xt79057crw6c https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt79057crw6c/data/mets.xml Kentucky. Constitutional Convention; BURNSIDE, J. P., AND P. B. THOMPSON (editors). 1863  books b92jk53251863a152009 English Steam Press of Chronicle & Sentinel : Augusta, Ga. Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. United States --History --Civil War, 1861-1865 Proceedings of the convention establishing provisional government of Kentucky. Constitution of the provisional government. Letter of the governor to the president. President s message recommending the admission of Kentucky as a member of the confederate states ... Codified and arranged by J.P. Burnside ... text Proceedings of the convention establishing provisional government of Kentucky. Constitution of the provisional government. Letter of the governor to the president. President s message recommending the admission of Kentucky as a member of the confederate states ... Codified and arranged by J.P. Burnside ... 1863 2009 true xt79057crw6c section xt79057crw6c 


A photographic facsimile reproduction of a privately owned copy of the rare original. Thirty copies have been printed for sale and three copies for private presentation.



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   342.. 769 OFFIOEKS

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Governor. Geo. W. Johnson, of Scott county.

Members of the Council. Hon. W. B. Maohen, of Lyon county, President of Council-J. W. Crockett, of Henderson county. J. P. Bates, of Barren county. J. S. Chrisman, of Wayne county. Phil. B. Thompson, of Mercer county. J. P. Burnside, of Garrard county. H. W. Bruce, of Jefferson county. E. M. Bruce, of Nicholas county. J. W. Moore, of Montgomery county. S. S. Scott, of Boone county.

Secretary of State. Kobt. McKee, of Louisville.

Assistant Secretary of State. 0. F. Payne, of Fayette county.

Treasurer. John Burnam, of Warren cointy.

Auditor. J. Pillsburt, of Warren county.


A. Frank Brown, of Bourbon county.

Sergeant-at-Arms. John B. Thompson, Jr., of Mercer county. 



November 18th, 19th and 20th, 1861.

Pursuant to a call issued by the Southern Conference, held in Rus-sellville on the 29th, 30th and 3lst days of October, 1861, the people of Kentucky assembled in Convention at Russellville on Monday, November 18th, 1861, to take into consideration the unfortunate condition of the State, and devise, if possible, some means of preserving the independence of the Commonwealth, and their liberties.

The Convention assembled in-College at 10 o'clock, A. M.,

and was called to order by the Hon. H. C. Burnett, of Trigg county, after whish a permanent organization was had, by the unanimous election of the following officers :

President.   Henry C. Burnett, of Trigg county.

Secretary   R. McKee, of Louisville.

Assistant Secretaries   T. L. Burnett, T. S. Bryan.

Door Keeper   W. M. Clark, of Logan county.

Chaplain   Rev. Mr. Thomas, of Logan county.

On motion of P. B. Thompson, of Mercer county, the rules of the House of Representatives of the Kentucky Legislature, as far as applicable, were adopted for the government of the Convention.

On motion of Geo. W. Johnson, the Convention went into secret session.

On motion of Geo, W, Johnson, of Scott county, a committee of ton was appointed to report business for the consideration of tbe Convention. The President constituted the committee as follows: Geo. W. Johnson, W. B. Machen, J. W. Crockett. J. P. Bates, P. B. Thompson, T. L. Burnett, H. W.Bruce, J. S. Gibbon, J. H. D. McKee, and El. L. Gilt-ner. By a vote of the Convention, the President (H. C. Burnett) was added to the committee.

The Convention then took recess until 7 o'clock, P. M. 
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The Convention reassembled at 7 o'clock. The President being absent, John Burnam, of Warren county, was called to the chair

The business committee reported progress, and asked leave to sit again, which was granted. It being intimated informally to the Convention that the committee were in favor of organizing at once a Provisional Government for the State of Kentucky, and would so report, a resolution was introduced declaring it as the sense of the Convention that such a government should now be organized, which after some discussion, was adopted.

A.nd the Convention adjourned.


The Convention met at 10 o'clock, A. M,

The Convention was opened by prayer by Rev. Mr. Thomas.

