1861 Why Did NC Secede?

THOMAS RUFFIN, North Carolina Representative in the United States Congress and former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, on the state’s reason for seceding:

“Sir, the day for a settlement after long years, has come. The time must not be procrastination. If the slaveholding states of this Union are not coequal with other members of the Confederacy [the Federal Union], it is high time that it was known. Equality has been denied them. That denial has superinduced the fatal malady of which the Government is now perishing. No hollow truce, no temporary expedient of patched-up congressional compromise, will avail now. The disease has passed that stage. I may almost say, sir, that it is immedicabile vuluus, not to be cured by the nostrums of empyricism; neither can the magic charms and mystic incaptations of political charlatanry drive it from the surface back into the vital organs, again to make its appearance as a corroding ulcer upon the body politic. Illusory legislation, contrived and adopted in the exigencies of the times, has heretofore been tried and failed of its purpose.” He summarizes the legislative compromises of 1820 and 1850 by the United States government and their failure to protect slave property in the Southern states, emphasizes that as of February, 1861 six (Southern) states that have seceded to recover their sovereignty and then proclaims: “It becomes us to deal with facts as they are. It is useless and absurd not to discuss the right of a state to secede; it is idle to speculate on the abstract right of secession; for this great remedy of sovereign States has been asserted and exercised, even to a practical application; and secession – a word that has heretofore so often shocked the nerves of a certain class of timid politicians in the South – is something that they have seen carried into practice, and secession itself has become un fait accompli . . .From my first entrance into public life, I have been an advocate of the right of secession . . .In this connection, I would state that, in my judgment, the time has come for the Southern states yet in the Union, [who recognize] recognizing the institution of slavery, should proceed to carry out this inestimable remedy of secession, and to seek, outside of the present Union, such associations as would afford them the protection denied them within it.”

from: a Speech by Thomas Ruffin, on 20 Feb 1861, in the United States House of Representatives on “States Rights and State Equality” Also, he was a delegate, representing Alamance County, to the May 1861 North Carolina Secession Convention in Raleigh and a representative of the state to the Virginia called Peace Conference in Washington.

Clearly, the top jurist in North Carolina, one of the state’s four or five most powerful political leaders and a person expert on intergovernmental relations and its history in the Union since 1789 states the view, held by the overwhelming majority of men serving in the North Carolina Senate, House of Commons and Secession Convention, as of late February 1861; namely, that secession is being used by the states south of the Potomac because it uniquely offers them, especially when they exercise it in concert, the maximum protection for slave property. Also, in his speech above, he identifies slavery as THE primary institution unifying the Southern states in a common culture. Also, this revealing, determinitive speech is prior to Lincoln’s call for troops, the firing on Fort Sumter and, most importantly, two months prior to North Carolina’s secession from the Union. At the time of this speech 85% of the men serving as representatives in the North Carolina legislature own slaves.

Also, from legislative action in the United States House of Representatives on 13 December 1860, with North Carolina’s representatives – BURTON CRAIGE, from Salisbury, Rowan County, and THOMAS RUFFIN, from Haw River, Alamance County, voting for the resolution entitled the “Southern Manifesto.”

Southern Manifesto.

Washington, December 13th (1860). At the request of Hon. Reuben Davis of Mississippi, member of the Committee of States, the Southern members of Congress assembled at his rooms to-night and adjourned at eleven o’clock, at which the following declaration was made and signed by those present. It had already been presented to the Committee of Thirty-three:

Washington, December 13th, 1860. To our Constituents: The argument is exhausted. All hope of relief in the Union, through the agency of committees, Congressional legislation, or constitutional amendments, is extinguished, and we trust the : South will not be deceived by appearances or the pretence of new guarantees. The Republicans are resolute in the purpose to grant nothing that will or ought to satisfy the South. We are satisfied [that] the honor, safety, and independence of the Southern people are to be found only in a Southern Confederacy —a result to be obtained only by separate State secession—and that the sole and primary aim of each slaveholding State ought to be its speedy and absolute separation from an unnatural and hostile Union.

Signed by J. L. Pugh, David Clopton, Sydenham Moore, J. L. M. Curry, and J. A. Stallworth of Alabama; Alfred Iverson, J. W. H. Underwood, L. J. Gartrell, and Jas. Jackson, (Senator Toombs is not here, but would sign). John J. Jones, and Martin J. Crawford of Georgia; Geo. S. Hawkins of Florida. It is understood Mr. Yulee will sign it. T. C. Hindman of Arkansas. Both Senators will also sign it. A. G. Brown, Wm. Barksdale. O. R. Singleton, and Reuben Davis of Mississippi; Burton Craige and Thos. Ruffin of North Carolina; J. P. Benjamin and John M. Landrum of Louisiana. Mr. Slidell will also sign it. Senators Wigfall and Hemphill of Texas, will sign it.

Mr. Davis made the following statement to the caucus:

Being a member of the Committee of Thirty-three, I state that the above witnessed dispatch was communicated to the committee this evening, and a resolution passed proposing no specific relief, eight Northern States dissenting, avowedly intended to counteract the effect of the above dispatch, and, as I believe, to mislead the people of the South. From information derived from Republican members of the committee and other Northern Representatives, I fully concur in the above dispatch.

Reuben Davis. The manifesto will be immediately communicated to the several constituencies of the gentlemen named by telegraph.”

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