Monthly Record of Current Events, February 4.
Hon.Howell Cobb, of Georgia, late Secretary of the Treasury, was elected Chairman of the Southern Congress. In his address he said that they had met as the representatives of sovereign and independent States, who had dissolved all the political associations which connected them with the Government of the United States. This separation was complete and perpetual, and their duty was now to
689provide a Government for future security and protection. They should extend to those States identified with them in feelings, interests, and institutions a cordial invitation to unite in a common destiny, and at the same time should be desirous of maintaining friendly political and commercial relations with their late confederates. A "Constitution for the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America" was framed, "to continue for one year from the inauguration of the President, or until a permanent Constitution or Confederation between the said States shall be put in operation, whichever shall first occur." This Constitution follows generally that of the United States. The principal changes are embodied in the following articles:
"The importation of African negroes from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States of the United States is hereby forbidden, and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same."
"Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of this Confederacy."
"A slave in one State escaping to another shall be delivered up on the claim of the party to whom said slave may belong, by the Executive authority of the State in which such slave may be found; and in case of any abduction or forcible rescue full compensation, including the value of slave and all costs and expenses, shall be made to the party by the State in which such abduction or rescue shall take place."
"The Government hereby instituted shall take immediate steps for the settlement of all matters between the States forming it and their late confederates of the United States in relation to the public property and public debt at the time of their withdrawal from them, these States hereby declaring it to be their wish and earnest desire to adjust every thing pertaining to the common property, common liabilities, and common obligations of that Union upon principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith."
Congress has power to impose and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises for revenue necessary to carry on the Government, all duties to be uniform throughout the Confederacy. — This Constitution was adopted on 8th of February. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, was elected President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, Vice-President of the Confederation, by a unanimous vote. The inauguration of Mr. Davis took place on the 18th of February. In his Inaugural Address, he says:
"I enter upon the duties of the office to which I have been chosen with the hope that the beginning of our career as a Confederacy may not be obstructed by hostile opposition to our enjoyment of the separate existence and independence which we have asserted, and which, with the blessing of Providence, we intend to maintain. Our present condition, achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations, illustrates the American idea that governments rest upon the consent of the governed, and that it is right for the people to alter and abolish governments whenever they become destructive to the ends for which they were established. The declared compact of the Union from which we have withdrawn was to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity; and when, in the judgment of the sovereign States now composing this Confederacy, it has been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot-box declared that, so far as they were concerned, the Government created by that compact should cease to exist. In this they merely asserted the right which the Declaration of Independence of 1776 defined to be inalienable. Of the time and occasion of its exercise they, as sovereigns, were the final judges, each for itself. An agricultural people, whose chief interest is the export of a commodity required in every manufacturing country, our true policy is peace and the freest trade which our necessities will permit. It is alike our interest and that of all those to whom we would sell, and from whom we would buy, that there should be the fewest practicable restrictions upon the interchange of commodities. There can be but little rivalry between ours and any manufacturing or navigating community, such as the Northeastern States of the American Union. It must follow, therefore, that mutual interest would invite good-will and kind offices. If, however, passion or lust of dominion should cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, we must prepare to meet the emergency and maintain by the final arbitrament of the sword the position which we have assumed among the nations of the earth. For purposes of defense the Confederated States may, under ordinary circumstances, rely mainly upon their militia; but it is deemed advisable, in the present condition of affairs, that there should be a well-instructed, disciplined army, more numerous than would usually be required on a peace establishment. I also suggest "that, for the protection of our harbors and commerce on the high seas, a navy adapted to those objects will be required. With a Constitution differing only from that of our fathers in so far as it is explanatory of their well-known intent, it is not unreasonable to suppose that some of the States from which we have recently parted may seek to unite their fortunes with ours under the Government which we have instituted. For this your Constitution makes adequate provision; but beyond this, if I mistake not, the judgment and the will of the people are that union with the States from which they have separated is neither practicable nor desirable. To increase the power, develop the resources, and promote the happiness of the Confederacy, it is requisite that there should be so much of homogeneity that the welfare of every portion would be the aim of the whole. Where this does not exist antagonisms are engendered, which must and should result in separation."
The following are the most important measures adopted by the Southern Congress:
All Act taking under the charge of the Confederacy all questions with the United States, relating to the occupation of forts and other public establishments. — Acts continuing in force all laws of the United States not inconsistent with the new Constitution, until repealed or altered by Congress; and continuing in office all persons occupying official posts, with the same duties and compensation as before. — An Act modifying the Navigation laws, repealing all discriminating duties upon vessels belonging to foreign nations. — An Act prohibiting the introduction, except from the Slaveholding States of the United States, of negroes, persons of color, or coolies, either as slaves or as bound to labor for any time. — An Act levying duties on goods brought from the United States, unless actually shipped before the 28th day of March; and establishing additional ports of entry. — An Act guaranteeing the free navigation of the Mississippi River.
