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ORGANIZATION OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONVENTION.
COLUMBIA, September 13, 1865. TN obedience to the proclamation of Provisional Gov
I ernor Perry, the delegates of the people of South Carolina assembled at noon to-day in State Convention for the purpose of repealing the ordinance of secession and remodelling the State Constitution. The Convention met in the Baptist Church, in which the Secession Convention of 1860 originally assembled; though that, after two sessions, adjourned to Charleston, where the ordinance of secession was passed. That Convention numbered 168 members. This has but 124, — that is, the proclamation fixes this as the number. In point of fact, however, the number present will not probably exceed 115; for it is known that three parishes held no elections, while Bishop Lynch, of Charleston, is in Europe, and Wade Hampton is not expected here. There were present to-day 101 delegates.'
Five parishes are entirely unrepresented. There were two or three precincts in each of three districts where, so far as can be learned, there was no voting; but there is not even a pretence on the part of anybody that there was anywhere in the State any interference with, or restraint upon, the elections by the military. The Convention is the free choice of the people. In one district, Anderson, the various candidates were called upon to show their hands; elsewhere the canvass passed off without speech-making, and only the four delegates from that district — “district” answering to "county” in the North — are bound by any pledges. · Four at least of the delegates have national reputation, James L. Orr, late Federal representative, ex-Rebel colonel, and ex-Confederate senator; F. W. Pickens, late Federal representative, and the first Secession governor ; Alfred Huger, postmaster at Charleston for the last twenty-five years; and Samuel McGowan, late major-general in the Rebel army, and one of the bravest officers this State gave the Confederacy. One delegate, James Farrow, was four years a member of the Rebel Congress. Twelve, namely, David L. Wardlaw and Thomas Thomson of Abbeville District, James L. Orr of Anderson, J. J. Brabham of Barnwell, John A. Inglis and Henry McIver of Chesterfield, James Conner and J. Du Pre of Charleston, J. P. Richardson of Clarendon, R. G. M. Dunovant of Edgefield, William R. Robertson of Fairfield, and John W. Carlisle of Spartanburg, were also delegates in the Secession Convention. · means a prepossessing body. The average Southern head does n't show near as much intellectual force and vigor as the average Northern head; and the beauty of the South is solely in the faces of its young women, — half of it at least in the faces of its mulatto and quadroon girls. A few of the delegates are clad wholly, and very many of them partly, in homespun. Many coats show Confederate buttons, — from the necessity of poverty rather than the choice of disloyalty, I judge. Many of the members are rough, ignorant country fellows, and the Convention will be managed by less than a score of delegates. The difference between the two classes of delegates — those who lead and those who are led — is much greater than could exist in any Northern body of the same numbers; not that the one class is any way superior to the best class of a Northern State, but that the other class is almost immeasurably inferior. Half these men are so deficient in capacity and knowledge that scarcely one of them could by any possibility get into a New England convention.
The people have cut loose from many of their old leaders, and others of that class have found their graves since the war began ; but there are perhaps a score of delegates whose faces are more or less familiar to persons who have attended the sessions of the South Carolina General Assembly any time within a dozen or fifteen years. Of those who have some time been United States officers other than postmaster there are, I believe, four. Of those who were officers in the Rebel army there are not less than twenty-five or thirty, including at least four generals and six colonels. The halfdozen fellows — of the blunt and blotchy nose, beefy and bloated face, shining and swallow-tailed coat — who always attend conventions as delegates are here, and occupy the chief seats. So are also here the half-dozen country justices of the peace, no less knowing than usual, and fruitful with platitudes and resolutions.
For the rest, three fourths of the delegates have titles, — captain, major, colonel, judge. It is the fashion of the South, as of the West, I suppose. There are a dozen young men, and about the same number of very old men ; but otherwise they range mostly from forty-five to fifty-five years of age. Gray and grayish heads are numerous. It is n't by any
That, in the stress of war, South Carolina should implore to be made a colony of Great Britain does not now seem half so strange to me as it did nine months ago. Her government was republican in name, but not in fact; while the whole under-current of her society set toward monarchical institutions. Everybody, even now, dreads popular elections ; dozens of delegates have said to me that it is n't well to allow the people to elect their own rulers; and this Convention will no more than give the election of governor, lieutenant-governor, representatives, members of the General Assembly, and Presidential electors, to the people, leaving the great host of other officers to the appointment of the Governor or the election of the Legislature. Many of these delegates were elected, not because they represented the will of the parish or district, but because they represented the will of some great family. It was the English system
reproduced here, with scarcely a variation. A dozen or more boast of their twenty years in the Legislature. It was not a republican form of government; but, more than that, it was not, is not, and will not soon be, a republican community. “It will not do,” say the leaders, - men who, personally, are easy, agreeable, and abundant in courtesies to the stranger, — “it will not do to put power in the hands of the common people.” Two delegates have said to me at different times, “ It was a great mistake when we passed our free-suffrage law.”
The delegates were called to order by Judge Robertson of Fairfield District, on whose motion Franklin J. Moses, of Sumter District, was made temporary chairman. Judge Robertson was one of the members of the Convention of 1860. Mr. Moses is of Hebrew descent, and has been a member of the State Senate for over twenty years.
The Convention at once proceeded to business, without any remarks from the chairman. Two gentlemen were appointed temporary secretaries, and the delegates then presented their credentials and signed the roll of the Convention; after which about a dozen who had not taken the amnesty oath advanced to the space in front of the platform and were sworn thereto. They were, without an exception, men whose appearance marked them as from the back country.
The election of a permanent President was called ; and leave being given, several gentlemen were nominated.
Hon. C. M. Dudley, of Marlboro District, who has been known from the beginning as a Union man, though he took but little part in public affairs, was presented by James L. Orr. The Charleston delegation nominated Hon. David L. Wardlaw, of Abbeville District, who was originally opposed to secession, but acquiesced in the action of the State. Mr. T. M. Dawkins, a delegate from Union District, was also nominated, but rose and asked his friends not to use his
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name. Wade Hampton, of cavalry fame, who is one of the Columbia delegates, was suggested; but before the voting began, Mr. Huger, of Charleston, and postmaster there during Buchanan's administration, inquired if General Hampton was nominated by permission; adding, that his veneration for him was such that he could not consent to seeing his name put up unless by his express desire. That produced its withdrawal. He has not been in the city since the Convention was called. The contest was, therefore, narrowed down to one between Mr. Dudley and Mr. Wardlaw, both of them men of unexceptionable private character. The first ballot was Wardlaw, 42; Dudley, 36; Dawkins, 12 ; Hampton, 5; Scattering, 5. The second call gave Wardlaw, 55; Dudley, 35; Dawkins, 9; and blank, 1. Judge Wardlaw was thereupon declared elected.
He is a small and kindly mannered gentleman, well along in years, and one of the judges of the Court of Sessions and Common Pleas. He has served many years in the General Assembly, and has often been elected speaker of the lower House. He was one of the Union men of the fall of 1860, accepted the decree of the State, was a delegate in the Secession Convention and chairman of the Committee on Revision of the Constitution. His home is in the northwestern part of the State, beyond the route of Sherman's army. Delegates say there is no particular signification in his election over either of the other candidates. His remarks on taking his seat were very brief, and also without any special significance. He hoped the Convention would soon restore the State to the Union; and urged the delegates to do their duty in sincere and earnest spirit, that Peace and her blessings might once more abide in the whole land.
It seems that the fire-eaters are not yet all dead; for as soon as a committee had been appointed to wait on the Governor and tell him the Convention was ready for business,