Confederate States of America - Georgia Secession
The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America,
present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we
have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference
to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and
tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that
property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of
the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every
circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the
two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war. Our people, still attached to the Union
from habit and national traditions, and averse to change, hoped that time, reason, and argument would bring, if not
redress, at least exemption from further insults, injuries, and dangers. Recent events have fully dissipated all such
hopes and demonstrated the necessity of separation. Our Northern confederates, after a full and calm hearing of all
the facts, after a fair warning of our purpose not to submit to the rule of the authors of all these wrongs and injuries,
have by a large majority committed the Government of the United States into their hands. The people of Georgia, after
an equally full and fair and deliberate hearing of the case, have declared with equal firmness that they shall not rule
over them. A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose
hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the
people of Georgia. The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of
recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of
exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of
protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission
and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state. The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the
way of the formation of the Constitution. While the subordination and the political and social inequality of the African
race was fully conceded by all, it was plainly apparent that slavery would soon disappear from what are now the
non-slave-holding States of the original thirteen. The opposition to slavery was then, as now, general in those States
and the Constitution was made with direct reference to that fact. But a distinct abolition party was not formed in the
United States for more than half a century after the Government went into operation. The main reason was that the
North, even if united, could not control both branches of the Legislature during any portion of that time. Therefore such
an organization must have resulted either in utter failure or in the total overthrow of the Government. The material
prosperity of the North was greatly dependent on the Federal Government; that of the the South not at all. In the first
years of the Republic the navigating, commercial, and manufacturing interests of the North began to seek profit and
aggrandizement at the expense of the agricultural interests. Even the owners of fishing smacks sought and obtained
bounties for pursuing their own business (which yet continue), and $500,000 is now paid them annually out of the
Treasury. The navigating interests begged for protection against foreign shipbuilders and against competition in the
coasting trade. Congress granted both requests, and by prohibitory acts gave an absolute monopoly of this business
to each of their interests, which they enjoy without diminution to this day. Not content with these great and unjust
advantages, they have sought to throw the legitimate burden of their business as much as possible upon the public;
they have succeeded in throwing the cost of light-houses, buoys, and the maintenance of their seamen upon the
Treasury, and the Government now pays above $2,000,000 annually for the support of these objects. Theses
interests, in connection with the commercial and manufacturing classes, have also succeeded, by means of
subventions to mail steamers and the reduction in postage, in relieving their business from the payment of about
$7,000,000 annually, throwing it upon the public Treasury under the name of postal deficiency. The manufacturing
interests entered into the same struggle early, and has clamored steadily for Government bounties and special favors.
This interest was confined mainly to the Eastern and Middle non-slave-holding States. Wielding these great States it
held great power and influence, and its demands were in full proportion to its power. The manufacturers and miners
wisely based their demands upon special facts and reasons rather than upon general principles, and thereby mollified
much of the opposition of the opposing interest. They pleaded in their favor the infancy of their business in this
country, the scarcity of labor and capital, the hostile legislation of other countries toward them, the great necessity of
their fabrics in the time of war, and the necessity of high duties to pay the debt incurred in our war for independence.
These reasons prevailed, and they received for many years enormous bounties by the general acquiescence of the
whole country.
But when these reasons ceased they were no less clamorous for Government protection, but their clamors were less
heeded-- the country had put the principle of protection upon trial and condemned it. After having enjoyed protection to
the extent of from 15 to 200 per cent. upon their entire business for above thirty years, the act of 1846 was passed. It
avoided sudden change, but the principle was settled, and free trade, low duties, and economy in public expenditures
was the verdict of the American people. The South and the Northwestern States sustained this policy. There was but
small hope of its reversal; upon the direct issue, none at all.
All these classes saw this and felt it and cast about for new allies. The anti-slavery sentiment of the North offered the
best chance for success. An anti-slavery party must necessarily look to the North alone for support, but a united North
was now strong enough to control the Government in all of its departments, and a sectional party was therefore
determined upon. Time and issues upon slavery were necessary to its completion and final triumph. The feeling of
anti-slavery, which it was well known was very general among the people of the North, had been long dormant or
passive; it needed only a question to arouse it into aggressive activity. This question was before us. We had acquired a
large territory by successful war with Mexico; Congress had to govern it; how, in relation to slavery, was the question
then demanding solution. This state of facts gave form and shape to the anti-slavery sentiment throughout the North
and the conflict began. Northern anti-slavery men of all parties asserted the right to exclude slavery from the territory
by Congressional legislation and demanded the prompt and efficient exercise of this power to that end. This insulting
and unconstitutional demand was met with great moderation and firmness by the South. We had shed our blood and
paid our money for its acquisition; we demanded a division of it on the line of the Missouri restriction or an equal
participation in the whole of it. These propositions were refused, the agitation became general, and the public danger
was great. The case of the South was impregnable. The price of the acquisition was the blood and treasure of both
sections-- of all, and, therefore, it belonged to all upon the principles of equity and justice.
