Friday, May 6, 2011

Arkansas Secedes, War Declared on the United States

Arkansas Militia
150 years ago today, both Tennessee and Arkansas voted to secede. Both were border states, and did not secede because of Lincoln's threat to slavery. They remained in the Union until Lincoln said that they must raise troops to attack their neighbors in the South. At that point they seceded, along with Virginia and more to come.

Arkansas said in their Ordinance of Secession:
[Abraham Lincoln] has, in the face of resolutions passed by this convention pledging the State of Arkansas to resist to the last extremity any attempt on the part of such power to coerce any State that had seceded from the old Union, proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States until they should be compelled to submit to their rule, and large forces to accomplish this have by this same power been called out, and are now being marshaled to carry out this inhuman design; and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas:1
While the legislature of Tennessee was favorable to secession, they did not actually secede on this day. They called for a public vote on the issue instead.

On the same day Jefferson Davis signed a bill declaring a state of war with the United States, since they were being attacked by them. It said:
Whereas, the earnest efforts made by this government to establish friendly relations between the government of the United States and the Confederate States and to settle all questions of disagreement between the two governments upon principles of right, justice, equity and good faith, have proved unavailing, by reason of the refusal of the government of the United States to hold any intercourse with the Commissioners appointed by the government for the purposes aforesaid or to listen to any proposal they had to make for the peaceful solution of all causes of difficulties between the two governments; and

Whereas, the President of the United States of America has issued his Proclamation, making the requisition upon the states of the American Union for seventy-five thousand men, for the purpose as therein indicated of capturing forts,  and other strongholds of the jurisdiction of, and belonging to the Confederate States of America, and has detailed Naval armaments upon the coast of the Confederate States of America, and raised, organized and equipped a large military force to execute the purpose aforesaid, and has issued his other Proclamations announcing his purpose to set foot a blockage of the ports of the Confederate States;
The Congress of the Confederate States do enact, that the President of the Confederate States be, and he is hereby, authorized to use the land and naval forces for the purpose of ... resisting and repelling in such manner as he may deem advisable any and all acts of hostility or aggression that may be committed by said government.2
1. The American Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events of the year 1861 (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1867), vol. 1 p. 23.
2. Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1904) vol. 1, p. 177-181.


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