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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION HALL.
Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, May 22, 1901. The Convention was called to order by the Chief Justice at 11 A. M.
The Divine blessing was invoked by the Rev. Mr. Patterson, of Montgomery.
Upon the call of the roll 150 members, a quorum, responded as follows:
Messrs. Almon, Altman, Ashcraft, Banks, Barefield, Beavers, Beddow, Bethune, Blackwell, Boone, Brooks, Browne, Bulger, Burnett, Burns, Byars, Cardon, Carmichael (Colbert), Carmichael (Coffee), Carnathon, Case, Chapman, Cobb, Coleman (Greene), Coleman (Walker), Cornwell, Craig, ('unningham, Davis (DeKalb), Davis (Etowah), Dent,
Phillips, Pillans, Pitts, Porter, Procter, Reese Renfroe, Reynolds (Chilton), Reynolds (Henry), Robinson, Rogers (Lowndes), Rogers (Sumter), Samford, Sanders, Searcy, Selheimer, Sentell, Sloan, Smith (Mobile), Smith, Mac. A., Smith, Morgan M., Sollie, Sorrell, Spears, Spragins, Stewart, Studdard, Tayloe, Thompson, Vaughan, Waddell, Walker, Watts, Weakley, Weatherly White, Whiteside, Willett, Williams (Marengo), Williams (Elmore), Wilson (Clarke), Wilson (Washington), Wint'-150.
Mr. Graham moved that the Convention proceed to the election of permanent officers, which motion prevailed.
Mr. T. W. Coleman placed in nomination for President of the Convention Mr. John B. Knox of Calhoun. The motion was seconded by Mr. J. Thomas Heflin, of Chambers. No other nominations being made, Mr. Coleman moved that the rules be suspended and that Mr. Knox be elected by acclamation, which motion prevailed. Mr. Knox was thereupon unanimously elected by acclamation.
The Chair appointed Messrs. T. W. Coleman, Oates and Lomax to advise Mr. Knox of his election and escort him to the President's chair.
The Chief Justice presented Mr. Knox to the Convention as its President, and relinquished to him the chair.
In accepting it Mr. Knox said: Gentlemen of the Convention:
I thank you for the high honor you have conferred in elevating me to preside over the deliberations of this Convention. Viewed from the standpoint of my profession, to which, up to this moment, my life's work has been devoted, it is a great honor, indeed; for I know of no higher honor than can be conferred upon a lawyer than to be made President of the Constitutional Convention, which represents the sovereignty of his people, and numbers among its delegates, in large part, the intellect and talent of the State—those who have in the past, and who will in the future exert a potent influence in shaping and directing the affairs of the State.
IMPORTANCE OF THE ISSUE.
In my judgment, the people of Alabama have been called upon to face no more important situation than now confronts us, unless it be when they, in 1861, stirred by the momentous issues of impending conflict between the North and the South, were forced to decide whether they would remain in or withdraw from the Union.
Then, as now, the negro was the prominent factor in v the issue.
The Southern people, with this grave problem of the races to deal with, are face to face with a new epoch in Constitution-making, the difficulties of which are great, but which, if solved wisely, may bring rest and peace and happiness. If otherwise, it may leave us and our posterity continuously involved in race conflicts, or, what may be worse, subjected permanently to the baneflul influences of the political conditions now prevailing in the State.
So long as the negro remains in insignificant minority, and votes the Republican ticket, our friends in the North tolerate him with complacency, but there is not a Northern State, and I might go further and say there is not an intelligent white man in the North, not gangrened by sectional prejudice and hatred of the South, who would consent for a single day to submit to negro rule.
If the negroes of the South should move in such numbers to the State of Massachusetts, or any other Northern State, as would enable them to elect the officers, levy the taxes and control the government and policy of that State, I doubt not they would be met, in spirit, as the negro laborers from the South were met at the State line of Illinois, with bavonets, led by a Republican Governor, and firmly but emphatically informed that no quarter would be shown them in that territory.
One has studied the history of recent events to very little purpose who has failed to discover that race prejudice exists at the North in as pronounced a form as at the South, and that the question of negro domination, when brought home, will arouse the same opposition in either section.
And what is it that we do want to do? Why, it is, within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this State.
This is our problem, and we should be permitted to deal with it, unobstructed by outside influences, with a sense of our responsibilities as citizens, and our duty to posterity.
Some of our Northern friends have ever exhibited an unwonted interest in our affairs. It was this interference on their part that provoked the most tremendous conflict of modern times; and there are not a few philanthropists in that section who are still uneasy lest we be permitted to govern ourselves and allowed to live up to the privileges of a free and sovereign people! Some of the same, in like missionary spirit, are greatly concerned about the condition of the Chinaman in China, but we do not find them appealing to Congress, or interfering with the local policy of California, a Northern State, for the protection of the Chinaman, who is a resident there, or making any attempt to interfere with the right of that people to govern themselves, and to provide for a pure administration of government and for the protection of property!
If it is the negro that is the object of their solicitude, it would seem-not to speak of Africa itself-they would find an inviting field in Cuba and in our new acquisitions of Hawaii, Porto Rico and the Philippines. The disinclination they exhibit to enter this field only serves to confirin the well-grounded conviction in this section, that the point of their interference is not so much to elevate the black man as it is to humiliate the white man, with whom they have long been in antagonism.
But we may congratulate ourselves that this sectional feeling, which has served to impair the harmony of our common country, and to limit the power and retard the development of the greatest government on earth, is fast yielding to reason.
While me may differ from him politically, there is not an enlightened and patriotic Southern man who fails to see that much of this result is due to the honorable and statesmanlike policy of the present Chief Executive of these United States, who, by the consideration he has shown our section in many ways, notably in the SpanishAmerican war, and by refusing to lend his approval to any movement looking to the reduction of our represen