The Constitution delegated no power to Congress to excluded either party from its free enjoyment; therefore our right
was good under the Constitution. Our rights were further fortified by the practice of the Government from the
beginning. Slavery was forbidden in the country northwest of the Ohio River by what is called the ordinance of 1787.
That ordinance was adopted under the old confederation and by the assent of Virginia, who owned and ceded the
country, and therefore this case must stand on its own special circumstances. The Government of the United States
claimed territory by virtue of the treaty of 1783 with Great Britain, acquired territory by cession from Georgia and North
Carolina, by treaty from France, and by treaty from Spain. These acquisitions largely exceeded the original limits of the
Republic. In all of these acquisitions the policy of the Government was uniform. It opened them to the settlement of all
the citizens of all the States of the Union. They emigrated thither with their property of every kind (including slaves). All
were equally protected by public authority in their persons and property until the inhabitants became sufficiently
numerous and otherwise capable of bearing the burdens and performing the duties of self-government, when they
were admitted into the Union upon equal terms with the other States, with whatever republican constitution they might
adopt for themselves.
Under this equally just and beneficent policy law and order, stability and progress, peace and prosperity marked every
step of the progress of these new communities until they entered as great and prosperous commonwealths into the
sisterhood of American States. In 1820 the North endeavored to overturn this wise and successful policy and
demanded that the State of Missouri should not be admitted into the Union unless she first prohibited slavery within her
limits by her constitution. After a bitter and protracted struggle the North was defeated in her special object, but her
policy and position led to the adoption of a section in the law for the admission of Missouri, prohibiting slavery in all that
portion of the territory acquired from France lying North of 36 [degrees] 30 [minutes] north latitude and outside of
Missouri. The venerable Madison at the time of its adoption declared it unconstitutional. Mr. Jefferson condemned the
restriction and foresaw its consequences and predicted that it would result in the dissolution of the Union. His prediction
is now history. The North demanded the application of the principle of prohibition of slavery to all of the territory
acquired from Mexico and all other parts of the public domain then and in all future time. It was the announcement of
her purpose to appropriate to herself all the public domain then owned and thereafter to be acquired by the United
States. The claim itself was less arrogant and insulting than the reason with which she supported it. That reason was
her fixed purpose to limit, restrain, and finally abolish slavery in the States where it exists. The South with great
unanimity declared her purpose to resist the principle of prohibition to the last extremity. This particular question, in
connection with a series of questions affecting the same subject, was finally disposed of by the defeat of prohibitory
The Presidential election of 1852 resulted in the total overthrow of the advocates of restriction and their party friends.
Immediately after this result the anti-slavery portion of the defeated party resolved to unite all the elements in the North
opposed to slavery an to stake their future political fortunes upon their hostility to slavery everywhere. This is the party
two whom the people of the North have committed the Government. They raised their standard in 1856 and were barely
defeated. They entered the Presidential contest again in 1860 and succeeded.
The prohibition of slavery in the Territories, hostility to it everywhere, the equality of the black and white races,
disregard of all constitutional guarantees it its favor, were boldly proclaimed by its leaders and applauded by its
With these principles on their banners and these utterances on their lips the majority of the people of the North
demand that we shall receive them as our rulers.
The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization.
For forty years this question has been considered and debated in the halls of Congress, before the people, by the
press, and before the tribunals of justice. The majority of the people of the North in 1860 decided it in their own favor.
We refuse to submit to that judgment, and in vindication of our refusal we offer the Constitution of our country and point
to the total absence of any express power to exclude us. We offer the practice of our Government for the first thirty
years of its existence in complete refutation of the position that any such power is either necessary or proper to the
execution of any other power in relation to the Territories. We offer the judgment of a large minority of the people of the
North, amounting to more than one-third, who united with the unanimous voice of the South against this usurpation;
and, finally, we offer the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest judicial tribunal of our
country, in our favor. This evidence ought to be conclusive that we have never surrendered this right. The conduct of
our adversaries admonishes us that if we had surrendered it, it is time to resume it.