Mr. H. C. Burnett, from the majority committee on business, made a verbal report in favor of postponement of the organization of a Provisional Government until a subsequent meeting of this Convention on the 8th of January next, unless it shall be called together at an earlier day by an executive committee, to be appointed by this Convention at its present session.

Mr. I'. B. Thompson, from the minority of the committee on business, made a report recommending the adoption of the following resolution :

Resolved, That the committee on business be instructed to report a plan for a Provisional Government at 10 o'clock, A. M., to-morrow.

The reports of the committee and the recommendations therefrom, were discussed during the remainder of the morning.

At 1 o'clock, P. M. the Convention took a recess until 2J- o'clock, P. M.


The Convention reassembled at 2 o'clock, P. M., the President in the chair.

The consideration of the reports of the committee on business was renewed.

Mr. Chilton, of Christian county, offered a substitute for the minority report, which at a subsequent stage of the proceedings was withdrawn.

Mr. J. A. Penton, of Louisville, moved the previous question.

The call for the previous question was sustained by the Convention.

The President stated that no rule having been agreed upon by the Convention, he felt embarassed relative to taking the vote.

R. McKee, of Louisville, offered the following resolution.:

Resolved, That each member of the Convention be entitled to one vote.

J. P. Bates, of Barren, offered the following, as a substitute for the resolution of Mr. McKee, which was adopted by the Convention. 
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Resolved, That the votes shall be by representative districts, each district having one vote.

The Convention proceeded to vote on Chilton's substitute for the minority report, but pending a call of the counties, the Convention unanimously agreeing, the substitute was withdrawn. The Convention then proceeded to vote on the minority report, as a substitute for the majority report, and it was unanimously adopted, when the resolution from the minority of the committee was unanimously passed, and the committee was instructed to report a plan for a Provisional Government tc-morrow at 10 o'clock, A. M.


The Convention met at 10 o'clock, the President in the chair. Prayer was offered, by the Chaplain.

The select committee reported through their Chairman, the following :

Whereas, the Federal Constitution, which created the Government of the United States, was declared by the framers thereof to be the supreme law of the land, and was intended to limit and dii expressly limit the powers of faid government to certain general specified purposes, and did expressly reserve to the States and people all other powers whatever, and the President and Congress have treated this supreme law of the Union with contempt, and usurped to themselves,the power to interfere with the rights and liberties of the' States and the people against the expressed provisions of the Constitution, and have thus substituted for the highest forms of national liberty and constitutional government a central despotism founded upon the ignorant prejudices of the masses of Northern society ; and instead of giving protection with the Constitution to the people of fifteen States of this Union, have turned loose upon them the unrestrained and raging passions of mobs and fanatics; and because we now seek to hold our liberties, our property, our homes,. and our families, under the protection of the resorved powers of the States, have blockaded our ports, invaded our soil, aud waged war upon our people for the purpose of subjugating us to their will; and whereas, our own honor and our duty to posterity demand that wo shall not relinquish our own liberty and shall not abandon the right of our descendants and the world to the inestimable blessings of constitutional government.

Therefore, be it ordained, That we do hereby forever sever our connection with the Government of the United States, and in the name of the people we do hereby declare Kentucky to be a free and independent State, clothed with all power to fix her own destiny, and to secure her own rights and liberties.

And whereas, the majority of the Legislature of Kentucky have violated their most solemn pledges, made before the election, and deceived and betrayed the people ; have abandoned the position of neutrality assumed by themsolves and the people, and invited into the State t te organized armies of Lincoln, have abdicated the government in favor of the military despotism which they have placed around themselves, but can- 

