From the South Carolina Secession Convention floor, the Governor is instructed to call on the other slave states to form a Southern Confederacy.
In the autumn of 1860, the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln. South Carolina, which since the presidency of Andrew Jackson had been in the vanguard of southern nationalism and secession talk, warned that if the Republicans won, it would withdraw from the Union. In the general election on November 8, the Republicans...
In the autumn of 1860, the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln. South Carolina, which since the presidency of Andrew Jackson had been in the vanguard of southern nationalism and secession talk, warned that if the Republicans won, it would withdraw from the Union. In the general election on November 8, the Republicans received a minority of the total popular vote, but the vote was distributed to give Lincoln all the electoral votes he needed. The South Carolina General Assembly wasted no time and on November 10, 1860, called for a “Convention of the People of South Carolina” to draw up an Ordinance of Secession. It also elected Francis Pickens as Governor. In his inaugural address on December 17, 1860, he made clear that the state's path was separation. On the same day as Pickens' address, the Convention convened at the capitol, Columbia, and chose David F. Jamison president of their body. Benjamin F. Arthur was elected Clerk, meaning that his signature would attest to the official copies of the Convention's ordinances and resolutions, including the Ordinance of Secession. Following this came intelligence that smallpox was raging as an epidemic in Columbia and by first train the next morning, the delegates and new Governor all went to Charleston.
The Convention proceeded to business by appointing several committees to consider various subjects, such as the nature of relations with the people of the other slaveholding states. A committee was also chosen to draft the secession document. It reported back the following proposed Ordinance: "We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain… the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved."
It was noon on December 20, 1860 when the Ordinance of Secession was submitted for consideration, and by 12:45 the Convention had adopted it on a roll call vote of 169-0. The cry at once went forth, "The Union is dissolved!" The members of the Convention proceeded to sign the Ordinance in the presence of Governor Pickens, the members of the Legislature, and other dignitaries, and it was attested to by Arthur. Then Convention President Jamison exhibited the instrument to the people, read it, and said: "The Ordinance of Secession has been signed and ratified, and I proclaim the State of South Carolina an independent commonwealth."
During the next days, the Convention passed laws and resolutions a new nation would require. Then it turned to a matter perhaps more vital than any. All realized that South Carolina could not realistically go it alone but needed to be joined by other slave-holding states in a larger confederacy. These states were by no means all as ready as South Carolina to secede, and their people needed to be convinced both that secession was justified, and that they should follow suit. Therefore, on December 24, 1860, the same day Gov. Pickens made a speech proclaiming sovereignty for South Carolina, the Convention addressed the first need and adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which…Justify the Secession of South Carolina.”
The Convention immediately followed with an address “To the People of the Slaveholding States of the United States,” urging their secession, and ending with a clarion call for establishment of a Southern Confederacy. “United together, and we must be a great, free and prosperous people, whose renown must spread throughout the civilized world, and pass down, we trust, to the remotest ages. We ask you to join us in forming a confederacy of Slaveholding States.” Thus the three documents that constituted the foundation of secession were in place: the Ordinance of Secession, the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which…Justify the Secession, and the Address…to the People of the Slaveholding States (which culminated in a call for a Southern Confederacy).
The time had now come to communicate these documents officially to the other slave-holding states, with the hope and expectation that they would act on them. The Journal of the Convention of the People of South Carolina reports that on December 25, the Convention resolved to direct Governor Pickens to transmit the three momentous papers to the slave state governors for them to provide to their legislatures or conventions. The Resolution was the birth certificate of the Confederacy, as it marked the official out-reach of the South Carolina Convention to the other slave states, and dispatched the first official call for a Southern Confederacy (the call that in fact resulted in formation of the Confederate States of America within just a few months). The text of the Resolution was written out and signed by B.F. Arthur in his capacity as Clerk, with his notation that it was adopted in Convention on December 25, 1860. Because this Resolution was in effect an order to Gov. Pickens directing him to act, the original in Arthur's hand was sent to the Governor, whose private secretary, B.T. Watts, docketed it on the verso “Resolution of the Convention”. Furthering the goal of uniting with the other Southern states was foremost on the mind of the Convention, and on December 29, it passed an additional Resolution requesting the Governor to send Commissioners to these other states to explain and advocate its position. influential in persuading other Southern states to follow suit in secession and organization of a common government.
The Call to the Slave-holding States to Secede.
The South Carolina Secession Convention instructs Governor Pickens to inform the slave-holding states of its secession and to call on them to form a Southern Confederacy
The Resolution of the Secession Convention making the first call for establishment of the Confederacy, December 25, 1860, as instructions to Pickens and certified by the Convention clerk, B.F. Arthur
“That copies of the ‘Ordinance of Secession’…and of the 'Address of the People of South Carolina assembled in Convention, to the People of the Slaveholding states of the United States’, be transmitted by the Governor of this State to the Governors of the slaveholding States…"
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