A Free and Independent State

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 twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, 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and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of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 to a free and independent State.

Ordinance of Secession, 17 April, 1861.

Whereas, Seven of the States formerly composing a part of the United States have, by authority of their people, solemnly resumed the powers granted by them to the United States, and have framed a Constitution and organized a Government for themselves, to which the people of those States are yielding willing obedience, and have so notified the President of the United States by all the formalities incident to such action, and thereby become to the United States a separate, independent and foreign power; and whereas, the Constitution of the United States has invested Congress with the sole power “to declare war,” and until such declaration is made, the President has no authority to call for an extraordinary force to wage offensive war against any foreign Power: and whereas, on the 15th inst., the President of the United States, in plain violation of the Constitution, issued a proclamation calling for a force of seventy-five thousand men, to cause the laws of the United states to be duly executed over a people who are no longer a part of the Union, and in said proclamation threatens to exert this unusual force to compel obedience to his mandates; and whereas, the General Assembly of Virginia, by a majority approaching to entire unanimity, declared at its last session that the State of Virginia would consider such an exertion of force as a virtual declaration of war, to be resisted by all the power at the command of Virginia; and subsequently the Convention now in session, representing the sovereignty of this State, has reaffirmed in substance the same policy, with almost equal unanimity; and whereas, the State of Virginia deeply sympathizes with the Southern States in the wrongs they have suffered, and in the position they have assumed; and having made earnest efforts peaceably to compose the differences which have severed the Union, and having failed in that attempt, through this unwarranted act on the part of the President; and it is believed that the influences which operate to produce this proclamation against the seceded States will be brought to bear upon this commonwealth, if she should exercise her undoubted right to resume the powers granted by her people, and it is due to the honor of Virginia that an improper exercise of force against her people should be repelled. Therefore I, JOHN LETCHER, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, have thought proper to order all armed volunteer regiments or companies within this State forthwith to hold themselves in readiness for immediate orders, and upon the reception of this proclamation to report to the Adjutant-General of the State their organization and numbers, and prepare themselves for efficient service. Such companies as are not armed and equipped will report that fact, that they may be properly supplied.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Commonwealth to be affixed, this 17th day of April, 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth.

JOHN LETCHER.

Inferences, Analogies, and Sophisms

Time and changes in the condition and constitution of society may require occasional and corresponding modifications. One single object, if your provision attains it, will entitle you to the endless gratitude of society, that of restraining judges from usurping legislation. And with no body of men is this restraint more wanting than with the judges of what is commonly called our general government, but what I call our foreign department. They are practicing on the constitution by inferences, analogies, and sophisms, as they would an ordinary law. They do not seem aware that it is not even a constitution, formed by a single authority, and subject to a single superintendence and control, but that it is a compact of many independent powers, every single one of which claims an equal right to understand it, and to require its observance. However strong the cord of compact may be, there is a point of tension at which it will break. A few such doctrinal decisions, as barefaced as that of the Cohens, happening to bear immediately on two or three of the large States, may induce them to join in arresting the march of government, and in arousing the co-States to pay some attention to what is passing, to bring back the compact to its original principles, or to modify it legitimately by the expressed consent of the parties themselves, and not by the usurpation of their created agents. They imagine they can lead us into a consolidate government, while their road leads directly to its dissolution. This member of the government was at first considered as the most harmless and helpless of all its organs. But it has proved that the power of declaring what the law is, ad libitum, by sapping and mining, slyly and without alarm, the foundations of the constitution, can do what open force would not dare to attempt.

Thos. Jefferson to Edward Livingston, 25 March 1825.

Never Again Will Reign

No, my child, I had no conception of the intensity of feeling, the bitterness and hatred toward those who were so lately our friends and are now our enemies. I, of course, have always strenuously opposed disunion, not as doubting the right of secession, which was taught in our text-book at West Point, but as gravely questioning its expediency. I believed that the revolutionary spirit which infected both North and South was but a passing phase of fanaticism which would perish under the rebuke of all good citizens, who would surely unite in upholding the Constitution; but when that great assembly, composed of ministers, lawyers, judges, chancellors, statesmen, mostly white haired men of thought, met in South Carolina and when their districts were called crept noiselessly to the table in the center of the room and affixed their signatures to the parchment on which the ordinance of secession was inscribed, and when in deathly silence, spite of the gathered multitude, General Jamison arose and without preamble read: “The ordinance of secession has been signed and ratified; I proclaim the State of South Carolina an independent sovereignty,” and lastly, when my old boyhood’s friend called for an invasion, it was evident that both the advocates and opponents of secession had read the portents aright.

