[Copied by Justin Sanders from J.A. May
& J.R. Faunt, *South Carolina Secedes* (U. of S. Car. Pr, 1960), pp. 76-81.]
Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which
Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union
The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention
assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of
the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments
upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing
from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other
slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time,
these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a
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.
In the year 1765, that portion of the British Empire
embracing Great Britain, undertook to make laws for the government of that portion
composed of the thirteen American Colonies. A struggle for the right of self-government
ensued, which resulted, on the 4th of July, 1776, in a Declaration, by the Colonies,
"that they are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that, as
free and independent States, they have 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."
They further solemnly declared that whenever any "form
of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the
right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government."
Deeming the Government of Great Britain to have become destructive of these ends, they
declared that the Colonies "are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and
ought to be, totally dissolved."
In pursuance of this Declaration of Independence, each of the
thirteen States proceeded to exercise its separate sovereignty; adopted for itself a
Constitution, and appointed officers for the administration of government in all its
departments-- Legislative, Executive and Judicial. For purposes of defense, they united
their arms and their counsels; and, in 1778, they entered into a League known as the
Articles of Confederation, whereby they agreed to entrust the administration of their
external relations to a common agent, known as the Congress of the United States,
expressly declaring, in the first Article "that each State retains its sovereignty,
freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not, by this
Confederation, expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled."
Under this Confederation the war of the Revolution was
carried on, and on the 3rd of September, 1783, the contest ended, and a definite Treaty
was signed by Great Britain, in which she acknowledged the independence of the Colonies in
the following terms: "ARTICLE 1-- His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United
States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that
he treats with them as such; and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all
claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same and every part
Thus were established the two great principles asserted by
the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to
abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted.
And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony
became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE.
In 1787, Deputies were appointed by the States to revise the
Articles of Confederation, and on 17th September, 1787, these Deputies recommended for the
adoption of the States, the Articles of Union, known as the Constitution of the United
The parties to whom this Constitution was submitted, were the
several sovereign States; they were to agree or disagree, and when nine of them agreed the
compact was to take effect among those concurring; and the General Government, as the
common agent, was then invested with their authority.
If only nine of the thirteen States had concurred, the other
four would have remained as they then were-- separate, sovereign States, independent of
any of the provisions of the Constitution. In fact, two of the States did not accede to
the Constitution until long after it had gone into operation among the other eleven; and
during that interval, they each exercised the functions of an independent nation.
By this Constitution, certain duties were imposed upon the
several States, and the exercise of certain of their powers was restrained, which
necessarily implied their continued existence as sovereign States. But to remove all
doubt, an amendment was added, which declared that the powers not delegated to the United
States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
States, respectively, or to the people. On the 23d May , 1788, South Carolina, by a
Convention of her People, passed an Ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and
afterwards altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had
Thus was established, by compact between the States, a
Government with definite objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant.
This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it
to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved
We hold that the Government thus established 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
fulfill 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, be
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 now composes the States north of the Ohio River.
The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for
rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.
The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to
carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were
executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the
institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the
General Government 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 nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many
of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of
them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The
State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional
obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact
laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of
Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied
by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice
fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of
Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the
non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from
The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared
by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic
tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the
blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
These ends it endeavored 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 burthening
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 made destructive of them
by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume 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 open
establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to
eloign the property of the citizens of 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* [emphasis in the original] 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 entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because
he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half
free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course
of ultimate extinction.
This sectional combination for the submersion of the
Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons
who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes
have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its
beliefs and safety.
On the 4th day 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 tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be
waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.
The guaranties 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 public opinion at the North has
invested a great political error with the sanction of 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 rectitude 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
Adopted December 24, 1860