[CIVIL WAR]. TEXAS. SECESSION CONVENTION (First Session, January 28-February 4, 1861). An Ordinance | to dissolve the Union between the State of Texas and the other | States, united under the compact styled “The Constitution of | the United States of America.” | [text reads] Whereas, The Federal Government has failed to accomplish the purposes of the | compact of union between these States, in giving protection either to the persons of our | people upon an exposed frontier, or to the property of our citizens: and Whereas, The | action of the Northern States of the Union is violative of the compact between the States | and the guarantees of the Constitution: and Whereas, the recent developments in Federal | affairs, make it evident, that the power of the Federal Government is sought to be made a | weapon with which to strike down the interests and prosperity of the people of Texas and | her sister slaveholding States, instead of permitting it to be, as was intended, our shield | against outrage and aggression:— Therefore, | Sec. 1. We, the people of the State of Texas, by Delegates in Convention assembled, do | declare and ordain, that the ordinance adopted by our Convention of delegates on the fourth | day of July A.D., 1845, and afterwards ratified by us, under which the Republic of Texas | was admitted into Union with other States and became a party to the compact styled | “the Constitution of the United States of America,” be and is hereby repealed and annulled; | —that all the powers, which by the said compact, were delegated by Texas to the Federal | Government, are revoked and resumed;—that Texas is of right absolved from all restraints | and obligations incurred by said compact, and is a separate State, and that her | citizens and people are absolved from all allegiance to the United States, or the Govern- | ment thereof. | Sec. 2. This ordinance shall be submitted to the people of Texas, for their ratification or | rejection, by the qualified voters, on the 23rd day of February, 1861, and unless rejected | by a majority of the votes cast, shall take effect and be in force on and after the 2d | day of March, A.D., 1861. Provided, that in the Representative district of El Paso, said elec- | tion may be held on the 18th day of February, 1861. | Done by the people of the State of Texas, in Convention assembled, at Austin, this | first day of February, A.D., 1861. | O.M. Roberts, President | [signers’ names in three columns] | R.T. Brownrigg, Secretary. | Wm. Dunn Schoolfield, Assistant Secretary. | R.W. Lunday. [Austin]: State Gazette, . Broadside within ornamental border printed on newsprint. Type area: 41.2 x 20.6 cm; sheet size: 52 x 36.7 cm. Creased where formerly folded, a few light wrinkles, overall a fine, untrimmed copy. Any copy of the ordinance is rare.
Second issue of the first public printing of the Secession Ordinance by which Texas seceded from the Union. Wilkie, Secession 8. Parrish & Willingham, Confederate Imprints 4163. Winkler & Friend, Check List of Texas Imprints 1861-1876 163. Some of these printings (e.g., Winkler & Friend 164) have the imprint “Gazette Print,” as opposed to the “State Gazette” imprint here.
Texas was the seventh state to secede from the Union, and its action came at a critical time. The original six seceding states were meeting in convention in Montgomery, Alabama, to form the Confederate States of America. The impetus added by this Texas ordinance was an important reinforcement to the cause, and the convention admitted Texas even before the state voted to join. The convention that issued this document was subject to delaying tactics by Governor Sam Houston, who eventually lost his position because of his opposition to the direction in which Texas was headed. One of Houston’s delaying tactics was to insist that this ordinance be approved by the voters, which it was, overwhelmingly, three weeks later.
This brief but forceful ordinance was one of the basic documents that set Texas on a path that would lead to its joining the Confederacy and becoming embroiled in the bloody and disastrous Civil War. Although Texas itself was spared many of the ravages that were visited on other Southern states, she nevertheless lost thousands of men on Southern and Northern battlefields, including Gettysburg. Texas joined the rest of the Confederacy in the Great Conflict that ended at Appomattox Courthouse. Ironically, while the rest of the Confederacy was formally declared to be in a state of peace on April 2, 1866, this did not include Texas. Although a Texas Constitutional Convention convened on February 7, 1866, and voted on March 15, 1866, to nullify its act of secession, it was not until August 20, 1866, that the U.S. declared peace with Texas.