In the Peace Convention Ex-President John Tyler was chosen chairman. The debates continued till the 27th of February, when a "Plan of Adjustment" was agreed upon by a majority of the Commissioners. It consists of seven sections, providing as follows:
Section 1. Prohibits slavery in all the Territories north of 36° 30' south of this the status of persons held to service is not to be changed; Congress or the Legislatures to have no power to prohibit their introduction; all rights arising from this relation to be subject to the cognizance of the Federal courts. Any Territory to be admitted as a State when it has a population sufficient to entitle it to a member of the House of Representatives, with or without slavery as its Constitution provides. — Section 2. Prohibits the acquisition of Territory without the assent of a majority of the Senators from both the slave-holding and non-slaveholding states, and also without the assent of two-thirds of the whole Senate. — Section 3. Provides that Congress shall have no power to interfere with slavery in any State; to abolish it in the District of Columbia, without the consent of the owners, and that of Maryland; nor to abolish it in any place under Federal jurisdiction where it is recognized; nor to prevent the transportation of slaves to any place where it is admitted; nor to lay
690any higher tax upon slaves than upon land; but slaves shall not be brought into the District for sale, and the right of transit through and State or Territory against its dissent is abolished. — Section 4. Provides that the foregoing section shall not be construed to prevent any State from enforcing the delivery of fugitive slaves. — Section 5. Prohibits the foreign slave-trade and the importation of coolies. — Section 6. Provides that the 1st, 3d, and 5th of these sections, and the first paragraph of section 2, article 1, and the third paragraph of section 2, article 4 of the Constitution, shall not be altered without the consent of all the States. — Section 7. Provides that Congress shall pass laws paying the owners of a fugitive whose rendition shall have been prevented by violence or intimidation; and also that legal provisions shall be made to secure to the citizens of each State the privileges and immunities of the several States.
Mr. Lincoln, the President-elect, left his residence at Springfield, Illinois, for Washington on the 11th of February, going by way of Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany, New York, and Philadelphia. It was originally intended that the journey should be made by special trains for the whole distance. This was carried out until he reached Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. On the way Mr. Lincoln made brief speeches at all of the larger places, without, however, giving any explicit statements of the proposed policy of his administration, beyond the general affirmation that it would be one of justice to every section. He reached Harrisburg from Philadelphia on the afternoon of February 22, proposing to proceeded next morning by way of Baltimore. During the evening intelligence was received which occasioned a change in his plans. No authentic account of the nature of this intelligence has been made public. One report says that it conveyed information of a plot against the life of Mr. Lincoln, to be executed by throwing the railway train from the track before it reached Baltimore; or, in the event of the failure of this, by shooting or stabbing him in the crowd upon his arrival at that city. Other reports say that the reports simply informed him of probable disturbance at Baltimore in case of his public entrance; while still others say that the presence of the President-elect at the Capital was necessary at the earliest possible moment. Whatever the intelligence was, it was such as to indues Mr. Lincoln to proceed privately and at once. He left Harrisburg in the evening of the 22d, returned to Philadelphia, passed through Baltimore without being recognized, and arrived at Washington on the morning of the 23d. — The inauguration of Mr. Lincoln took place on the 4th of March. Apprehensions had existed of disturbances on that occasion, and to guard against these ample military and police arrangements had been made under the direction of General Scott. No disturbance occurred. The Inaugural Address was looked for with much anxiety, as indicative of the policy to be pursued by the new Administration. The President-elect began by declaring that the accession of a Republican Administration afforded no ground to the Southern States for apprehending any invasion of their rights. He reiterated his previous declaration, that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe that I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me knew that I had made this and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given will be cheerfully given to all the States, when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause, as cheerfully to one section as to another." He explicitly recognizes the obligation of enforcing the provision for the delivery of fugitive slaves. He then proceeds to argue against the right of State secession under the Constitution, and to define his policy in relation to it. He says:
"It follows from these views that no State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary according to circumstances. I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken, and, to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part. I shall perfectly perform it, so far as is practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisition, or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself. In doing this there need be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it is forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government, and collect the duties and imposts, but beyond what may be necessary for these objects there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people any where. Where hostility to the United States in any interior section shall be so great and so universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people thatobject. While the strict legal right may exist of the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable withal, thatI deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices. The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union."
In reference to amendments to the Constitution he says:
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their Constitutional right of amending or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendment, I fully recognize the full authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself, and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to and that to me the Convention mode seems preferable in that it allows amendment to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish either to accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution, which amendment, however, I have not seen, has passed Congress to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of States, including that of persons held for service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable."
The Thirty-Sixth Congress came to an end at noon on the 4th of March. The usual votes of thanks were passed to the presiding officers, Vice-President Breckinridge of the Senate, and Speaker Pennington of the House, who responded in appropriate terms. Mr. Hamlin, having taken the oath of office, read the proclamation for an extra session of the Senate. — The most important bills passed during the last month are that suspending postal service in the seceding States, the new Tariff, and
691those erecting three new Territories. — The Tariff Bill provides for a loan of $21,000,000, and substitutes specific for ad valorem duties as far as possible. As finally agreed upon, it has not been published in full; but it increases duties generally by from five to ten per cent. — The new Territories are Colorado, made up of parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah, with an area of 100,000 square miles, and a population of about 25,000, including the Pike's Peak gold region; Nevada, from Utah and California, including the fertile Carson Valley; and Dakotah, formerly a part of Minnesota, but cut off when that Territory became a State, with an area of about 70,000 square miles. — The various "Peace Propositions" were finally acted upon at the very close of the session. The House took up the report of the majority of the Committee of Thirty-Three. The first proposition voted upon was one providing for an amendment to the Constitution. It received 109 ayes to 74 nays, but lacking the requisite majority of two-thirds, was lost, though subsequently reconsidered and passed. The remaining resolutions were passed by a vote of 136 to 53. They provide, in substance, as follows:
1. That all proper and constitutional remedies for existing discontents, and all guarantees for existing rights, necessary to preserve the Union, should be promptly and cheerfully granted.
