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much with his right hand, between the thumb and first finger of which he held an immense quid of tobacco, taken from his mouth when he rose to speak, thought the original report only a commentary on the Constitution of the United States, which neither the people of the State nor the authorities at Washington required from the Convention. As for killing the doctrine of secession, he thought Grant and Sherman had buried that long ago. He believed the act of 1861 an act of open rebellion, but should favor the substitute because it went to the desired point in a plain way. Mr. Samuel F. Phillips, of Orange County, said that as the Convention of 1861 had expressed an opinion one way on the question of the right of secession, he thought it very important that a body of equal rank should put on record a counter opinion, and he therefore favored the committee's ordinance. He thought the functions of the Convention both legislative and judicial, -in its legislative capacity it could repeal what a former Convention had done, and in its judicial capacity it could also declare it null from the beginning. He held that the doctrine of secession was a creature of the mind, which the success or failure of an army could not affect. Therefore it was necessary to declare the counter proposition to that declared in 1861. Mr. D. F. Caldwell, of Guilford County, said he had been mobbed, inhumanly assaulted, rotten-egged, shot at repeatedly, dragged into the army, and forced into double duty continually, because he was an avowed Union man; and he admitted that he couldn't have much sympathy for the fine scruples of gentlemen who desired such tenderness of treatment for the Secession Convention. Mr. Alex McIver, of Mecklenberg County, would accept the substitute as a compromise. He thought there was no occasion for this Convention to sit in judgment on the work of the Convention of 1861, particularly as that was so cheerfully acquiesced in by the people.
Mr. Lewis Thompson, of Bertie County, temporary president of the Convention, said this was no time to be led astray by sentiment. Personally he had none but kindly feelings for the gentlemen who made appeals for compromise, but there was a principle involved here on which he never could compromise. The government of the United States is not a mere compact, as it is called in the ordinance of secession; and this Convention should solemnly indorse the decision of the battle-field. This the proposed substitute does not do : it is a subterfuge, and says nothing on the great point in issue. He was anxious that the State should set herself right. Her people had never favored secession, and the work of the Convention of 1861 was an open insult to them. He wanted gentlemen to meet the fair question, — is the government of the United States nothing more than a mere compact, that may be dissolved at any time on the whim of any one of the thirty or forty parties thereto? If they were willing to own that, then, of course, they could very readily compromise on the substitute; but if they believed, as he did, that the fathers of 1789 intended their ratification of the Constitution of the United States to be forever binding on the whole people of the State, they could not poison their souls with such miserable Sophistry.
Mr. William Eaton, of Warren County, who took much pains to proclaim that he had opposed secession since 1850, thought the original harsh in its terms, while the substitute would accomplish the desired end without hurting anybody’s feelings.
Judge E. J. Warren, of Beaufort County, — a man forty years old, of medium size, having a dark skin, dark brown hair and whiskers, long nose, projecting chin, large, deeply sunken and sluggish brown eyes, and serious, half-sad cast of countenance, — said secession is an abominable heresy. I was in the Convention of 1861, and voted for the act which makes it necessary for us to come here. I denied then, as I deny now, that any State has a Constitutional right to secede. A people may always attempt a revolution, and this the dominant party in North Carolina had already well begun before that Convention met. The passage of the original ordinance reported to-day from your committee will only be an act of pure justice to those of us who were forced into voting for the so-called secession ordinance. Talk to me of courtesy to that body . To whom did they show courtesy 2 To the venerable Judge Badger, the brightest intellect and the purest heart of the State? To Judge Ruffin, who threw his great ability and commanding influence on the side of moderation ? Their counsels were swept away like feathers by the mad leaders of the majority. If it be argued that the language of this ordinance is unusual, we respond that the occasion is unusual; if it be said no other State has gone so far in respect to the secession ordinance, we respond that the Old North State sets a bright example of devotion to the Union of the fathers; if we are called discourteous, we demand why courtesy should be shown to a body which would listen neither to age nor wisdom, but, with hot-headed haste, passed an ordinance tearing the State away from the Union within two hours after assembling, and them resolved itself into a mob amid the firing of cannon and the ringing of bells! Yet these sensitive gentlemen, with a courtesy all their own, now come here and charge us with malice prepense / How admirably the charge comes from them; how appropriate are the words in their mouths! And they tell us we shall insult the brave soldiers of our State if we agree to the committee's report | I tell them, and I tell the country, that a large majority of those who bore aloft the standard of North Carolina in this pitiful conflict — carried it with rare honor to themselves, but with shame to the judgment of their political leaders — have their opinions expressed in the language of this original ordinance, not in the lying terms of the substitute | These gentlemen who talk so feelingly of discourtesy are afraid to unmask their real position. If there is nothing at issue but a question of courtesy, how does it happen that the committee's report is so much criticised ? If there is no essential difference between the two propositions, why is there so much talk about compromise 2 I charge that the whole purpose of these gentlemen is to hoodwink this Convention into an indorsement of the legality of secession. The original ordinance of the committee speaks my opinion as a judge on that question, my sentiments as a man on our duty in the present emergency; and I do not doubt that it will speak the sentiment of our children for all time to come. Honorable Bedford Brown, of Caswell County, — once a member of Congress, an excessively patronizing and Pecksniffian gentleman, – told, at some length, the story of his efforts to prevent secession, and of his sufferings as a Union man during the war. There were two ways, however, he said, of doing a thing, — one becoming, and one unbecoming. The proposed substitute accomplishes enough, – the original ordinance too much ; because it is not respectful to the people who elected the Convention of 1861 in the full expectation that it would pass an ordinance of secession. For that reason he should vote for the substitute. Mr. B. F. Moore, of Raleigh, said he drew the ordinance now before the house. It indicated his political faith, and what he believed to be the political faith of the people of North Carolina. The real question is whether we have or have not been out of the Union. Gentlemen on the other side are willing to say we have not been citizens of the |United States since 1861. I claim that we never have been anything else. If you simply repeal the ordinance of secession, you admit that our relationship as citizens was taken away by that act. If so, how has it been restored? If so, by what right do we sit here under the United States flag 2 How have we regained our citizenship 2 Who has restored it to us? General Grant has n’t, General Sherman has n’t. Has Congress * has the President? Mr. Howard said he thought the passage of the ordinance would make void all acts of the courts and the Legislature since 1861. Mr. Moore responded that he did not so believe. He had talked with President Johnson on that question, who held the opinion that all acts of the State since 1861 were void in any event. He himself could not indorse that opinion; but to meet all possible objections, he had prepared an ordinance legalizing all acts not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States. Judge Manly argued that the act of secession created a government de facto, even if it did not a government de jure, and therefore had not always been null; and he, moreover, thought this Convention was not called upon to express a judicial opinion on the doings of the Convention of 1861. The exact legal status of their work must be left to the decision of the courts. He denied that he favored the substitute because he believed in the right of secession, for he was willing to vote for a resolution declaring that the result of the war had decided against any such right. He did not, however, desire to mix that question — that abstract question — with questions affecting the restoration of the State to the Union. Mr. Boyden said he had very recently been North, and while in Washington called on the President, the Secretary of State, the Attorney-General, the acting Secretary of War, and other officers of the government. I alluded to reports which had been made by representatives of the Northern press in our State, regarding the loyalty of our people; and I assured these officers that the statements were mostly false and often malicious, and that the citizens of our State are entirely cured of any love they ever-had for se