Nashville Southern convention.

Resolutions and address, adopted by the Southern convention. Held at Nashville, Tennessee, June 3d to 12th inclusive, in the year 1850 online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryNashville Southern conventionResolutions and address, adopted by the Southern convention. Held at Nashville, Tennessee, June 3d to 12th inclusive, in the year 1850 → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

» ^

> v *L

■ V'"^' ;

.0 A. -




^ <&


. • » • A <\

^ ^
* *


* * 0> ~ '°* *'"* ^

G°\C^N °o



V c » " •

C, if*

••♦ *^o

* «? ^, "^

;♦ ^

o_ *













Nashville, June 8, 1850.

1. Resoloed, That the territories of the United States belong
to the people of the several States of this Union as their com-
mon property. That the citizens of the several States have equal
rights to migrate with their property to these territories, and are
equally entitled to the protection of the federal government in
the enjoyment of that property so long as the territories remain
under the charge of that government.

2. Resolved, That Congress has no power to exclude from the
territory of the United States any property lawfully held in the
the States of the Union and any act which may be passed by Con-
gress to effect this result is a plain violation of the Constitution
of the United States.

3. Resolved, That it is the duty of Congress to provide proper
governments for the territories since the spirit of American Insti-
tutions forbids the maintainance of military governments in time
of peace, and as all laws heretofore existing in territories once
belonging to foreign powers which interfere with the full enjoy-
ment of religion — the freedom of the press — the trial by jury and
all other rights of persons and property as secured or recognized
in the constitution of the United States are necessarily void so
toon as such territories become American territories, it is the du-
ty of the federal government to make early provision for the en-
actment of those laws which may be expedient and necessary to
secure to the inhabitants of and emigrants to such territories the
full benefit of the constitutional rights we assert.

4. Resolved, That to protect property existing in the several
States of the Union the people of these States invested the fede-
ral government with the powers of war and negotiation and of
sustaining armies and navies and prohibited to State authorities

the ex pcise of the same powers. They made no discrimination
in tin* protection to be afforded or the description of the property
to be (i»r tided, nor was it fillowed to ihe federal government to
ddtermine whal should be held as property. Whatov* r the States
ee«l tviili a< property ihe federal government, is bound to recog-
nize and ilrt'. ml as such. Therefore it is the sense of this Con-
\. ntion thai all arts of the federal government which tend to de-
nationalize property-of any descrip ion recognized in ihe Consti-
tution and laws of the States, or i hat discriminate in the degree
an I • fficiency of the proti ction to be afforded to if,or which weaken
or d s Toy the title of any citizen upon American territories, are
pi in ami palpable violations of the fundamental law under which
i: exists.

r». Resolved, That the slavenolding Stales can not and will not
robmit to the enactment by Congress of any law imposing one-
rous conditions or restraints upon the rights of masters »o re-
in \< with ihcir property into the territories of I lie United States,
or to any law making discriminations in favor of the proprietors
of other property against them.

G. Resolved, That it is Lpe duty of the federal government
plai ly to recognize and firmly to maintain the equal rights of the
citizens of the several States in the territories of the United
States, and to repudiate the power to make a discriminat on be-
tween ihe proprietors of different species of property in federal
legislation. The fulfilment of this duty by tie- federal govern-
ment-, would greatly tend to restore, the peace of the country and
to allay the i xaspiTafimi and excitement which now exist be-
en the different sections of the tTnion. Forit is the deliberate
opi ion of this C invention that the toleranccCongress has given to
flic notion that federal authority might be em doyed incidentally
am! indirectly t i subvert oj; weaken the institutions existing in the
Stat s confessedly beyond federal jurisdiction and control, is a
m in cause oi the discord which menaa s t!ie existence of the
Uni >n. and which his well n'gh destroyed the efficient action of
the federal government itself.