You know, my little lady, some of those cross-stitched mottoes on the cardboard samplers which used to hang on my nursery wall, such as, “He who provides not for his own household is worse than an infidel” and “Charity begins at home,” made a lasting impression upon me; and while I love my neighbor, i.e., my country, I love my household, i.e., my state, more, and I could not be an infidel and lift my sword against my own kith and kin, even though I do believe, my most wise little counselor and confidante, that the measure of American greatness can be achieved only under one flag, and I fear, alas, there can never again reign for either of us the true spirit of national unity whether divided under two flags or united under one.

The Heart of a Soldier: As Revealed in the Intimate Letters of Genl. George E. Pickett, C.S.A., New York: Seth Moyle, 1913.

A Standing Menace to the South

Preamble and resolution

Offered in a large mass meeting of the people of Botetourt county, December 10th, 1860, by the Hon. John J. Allen, President of the Supreme court of Virginia, and adopted with but two dissenting voices.

The people of Botetourt county, in general meeting assembled, believe it to be the duty of all the citizens of the Commonwealth, in the present alarming condition of our country, to give some expression of their opinion upon the threatening aspect of public affairs. They deem it unnecessary and out of place to avow sentiments of loyalty to the constitution and devotion to the union of these States. A brief reference to the part the State has acted in the past will furnish the best evidence of the feelings of her sons in regard to the union of the States and the constitution, which is the sole bond which binds them together.
In the controversies with the mother country, growing out of the efforts of the latter to tax the colonies without their consent, it was Virginia who, by the resolutions against the stamp act, gave the example of the first authoritative resistance by a legislative body to the British Government, and so imparted the first impulse to the Revolution.

Virginia declared her independence before any of the colonies, and gave the first written constitution to mankind.

By her instructions her representatives in the General Congress introduced a resolution to declare the colonies independent States, and the declaration itself was written by one of her sons.

She furnished to the Confederate States the father of his country, under whose guidance independence was achieved, and the rights and liberties of each State, it was hoped, perpetually established.

She stood undismayed through the long night of the Revolution, breasting the storm of war and pouring out the blood of her sons like water on almost every battle-field, from the ramparts of Quebec to the sands of Georgia.

By her own unaided efforts the northwestern territory was conquered, whereby the Mississippi, instead of the Ohio river, was recognized as the boundary of the United States by the treaty of peace.

To secure harmony, and as an evidence of her estimate of the value of the union of the States, she ceded to all for their common benefit this magnificent region — an empire in itself.

When the articles of confederation were shown to be inadequate to secure peace and tranquility at home and respect abroad, Virginia first moved to bring about a more perfect union.

At her instance the first assemblage of commissioners took place at Annapolis, which ultimately led to the meeting of the convention which formed the present constitution.

This instrument itself was in a great measure the production of one of her sons, who has been justly styled the father of the constitution.

The government created by it was put into operation with her Washington, the father of his country, at its head; her Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, in his cabinet; her Madison, the great advocate of the constitution, in the legislative hall.

Under the leading of Virginia statesmen the Revolution of 1798 was brought about, Louisiana was acquired, and the second war of independence was waged.

Throughout the whole progress of the republic she has never infringed on the rights of any State, or asked or received an exclusive benefit.

On the contrary, she has been the first to vindicate the equality of all the States, the smallest as well as the greatest.

But claiming no exclusive benefit for her efforts and sacrifices in the common cause, she had a right to look for feelings of fraternity and kindness for her citizens from the citizens of other States, and equality of rights for her citizens with all others; that those for whom she had done so much would abstain from actual aggressions upon her soil, or if they could not be prevented, would show themselves ready and prompt in punishing the aggressors; and that the common government, to the promotion of which she contributed so largely for the purpose of “establishing justice and insuring domestic tranquility,” would not, whilst the forms of the constitution were observed, be so perverted in spirit as to inflict wrong and injustice and produce universal insecurity.

These reasonable expectations have been grievously disappointed.

