T. HURLEY introduced the following Ordinace, which was, referred to the Judiciary Committee :

AN ORDINANCE

TO ANNUL ALL CONTRACTS AND LIABILITIES FOR THE

PURCHASE OF SLAVES

WHERE THE MONEY HAS NOT YET BEEN PAID,

'Be it ordained by the people of South Carolina, in regular Convention assembled, That all contracts and liabilities made for the purchase of slaves, whether by parole or under seal, where the money has not been paid, shall be null and void, and all Clerks of Courts of Common Pleas and Masters in Equity, be required on proper affidavits to annul the

same.

On motion the Convention adjourned.

EVENING SESSION.

The Convention re-assembled and was called to order at half-past seven o'clock.

On motion of Mr. F. J. MOSES, Jr., it was ordered that when this Convention adjourns, it adjourn to meet at 12 M., Monday.

Mr. B. F. RANDOLPH gave notice that he would, on Monday, introduce a petition to the Congress of the United States, praying for the continuance of the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees and Abandoned Lands, until the restoration of the civil government, and that theu a Bureau of Education be established by the General Government.

On motion of Mr. R. C. DELARGE, the floor of the Convention was thrown open to visitors for the evening.

General Canby and Staff here entered the hall, and was greeted with great enthusiasm, which was gracefully acknowledged by the General.

The PRESIDENT, after introducing the General to the Convention, said that the latter requested him to say that he was unable at present to make a speech, but hoped they would take the will for the deed and receive his kindest thanks.

His Excellency Governor Orr, arrived shortly after, and was escorted into the hall by, ae Committee.

On the stage were the President of the Convention and Generals Canby and Scott. The Governor, on ascending the stage, was received by the PRESIDENT, who said:

Governor Orr : I am gratified that it becomes my duty as the organ of the Constitutional Convention of South Carolina, to welcome you to the floor of the house. The members of this Convention desire only to act for the good of the Commonwealth, whose people they represent. While they feel the most profound respect for the exalted official position which you occupy as the Chief Magistrate of the State, they are well aware that that position gives you an ample opportunity of becoming peculiarly cognizant of the condition and wants of their constituents. They, therefore, desire to hear your voice on those subjects, and profit by your knowledge and experience. I promise you in their behalf, a patient and attentive hearing, and a careful consideration of the topics you may present.

Gentlemen of the South Carolina Constitutional Convention, I have the honor to introduce to you His Excellency James L. Orr, Governor of the State.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention : I esteem the invitation which you have extended to me to address this Convention, as a compliment paid to the existing Executive authority of the State, more than to the individual who represents that authority; therefore, in behalf of the State for your kind consideration I tender you my thanks.

You are liere in Convention to frame a Constitution for tlie people of South Carolina, and have been elected in conformity to the laws of the United States.

Unfortunately, in my judgment, for the best interests of the people of the late Confederate States, serious differences have arises between the President of the United States and the Congress. In 1865, immediately after the surrender of General Johnston, the President appointed Provisional Governors, and provided for the cailing of Conventions in all of the Southern States. The programme which he adopted was not in unison with the views of Congress, and, after very considerable delay, the Reconstruction Acts of March were passed. The Congress claimed that the power to reconstruct the Southern States which were in rebellion against the authority of the United States, belonged to them and not to the President. Hence, they ignored his action. It is due to frankness that I should say that, in my judgment, the plan projected by the President, and which has been carried into execution in all its details, except as to the representatives in Congress, was not only liberal but wise. With reference to the latter point, however, Congress having taken a different view of the subject, determined that the Southern States shall not be admitted to representation and to equal privileges in the Union upon any other basis than that which has been prescribed. The Acte passed go even further. They assume that the South, in relation to the government stands in the position of conquered provinces, and that, as a conqueror, it has a right to prescribe the terms and conditions upon which the South is to be admitted into the Union.

It is unnecessary, on the present occasion, that I sisald discuss the constitutionality or wisdom of the Acts of Congress. Let it suffice for ine to say that they have become the law of the land. They are laws which have been adopted in strict accordance with all the forms prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, and as a law-abiding citizen, not only now, but from the time of the passage of these Acts in March last. I am one of those who believed that it was not only the duty, but the interest of the people of the Southern States to go to work in earnest and carry them into operation.

Hence, immediately after the passage of the bill in March last, I publicly advised the people of the State, of all complexions, who were entitled to register to do so, and then go to the ballot-box and vote for the very best men possible to frame a Constitution in conformity with the provisions of the Acts of Congress.

My advice upon the subject ought, I think, to have been received as disinterested, since the execution of these laws excluded me from all the privileges of a citizen, because I belonged to the disfranchised class.

At the extra session in July the Legislature made the restrictions even more stringent than they were before, and this harshness on the part of Congress has had much to do with the action of the white people of South Carolina, in refusing to go to the polls and participate in any respect whatever in the election of delegates to the Convention. In this, I think, a great mistake has been committed by the great majority of whites of South Carolina. My judgment was, and is, that every white man who registered should have gone to the polls and voted. I even further. I think that the whites, who have the intelligence to a very large extent, should, in Convention or otherwise, have submitted to the colored people of the State propositions as to the privileges and franchises which they are antirely willing to extend to them, now that the whole of the race have been declared free, not only by the constitutional amendment, but by the action of the Convention of the State.

The fact cannot be disguised, however, that the white population has almust unanimously abstained from exercising the privilege, and your Convention is, therefore, strictly speaking, the representative only of the colored population of South Carolina. This being the case, it cannot be denied that the intelligence, refinement and wealth of the State is not represented by your body. Hence, the very high duty is devolved upon you of discharging the important trusts confided to your care in such a manner as to commend your action to the confidence and support, not only of those by whom you were elected, but of those who refused to go to the polls and vote in the election.

I say to you, very frankly, that I regard this body as invested with the sovereign power of the State, and that the Constitution which you may adopt for the people of South Carolina is one which will not only be ratified and accepted by Congress, but one under which all classes in South ( 'arolina will live for years to come.

The party which has passed the reconstruction laws has undisputed control of the Government in both houses of Congress, and will retain it until the 4th of March, 1869. Prior to that time a Presidential election will occur. The probability is that an individual representing the Conservative and Democratic element in the North and West will be elected President. It may be that a Conservative element will largely preponderate in the next election for members of the House of Representatives on the 4th day of March, 1869, who are Conservative or Democratic, and opposed to the legislation that may have been adopted, it will be impossible to effect a repeal of these acts, obnoxious as they are to the new party, prior to the 4th of March, 1871. Confirmed as I

am, therefore, in the opinion that the legislation of the present and preceding Congress will remain in force until the 4th of March, '71, and that any Constitution adopted by this Convention will continue to be of force until that time at least, I have felt it to be my duty as the Executive of the State, and as an individual, to be present in Charleston during the sessions of your Convention, in the hope that through official, if not personal, influence, I may accomplish something in securing from the Convention a liberal, just, and wise Constitution.

If such a Constitution is adopted, harmony, good feeling and prosperity will prevail. If, however, extreme views and measures are engrafted upon that instrument, it will increase the interest which now exists between the two races, and force the whites of the State, who have the means to do so, to leave its borders and seek homes in other communities. It will produce discontent and disquiet everywhere, and confidence, trade and enterprise will all be paralyzed. As responsible duties are, therefore, devolved upon you as were ever devolved upon a similar body of men in any State, the interest and prosperity of South Carolina depend not only upon law and a good Constitution, but upon the kind relations which are to be established between the two races.

« AnteriorContinuar »