Alabama Resolutions on how to avoid secession by safeguarding slavery. These resolutions at the Arkansas secession convention were presented to the Virginia secession convention. The Virginia State Library reprinted in three volumes the Journals and Papers Virginia State Convention of 1861 and in Volume III, as Document No. 16, starting on page 138, though the pages are not numbered as such. Note that one of their complaints is that “have degraded American citizens by placing them upon an equality with negroes at the ballot-box.” Their radical proposal is to amend the U.S. Constitution to safeguard slavery.
Alabama Resolutions on how to avoid secession by safeguarding slavery.
These resolutions at the Arkansas secession convention were presented to the Virginia secession convention. The Virginia State Library reprinted in three volumes the Journals and Papers Virginia State Convention of 1861 and in Volume III, as Document No. 16, starting on page 138, though the pages are not numbered as such. Note that one of their complaints is that “have degraded American citizens by placing them upon an equality with negroes at the ballot-box.” Their radical proposal is to amend the U.S. Constitution to safeguard slavery.
Passed by the Convention of the People of Arkansas, on the 20th day of March, 1861.
We, the people of the State of Arkansas, in Convention assembled, in view of the unfortunate and distracted condition of our once happy and prosperous country, and of the alarming dissensions existing between the Northern and Southern sections thereof, and desiring that a fair and equitable adjustment of the same may be made, do hereby declare the following to be just causes of complaint on the part of the people of the Southern States against their brethren of the Northern, or non-slaveholding States:
1. The people of the Northern States have organized a political party, purely sectional in its character, the central and controlling idea of which is hostility to the institution of African slavery, as it exists in the Southern States; and that party has elected a President and Vice President of the United States, pledged to administer the Government upon principles inconsistent with the rights and subversive of the interests of the Southern States.
2. They have denied to the people of the Southern States the right to an equal participation in the benefits of the common Territories of the Union by refusing them the same protection to their slave property therein that is afforded to other property, and by declaring that no more slave States shall be admitted into the Union. They have, by their prominent men and leaders, declared the doctrine of the irrepressible conflict, or the assertion of the principle that the institution of slavery is incompatible with freedom, and that both cannot exist at once; that this continent must be wholly free or wholly slave. They have, in one or more instances, refused to surrender negro thieves to the constitutional demand of the constituted authority of a sovereign State.
3. They have declared that Congress possesses, under the Constitution, and ought to exercise, the power to abolish slavery in the Territories, in the District of Columbia, and in the forts, arsenals and dock-yards of the United States, within the limits of the slaveholding States.
4. They have, in disregard of their constitutional obligations, obstructed the faithful execution of the fugitive slave laws by enactments of their State Legislatures.
5. They have denied the citizens of Southern States the right, of transit through non-slaveholding States with their slaves, and the right to hold them while temporarily sojourning therein.
6. They have degraded American citizens by placing them upon an equality with negroes at the ballot-box.
To redress the grievances hereinbefore complained of, and as a means of restoring harmony and fraternal good will between the people of all the States, the following amendments to the Constitution of the United States are proposed
1. The President and Vice President of the United States shall each be chosen alternately from a slaveholding and nonslaveholding State; but in no case shall both be chosen from slaveholding or non slaveholding States.
2. In all the territory of the United States now held, or which may hereafter be acquired, situate north of latitude 36° 30' slavery, or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, is prohibited while such territory shall remain under territorial government. In all the territory now held, or which may hereafter be acquired, south of said line of latitude, slavery of the African race is hereby recognized as existing, and shall not be interfered with by Congress, but shall be protected as property by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance. And when any territory, north or south of said line, within such boundaries as Congress may prescribe, shall contain the population requisite for a member of Congress, according to the then federal ratio of representation of the people of the United States, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, with or without slavery, as the constitution of such new State may provide.
3. Congress shall have no power to legislate upon the subject of slavery, except to protect the citizen in his right of property in slaves.
4. That in addition to the provisions of the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, Congress shall have power to provide by law, and it shall be its duty so to provide, that the United States shall pay to the owner who shall apply for it, the full value of his fugitive slave in all cases when the marshal or other officer whose duty it was to arrest said fugitive was prevented from so doing by violence; or when, after arrest, said fugitive was rescued by force, and the owner thereby prevented and obstructed in the pursuit of his remedy for the recovery of his fugitive slave under the said clause of the Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof. And in all such cases, when the United States shall pay for such fugitive, they shall have the right, in their own name, to sue the county in which said violence, intimidation, or rescue was committed, and to recover from it, with interest and damages, the amount paid by them for said fugitive slave. And the said county, after it has paid said amount to the United States, may, for its indemnity, sue and recover from the wrong-doers or rescuers, by whom the owner was prevented from the recovery of his fugitive slave, in like manner as the owner himself might have sued and recovered.
5. The third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution shall not be construed to prevent any of the States from having concurrent jurisdiction with the United States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor, to the person to whom such service or labor is due.
6. Citizens of slaveholding States, when travelling through, or temporarily sojourning with their slaves in non-slaveholding States, shall be protected in their right of property in such slaves.
7. The elective franchise and the right to hold office, whether federal, State, territorial or municipal, shall not be exercised by persons of the African race, in whole or in part.
8. These amendments, and the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution, and the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article thereof, shall not be amended or abolished without the consent of all the States.
That the sense of the people of the United States may be taken upon the amendments above proposed,
Resolved by the people of Arkansas, in Convention assembled, That we recommend the calling of a convention of the States of the federal Union, at the earliest practicable day, in accordance with the provisions of the fifth article of the Constitution of the United States.
2. Resolved further, That the President of this Convention transmit to the President and Congress of the United States, and to the Governors and Legislatures of the several States, a copy of these proceedings.
3. Resolved further, That looking to the call of a national convention, as recommended in the first resolution above, this Convention elect five delegates to represent the State of Arkansas in such Convention.
4. Resolved further, That a committee of five delegates of this Convention be appointed to prepare an address to the people of the United States urging upon them the importance of a united effort on the part of the patriotic citizens of all sections and parties to save the country from the dangers which impend it, and which threaten its destruction, and, especially, to arrest the reckless and fanatical spirit of sectionalism North and South, which, if not arrested, will inevitably involve us in a bloody civil war.