Continue reading “A Standing Menace to the South”

Baffled Avarice, Malignant Fanaticism, and Moral Turpitude

Now, gentlemen, notwithstanding these facts I have endeavored to group before you–notwithstanding this labor, this long-suffering, this patience I have endeavored to show you she has practiced–throughout this whole land, over all Christendom, my State has been accused of “rash precipitancy.” Is it rash precipitancy to step out of the pathway when you hear the thunder-crash of the falling avalanche? Is it rash precipitancy to seek for shelter when you hear the hissing of the coming tempest, and see the storm-cloud close down upon you? Is it rash precipitancy to raise your hands to protect your heart?

I venture to assert, that never, since liberty came into the institutions of man, have a people borne with more patience, or forborne with more fortitude, than have the people of these Southern States in their relations with their confederates. As long as it was merely silly fanaticism or prurient philanthropy which proposed our destruction, we did nothing–scarcely complained. Even when partial and most oppressive taxation, continued for years, ground us into the dust of poverty, save for a moment of convulsive struggle, we bore it patiently; even when many of our confederates, by State and municipal regulations, violated provisions of our compact vital to us, and hordes of their people, under the sanction of these regulations, robbed our property and murdered our citizens; even when, under the same sanction, bands of wild fanatics invaded slave States, and proclaimed the destruction of slavery by the annihilation of the slaveholder, and States and cities erected shrines to the memory of the felons; when one confederate demanded that we must be driven from the civilization of the age in which we live, and another sent its chief representative to defame us before the civilized world; beneath all these enormities, we continued to give our blood, our gold and our sweat to build up the grandeur and maintain the power of that Republic. And when there was added to this all that baffled avarice, malignant fanaticism and moral turpitude could devise to vilify, wrong and irritate us, we still gave our blood and treasure, and offered our hands, and called them brethren. I draw no fancy picture, I use no declamatory assertions.

There is not a man in this Convention who may not cite twenty cases to meet every item of this catalogue. But when, at last, this fanaticism and eager haste for rapine, mingling their foul purposes, engendered those fermenting millions who have seized the Constitution and distorted its most sacred form into an instrument of our ruin, why then longer submission seemed to us not only base cowardice, but absolute fatuity. In South Carolina we felt that, to remain one hour under such a domination, we would merit the destruction earned by our own folly and baseness. We felt that if there was one son of a Carolina sire who would counsel such submission, there was not a hill-side or a plain, from Eutaw to the Cowpens, from which the spirit of his offended sire would not start forth to shame him from the land he desecrated. We did not find air enough in that little State to give breath to such counsel; there was not firm earth enough there for one such counsellor to stand upon.

— Address of Hon. John S. Preston, Commissioner from South Carolina, to the Convention of Virginia, 19 February 1861.

Incalculable Misery

Manuscript certificate of Governor Joel Parker's oath of office, 20 January 1863.
Manuscript certificate of Governor Joel Parker’s oath of office, 20 January 1863.

If the abolition of slavery be a necessary consequence of the war, both races will have to endure the evils which, in their present condition, it would bring on them, but to make emancipation the object of the war would be to use the treasure and blood of the country to carry out the political views which, to a great extent, produced the war; would be in bad faith to the nation, and especially to those who have freely given of their wealth, and voluntarily offered their lives to the Government, after that Government had, of its own accord, put on record that the war was not to be prosecuted for the purpose of “overthrowing the established institutions of the States.”

Our energies should be devoted to a restoration of the Union, and the problem of emancipation is one to be solved hereafter by the people of the States where the institution of slavery exists. To be a benefit even to the people in servitude, it should not come by fire and sword. The institutions of ages, interwoven with society, cannot thus be broken up without producing incalculable misery. If emancipation should ever come, it will come so as to be of the greatest benefit to both races. It will come, as it did in New Jersey, by the voluntary action of the people of the States where the institution exists, peacefully and gradually, and without the dictation or interference of the General Government or the governments of other States, and without calling on the other States to incur an immense debt, equivalent to a mortgage on every acre of land within their limits.

The project of emancipation, we fear, will prolong the war. Whether intended or not, like the unconstitutional creation of new States, it will have the effect of placing an obstacle in the way of the restoration of the Union; the great object for which we should contend.

