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devising such means as will conduce to the best interests and welfare of our beloved State.
2. Resolved, That religious services and a sermon appropriate to the occasion be had in the hall of the House of Representatives, and that a fitting clergyman be invited to officiate.
3. Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed on the part of this House, and that a message be sent to the Senate proposing the appointment of a like committee to meet the committee of this House, for the purpose of carrying into effect these resolutions.
No one could have more fully appreciated the momentous character of the proceedings, which Mr. Memminger knew would make this session of the Legislature the most important of the many in which he had served as the faithful representative of an intelligent constituency. He was not recognizing a mere form, or was he simply respecting a custom among Christian people, when he offered the foregoing preamble and resolutions. As a sincere Christian believerone who all through his life feared God, who accepted the Bible as His revealed will, and who trusted in His omniscient care and mercy, he desired His divine guidance under circumstances which manifestly threatened the peace of the country and the happiness of his people.
The sermon referred to in these resolutions was delivered by the Rev. Whiteford Smith, D. D., an eloquent and learned clergyman of the Methodist Church. It must have been a discourse of great power, so fully meeting the suggestions of the occasion that by a resolution of the House twenty-five thousand copies were ordered to be printed.
At no time in the previous history of the State, unless it be that in which the Nullification measures were under discussion, was there a more wide-spread or a deeper feeling of resistance to the action of Congress and the procedures of the abolitionists, as the adherents of the Free-Soil party were generally known.
Secession from the Union was not only freely discussed as a right, but it was now demanded by its advocates as the
only remedy for existing grievances. The large majority of the people did not deny the right, and were only divided among themselves as to the expediency of asserting it by the separate action of the State. Those who were the advocates of immediate and separate State action, from the vehement and fiery appeals made by them to the people, came to be known as "Fire-Eaters." They wished to dissolve at once all connection with the Federal Union and declare South Carolina an independent republic. There was a larger and more conservative class of citizens, who, while they admitted the grievances complained of and did not deny the right of the State to withdraw from the Union and assume at pleasure a sovereignty, which had only been delegated, yet they were opposed to the policy of separate State action as being inexpedient and unwise. They desired the Southern, or slave-holding States, to act together, united in a common cause and impelled by a common interest. There was also a small party who were for preserving the Union of the States under any and all circumstances-men, who, like Mr. Petigru, believed that the Union was stronger than slavery, and that there could be no remedy for the evils they recognized to exist outside of the compromise legislation of Congress. These had generally been Federalists and Whigs, but were now known as Unionists.
The address to the people of the Southern States issued by the Mississippi Convention, and the call for a Southern Congress made by the convention at Nashville, produced a great excitement throughout the country. There was scarcely a meeting of the people held for any purpose but reference was made to the action of Congress, and the secession of the State either advocated or opposed. It may be readily inferred that much of this excitement was brought from the hustings into the legislative assembly of 1850, the delegates to which being chosen under the influences of the debates
upon this all-absorbing subject. Mr. Memminger was, from the deliberate convictions of his judgment, opposed to separate State action, and was among the leaders of the " Co-operation Party," who hoped that in a general Congress of the Southern States there could be such action taken as would remedy the grievances of which the South had just reason to complain, and who deprecated secession as the sure means of provoking civil war. He held, with Mr. Calhoun, that the relations existing between the several States were defined in the Constitution of the Union as a compact of agreement, which one or more might have the right to withdraw from; but that the other States, as parties to this compact, had the right to determine for themselves the question as to whether the seceding State or States had sufficient grounds to withdraw from the compact of association, and by coercive measures, if deemed necessary, to force the seceding State to remain a party to the co-partnership or confederation in the event that they should determine that the compact had been broken without just and sufficient cause. In other words, that while secession from the Union was a right, it was a revolutionary right, and, under the circumstances then investing the State of South Carolina, would result in war. Assured of this, the question of grave consideration with Mr. Memminger was, is the State ready to meet the consequences of secession? is South Carolina prepared in resources to maintain her right of secession if it should be resisted?
Believing that in a Congress of the Southern States such measures could be instituted as would bring about either an adjustment of the causes of complaint or secure the co-operation of all of the Southern States in the act of secession, Mr. Memminger, at an early period in the discussion of the bill to call a convention of the people, introduced the following preamble and order:
Whereas the convention of the slave-holding States lately held in Nashville hath recommended the meeting of a Southern Congress; and, whereas, the State of Mississippi hath taken such action thereupon as will necessarily postpone the meeting of said Congress beyond the day appointed by the Constitution for the reassembling of this General Assembly in November next; and, whereas, it is proper that the meeting of the Southern Congress should precede any action of a convention of the people of this State; therefore, it is ordered, That the further consideration of the bill before this House providing for the call of a convention of the people of this State, be postponed until the Monday next ensuing the first day of the session of this General Assembly in November next.
This order was not agreed to, the vote being forty-seven to seventy-four. It now became manifest that the House was determined to call a convention. Several bills having this object in view and providing for the election of delegates to a Southern Congress were introduced and discussed at length. Finally these were all embodied in a substitute presented by Mr. James H. Campbell, providing for the appointment of a certain number of delegates by the Legislature, and the election of others by the people, who should represent South Carolina in a convention or congress to be held at such time and place as the States desiring to be represented may designate; and, furthermore, providing for a convention of the people of South Carolina, at Columbia, at such time as the Governor may appoint.
Upon the adjournment of the Legislature the all-absorbing subject brought before the people was that of secession. Candidates were soon announced for the office of delegate to the Southern Congress, and the issue fairly made as to whether South Carolina should withdraw from the Union alone, or wait until she could secure the co-operation of her sister Southern States. There had never been known so great an excitement among the people of the State. Mass meetings of citizens were held in the several districts, and the people addressed at length by speakers who were either secessionists or co-operationists. At the solicitation of the
Conservative party at Greenville and at Pendleton, Mr. Memminger visited these places in the spring and summer of 1851, delivering at each place an address, which was construed by the extreme Secessionists as being in advocacy of separate State action. Considering that the reports of these addresses were misrepresentations of his real convictions, on his return to Charleston, in the month of September, Mr. Memminger delivered an address at a public meeting of the friends of Co-operation, called for the purpose of nominating delegates to the Southern Congress. This address was one of great force, and had much to do in arresting the tide of passion which appeared to be bearing on its flood the destinies of the State. Many copies of it were printed by the Executive Committee of the Co-operation Party, and widely distributed throughout the State. I reproduce it here as presenting the state of feeling not only, but as giving to the reader the argument, which was then strong enough to overcome the advocates of separate and immediate State action.
Fellow Citizens,-I rise to move the adoption of the address and nomination which has just been submitted. I rejoice that the committee have united in recommending two gentlemen, so well known to us, by a life of public service and of devotion to the public interest. In the stake which they have in the community, and in their common sympathies and opinions, we feel they are thoroughly united with us, and to their integrity and zeal for the public good, we can safely entrust our dearest interests.
It may not have occurred to all who hear me that this election is of great importance to our State. Casual observation might lead to the belief that inasmuch as this Congress will probably never meet, it is useless to make any selection as to the men who are to be its nominal members. But let it be borne in mind that a convention of the people of this State has been ordered by the Legislature, which will probably meet before any further expression can be had of the public voice. The delegates to this convention have been elected by a mere fragment of the people, at a time when they were not aware of the momentous issues before them. This convention will undertake to decide the gravest question ever brought before a people, namely-the change of the whole frame-work of government; and not only this, but the equally