7. Resolved, Thai the of this duty is required by
Ihe fundame ital law of the [Jnion. Th equality of t In* people of
the several States composing the Cnion cannot be distu bed with-
out disturbing the frame of the American institutions. This
r i pie is violated in the denial of the citizens of the slave-
holding States of power to enter into the territories with the
p illy acquired in the States. The warfare against

this right, ia a war upon the constitution. The defend v^ >>t this
i. a '■ defenders of tn • constitution. Those who deny prim-
pa p iis exercise, are unfaithful to the constitution, and il' disun-
dlowe ihe destruction of the right, they arethe disunionists.
K Resolved, Thai the berfprraance of its du ies upon the prin-
cipl we declare, would enable Congress to rertibve the
i. ents in which the country is now involved. The vacant
lerritories of the United States, no longer regarded as prizes for

sectional rapacity and ambition, Would be gradually occupied by
inhabitants drawn to them by their interests aiid,feelin< r 3 > The in-
stitutions fitted to them would be naturally applied by gov-
ernments formed on American ideas and approved by the del.b-
erate choice of th ire nstituents. The community would be edu-
cated and disciplined under a republican administration in hub-
its of self government, and fitted or an association as a State-*
and to the enjoynvnt of a place in the confederacy. A commu-
nity so formed and organized, might well claim admission to the
Union and none wou'd dispute the validity of the claim.

9. Resolved, That a recognition of this principle, would de-
prive the questions between Texas and the United States of their
sectional character, and would leave ihem for adjustment \vi fl-
out disturbance from sectional prejudices and passions, upon
considerations, of magnanimity and justice.

10. Resolved, That a recognition of this principle would infuse
a spirit of conciliation in the discussion and adjustment of all
the subjects of sectional dispute, which would afford a guaran-
tee of an early and satisfactory determination.

11. Resolved, That in the event a dominant majority shall re-
fuse to recognize the great constitutional rights we assert, and
shall continue to deny the obligations of the Federal Govern-
ment to maintain them, it is the sense of this convention that
the territories should be treated as property, and divided between
the sections of the Union, so that the rights of both sections
be adequately secured in their respective shares. That
we are aware this course is open to grave objections, but
we are ready to acquiesce in the adoption ot the line of 30 deg,
30 min. north latitude, extending to the Pacific ocean, as an ex-
treme concession, upon considerations of what is due to the sta-
bility of our institutions.

12. Resolved, That it is the opinion of this convention
this controversy should be ended, either by a recognition of the
constitutional rights of the Southern people, or by an equitable
partition of the territories. That the spectacle of a confederacy
of States, involved in quarrels over the fruits of a war in which
the American arms weve crowned with glory, is humiliuing.
Tln^t -K- -* — -.-> - . •<: r • Wi'l^ot Prbvfcfl ffl + V "^'r of
seffieiuent, a propo^^iou tvnicti fourteen States regard as dis-
paraging and dishonorable, is degrading to the country. A ter-
mination to this controversy by the disruption of the confeder-
acy, or by the abandonment of the territories to prevent such a
result, wouldbe a climax to the shame which attaches to the
conroversy which it is the paramount duty of Congress to avoid.

13. Resolved, That this convention will not conclude that
Congress will adjourn without making an adjustment of
this controversy, and in the condition in which the convention
finds the questions before Congress, it does not feel at liberty to
discuss the methods suitable for a resistance to measures not
yet adopted, which might involve a dishonor to the Southern

. tates.


