The Red Shirts


                            Mississippi Secedes 1-9-1861
[Copied by Justin Sanders from "Journal of the State Convention", (Jackson,
MS: E. Barksdale, State Printer, 1861), pp. 86-88]

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession
of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.
In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection
with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we
should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest
material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes
by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.
These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and
by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to
the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a
blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long
aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation.
There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a
dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our
ruin.
That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few
facts will sufficiently prove.
The hostility to this institution commenced before the adoption of the
Constitution, and was manifested in the well-known Ordinance of 1787, in
regard to the Northwestern Territory.
The feeling increased, until, in 1819-20, it deprived the South of more than
half the vast territory acquired from France.
The same hostility dismembered Texas and seized upon all the territory
acquired from Mexico.
It has grown until it denies the right of property in slaves, and refuses
protection to that right on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever the
government of the United States had jurisdiction.
It refuses the admission of new slave States into the Union, and seeks to
extinguish it by confining it within its present limits, denying the power of
expansion.
It tramples the original equality of the South under foot.
It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union,
and has utterly broken the compact which our fathers pledged their faith to
maintain.
It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection
and incendiarism in our midst.
It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole
popular mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.
It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of
emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.
It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present
condition without providing a better.
It has invaded a State, and invested with the honors of martyrdom the wretch
whose purpose was to apply flames to our dwellings, and the weapons of
destruction to our lives.
It has broken every compact into which it has entered for our security.
It has given indubitable evidence of its design to ruin our agriculture, to
prostrate our industrial pursuits and to destroy our social system.
It knows no relenting or hesitation in its purposes; it stops not in its march of
aggression, and leaves us no room to hope for cessation or for pause.
It has recently obtained control of the Government, by the prosecution of its
unhallowed schemes, and destroyed the last expectation of living together in
friendship and brotherhood.
Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain
in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to
degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we
must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as
every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers
separated from the Crown of England.
Our decision is made. We follow their footsteps. We embrace the alternative of
separation; and for the reasons here stated, we resolve to maintain our rights
with the full consciousness of the justice of our course, and the undoubting
belief of our ability to maintain it.


                                              
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