Kentucky Secedes from Empire
Whereas, the Federal Constitution, which created the Government of the
United States, was declared by the framers thereof to be the supreme law of
the land, and was intended to limit and did expressly limit the powers of said
Government to certain general specified purposes, and did expressly reserve
to the States and people all other powers whatever, and the President and
Congress have treated this supreme law of the Union with contempt and
usurped to themselves the power to interfere with the rights and liberties of the
States and the people against the expressed provisions of the Constitution,
and have thus substituted for the highest forms of national liberty and
constitutional government a central despotism founded upon the ignorant
prejudices of the masses of Northern society, and instead of giving protection
with the Constitution to the people of fifteen States of this Union have turned
loose upon them the unrestrained and raging passions of mobs and fanatics,
and because we now seek to hold our liberties, our property, our homes, and
our families under the protection of the reserved powers of the States, have
blockaded our ports, invaded our soil, and waged war upon our people for the
purpose of subjugating us to their will; and
Whereas, our honor and our duty to posterity demand that we shall not
relinquish our own liberty and shall not abandon the right of our descendants
and the world to the inestimable blessings of constitutional government:
Be it ordained, That we do hereby forever sever our connection with the
Government of the United States, and in the name of the people we do hereby
declare Kentucky to be a free and independent State, clothed with all power to
fix her own destiny and to secure her own rights and liberties.
And whereas, the majority of the Legislature of Kentucky have violated their
most solemn pledges made before the election, and deceived and betrayed
the people; have abandoned the position of neutrality assumed by themselves
and the people, and invited into the State the organized armies of Lincoln;
have abdicated the Government in favor of a military despotism which they
have placed around themselves, but cannot control, and have abandoned the
duty of shielding the citizen with their protection; have thrown upon our people
and the State the horrors and ravages of war, instead of attempting to
preserve the peace, and have voted men and money for the war waged by the
North for the destruction of our constitutional rights; have violated the
expressed words of the constitution by borrowing five millions of money for the
support of the war without a vote of the people; have permitted the arrest and
imprisonment of our citizens, and transferred the constitutional prerogatives of
the Executive to a military commission of partisans; have seen the writ of
habeus corpus susupended without an effort for its preservation, and
permitted our people to be driven in exile from their homes; have subjected
our property to confiscation and our persons to confinement in the
penitentiary as felons, because we may choose to take part in a cause for civil
liberty and constitutional government against a sectional majority waging war
agasint the people and institutions of fifteen independent States of the old
Federal Union, and have done all these things deliberately against the
warnings and vetoes of the Governor and the solemn remonstrances of the
minority in the Senate and House of Representatives: Therefore,
Be it further ordained, That the unconstitutional edicts of a factious majority of
a Legislature thus false to their pledges, their honor, and their interests are
not law, and that such a government is unworthy of the support of a brave and
free people, and that we do therefore declare that the people are thereby
absolved from all allegiance to said government, and that they have a right to
establish any government which to them may seem best adapted to the
preservation of their rights and liberties.
Source: Official Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, p. 741.
[Adopted Nov. 20, 1861, in Russellville, by a group of Kentuckians styling itself
as a "Convention of the People of Kentucky."]