We are told that the belief that slavery is the cause of the war, and that the war can never cease and the life of the nation be preserved, until slavery be abolished, has led to a departure from the original purpose of the war. This is the radical error of the emancipationists. Slavery is no more the cause of the war than gold is the cause of robbery or murder. With the same propriety it might be said that commerce was the cause of our last war with Great Britain, and that commerce should be abolished, because the impressment of American seamen led to the collision. In all these cases the evil passions of men, taking the form of illegal action, were the antecedent cause. If men will reform themselves, keep within the law, and observe constitutional requirements, there is no reason why we should not live together as harmoniously as our ancestors did in the earlier days of the Republic. Abolition and Secession are the authors of our calamity, and Abolition is the parent of Secession.

To those who regarded slavery as a sin, and were impelled by a law which they esteem higher than the Constitution, to effect emancipation at all hazards, it would be useless to say anything, except that they were no more responsible for the evils incident to slavery in the Southern States, than they were responsible for serfdom in the most distant country in Europe. They had about as much right to interfere in the one case as in the other. Slavery was here when the Constitution was formed. Its introduction was not the work of one section alone. The great and good men of that day, in framing the Constitution, recognized it as an existing institution. Its control was wisely left to the several States in which it existed. Without this the Constitution never would have been ratified. Of this class of men (who often neglect evils at home, and interfere where they have no legal right,) my predecessor, in the message before referred to, wisely remarked—”We give some of them credit for sincerity; but if so sensitive to wickedness, they will find enough to exercise their time and talents within the bounds of their own State, and probably within a narrower circle.”

— Inaugural Address of Joel Parker, Governor of New Jersey, 20 January 1863.

Animis Opibusque Parati

The Arms (Great Seal) of South Carolina, from Mitchell, Henry (1876) The State Arms of the Union, Boston: L. Prang & Co.
The Arms (Great Seal) of South Carolina, from Mitchell, Henry (1876) The State Arms of the Union, Boston: L. Prang & Co.

Inscribed among the calends of the world — memorable in time to come — the 20th day of December, in the year of our Lord 1860, has become an epoch in the history of the human race. A great Confederated Republic, overwrought with arrogant and tyrannous oppressions, has fallen from its high estate amongst the nations of the earth. Conservative liberty has been vindicated. Mobocratic license has been stricken down. Order has conquered, yet liberty has survived. Right has raised his banner aloft, and bidden defiance to Might. The problem of self-government under the check-balance of slavery, has secured itself from threatened destruction.

South Carolina has resumed her entire sovereign powers, and, unshackled, has become one of the nations of the earth.

On yesterday, the 20th of December, 1860, just before one o’clock, p.m., the Ordinance of secession was presented by the Committee on “the Ordinance,” to the Convention of the people of South Carolina. Precisely at seven minutes after one o’clock, the vote was taken upon the Ordinance — each man’s name being called in order. As name by name fell upon the ear of the silent assembly, the brief sound was echoed back, without one solitary exception in that whole grave body — Aye!

At 1:15 o’clock, p.m. — the last name was called, the Ordinance of Secession was announced to have been passed, and the last fetter had fallen from the limbs of a brave, but too long oppressed people.

The Convention sat with closed doors. But upon the announcement outside, and upon the MERCURY bulletin board, that South Carolina was no longer a member of the Federal Union, loud shouts of joy rent the air. The enthusiasm was unsurpassed. Old men went shouting down the streets. Cannon were fired, and bright triumph was depicted on every countenance.

But before the Great Seal of the State was affixed to the Ordinance of Secession, and the names of the Delegates to the Convention were signed, it was proposed that this ceremony should be postponed until 7 o’clock that evening; when the Convention should reassemble and move in procession from the St. Andrew’s Hall, where they then sat, to the great Secession Hall; and that there, before the assembled citizens of the State, the Great Seal of the State should be set, and each signature made. The proposition was favorably received.

At 6 1/2 o’clock p.m., the Convention reassembled at St. Andrew’s Hall. At 6 3/4 o’clock p.m., they formed in procession and moved forward in silence to Secession Hall.

The building was filled to overflowing, and they were received by some three thousand people in the Hall.

