AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of Alabama and other States united under the compact styled "The Constitution of the United States of America."*
Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States of America by a sectional party avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by 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by the people of the State of Alabama in convention assembled, That the State of Alabama now withdraws, and is hereby withdrawn, from the Union known as "the United States of America," and henceforth ceases to be one of said United States, and is, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and independent State.
SEC. 2. Be it further declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama in convention assembled, That all the powers over the territory of said State and over the people thereof heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America be, and they are hereby, withdrawn from said Government, and are hereby resumed and vested in the people of the State of Alabama.
Be it resolved by the people of Alabama in convention assembled, That the people of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri be, and are hereby, invited to meet the people of the State of Alabama, by their delegates in convention, on the 4th day of February, A. D. 1861, at the city of Montgomery, in the State of Alabama, for the purpose of consulting with each other as to the most effectual mode of securing concerted and harmonious action in whatever measures may be deemed most desirable for our common peace and security.
And be it further resolved, That the president of this convention be, and is hereby, instructed to transmit forthwith a copy of the foregoing preamble, ordinance, and resolutions to the Governors of the several States named in said resolutions.
Done by the people of the State of Alabama, in convention assembled, at Montgomery, on this the 11th day of January, A. D. 1861.
Mr. Clemens, from the minority of the same committee, made a report with resolutions, as follows:
The undersigned, a minority of the committee of thirteen, to whom was referred all matters touching the proper mode of resistance to be adopted by the State of Alabama in the present emergency, beg leave to present the following report:
Looking to harmony of action among our own people as desirable above all other things, we have been earnestly desirous of concurring with the majority in the line of policy marked out by them, but after the most careful consideration we have been unable to see in separate State secession the most effectual mode of guarding our honor and securing our rights. Without entering into any argument upon the nature and amount of our grievances, or any speculations as to the probability of our obtaining redress and security in the Union, but looking alone to the most effectual mode of resistance, it seems to us that this great object is best to be attained by the concurrent and concerted action of all the States interested, and that it becomes us to make the effort to obtain that concurrence before deciding finally and conclusively upon our own policy.
We are further of opinion that in a matter of this importance, vitally affecting the property, the lives, and the liberties of the whole people, sound policy dictates that an ordinance of secession should be submitted for their ratification and approval. To that end the resolutions which accompany this report have been prepared and are now submitted to the convention. The undersigned purposely refrain from a detailed statement of the reasons which have brought them to the conclusions at which they have arrived. The action proposed by the majority of the committee is, in its nature, final and conclusive; there is no chance for rehearing or revision; and we feel no disposition to submit an argument, whose only effect will be to create discontent and throw difficulties in the way of a policy the adoption of which we are powerless to prevent. In submitting our own plan, and using all fair and honorable means to secure its acceptance, our duty is fully discharged. To insist upon objections, when they can have no effect but to excite dissatisfaction among the people, is alike foreign to our feelings and our conceptions of patriotic duty. The resolutions hereinbefore referred to are prayed to be taken as part of this report, and the whole is herewith respectfully submitted.
DAVID P. LEWIS.
WM. O. WINSTON.
R. S. WATKINS.
R. JEMISON, JR.
Whereas, repeated infractions of the Constitution of the United States by the people and States of the Northern section of the confederacy have been followed by the election of sectional candidates, by a strictly sectional vote, to the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States, upon a platform of principles insulting and menacing to the Southern States; and whereas, it becomes a free people to watch with jealous vigilance and resist with manly firmness every attempt to subvert the free and equal principles upon which our Government was originally founded and ought alone to be maintained: Therefore,
Be it resolved by the people of Alabama in convention assembled, That the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri be, and they are hereby, requested to meet us in general convention in the city of Nashville, in the State of Tennessee, on the 22d day of February, 1861, for the purpose of taking into consideration the wrongs of which we have cause to complain, the appropriate remedy therefor, and the time and manner of its application.
Be it further resolved, That the State of Alabama shall be represented in said convention by nine delegates, one to be selected from each Congressional district and two from the State at large, in such manner as shall hereafter be directed and provided for by this convention.
Be it further resolved, That our delegates selected shall be instructed to submit to the general convention the following basis of a settlement of the existing difficulties between the Northern and the Southern States, to wit:
1. A faithful execution of the fugitive slave law and a repeal of all State laws calculated to impair its efficacy.
2. A more stringent and explicit provision for the surrender of criminals charged with offenses against the laws of one State and escaping into another.
3. A guaranty that slavery shall not be abolished in the District of Columbia, or in any other place over which Congress has exclusive jurisdiction.
4. A guaranty that the interstate slave-trade shall not be interfered with.
5. A protection to slavery in the Territories, while they are Territories, and a guaranty that when they ask for admission as States they shall be admitted into the Union with or without slavery as their constitutions may prescribe.
6. The right of transit through free States with slave property.
7. The foregoing clauses to be irrepealable by amendments to the Constitution.
Be it further resolved, That the basis of settlement prescribed in the foregoing resolution shall not be regarded by our delegates as absolute and unalterable, but as an indication of the opinion of this convention, to which they are expected to conform as nearly as may be, holding themselves, however, at liberty to accept any better plan of adjustment which may be insisted upon by a majority of the slave-holding States.
Be it further resolved, That if the foregoing proposition for a conference is refused or rejected by any or all of the States to which it is addressed, Alabama, in that event, will hold herself at liberty, alone or in conjunction with such States as may agree to unite with her, to adopt such plan of resistance and mature such measures as in her judgment may seem best calculated to maintain the honor and secure the rights of her citizens; and in the meantime we will resist by all means at our command any attempt on the part of the General Government to coerce a seceding State.
Be it further resolved, That the president of this convention be instructed to transmit copies of the foregoing preamble and resolutions to the Governors of each of the States therein named.
And also the following resolution from the same:
Be it resolved by the people of Alabama in convention assembled, That an ordinance of secession from the United States is an act of such great importance, involving consequences so vitally affecting the lives, liberty, and property of the citizens of the seceding State, as well as of the States by which it is surrounded and with which it has heretofore been united, that in our opinion it should never be attempted until after the most thorough investigation and discussion, and then only after a full and free ratification at the polls by a direct vote of the people, at an election held under the forms and safeguards of the law in which that single issue, untrammeled and undisguised in any manner whatever, should alone be submitted.
Mr. Clemens moved that the preamble and first series of resolutions be taken up and substituted for the ordinance.
The ayes and noes were demanded.
The yeas and nays were then called on the motion of Mr. Clemens, and it was lost. Yeas 45, nays 54.
* * * * * * * * * *
Mr. Clemens offered the following amendment:
Provided, however, That this ordinance shall not go into effect until the 4th day of March, 1861, and not then unless the same shall have been ratified and confirmed by a direct vote of the people.
The yeas and nays were taken on the amendment, and were--yeas 45, nays 54; and the amendment was lost.
* From the Journal of the Alabama Convention.
SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series IV, Volume 1, Serial 127, p. 43-5