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not control, and have abandoned the duty of shielding the citizens with their protection, have thrown upon our people and the State the horrors and ravages of war, instead of attempting to preserve the peace, and have voted men and money for the war waged by the North for the destruction of our constitutional rights; have violated the express words of the Constitution by borrowing five millions of money for the support of the war without a vote of the people; have "permitted the arrest and imprisonment of our citizens, and transferred the constitutional prerogatives of the Executive to a military commission of p'irtizans; have seen the writ of habeas corpus suspended without an effort for its preservation, and permitted our people to be driven in exile from their homes; have subjected our property to confiscation, and our persons to confinement in the penitentiary as felons, because we may choose to take part in a cause for civil liberty and constitutional government, against a sectional majority waging war against the people and institutions of fifteen independent States of the old Federal Union, and have done all these things deliberately against the warnings and vetoes of the Governor, and the solemn remonstrances of the minority in the Senate and House of Representatives. Therefore be it further ordained, that the unconstitutional edicts of a factious majority of a legislature, thus false to their pledges, their honor and their interests, are Bpt law, and that such government is unworthy of the support of a brave and free people, and that we do therefore declare, that the people are hereby absolved from all allegiance to said government, and that they have the right to establish any government which to them may seem best adapted to the preservation of their rights and liberties.


Section 1. The supreme executive and legislative power of the Provisional Government of the commonwealth herehy established shall be vested in a Governor and ten Councilmen, one from each of the present Congressional Districts   a majority of whom shall constitute a quorum to transact business. The Governor and Councilmen to be elected by the members of this Convention in such manner as may be prescribed by this Convention.

Sec. 2. The Governor and Council are hereby invested with full power to pass all laws necessary to effect the objects contemplated by the formation of this government. They shall have full control of the army and navy of this commonwealth, and the militia thereof.

Sec. 3. No law shall be passed, or act done, or appointment made, either civil or military, by the Provisional Government, except with the concurrence of a majority of the Council and approval of the Governor, except as herein specially provided.

Sec. 4. In case of a vacancy in the gubernatorial office occasioned by the death, resignation, or any other cause, the Council shall have power to elect a Governor as his successor, who shall not, however, be a member of their body. 
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Sec. 5. The Council hereby established shall consist of one person selected from each' Congressional District in th   State, to be chosen by this Convention, who shall have power to fill all vacancies from any cause from the district in which such vacancy shall occur.

Sec. 6. The Council shall have power to pass any acts which they may deem essential to the preservation of our liberty and the protection of our rights, and such acts, when approved by the Governor, shall become law, and as such shall be sustained by the courts and other departments of the government.

Sec. 7 The Governor shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Council, shall appoint all judicial and executive and other officers, necessary for the enforcement of law and the protection of society under the extraordinary circumstances now existing, who shall continue in office during the pleasure of the Governor and Council, or until the establishment of a permanent government.

Sec. 8. The Governor shall have power, by and with the consent and advice of the council, -to conclude a treaty with the Confederate States of America, by which the State of Kentucky may be admitted as one of the said Confederate States, upon an equal footing in all respects with other States of said Confederacy.

Sec. 9. That three commissioners shall be appointed by this Convention to the government of the Confederate States of America, with power to negotiate and treat with said Confederate States for the earliest practicable admission of Kentucky into the government of said Confederate States of America; who shall report the result of their mission to the Governor and Council of this Provisional Government for such future action as may be deemed advisable, and should less than the fulfnumber attend, such as may attend may conduct such negotiation.

Sec, 10. So soon as an election can be held, free from the influence of the armies of the United ttates, the Provisional Government shall provide for the assembling of a convention to adopt such measures as may be necessary and expedient for the restoration of a permanent government ; said convention shall consist of one hundred delegates, one from each representative district in the State, except the couuties of Mason and Kenton, each of which shall be entitled to two delegates.

Sec. 11. An Auditor and Treasurer shall be appointed by the Provisional Government, whose duties shall be prescribed by law, and who shall give bond with sufficient security for the faithful discharge of the uties of their respective offices, to be approved by the Governor and ouncil.

Sec. 12. The following oath shall be taken by the Governor, members of the Council, Judges, and all other officers, civil and military, who may be commissioned and appointed by this Provisional Government.

" I,-      , do solemnly swear (or affirm) in the presence of

Almighty God, and upon my honor, that I will observe and obey all laws passed by the Provisional Government of Kentucky. So help me God." 

proceedings of the convention establishing

Sec. 13. The Governor shall receive as his salary two thousand dollars per annum, and the Councilmen five dollars per diem, while in session, and the salary of the other officers shall be fixed by law.

