The Alabama legislature resolves to secede if a Republican is elected president.
The following is from “The History and Debates of the Convention of The People of Alabama, Begun and Held in the City of Montgomery, on the seventh day of January, 1861,” pages 9-11, by William R. Smith, 1861, Reprint edition, The Reprint Company, 1975, Spartanburg, South Carolina. What should be noted is how the subject of slavery is repackaged as constitutional principals, “rights,” and “institutions.”
ON the 24th day of February, 1860, the Alabama Legislature adopted the following Joint Resolutions, with great unanimity—there being but two dissenting voices:
Whereas, anti-slavery agitation persistently continued in the non-slaveholding States of this Union, for more than a third of a century, marked at every stage of its progress by contempt for the obligations of law and the sanctity of compacts, evincing a deadly hostility to the rights and institutions of the Southern people, and a settled purpose to effect their overthrow even by the subversion of the Constitution, and at the hazard of violence and bloodshed; and whereas, a sectional party calling itself Republican, committed alike by its own acts and antecedents, and the public avowals and secret machinations of its leaders to the execution of these atrocious designs, has acquired the ascendency in nearly every Northern State, and hopes by success in the approaching Presidential election to seize the Government itself; and whereas, to permit such seizure by those whose unmistakable aim is to pervert its whole machinery to the destruction of a portion of its members would be an act of suicidal folly and madness, almost without a parallel in history; and whereas, the General Assembly of Alabama, representing a people loyally devoted to the Union of the Constitution, but scorning the Union which fanaticism would erect upon its ruins, deem it their solemn duty to provide in advance the means by which they may escape such peril and dishonor, and devise new securities for perpetuating the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity; therefore,
1. Be it resolved, That upon the happening of the contingency contemplated in the foregoing Preamble, namely, the election of a President advocating the principles and action of the party in the Northern States calling itself the Republican Party, it shall be the duty of the Governor, and he is hereby required, forthwith to issue his Proclamation, calling upon the qualified voters of this State to assemble on Monday not more than forty days after the date of said Proclamation, at the several places of voting in their respective counties, to elect delegates to a Convention of the State, to consider, determine and do whatever in the opinion of said Convention, the rights, interests, and honor of the State of Alabama requires to be done for their protection.
2. Be it further resolved, That said Convention shall assemble at the State Capitol on the second Monday following said election.
3. Be it further resolved, That it shall be the duty of the Governor as soon as possible to issue writs of election to the Sheriffs of the several counties, commanding them to hold an election on the said Monday so designated by the Governor, as provided for in these Joint Resolutions, for the choosing of as many delegates from each county to said Convention as the several counties shall be entitled to members in the House of Representatives of the General Assembly; and said election shall be held at the usual places of voting in the respective counties, and the polls shall be opened under the rules and regulations now governing the election of members to the General Assembly of this State, and said election shall be governed in all respects by the laws then in existence, regulating the election of members to the House of Representatives of the General Assembly, and the persons elected thereat as delegates, shall be returned in like manner, and the pay, both mileage and per diem, of the delegates to said Convention, and the several officers thereof, shall be the same as that fixed by law for the members and officers of said House of Representatives.
4. Be it further resolved, That copies of the foregoing Preamble and Resolutions be forwarded by the Governor as soon as possible to our Senators and Representatives in Congress, and to each of the Governors of our sister States of the South.
The following Resolutions, adopted at the same session, will serve still further to show the spirit that animated the Legislature of Alabama:
Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of Alabama in response to the Resolutions of South Carolina.
1st, Be it resolved, That the State of Alabama, fully concuring with the State of South Carolina, in affirming the right of any State to secede from the confederacy, whenever in her own judgment such a step is demanded by the honor, interests and safety of her people, is not unmindful of the fact that the assaults upon the institution of slavery, and upon the rights and equality of the Southern States, unceasingly continued with increasing violence and in new, and more alarming forms, may constrain her to a reluctant but early exercise of that invaluable right.
2d, Be it further resolved, That in the absence of any preparation for a systematic co-operation of the Southern States, in resisting the aggressions of their enemies, Alabama, acting for herself, has solemnly declared that under no circumstances will she submit to the foul domination of a sectional Northern party, has provided for the call of a Convention in the event of the triumph of such a faction in the approaching Presidential election, and to maintain the position thus deliberately assumed, has appropriated the sum of $200,000 for the military contingencies which such a course may involve.
3d, Be it further resolved, That the State of Alabama having endeavored to prepare for the exigencies of the future, has not deemed it necessary to propose a meeting of Deputies from the slave-holding States, but anxiously desiring their coöperation in a struggle which perils all they hold most dear, hereby pledges herself to a cordial participation in any and every effort, which in her judgment will protect the common safety, advance the common interest, and serve the common cause.
4th, Be it further resolved, That should a Convention of Deputies from the slave-holding States assemble at any time before the meeting of the next General Assembly, for the purposes and under the authority indicated by the resolutions of the State of South Carolina, the Governor of this State be, and he is hereby authorized, to appoint one deputy from each Congressional District, and two from the State at large, to represent the State of Alabama in such Convention.