The faithless conduct of our adversaries is not confined to such acts as might aggrandize themselves or their section of
the Union. They are content if they can only injure us. The Constitution declares that persons charged with crimes in
one State and fleeing to another shall be delivered up on the demand of the executive authority of the State from which
they may flee, to be tried in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. It would appear difficult to employ language
freer from ambiguity, yet for above twenty years the non-slave-holding States generally have wholly refused to deliver
up to us persons charged with crimes affecting slave property. Our confederates, with punic faith, shield and give
sanctuary to all criminals who seek to deprive us of this property or who use it to destroy us. This clause of the
Constitution has no other sanction than their good faith; that is withheld from us; we are remediless in the Union; out of
it we are remitted to the laws of nations.
A similar provision of the Constitution requires them to surrender fugitives from labor. This provision and the one last
referred to were our main inducements for confederating with the Northern States. Without them it is historically true
that we would have rejected the Constitution. In the fourth year of the Republic Congress passed a law to give full vigor
and efficiency to this important provision. This act depended to a considerable degree upon the local magistrates in the
several States for its efficiency. The non-slave-holding States generally repealed all laws intended to aid the execution
of that act, and imposed penalties upon those citizens whose loyalty to the Constitution and their oaths might induce
them to discharge their duty. Congress then passed the act of 1850, providing for the complete execution of this duty
by Federal officers. This law, which their own bad faith rendered absolutely indispensible for the protection of
constitutional rights, was instantly met with ferocious revilings and all conceivable modes of hostility. The Supreme
Court unanimously, and their own local courts with equal unanimity (with the single and temporary exception of the
supreme court of Wisconsin), sustained its constitutionality in all of its provisions. Yet it stands to-day a dead letter for
all practicable purposes in every non-slave-holding State in the Union. We have their covenants, we have their oaths
to keep and observe it, but the unfortunate claimant, even accompanied by a federal officer with the mandate of the
highest judicial authority in his hands, is everywhere met with fraud, with force, and with legislative enactments to elude,
to resist, and defeat him. Claimants are murdered with impunity; officers of the law are beaten by frantic mobs
instigated by inflammatory appeals from persons holding the highest public employment in these States, and supported
by legislation in conflict with the clearest provisions of the Constitution, and even the ordinary principles of humanity. In
several of our confederate States a citizen cannot travel the highway with his servant who may voluntarily accompany
him, without being declared by law a felon and being subjected to infamous punishments. It is difficult to perceive how
we could suffer more by the hostility than by the fraternity of such brethren.
The public law of civilized nations requires every State to restrain its citizens or subjects from committing acts injurious
to the peace and security of any other State and from attempting to excite insurrection, or to lessen the security, or to
disturb the tranquillity of their neighbors, and our Constitution wisely gives Congress the power to punish all offenses
against the laws of nations.
These are sound and just principles which have received the approbation of just men in all countries and all centuries;
but they are wholly disregarded by the people of the Northern States, and the Federal Government is impotent to
maintain them. For twenty years past the abolitionists and their allies in the Northern States have been engaged in
constant efforts to subvert our institutions and to excite insurrection and servile war among us. They have sent
emissaries among us for the accomplishment of these purposes. Some of these efforts have received the public
sanction of a majority of the leading men of the Republican party in the national councils, the same men who are now
proposed as our rulers. These efforts have in one instance led to the actual invasion of one of the slave-holding
States, and those of the murderers and incendiaries who escaped public justice by flight have found fraternal
protection among our Northern confederates.
These are the same men who say the Union shall be preserved.
Such are the opinions and such are the practices of the Republican party, who have been called by their own votes to
administer the Federal Government under the Constitution of the United States. We know their treachery; we know the
shallow pretenses under which they daily disregard its plainest obligations. If we submit to them it will be our fault and
not theirs. The people of Georgia have ever been willing to stand by this bargain, this contract; they have never sought
to evade any of its obligations; they have never hitherto sought to establish any new government; they have struggled
to maintain the ancient right of themselves and the human race through and by that Constitution. But they know the
value of parchment rights in treacherous hands, and therefore they refuse to commit their own to the rulers whom the
North offers us. Why? Because by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our
property in the common territories of the Union; put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists and
out of the protection of Federal law everywhere, because they give sanctuary to thieves and incendiaries who assail it
to the whole extent of their power, in spite of their most solemn obligations and covenants; because their avowed
purpose is to subvert our society and subject us not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves,
our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides. To avoid these evils we
resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new
safeguards for our liberty, equality, security, and tranquility.
[Approved, Tuesday, January 29, 1861]