Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/321
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Mr. Kenneth Rayner, delegate from Hertford county, had been tor years a conspicuous politician. Ht spoke always with vehe- mence, and was occasionally so firry as to appear excited by anger
Dr. Rufus K. Speed, of Klizabeth City, was such an impressive speaker that he was selected by the Whig party as candidate to be elector-at-large on purpose to meet the Democratic orator, E. Gra- ham Haywood.
Nicholas W. Woodfin, when a boy, rode into Asheville after meal on a mule bareback. By his energy and talents he rose to be a leader of the Buncombe bar and afterwards State senator from Bun- combe. His speeches were always strong, but his pronunciation of many words was strange, even to affectation.
The convention was in an exceedingly gloomy frame of mind, because the easy capture of the Hatteras forts and of Roanoke Island made it certain that Washington and Newbern would not be more fortunate, and all eastern North Carolina would be speedily overrun. It is impossible for me to transfer to you the impression made under these circumstances by the intense earnestness of the speakers, all of whom, except Mr. Woodfin, were in constant dread of hearing news of ruined homes and the desertion of their slaves.
Mr. Pettigrew began by stating that he had left his home at the mercy of the enemy. It was his intention not to return to the con- vention as long as there was danger of invasion of his county, but many of his neighbors, strong friends of the Southern Confederacy, had begged him to resume his seat with the view of obtaining some protection. It was a cause of regret to him that members spoke of adjourning the convention. Let us never yield. If beaten, let us retreat from the sea-shore to the hills; from the hills to the moun- tains.
Washington and Tyrrell are isolated. He ordered his slaves, or- dinarily perfectly obedient, to be ready to start with him away from danger of capture. Only five appeared at the rendezvous. The residue ran off to the swamps. After his departure they returned to their cabins. This conduct was for two reasons. Firstly, they were afraid of suffering in the up country from cold and want of food. Secondly, they had hopes of emancipation, as one of them candidly admitted. The slaves of his brother had behaved in a similar man- ner, and doubtless such was the universal feeling. Will the conven- tion do nothing to save the wealth and people of these counties ?
The remedy is to remove the slaves by military force. Individ- uals cannot effect such removal. They have not the means.