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The State Of Kanawha--opinion Of Attorney-general Bates

The State Of Kanawha--opinion Of Attorney-general Bates image
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ArroaxEY-GtstRAL's Office, Aug. 12, 184St . Hon A. F. Ritchie, Virginia Convcntiun, W heoling : tóir. : - Your letter of the 9th iustaut was receivcd within this licur, nud as jou ask an immediutc anawer, you of course. will not expeet uuo to go elaL-, oratoly into tlie subject. I havo thouglit a great deal on the qucstion of dividing the Statu of Virginia into States ; and sir.ce L camo hero as a member of the Government, I havo. conversed with a good inany and ccirreir pondod with some of the good men of Virginia in regard to this matter. In all this, my coustai.t aud earnest effort bas been to impresa upou the minds of those geutlemeu the vas importance - not to aay neccssity- ii this terrible crisis of our natioual affairs, to abstain from tho ijtroductiou of any new elementa of revolution, to avoid as lar as possiblo, all new and original theorics of governmont ; but, ou t,he. co.ntiarjf in all the iusurgent commonwealtbs to. adhere, as closely as ciruumsaar.ces will allow, to l,he oíd constitucional standard of principie, and to the traditional habita and thoughta of the people. Aud I stiU think that course is dictated by the plaiuoat teachiugs of prudence. The foniiation. of a new State oat of Western Virginia is au origiual, independent act of revolution. I do not deuy the po.wer of revolution (I do not cali i right, for it is uevsr prescribed, it exista in foreo ouly, aud has and can have na law but the will of the revolutionists )- Any attempt to carry it out iuvolveg a breach of both Contstitutions - of Virginia and the Nation. Aud henee it in that you caunot take such a course with,out woakening, if not destroying your claim upon the &ynipathy and support of the general Government, and without disconcerting the plan already adojted by both Virginia and the general Governmeut for the reorganizaron of the revolted States and restoring tho integrity of the Union. That pían I understand to be this : When a State by lts perverted fanctionaries, bas deolared itself out of the Union, we avail ourself of all tho sound aud loyal elementa of the State - all who own allegiance to and claim protection of tho Constitution - to furm a State Government as nearly as may bo upou the former model, and cla'uning to bo the very State which has been in part overthrown by the successful rebelliou.-,. Iu this way we estublish a constitutionaí nucleus, around which all the shatter element of the eonimuinvealth may meet jombine, aud thus restore the 0I4 iii its original iutegrity. This I verily thouglit was tlie pim adupted at Whealing, and recoguized aud acted upou by the general goverumeut liere. Your conveution annulled the revoluttouary proceedings at iiic-hmoud, both in the conventiou and tho genornl assembly, and new Goveruor formally domanded of the President the fulüll- ment of the consütutional guaranty ii favor of Virginia - Virginia as known to our fathers and to us. The President adinitted the obligation, and proiuiaed his best efforts to fulfill it. And tho Senate admita your Senators, not as representing a new and nameless State, uotv for the ürst time heard of iu our liistory but as representing " the good old coumonwealth." Must all tilia be undone, aud a new and hazjidcus experiment be veutured upou, at the momeut when dangers au4 diffieultics are Unekeiiing around tla St:te ? I liope not. I had rejoieed in the movemeut in Wcsteru Virginia, as alegal, coiistitutional aud safe rjl'uge from. revolutioD and auarchy - as at onco an example aud tit instrument for tho reatoration of all thj rcvolted States,. - I have not nuy v.iv.ü te Jujuss the sui.i ject in ta variuus bearings. Wbat I; hava w ritten is written with a runningpen, aad will need yuur charitable criticisiD. 1 If I had time to thiuk I could gWepersunsive reasons for deuliajng the ati tempt to créate a new State at this perilous time. At auother time I ui gat buwilliug to go fully into thu queitioa, but now 1 can say no more. Most repeolfully, your obediont 8civank, LDV, IJ.Vl'Ka.


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