The Convention was called to order. The scene was one profoundly grand and impressive. There were a people assembled through their highest representatives — men most of them upon whose heads the snows of sixty winters had been shed — patriarchs in age — the dignitaries of the land — the High Priests of the Church of Christ — reverend statesmen — and the wise judges of the law. In the midst of deep silence, an old man, with bowed form, and hair as white as snow, the Rev. Dr. BACHMAN, advanced forward, with upraised hands, in prayer to Almighty God, for His blessing and favor in this great act of his people, about to be consummated. The who assembly at once rose to its feet, and with hats off, listened to the touching and eloquent appeal to the All Wise Dispenser of events. At the close of the prayer the President advanced with the consecrated parchment upon which was inscribed the decision of the State, with the Great Seal attached. Slowly and solemnly it was read unto the last word — “dissolved” — when men could contain themselves no longer, and a shout that shook the very building, reverberating, long-continued, rose to Heaven, and ceased only with the loss of breath. In proud, grave silence, the Convention itself waited the end with beating hearts.

The President then requested the Delegates (by previous decision) to step forward as they were called in the alphabetical order of the Districts which they represented, and sign the Ordinance. Two hours were occupied in this solemn ceremony — the crowd waiting patiently the end. As the delegation from St. Phillip’s and St. Michael’s came forward, again, the hall was filled with applause. And as the Hon. R.B. RHETT advanced to the parchment, the shouts became deafening, long-continued, until he had seated himself, signed and retired. It was a proud and worthy tribute, gracefully paid, and appreciated. The same special compliment was paid to our Ex-Governor GIST, who recommended in his message to the extra session, the immediate secession of South Carolina from the Union.

At the close of the signatures the President, advancing to the front of the platform, announced that the Seal of the State had been set, the signatures of the Convention put to the Ordinance, and he thereby proclaimed the State of South Carolina a separate, independent nationality.

To describe the enthusiasm with which this announcement was greeted, is beyond the power of the pen. The high, burning, bursting heart alone can realize it. A mighty voice of great thoughts and great emotions spoke from the mighty throat of one people as a unit.

The State of South Carolina has recorded herself before the universe. In reverence before God, fearless of man, unawed by power, unterrified by clamor, she has cut the Gordian knot of colonial dependence upon the North — cast her fortune upon her right, and her own right arm, and stands ready to uphold alike her independence and her dignity before the world. Prescribing to none, she will be dictated to by none willing for peace, she is ready for war. Deprecating blood, she is willing to shed it. Valuing her liberties, she will maintain them. Neither swerved by frowns of foes, nor swayed by timorous solicitations of friends, she will pursue her direct path, and establish for herself and for her posterity, her rights, her liberties and her institutions. Though friends may fail her in her need, though the cannon of her enemies may belch destruction among her people, South Carolina, unawed, unconquerable, will still hold aloft her flag, “ANIMIS OPIBUSQUE PARATI.” [“READY IN SPIRIT AND DEEDS”]

— Charleston Mercury, 21 December 1860.

A Political Paradox

It is certainly not a little remarkable, that what has been so often asserted to be impossible,—for a State to be both in and out of the Union at the same time,—so far from being true, is the very reverse,—the only true and constitutional position of a State being precisely that which the argument supposes to be impossible. A State is at all times, so long as its proper position is maintained, both in and out of the Union ;—in, for all constitutional purposes,— and out, for all others ;—in, to the extent of the delegated powers, and out, to that of the reserved. Any other position would be either consolidation on the one side, or disunion on the other; and the argument, if it be good for any thing, would prove that our federated system, which is justly our pride and boast, is but a political paradox. Nor would it be much short of an equal paradox, if the States, in truth, possessed no right—as those who maintain the argument contend—to resist an attempt to force them from their true federative, constitutional position,—of being in and out, into that of being entirely in, or entirely out, either of which (the disease—and the only admitted remedy, according to this view without withdrawing from the Union), would be equally destructive of the system. And yet, by a strange confusion of ideas, this very right of resisting an attempt to force a State from its constitutional position, and which is indispensable to the preservation of the system, is considered as incompatible with its existence!

John C. Calhoun, Report prepared for the Committee on Federal Relations of the Legislature of South Carolina, at its Session in November 1831.

Obeying the Very Inculcations We Had Received

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West point and secession.
By General D. H. Maury.

I wish I could have seen Dr. Curry before he sent his letter vindicating General Lee from breach of faith in returning to his natural allegiance to Virginia when that State withdrew from the Federal Union; I would have given him some facts which were very strangely unknown to our people, and were always ignored by our enemies.