1 1. 11 solved, That the. true boundaries of the State of Texas
are defined in the treaty of May 14th, 1836, signed by the Presi-
dent of Texas and the members of the cabinet thereof, on the
one pact and by the authorized representatives of the govern-
ment of Mexico, on the other part, setting forth the lines of de-
markation in the following words, to wit: "The line shall com-
mence at the estuary or month of the Rio Grande, on the western
bank thereof, and shall pursue the same bank up the said river,
to the point where the river assumes the name of Rio Bravo del
Norte, from which point it shall proceed on the said western
bank to the head waters or source of said river, it being under-
stood that the terms Rio Grande and Rio Brav > del Norte apply
to and designate one and the same stream. From the source of
said river, the principal head branch being taken to ascertain
that source, a due north line shall be run until it shall intersect
the boundary line established and described in the treaty negotia-
ted by and between the government of Spain and the govern-
ment of the United States of the North; which line was subse-
quently transferred to and adopted in the treaty of limits made
between the government of Mexico and that of the United States;
and from this point, of intersection the line shall be the same that
was made and established in and by the several treaties above-
mentioned, to continue to the mouth or outlet of the Sabine river,
and from thence to the Gulf of Mexico." That the said State
of Texas asserted sovereign authority over all territory
comprehended within the boundary set forth in the fore-
going resolution before the date of the recognition of her in-
dependence by the government of the United States, and
before the date of her annexation to the United States: and
her claim to these boundaries, was well known to the gov-
ernment of the United States, as evidenced by a map distinct-
ly setting them forth, published for the use of our government,
at the time of the annexation of Texas, and extensively circu-
lated by members of Congress and other public agents. That by
the terms of the joint resolution for annexing Texas to the United
States, it is expressly provided that the government of the Uni-
ted States should have power to adjust all questions of bounda-
ry which might arise with other governments; that no such
question of boundary lias been adjusted with any other govern-
ment, so as to contract or vary the boundaries of Texas. That
Mexico, by the treaty of Gaudalupe Hidalgo, expressly relin-
quished all claim to all territory comprehended within the boun-
daries heretofore described; whereby, the claim of Texas became
settled, and her jurisdiction and authority became complete. —
That the State of Texas should not be hindered or disturbed by
any authority (whatever, in the exercise of all such sovereign
•end supreme power over all territory within her limits as may
be lawfully exi rei-ed by any other sovereign State of the con-
federacy over territory within its ascertained limits.

15. Resolved, That all the territory within the limits of the

State of Texas, being now slaveholding territory, it is of vital
importance to the Southern States, that no portion of it should be
transferred to the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, with-
out the most explicit declaration, that the same shall be slave
territory in the hands of the United States, as fully as it now is
in the hands of Texas. That no agreement between the Uni-
ted States and Texas for a cession to the former of a part of the
territory of the latter, should discharge the Government of the
United States from the obligations to admit into the Union four
new States, to be created on the territory of Texas, with the in-
stitution of slavery, and provision should be made in the article
of cession to preserve said obligation.

16. Resolved, That it is the duty of the whole South to op-
pose the attempt of Northern fanatics, to get possession of any
part of the territory rightfully belonging to Texas, for the pur-
pose of excluding therefrom the people of the South, and espe-
cially the Texans themselves.

17. Resolved, That while the position of Texas, in the very
breach through which this assault may be made on- the consti-
tutional rights of the South, entitles her to the assurance of cor-
dial and resolute support from every slaveholding State, these
States have a like right to expect that she will not be so false
to herself, and regardless of their interest, as to accept any sum
of money as a consideration for admitting an enemy within her
gates, and establishing there a stronghold of abolition, and a
harbor for fugitive slaves.

18. Resolved. That the right of the people of Texas to form
at the proper time, with the consent of that State, four new
slaveholding States, in addition to said State of Texas, out of
the territory thereof, is clear and unquestionable, and cannot
be strengthened by any mere legislative construction or guar-

19. Resolved, That the whole legislative power of the United
States Government is derived from the Constitution and delega -
ted to Congress, and cannot be increased or diminished but by an
amendment of the Constitution.

20. Resolved, That the acquisition of territory by the United
States, whether occupied or vacant, either by purchase, con-
quest or treaty, adds nothing to the legislative power of Con-
gress, as granted and limited in the Constitution.

21. Resolved, That the adoption of a foreign law existing at
fiie time, in territory purchased, ceded, or granted, is the exer-
cise of legislative power, and cannot be done unless the law is
of such a character as might rightfully be enacted by Congress
under the Constitution, without reference to its pre-existence as
a foreign law.

22. Resolved, That the alleged principle of the law of Nations,
recognizing, to some extent, the perpetuation of foreign laws
in existence within a territory at the time of its acquisition by
purchase, conquest or treaty, cannot under our Constitution and


form of government, go to the extent of continuing in force, in
s ich territory, any law that could not be directly enacted by
Congress, by virtue of the powers of legislation delegated to it
by the Constitution.