Sec. 14. The constitution and laws of Kentucky not inconsistent with the acts of this Convention, and the establishment of this government and the laws which may be enacted by the Governor and Council, shal be the laws of the State.

Sec. 16. That whenever the Governor and Council shall have concluded a treaty with the Confederate States of America for the admission of this State into the Confederate Government, that the Governor and Council shall elect two Senators, and provide by law for the election of members of the House of Representatives in Congress.

Sec. 16. The Provisional Government hereby established shall be ocated at Bowling Green, Kentucky, but the Governor and Council shall ave power to meet at any other place that they may consider appropriate.

Done at Russellville, in the State of Kentucky, this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and sixtyjone.

This declaration of independence and ordinance of separation, wai acted upon by sections, and the whole unanimously adopted, as was the plan of a provisional government.

Mr. P. B. Thompson, of Mercer county, offered the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted .

Resolved, That this Convention do now proceed to elect   

1. A Governor.    2. Councilmen.   3. Commissioners to Richmond.

Resolved, That in the election of Governor, Councilmen and Commissioners, the vote shall be taken by representative districts, each dis-tricthaving one vote.

Resolved, That it shall be the duty of the presiding officer of this Convention, to administer to the Governor and Councilmen when elected, the oath of office, prescribed in the plan of the government just adopted.

Resolved, That the Governor and Council shall take charge of the minutes and proceedings of this Convention, and have the same, or so much thereof as they may think proper, published in such manner as they deem best.

Resolved, That the members of this Convention shall each annex his signature to the Constitution now adopted.

The Convention then proceeded to elect a Governor and ten members of the Council and Commissioners to Richmond, with the following result:

Governor   Geo. W. Johnson, of Scott.

Coujicilmen   1st Cong'l Dist., Willis B. Machen, of Lyon.

2nd   "      "    J. W. Crocket, of Henderson.

3d     "      "    J. P. Bates, of Barren.

4th    "         '    J. S. Chrisman, of Wayne.

5th    "      "    P. B. Thompson, of Mercer.

6th    "      "    J. P. Burnside, of Garrard.

7th    "      "    H. W. Bruce, of Louisville. 
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8th Cong'l Dist., E. M. Bruce, of Nicholas. 9th   "      "    J. W. Moore, of Montgomery. 10th    "      "    Geo. B. Hodge, of Campbell.

Commissioners to Richmond   Wm. Preston, of Louisville ; W. E. Simms, of Bourbon; Henry C,. Burnett, of Trigg.

By a vote of the Convention, the injunction of secrecy was removed from the proceedings of the Convention.

It was ordered, taat a copy of the proceedings be furnished to each member of the Convention.

A resolution thanking the President of the Convention for the fidelity and ability with which, he had discharged the arduous and delicate duties devolving upon him, was unanimously adopted.

A resolution thanking the proprietor of the Hall in which the convention had assembled was unanimously adopted.

The declaration and plan of the Provisional Government having been enrolled on parchment, the members of the Convention in attendance affixed their names thereto.

And the.Convention adjourned sine die.

H. C. Burnett,

President Convention.

R. McKee, Secretary of the Convention. T^BuInett,  }'Assistant Secretaries.

Bowling Green, Kentucky,) November 21, 1861. )

His Excellency Jefferson Davis,

President of the Confederate S'ates of America :

Sir :   The convention which assembled at Russellville, on the 18th of this month, composed of delegates from sixty eight counties, and which organized a Provisional Government for Kentucky, appointed the Hon. Henry C. Burnett, the Hon. Wm. Preston, and the Hon. William E. Simms, Commissioners to treat with the Government of the Confederate States of America, for the recognition of this Government, and the admission of this State into said Confederacy, upon an equal footing with the other States composing it.