2. That all attempts to obstruct the recovery of fugitive slaves are inconsistent with inter-State comity, and dangerous to the peace of the Union.
3. That the several States be requested to revise their statutes and repeal such as may be in conflict with Federal laws on this subject.
4. That slavery is recognized as existing by usage in fifteen States, and there is no authority outside those States to interfere with it.
5. That the laws on the subject of fugitives from labor should be faithfully executed, and that citizens of each State should be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.
6. That there is no cause for a dissolution of this Government, and that it is the duty of Congress to preserve its existence on terms of equality and justice to all the States.
7. That the faithful observance of the Constitution, on the part of the States, is essential to the peace of the country.
8. That each State is requested to revise its statutes, and amend them if necessary, so as to protect citizens of other States who may be traveling therein, against violence.
9. That each State be requested to enact laws to punish invasions of other States from its soil.
10. That copies of these resolutions be sent to the Governors and Legislatures of the several States.
11. That as no proposition has been made to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia or Government dockyards, or to interfere with the inter-State slave trade, no action on these subjects is needed.
The resolution for an amendment to the Constitution, upon reconsideration, was passed by 133 to 65, more than two-thirds, and was sent to the Senate for concurrence. The resolution is as follows:
Be it Resolved, By the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures, shall bo valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, viz. :
"That no amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give Congress power to abolish or interfere within any State with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or servitude by the laws of said State."
In the Senate this resolution was taken up on the 4th of March. Various amendments were proposed and lost, and the House resolution was passed by a vote of 24 to 12, Senator Polk, who was in the chair, deciding that it was carried by the requisite two-thirds. Mr. Trumbull appealed from this decision on the ground that it required two-thirds of the whole number of Senators. The decision of the chair was sustained, Mr. Trumbull alone voting against it. — Mr. Crittenden's resolutions were then taken up. Various amendments were proposed and lost; among which was one by Mr. Crittenden, substituting the resolutions of the Peace Convention for his own. This was lost by 28 votes to 7. The question was then taken upon Mr. Crittenden's resolutions, which were lost by a vote of 19 to 20.
In Texas, a Convention, somewhat informally elected, met on the 28th of January. On the 1st of February it passed, by a vote of 166 to 7, an ordinance of secession, to be submitted to the people on the 23d of February, to go into effect, if adopted, on the 2d of March. The result of this popular vote has not reached us; but there is no doubt that it is in favor of the movement, and that Texas is to be added to the list of seceding States. General Twiggs, the commander of the troops in that Department, surrendered the military property of the Government to the State authorities. Upon the receipt of the intelligence of this action, the name of General Twiggs was, by order of the Secretary of War, stricken from the army roll. — Elections have been held in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, Involving the calling of State Conventions and the question of secession. The result has been most decided for union, with proper guarantees. — In North Carolina and Arkansas similar elections have been held. The vote is apparently close, and the result is as yet undecided.
The Emperor Napoleon opened the French Chambers on the 4th of February with a speech, of which the most important portions related to his foreign policy. He said that he had endeavored to prove in his relations with foreign powers that France desires peace, and does not pretend to interfere where her interests are not concerned. It is thus that she had maintained her rights in causing the recognition of Savoy and Nice; in avenging her honor in China; sending troops to Syria to protect the Christians against a blind fanaticism; in increasing the garrison at Rome when the security of the Holy Father appeared to be threatened; in sending a fleet to Gaeta at the moment that it seemed that this must be the last refuge of the King of Naples; and in withdrawing this fleet, after four months, when its presence implied a departure from the system of neutrality, and gave rise to erroneous impressions. " My firm resolution," says the Emperor, in conclusion, "is not to enter into and conflict in which the cause of France should not be based on right and justice. What, then, have we to fear? Can a united and compact nation, numbering forty millions of souls, fear to be drawn into struggles the aim of which she could not approve, or be provoked by any menace whatever? The first virtue of a people is to have confidence in itself, and not allow itself to be disturbed by imaginary alarms. Let us, then, calmly regard the future in the full consciousness of our strength as well as in our honorable intentions. Let us engage, without exaggerated preoccupations, in the development of the germs of the prosperity that Providence places in our hands."
The war between the Kings of Naples and Sardinia has, for the present at least, come to an end. Gaeta, the last place in the possession of the King of Naples, after a long siege, has been given up. The garrison finally surrendered on the 14th of February, and the King and Queen embarked on board a French ship.