23. Resolved, That no power of doing any act or thing by any
of the Department* of our Government, can be based upon the
principles of any foreign law, or of the laws of nations, beyond
what exists in such Department under the Constitution of the
United States, without reference to such foreign law or the laws
of i\ations.

24. Resolved, That slavery exists in the United States independ-
ent of the Constitution. That it is recognized by the Constitution
in a threefold aspect, first as property, second as a domestic re-
lation of service or labor under the law of a State, and lastly as
a basis of political power. And viewed in any or all of these
lights, Congress has no power under the Constitution, to create
or destroy it anywhere; nor can such power be derived from
foreign laws, conquest, cession, treaty or the laws of nations, nor
from any other source but an amendment of the Constitution itself.

25. Resolved, That the Constitution confers no power upon Con-
gress to regulate or prohibit the sale and transfer of slaves be-
tween the States.

26. Resolved, That the reception, or consideration by Congress
of resolutions, memorials or petitions, from the States in which
domestic slavery does not exist, or from the people of said States,
in relation to the institution of slavery where it does exist, with
a view of effecting its abolition, or to impair the rights of those
interested in it, to its peaceful and secure enjoyment, is a gross
abuse and an entire perversion of the right of petition as secured
by the federal Constitution, and if persisted in must and will
lead to the most dangerous and lamentable consequences — that
the right of petition for a redress of grievances as provided for
by the Constitution was designed to enable the citizens of the
United States to manifest and make known to Congress the ex-
istence of evils under which they were suffering, whether affect-
ing them personally, locally or generally, and to cause such evils
to be redressed by the proper and competent authority, but was
ik" ei designed or intended as a means of inflicting injury on
others, or jeoparding the peaceful and secure enjoyment of
their rignts, whether existing under the Constitution or under
tin- sovereignty and authority of the several States.

27. !i v ,/,, ^ That, it is the duty of Congress to provide effectfial
means of executing the 2d section of the 4th article of the
Constitution relating to the restoration of fugitives from service
or labor.

28. Resolved, That when this Convention adjourn, it adjourn to
met t at Nashville, in the State of Tennessee, the 0th Monday af-
ter tin- adjournment of the present session of Congress, and that
the Southern States be recommended lo fill their delegations


To the People of Maryland, Virginia, North Caro-
lina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama,
Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana^ Texas, Missouri,
Mississippi, and Arkansas:

Fellow Citizens:

In obedience to the commands of those we represent, we
have assembled together to confer with each other concerning
your relation with the general Government and the non-slave-
holding States of the Union, 0:1 the subject of the institution
of Slavery. We deem it proper to lay before you a c briefly
as the subject will permit, the result of our deliberations and

In order that your condition may be understood, and the con-
clusions at which we have arrived be justly appreciated, it is
necessary briefly to refer to a few past transactions.

It is now sixteen years since the institution of Slavery in the
South begar to be agitated, in Congress and assailed by our sis-
ter States. Up to that time, the people of the Northern S:ates
seem to have respected the rights reserved to the Southern
States by the Constitution, and to have acted under the convic-
tion, that the subject of slavery being beyond the legislation of
Congress, all ap.-ita.tion with respect to it on the part of Congress,
was equally ft>t bidden by the Constitution. But at this time, a
portion of the people of the North began to assail, in Congress,
the institution of slayery; and to accomplish their object of drag-
ging it into the vortex of congressional agitation, they claimed
the pight of petitioning Congress upon all subjects whatsoever.
As a petition is only the first step in legislation, it was clear
that a right'to petition a legislative body, must be limited by
its powers of legislation. No one can have a right to ask of
another 10 do tti^t wh'^b h-e ^as no mora,! or legiajJ rw?l + to ^1.

