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Federal states, i.e., the General Government having for its object national affairs, and the State Governments reserving the control of all local and municipal affairs.
The causes which led these Confederate States to the separation from the original Union, and the formation of a separate Government; and the ground on which they base the right of secession, will be explained in the following extracts from their ordinances of secession and other official documents:–
SECESSION ORDINANCE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH
[Passed Dec. 20th, 1840, after Mr. Lincoln's election, but before his inauguration.]
An Ordinance to Dissolve the Union between the South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled the Constitution of the United States of America
We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the ordinance adopted by us in Convention, on the 23d day of May, in the year of our Lord 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all Acts and parts of Acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying the amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States under the name of the United States of America is hereby dissolved.
DECLARATION OF CAUSES.
And now the State of South Carolina having resumed her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to herself, to the remaining United States of America, and to the nations of the world, that she should declare the immediate causes which have led to this act.” # * *
We hold that the Government thus established (the United States Government) is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely, the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that, where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.
In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused for years past to fulfil their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own statutes for the
The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: “No person held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein he discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.” This stipulation was so material to the compact that without it, that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance. for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which obligations, and the laws of the General Governments, have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nulify the acts of Congress, or render useless any attempts to execute them.* In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from the service of labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. * * Thus the constitutional compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States; and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation. The ends for which this Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” These ends it endeavoured to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each state was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights: by giving them the right to represent, and burden them with direct taxes for, three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor. We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of Slavery; they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace of and eloin the pro
* This refers to the “personal liberty bills,” which render inoperative the fugitive slave law for the rendition of fugitives.
perty of the citizens of the other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books, and pictures, to servile insurrection. For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to Slavery.” He is to be intrusted with the ad ministration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that Slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. † “ * * On the 4th of March next this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the Judicial tribunal shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against Slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States. It The guarantees of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The Slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy. Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation; and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that the public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of a more erroneous religious belief. We, therefore, the people of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the recitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent state, with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which Independent States may of right do.
ALABAMA ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.
* Whereas, the Election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of President and Vice-Prosident of the United States of America
* Refering to the election of Mr. Lincoln. A quotation from Mr. Lincoln's speech at Springfield, 1858. f Tha part of the Republicau platform here refered to will be found on page 60.
by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions, and peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, following upon the heels of many and dangerous infractions of the Constitution of the United States, by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character, as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security. Therefore, be it declared and ordained, by the people of the State of Alabama, in convention assembled, that the State of Alabama now withdraws from the Union, known as the United States of America, and henceforth ceases to be one of the said United States, and is and of right ought to be a sovereign independent State. * * *
TEXAS ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.
[Passed Feb. 1, 1861.]
Sec. 1. “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 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 property 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—therefore, “We, the people of the State of Texas, by delegates in the Convention assembled, do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by our Convention of delegates on the 4th day of July, A.D. 1845, and afterwards ratified by us, under which the Republic of Texas was admitted into the 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.”
VIRGINIA ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.
The people of Virginia, in the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in convention on the 25th day of June,1788, having declared that the powers granted under the said constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.
Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain, that the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in convention on the 25th day of June, 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitutions, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the Union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the constitution aforesaid is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.
EXTRACT FROM PRESIDENT BUCHANAN'S MESSAGE REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL CRISIS, DEC. 3RD, 1860.
No nation in the tide of time has ever presented a spectacle of greater material prosperity than we have done until within a very recent period.
Why is it, then, that discontent now so extensively prevails, and the Union of the States, which is the source of all these blessings, is threatened with destruction? The long-continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States has at length produced its natural effects. The different sections of the Union are now arrayed against each other, and the time has arrived, so much dreaded by the Father of his country, when hostile geographical parties have been formed. This does not proceed solely from the claim on the part of Congress or the Territorial Legislatures to exclude slavery from the Territories, nor from the efforts of different states to defeat the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law.” All or any of these evils might have been endured by the South without danger to the Union (as others have been), in the hope that time and reflection might apply the remedy. The immediate perilarises not so much from these causes as from the fact that the incessant and violent agitation of the slavery question throughout the North for the last quarter of a century has at length produced it malign influence on the slaves, and inspired them with vague notions of freedom. Hence, a sense of security no longer exists around the family altar. This feeling of peace at home has given place to apprehensions of servile insurrection. Many a matron throughout the the South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and her children before the morning. Should this apprehension of domestic danger whether real or imaginary, extend and intensify itself until it shall pervade the masses of the Southern people, then disunion will become inevitable, Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and has been implanted in the heart of man by his Creator for the wisest purpose; and no political
s * Refering to the “Personal Liberty Bills,” passed by several of the Northern tates.