The action of the people of this State in thus organizing a Provisional. Government for the protection of their rights of person and property, was based as a necessity upon the ultimate right of revolution, possessed by all mankind against perfidious and despotic governments. A fraction, which may be called the war party of Kentucky, composed of most of the members of the last Congress, and a minority of the legislature, after surrounding themselves with an army of eight thousand Lincoln troops, forced a majority of their own body into caucus and there concocted, and afterwards enacted in the legislature, against the vetoes of the Governor and the remonstrances of the minority of the Senate and House of Representatives, a series of oppressive and despotic acts, which have left us no alternative, except abject submission or manly resistance. The constitutional right of secession by the State with organized govern- 

proceedings of the convention establishing

ment, from the ruins of the old Union was not possible, because the power of adopting such manly and philosophic action was denied us by the enslaved members of the legislature, who not only submitted themselves to the despotism of the army, but betrayed their political opponents, who relied upon their honor, and their own constituents, and the great body of the people of Kentucky, who relied upon their pledges of neutrality. Secession being thus impossible, we were compelled to plant ourselves on a doctrine universally recognised by all nations   that allegiance is due alone to such governments as protect society, and upon that right which God Himself has given to mankind, and which is inalienable   the right to destroy any government, whose existence is in-com|  tible with the interests and liberty of society. The foundation, therefore, upon which the Provisional Government rests, is a right of revolution, instituted by the people for the preservation of the liberty, the interests and the honor of a vast majority of the citizens of Kentucky.

Our justification before the world for a resort to this ultimate right of revolution, depends upon the facts, constituting the necessity of its exercise. These facts will be placed before you by our commissioners, and to these facts we fearlessly invite your attention, and that of the great government over which you preside. Wo consider our .constitutional liberty and our personal honor worth more than life or property, and we have confidently staked them both upon the issue.

It is believed that the Confederate States of America will not refuse admission to a State whose sympathies and whose interests are identical with their own, and whose geographical position is so important to the Confederacy, meiely because we have been unfortunately deprived of that right of constitutional secession which was so fortunately possessed, and so legitimately exercised by themselves. There is no incompatibility between the right of secession by a State, and the ultimate right of revolution by the people. The one is a civil right founded upon the constitution; the other is a natural right resting upon the law of God. Mississippi legitimately exercised the right of secession for the preservation of her constitutional liberty. But if the State of Mississippi had corruptly refused to discharge her duty, and treacherously made herself part of the Northern despotism, which threatened the liberties of the people, would any philosophy deny to her citizens the right of revolution, or any theory refuse her protection and admission within the Confederate States ?

It is indeed philosophic and true, that a State should exercise the right of peaceful secession, for the preservation of the rights and institutions of its people ; but it is neither philosophic nor true, that because a people are deprived by a perfidious State government of the power of secession, they therefore have no right to maintain their liberty and their honor by revolution. The admiration of mankind may be excited by a State firmly maintaining the rights of its people ; but the manly determination of a people to vindicate their own liberties, at the hazard of life and fortune, against the despotic government of the North, and against the power and resources of a base and perfidious State government, is no ess noble and praiseworthy. 
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The provisional government of Kentucky is now the .index of an almost universal sentiment in the State in fivor of a permanent connection with the Confederate States, and the history of the last year attentively studied, will demonstrate the truth of this assertion even to a stranger. Since the election of Abraliam Lincoln, with the exception of a few thousand emancipators and abolitionists, the State of Kentucky has been divided into only two parties   the State Right party and the Union party. It will be unnecessary to do more than assert, that the State Rights' party were all, and at all times, in favor of a connection with the South, for all candid men will admit it.

The first position assumed by the Union party, after the Presidential election, embraced these ideas. First, the preservation of the Union ; secondly, the protection of Southern institutions by amendments of the Constitution ; third, opposition to coercion of the South by arms; and, fourth, a continued connection and common destiny with the South. At this period, the Union party would not have stood one day if the leaders had dared to avow themselves in favor of Northern sentiment, or an ultimate connection with the North, in the event of a permanent dissolution of the Union.

After the failure of the peace conference, in consequence of the refusal of the abolitionists to vote amendments to the Constitution, for the protection of Southern property, the Union leaders ^till avowed themselves opposed to the coercion of the South ; but they now advanced the idea of neutrality and peace for Kentucky during the war, and declared themselves in favor of an ultimate connection of the State with the South by a vote of the people. Thus, after the refusal of their abolition allies to give constitutional protection to Southern property, we have again a confession of the " Union Leaders," embodied in their creed, that their party was in favor of an ultimate connection of the State with the South. This was the party creed at the last election in Kentucky, when members of Congress, and members of the State legislature were chosen.