any mat tei beyond its jurisdiction. The claim therelore to pre-
sent petitions tb Congress on the subject of slavery, was consid-
ered by the. Soufher-n Representatives generally, as an attempt
indirecilv, to rsmtne jurisdiction over the subject itself, in all
parts of the Union. The object, without disguise, was the over-
throw of slavery in the States; but cur assailants framed the
petitions presented, chiefly against Slavery in the District of
Columbia and our Territories,and against whatthey call the inter-
nal Slave trade — that is, the transmission of slaves from one
Southern State to another. Conscious of the fatal tendency of
the agitation of Slavery in Congress, to destroy the peace and


stability of the Union, an effort was made, supported by a largo
portion of the Northern Representatives, to suppress it by a
rule in the House of Representatives, which provided, that, all
petitions on the suhject of slavery, should be neither considered,
printed, or referred. This rule was assailed by the people of
the Northern States, as violating that clause of the Constitution
which prohibits Congress from pausing laws to prevent the
people ti'om peaceably assembling and petitioning for a redress
of grievances. In December, 1811, this rule fell before the almost
unanimous voice of the North; and thus the unlimited power of in-
troducing and considering the subject of slavery in Congress,
was asserted. In the mean time, the course of the N >i thern
people showed clearly, that the agitation of slavery in Congress
was only one of the means they relied on to overthrow this in-
stitution throughout the Union. Newspapers were set up
amongst them, and lecturers were hired to go abroad to excite
them against slavery in the Southern States. Organizations
were formed to carry off slaves from the South, and to protect
them by violence from recapture. Although the Constitution
requires that fugitive slaves, like fugitives from justice, should be
rendered up by the States to which they may have lied, the legis-
latures of almost every Northern State, faithless to this treaty
stipulation between the States, passed laws designed and calcula-
ted entirely to defeat this provision of the Constitution, without
which the Union would never have existed, and by these laws
virtually nullified the act of 1794, passed by Congress to aid its
enforcement. Not content with the agitation of slavery in po-
litical circles, the Northern people forced it also into the re-
ligious associations extending over the Union, and produced a
separation of the Methodist and Baptist churches. The result
of all these various methods of assailing slavery in the South-
ern States, was, that it became the grand topic of interest and
discussion in Congress and out of Congress, and one of the most
important elements of polities in the Union* Thus an institu-
tion, belonging to the Southern States exclusively, was wrested
from their exclusive control; and instead of that protection
which is the great object of all governments, and which the
Constitution of the United States guarantees to all the States
and their institutions, the Northern States, and Congress un-
der their control, combined together, to assail and destroy slavery
in the South, The Southern Slates did nothing to vindicate
their ii_ r lus and arrest thi> course of things. The JVj ixicau war
broke out; and instead of thai patriotic co-operation of all sec-
tions of the Union, which would have taken place in the better
days of the Republic, to bring it to a just and honorable conclu-
sion, in the very first appropriation bill to carry il on, the North
endeavored i<» thrust the subject of slavery. Throughout the
war, they kept up the agitation; thus clearly man resting their
determination that the General Government in none of its oper-
ations, Internal or external, shall bo exempted tie fntro-


duction of this dangerous subject. The war closed with honor;
and an immense territory was added to the United States. Their
previous threats were realised: and the non-slaveholding States
immediately claimed the right, to exclude the people of the
Southern States from all the territory acquired, and to appro-
priate it to themselves. If this pretension arose from a mere lust
of power, it would be hard to bear the superiority and mastery
it implies. It would degrade the Southern States from being
the equals of the Northern States, to a position of colonial in-
feriority. But when your exclusion is not from a mere lust of
power, but is only a further step in the progress of things, aim-
ing at the abolition of slavery in the States, by the extension
and multiplication of non-slaveholding States in the Union, the
pretension is seen to be as alarming as it is insulting. The
Southern States, in their Legislatures, set forth with great una-
nimity the rights in our territories belonging to them in com-
mon with the Northern States, and declared their determination

1 3

Online LibraryNashville Southern conventionResolutions and address, adopted by the Southern convention. Held at Nashville, Tennessee, June 3d to 12th inclusive, in the year 1850 → online text (page 1 of 3)