When Mr. Calhoun was Secretary of War, in 1822, I believe, he caused a text-book to be introduced into the course of studies at West Point, known as Rawle on the constitution. This Rawle was a Northern lawyer of great ability, one of the very few who seem to have understood the true nature of the terms and conditions of the compact between the States constituting the Federal Union. His work–Commentaries on the constitution of the United States–breathes the very essence of States’-rights, and the right of secession is distinctly set forth by him. When we remember that only seven years had then elapsed since New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and, perhaps, other Northern States asserted this right, and threatened to exercise it or make dishonorable terms of peace with Great Britain unless the war was stopped, we can understand that Mr. Calhoun was not violating Northern sentiment in introducing Rawle on the Constitution at West Point. It there remained as a text-book till 1861, and Mr. Davis and Sidney Johnston, and General Joe Johnston and General Lee, and all the rest of us who retired with Virginia from the Federal Union, were not only obeying the plain instincts of our nature and dictates of duty, but we were obeying the very inculcations we had received in the National School. It is not probable that any of us ever read the constitution or any exposition of it except this work of Rawle, which we studied in our graduating year at West Point. I know I did not.

I am told that in 1861 the text-book was changed and the cadets are now taught out of a treatise on the constitution which teaches that secession is a crime.

And if any one of the present generation should resign on the secession of his native State, he will be in danger of being lawfully hanged.

Dabney H. Maury.

Richmond, VA. 1878.

Dissolved

The (First Signed Version of the Virginia) Ordinance of Secession, adopted April 17, 1861, ratified May 23, 1861. General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
The (First Signed Version of the Virginia) Ordinance of Secession, adopted April 17, 1861, ratified May 23, 1861. General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

The Constitution was never submitted to the people of the United States in the aggregate, or as a people. No such political community as the people of the United States exists or ever did exist. There has never been any such thing as a vote of ‘the people of the United States in the aggregate’; no such people is recognized by the Constitution; no such political community has ever existed. […] The monstrous fiction that they acted as one people ‘in their aggregate capacity’ has not an atom of fact to serve as a basis.

Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume 1, chapters 2, 3, and 4.

The Constitution was submitted to the States for their approval and ratification, and not to the people of the whole country, in the aggregate, and it was agreed to and ratified by the States as States, and not by the people of all the States in one aggregate mass.

Alexander Stephens, The War Between the States, Volume 1, col. 4.

That the ratification of the Constitution will be a federal and not a national act is obvious from this single consideration, that it is to result neither from the decision of a majority of the people of the Union nor from that of a majority of the States. It must result from the unanimous assent of the several States that are parties to it.

James Madison, The Federalist, xxxix.

They Have Not Forfeited Their Nationality

Alexis de Tocqueville.
Alexis de Tocqueville.

The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the States, and in uniting together they have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the States chose to withdraw from the compact, it would be difficult to disprove its right of doing so, and the Federal government would have no means of maintaining its claims directly either by force or right. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America.

The Said State Doth Hereby Resume All the Rights

The flag of the State of Mississippi (April 23, 1894 - present).
The flag of the State of Mississippi (23 April 1894 – present).

AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of Mississippi and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.”

The people of the State of Mississippi, in convention assembled, do ordain and declare, and it is hereby ordained and declared, as follows, to wit:

Section 1. That all the laws and ordinances by which the said State of Mississippi became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America be, and the same are hereby, repealed, and that all obligations on the part of the said State or the people thereof to observe the same be withdrawn, and that the said State doth hereby resume all the rights, functions, and powers which by any of said laws or ordinances were conveyed to the Government of the said United States, and is absolved from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred to the said Federal Union, and shall from henceforth be a free, sovereign, and independent State.

Sec. 2. That so much of the first section of the seventh article of the constitution of this State as requires members of the Legislature and all officers, executive and judicial, to take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States be, and the same is hereby, abrogated and annulled.

Sec. 3. That all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or under any act of Congress passed, or treaty made, in pursuance thereof, or under any law of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.

Sec. 4. That the people of the State of Mississippi hereby consent to form a federal union with such of the States as may have seceded or may secede from the Union of the United States of America, upon the basis of the present Constitution of the said United States, except such parts thereof as embrace other portions than such seceding States.

Thus ordained and declared in convention the 9th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1861.

— Source: Official Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, p. 42.