The final change in the Union party was now near at hand. The President and his councillors refused to respect the neutrality of Kentucky, and determined to organize a force in Kentucky to hold the State, and to pass over its territory to strike a blow at the heart of the Southern Confederacy. Congress met   the Union members threw off disguise, and voted supplies of men and money for the war. The indignation of the whole State was-excited. The people were aroused, and their denunciations of the war tax and enlistments for the North were violent and extreme. The members of Congress were now secretly engaged in introducing and organizing an army. The leaders of the Union party now clearly perceived that they must shield themselves by an army from the indignation of the people. This idea was soon impressed upon those members of the legislature who were really in favor of an honest neutrality of Kentucky. They met in caucus, and soon determined to protect themselves with the army, overawe their own constituents, and to pursue, without mercy, their political opponents. This is a simple and true history of the Union party in Kentucky, and under all its phases, 

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except the last, it avowed its preference for the South; and in its last, the leaders suppressed the resentment of their own party by the sword.

This recital is made for one purpose alone   and that is to show that tho whole body of the people of Kentucky have in the last year repeatedly avowed themselves in favor of an intimate peaceful connection of the State, by a vote of the people, with the Confederate States. The Union leaders avowed the same intention until they had organized an army sufficient to protect themselves against therage of the people.

The leaders of the States right party in Kentucky always knew that the people were with them on this question, and they hoped to the last that they would bo able > to expose the designs of the war faction, and thus carry with them the State government. The hope of being able to act with the forms of law made them risk everything till too late. No one could have anticipated the unparalled audacity and treachery of the leaders of the Union party when they violated their own position of neutrality, and deliberately determined to plunge the State in war. , Up to the last moment of safety we attempted to save the State by State action; and we did this because we knew the people were almost unanimously with us as to the ultimate destiny of the State. This fact is also admitted by Gen. Thomas, in his report as to the condition of Kentucky.

How, then, can your Excellency refuse admission to our State because the State government has itself dared to betray the people, and left them no hope except in their own manly determination to maintain with arms their own liberties. Your own theory of government was dear to us: We were habitually accustomed to look to the State and State action for redress of Federal wrongs. We wished to secede from the old Federal Union with all the rights of Kentuekians, guarded by all the forms of State government. We pursued this idea to the last. We adhered to this determination until the theory itself was lost in the treachery of the legislature and until the State government had abandoned its people, and indissolubly united itself with the public enemy.

For nearly two years no election can take place in Kentucky for members of the legislature. Should we have submitted during all this period to an anarchy, or to laws hostile to our people ? Even then the sword would still have to be drawn to solve the question. When hope had left us, and when, perhaps, the independence and boundaries of the Confederate States were acknowledged and established, and the struggle was over, then, to inaugurate a hopeless civil war would have been criminal, and we would have been, by our own honor, to go in exile from our own native State.

No theory, however sound, can demand this sacrifice. We come to you now, when it is honorable to do so, to offer you our assistance in a common cause, while peril surrounds us both, and to share with you a common destiny. It is not possible in an age of honor, that the strong will reject the weak, because the people have risen up to vindicate that cause which was betrayed by the State.

We, therefore, hope that you will feel disposed to throw around this Provisional Government, in its infancy, the protection of the Confederate 
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States of America. Let the preservation of constitutional government be alike the destiny and the glory of your great Confederacy. As a people long connected with you, we ask admission to your government. In such a struggle, however, we will not, in any event, despair; but believing that God Himself has so organized human society and interests, as to implant forever in truth an irresistable power   even if you abandon ns   we will fearlessly struggle on to the consummation of our own destiny.

With assurances of my high regard and esteem, I am, sir, your obedient servant. (Signed) George W. Johnson.

To the Honorable Howell Cobb, President of the Congress :

I have the honor herewith to transmit a communication from the Provisional Governor of Kentucky, informing me of the appointment of Commissioners on the part of that State to treat with the government of the Confederate States of America, for the recognition of said State, and its admission into the Confederacy. Also, a communication from the President and members of