Additional Background Research

Background on Mississippi Secession Ordinance

  • Published in January 1861, in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Submitted to the Mississippi Secession by “Mr. Clayton of Marshall from the committee to whom was referred the subject of preparing an address, setting forth the causes which induce and justify the secession of Mississippi from the Federal Union”
    • Alexander Mosby Clayton, from Marshall County, Mississippi
      • Originally from Virginia, then a judge in Arkansas, then a politician in Mississippi for the rest of his life in both the Democratic Party and the Confederacy




Background on Alabama Secession Ordinance

The New York Times says that the Secession Ordinance was passed “Ayes 61, Nays 39” so it was by no means unanimous.  There is also generous support from “the ladies” and “an immense crowd”, while “All the speakers were loudly cheered”.


Section 1. No slave in this State shall be emancipated by any act done to take effect in this State, or any other country.

Section 2. The humane treatment of slaves shall be secured by law.

Section 3. Laws may be enacted to prohibit the introduction into this State, of slaves who have committed high crimes in other States or territories, and to regulate or prevent the introduction of slaves into this State as merchandise.

Section 4. In the prosecution of slaves for crimes, of a higher grade than petit larceny, the General Assembly shall have no power to deprive them of an impartial trial by a petiti jury.

Section 5. Any person who shall maliciously dismember or deprive a slave of life, shall suffer such punishment as would be inflicted in case the like offense had been committed on a free white person, and on the like proof, except in case of insurrection of such slave.




Texas’ Ordinance of Secession (the Declaration of Causes is already present in the secession annotations)

Whereas, the Federal Government has failed to accomplish the purposes of the compact of union between these States, in giving protection either to the persons of our people upon an exposed frontier, or to the property of our citizens; and, whereas, the action of the Northern States of the Union is violative of the compact between the States and the guarantees of the Constitution; and whereas the recent developments in Federal affairs, make it evident that the power of the Federal Government is sought to be made a weapon with which to strike down the interests and prosperity of the people of Texas and her Sister slaveholding States, instead of permitting it to be, as was intended, our shield against outrage and aggression:


Section 1

We, the People of the State of Texas, by Delegates in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain, that the Ordinance adopted by our Convention of Delegates, on the Fourth day of July, A.D. 1845, and afterwards ratified by us, under which the Republic of Texas was admitted into Union with other States and became a party to the compact styled “The Constitution of the United States of America” be, and is hereby repealed and annulled; That all the powers, which by said compact were delegated by Texas to the Federal Government, are revoked and resumed; That Texas is of right absolved from all restraints and obligations incurred by said compact, and is a separate Sovereign State, and that her citizens and people are absolved from all allegiance to the United States, or the Government thereof.

Section 2

This ordinance shall be submitted to the people of Texas for ratification or rejection by the qualified voters thereof, on the 23rd day of February 1861, and unless rejected by a majority of the votes cast, shall take effect and be in force on and after the 2nd day of March, A.D. 1861. Provided, that in the Representative District of El Paso, said election may be held on the 19th day of February, A.D. 1861.


The Constitution of the State of Texas, as Amended in 1861, The Constitution of the Confederate States of America, The Ordinances of the Texas Convention, and An Address to the People of Texas. Austin: Printed by John Marshall, State Printer, 1861. pp. 18-19.


South Carolina Secession Ordinance

Membership list of South Carolina Secession Convention:

The South Carolina Convention was mostly wealthy, slave owning planters and farmers. 90.5% of the delegates owned slaves. 19.5% of the delegates were lawyers. 47.9% were planters and farmers.


Florida Secession Ordinance

This first link gives a little summary of the Florida secession convention. The second link is a day by day transcription of the events of the Florida convention.  


Letter from J.L.M. Curry of Alabama to Governor Hicks of Maryland

Jabez L. M. Curry was born in Georgia but moved to Alabama and took up a law practice. After service in the state legislature he was elected to Congress in 1856. He was appointed commissioner to Maryland by Gov. A.B. Moore and then served in the Confederate Congress until defeated for re-election in 1863. He then served as lieutenant colonel of the 5th Alabama Cavalry.


Letter from John G. Shorter of Alabama to Governor Joe Brown of Georgia


Speech of Henry Benning to the Virginia Secession Convention

This speech was immediately after Fulton Anderson’s speech to the Virginia Convention.

After Georgia governor Joseph E. Brown had delivered his special message to the Georgia General Assembly the previous week, the possibility of secession was the talk of the town – and of the state in general. Support for secession was far from unanimous; many thought it prudent to wait and see what President Abraham Lincoln would do, and others – particularly in the mountainous northeast and pine barrens of the southeastern part of Georgia – owned few, in any, slaves, and did not feel the same threat as the large planters felt from Lincoln’s election. To explore these questions in detail, without interfering with the usual matters of the state government, it was decided that a series of speeches would be delivered before the General Assembly in Milledgeville, but in the evenings, after the regular business of the day had concluded. Both sides of the secession debate would be heard this week.

After taking the weekend off, the final evening speech before the Georgia General Assembly in Milledgeville was delivered by Henry Lewis Benning. After three evenings of hearing the “conservative,” wait-and-see side of the debate, Benning closed out the set with a strongly worded call in favor of secession. Benning had served as a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court, and would serve as one of the chairmen of the Georgia Secession Convention. He would then go on to attend the Virginia Secession Convention as Georgia’s commissioner, where he would give another rousing call for secession. Benning served as a Confederate general during the war; Fort Benning near Columbus is named for him.


Speech of Alexander H. Stephens to the Virginia Secession Convention

Apparently Alexander Stephens was originally against secession before Georgia seceded.