« PreviousContinue »
No free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adhe-
FOR RITCHIE & COOK
Los y Sales Santos
Eastern District of Virginia, to wit :
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the thirteenth day of August, in the fifty-fifth ******** year of the Independence of the United States of America, RITCHIE &
L. S. Cook, of the said District, have deposited in this office, the title of a book, ******** the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit:
“ Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention, of 1829-30. To which are subjoined the New Constitution of Virginia, and the Votes of the People. No free Government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any peoplo, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent tocurrence to fundamental principles.“ Virginia Bill of Rights."
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “ An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned."
It is unnecessary to go into the history of the various attempts, which have been made in Virginia to revise her Constitution. It is enough to say, that after repeated failures in the Legislature, a bill was passed during the session of 1827-28, for taking the sense of the voters on the call of a Convention. In the course of the year 1828, the polls were opened, and the question was carried by 21,896 to 16,646 votes. Immediately a deep interest was spread through the Commonwealth. The people began to cast about for such men as were best qualified to serve them. There was no restriction in their right of selection, either as to the office which was held, or as to the place where the Delegate resided. Each of the twenty-four Senatorial Districts, into which the State had been previously divided, was entitled to four Delegates; and in some cases, the people of one District were induced to look into others for such men, as they thought best fitted to represent them. The consequence of this great excitement was, that an assembly of men was drawn together, which has scarcely ever been surpassed in the United States. Some have even held it to be equal to the celebrated Convention, which met in Virginia in the year 1788, to pass upon the Federal Constitution. Much of what was venerable for years and long service; many of those who were most respected for their wisdom and their eloquence; two of the Ex-Presidents* of the United States; the Chief Justice of the United States; several of those who had been most distinguished in Congress, or the State Legislature, on the Bench or at the Bar, were brought together for the momentous purpose of laying anew the fundamental law of the land.
The scene was truly an interesting one, not only to the State itself, but to the Union. Almost all eyes were fixed upon it. Several distinguished strangers, as well as many of the citizens of the State, were spectators. The great importance of the subject, as well as the high character of the members, diffused an interest over it, which has been very seldom equalled; and it may be truly said, that the reality did not disappoint the public expectation. The Debates were of the most animated sort. The fundamental principles of Government, the elements which should enter into the composition of all its various departments, were discussed at great length, and with much ingenuity. The struggles between the local interests of different parts of the State, were likewise maintained with great spirit and
* It is remarkable, that Mr. Madison was the only survivor of the Convention, which formed the first Constitution of the State, and one of the two surviving members of the Convention, which formed the Constitution of the United States.
perseverance. At length, after a session of three months and a half, and after a contest, which called into play most of the wisdom and eloquence of the House, a Constitution was formed, which was subsequently proposed to the people, and ratified by a vote of 26,055 to 15,563.
The present volume comprises the Proceedings and Debates of this important Convention. It is as complete a history of them, as can be obtained: Not a resolution, nor projet, nor vote, which has been designedly overlooked : Scarcely a Debate, which is not attempted to be sketched. The Publishers, fully aware of the deep interest which these proceedings would excite, not only at the moment of action, but for all future time, were anxious to rescue them, as far as possible, from oblivion; and they accordingly looked around for the best Reporter that could be obtained. The skill of Mr. STANSBURY, of Washington, in reporting the proceedings of Congress, is well known to the citizens of the United States; and the Publishers deem themselves fortunate in having obtained his services, as a Reporter for the Convention. The public may be assured, that they have spared no pains in making their volume as perfect as possible. Many of the Speeches have since been revised by the members, and many of the Debates are now published for the first time. Yet the Publishers cannot be insensible to the imperfections of the work. No Stenographer can take down every thing accurately. No efforts of our own could supply what was defective. Some of the orators had neither the time nor the inclination, nor oven the mcans, of enlarging the sketches of the Stenographer; and we feel it due to sumo of them, frankly to confess, that we are far from having done justice to some of their Speeches. It is not easy to report the Speeches of such orators as Randolph, and Leigh, and Giles; and if these, or any other gentleman, should think fit to complain, that their arguments have been omitted, or misrepresented, we can only assure them, and the public, that we have done the best within our power. If the volume we now lay before the public be not complete, we are sure at least that it is valuable; and we may be perhaps excused the harmless vanity of expressing our surprise, that instead of not doing more, we have done so much. Such as it is, it is calculated to assist in interpreting the provisions of the Instrument itself, by shewing the " fundamental principles," and the various views to which "recurrence" has been had in its formation.
We subjoin to the proceedings of the Convention, a copy of the Constitution which they framed, and the Votes of the people upon it. All which is now respectfully submitted.
RITCHIE & COOK. Richmond, August, 1830.
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
CONVENTION OF VIRGINIA.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1999.
THE CONventios elected for the purpose of revising the Constitution of this state, assembled this day in the Capitol. The attendance was very general, the entire number of Delegates being present with the exception of six persons, detained by indisposition.
At a little after 12 o'clock Mr. Madison rose and addressed the Convention. He stated the propriety of organizing the body by the appointment of a President; and he therefore nominated James Monroe as qualified to all the Chair; and one whose character and long public services rendered it unnecessary for him to say more than present him respectiully to the notice of the House,
No other candidate being put in nomination, the question was put on the nomination of Mr. Monroe, and he was elected nem. com.
Messrs. Madison and Marshall having conducted him to the Chair, he addressed the Convention nearly in the following terms:
Having served my country from very early life, in all its highest trusts and most ditlicult emergencies, from the most important of which trusts I have lately retired, I cannot otherwise than feel with great sensibility, this proof of the high confidence of this very enlightened and respectable Assembly. It was my earnest hope and desire, that a very distinguished citizen and friend, who has preceded ine in several of these high trusts, and who had a just clain to that precedence, should have taken this station, and I deeply regret the considerations which have induced him to decline it. The proofs of his very important services, and the purity of his life, will go down to our latest posterity; and his example, aided by that of others, whom I need not mention, will give a strong prop to our free system of government.
I regret my appointment froin another consideration : a fear, that I shall not be able to discharge the duties of the trust, with advantage to my country. I have never before held such a station, and am ignorant of the rules of the House. I have also been afficted of late, with infirmity, which still exists to a degree, to form a serious obstacle. Being placed, however, here, I will exert my best faculties, physical and mental, such as they are, at every hazard, to discharge its duties to the satisfaction of this Assembly, and of my country.
This assembly is called for the most important object. It is to amend our Consti. tution, and thereby give a new support to our system of free republican government : our Constitution was the first that was formed in the Union, and it has been in operation since: We had at that period, the examples only of the ancient republics before us; we have now the experience of more than half a century of this, our own Constitution, and of those of all our sister States. If it has defects, as I think it has, experience will have pointed them out, and the ability and integrity of this enlightened body, will recommend such alterations as it deems proper to our constituents, in whom the power of adopting or rejecting them is exclusively vested.
All other republics have failed. Those of Rome and Greece exist only in History. In the territories which they ruled, we see the ruing of ancient buildings only; the