Greg Cohoon (drmellow) wrote,
Greg Cohoon

North Carolina Ordinance of Secession

Sunday afternoon, I visited the NC State Capitol in Raleigh to see the North Carolina Ordinance of Secession, which was signed on May 20, 1861. It was on display for three days in the House Chambers, where it was originally written. I took a few pictures.

It was really interesting. I don't know exactly what I was expecting to see, but what I saw wasn't what I was expecting. I guess I was expecting some sort of proclamation on parchment or something -- like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are written on. What I saw instead was a page in a book. The book was a collection of all of the laws that were passed around the same time that the Ordinance of Secession was passed. The book was open to the page of the Ordinance, which was about halfway through the book. I wonder what was before, and what was after that page. The display said that after the Ordinance was passed, they created a commemorative version on parchment and had all of the legislators sign it, but no one knows where that copy is. I'm guessing it's been destroyed, since it hasn't surfaced yet.

The Ordinance of Secession itself is pretty simple and straightforward. Basically, it says that the State of North Carolina is repealing the ordinance that it passed back in 1789, which ratified the Constitution:
AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of North Carolina and the other States united with her, under the compact of government entitled "The Constitution of the United States."

We, the people of the State of North Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is herby declared and ordained, that the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded, and abrogated.

We do further declare and ordain, That the union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States, under the title of the United States of America, is herby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

Done in convention at the city of Raleigh, this the 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of said State.
There was a lot of Union support in North Carolina in the time leading up to the war, but when shots were fired at Fort Sumter in South Carolina and the Federal government requested North Carolina troops to suppress the rebellion in the lower South, the general atmosphere in North Carolina changed. The General Assembly met in a special session to authorize a state convention election. Delegates to the convention were elected on May 13 and met at the State Capitol on May 20, 1861. There were 120 delegates, and they passed the Ordinance of Secession unanimously, despite political divisions. North Carolina was the last state to join the Confederacy.

It was a great educational trip to the State Capitol. After spending some time in the Capitol building, we crossed the street to spend a little time at the North Carolina Museum of History, which was also a lot of fun. We didn't have enough time to enjoy all of the exhibits, so we'll be returning there sometime soon, I hope.
Tags: csa, history, war between the states

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