MONTGOMERY, ALA., February 23, 1861.
PRESIDENT OF THE STATE CONVENTION OF FLORIDA,
The undersigned deputies from the State of Florida to the convention of seceded States begun and held at Montgomery, in Alabama on the 4th of February, instant, beg leave to submit to the convention over which you preside the following explanation:
Upon the assembling in this city on the 4th of February of the convention to which we were accredited, we met full deputations from the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. But one purpose seemed to animate the whole-that of forming at the earliest practicable moment a vigorous and efficient government to meet the exigencies of the times, and to supply the place of the one from which we had lately withdrawn.
In addressing itself to this task the convention (or congress, as it is called here) encountered no difficulty in agreeing upon a basis for the new government. For that basis the Constitution of the United States had been already designated by the respective States. No alteration in the main fundamental principles contained in that instrument was deemed either necessary or desirable. Only such modifications as would best suit it to the present condition of the seceded States was resorted to; but how far these modifications should extend, and of what they should consist, along with very many collateral questions involving to a greater or less extent matters vital to our present condition, constituted subjects of inquiry which were met at every step.
Before the Congress had advanced to a completion of its preliminary labors, to wit, on the 8th of February, we received through the mail a certified copy of a resolution passed by your body on the 17th of January, instructing us "to oppose any attempt on the part of the Southern convention to legislate or transact any business whatsoever other than the adoption of a provisional government to be substantially on the basis of the Constitution of the late United States, and a permanent constitution for the Southern Confederacy upon the same basis, and that in the event of the said (Southern) convention undertaking, on any pretext whatsoever, to exercise any powers other than that above enumerated," we were "instructed to protest against the same, and to declare in behalf of the State of Florida that such acts would not be binding on our States. "
Not having been present in the State convention when this resolution was passed, and never having learned from any source the motives by which the convention was actuated in its adoption, we were forced to concludee, in the abundance of caution, to prevent the usurpation of powers which might prove detrimental to the interests of our State, and not with a view of placing Florida in an attitude before her sister seceded States of attempting to dictate to them any special policy of her own, to the exclusion of that which a majority might think best. It appeared to your delegates that the necessity for some legislation might arise before either as provisional or permanent constitution could be adopted. For a body of men to get together from distant sections of the country, and to agree in a few days to a constitution for their government, every detail and provision of which would be likely to bear upon their diversified interests, would have been wonderful, if not miraculous. The exigencies of the times admitted of but little if any delay. The Governor of one of the