The state of South Carolina. At a convention an ordinance to dissolve the Union. (1865; LOC:

1860 ordinance – nullified in 1865

150 years ago today the South Carolina state constitutional convention repealed the December 20, 1860 Ordinance of Secession.

From The New-York Times September 19, 1865:

THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONVENTION.; Repeal of the Ordinance of Secession.

BOSTON, Monday, Sept. 18.

The Advertiser has the following special:

COLUMBIA, S.C., Friday, Sept. 15.

The State Convention has passed an ordinance repealing the ordinance of secession, without debate. There was no applause. Three delegates voted nay.


From The New-York Times September 28, 1865:

SOUTH CAROLINA.; Meeting of the Constitutional Convention The Governor’s Message Resolutions in Favor of Jeff. Davis Contested Seats Beginning the Work of Reconstruction. THIRD DAY FRIDAY, SEPT. 15. FOURTH DAY SATURDAY, SEPT. 16. BILL OF RIGHTS. THE DEBATE ON THE PROHIBITION OF SLAVERY.


[from Our Own Correspondent.]

COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 13, 1865.

In obedience to the Proclamation of Provisional Governor PERRY, the delegates of the people of South Carolina assembled at noon to-day in State Convention for the purpose of repealing the Ordinance of Secession and remodeling the State Constitution. The convention assembled in the Baptist Church, in which the Secession Convention of 1860 originally assembled, though that, after two sessions, adjourned to Charleston where the Ordinance of Secession was passed. That convention numbered 168 members. This has but 124 — that is, the proclamation gives that as the number. In point of fact, however, the number present will not probably exceed 115, for it is known that three parishes held no elections, while Bishop LYNCH is in Europe, and WADE HAMPTON is not expected here. There were present to-day 101 delegates, all the State except six parishes being represented. Nine or ten of the delegates were also delegates in the Secession Convention. …


Columbia_sc_ruins (South Carolina, Columbia, view from the State Capitol)

“South Carolina, Columbia, view from the State Capitol” (National Archives)

It seems that the fire-eaters are not yet all dead, for as soon as a committee had been appointed to wait on the Governor and tell him the convention was ready for business, Mr. ALDRICH, a delegate from the Barnwell district, offered the following resolution, which he asked might be printed, and made the special order for to-morrow:

Resolved, That under the present extraordinary circumstances it is both wise and politic to accept the condition in which we are placed; to endure patiently the evils which we cannot avert or correct; and to await calmly the time and opportunity to affect our deliverance from unconstitutional rule.

This produced an explosion at once. Mr. DUDLEY protested briefly against the passage or printing of any such resolution, and moved that it be laid on the table. Mr. ALDRICH briefly responded that he did not ask debate now, but would be prepared to defend the resolution to-morrow. Mr. FROST, of Charleston, also expressed the idea that the resolution was very objectionable. Mr. ALDRICH responded that no one would deny that the people of this State are living under a military despotism, repugnant alike to the people and the spirit of the Federal Constitution; and for his part, he hoped for the speedy overthrow of the party now in power in the North. Mr. MCGOWAN, of the Abbeville District, who was a General in the Confederate service, and bears the marks of several wounds, denounced the resolution in a brief speech of thrilling eloquence, which brought applause from the delegates and the galleries. Mr. ALDRICH again responded that he meant just what the resolution says — to be quiet till we were strong enough, through the aid of the Democratic Party of the North, to get a constitutional government. Ex-Gov. PICKENS said it did not become the people of South Carolina to bluster now, and he seconded the motion to lay the resolution on the table, which prevailed very decisively, with only four or five dissenting votes. This was the feature of the day’s work. …



THURSDAY, Sept. 14.

The convention is laying out a great deal of business for itself, and gentlemen who proposed doing all the work in a week at most, are disconsolate. …


NYT 9-28-1865

New York Times – September 28, 1865

[THIRD DAY – FRIDAY, SEPT. 15.] [see front page clipping]

The event of the day has been the passage of an ordinance repealing the ordinance of secession. It was introduced on Wednesday by Ex-Gov. PICKENS, referred on yesterday to a special committee of three, of which he was chairman, and he reported it back this morning, and asked its immediate passage. Two brief speeches were made yesterday on the question of reference, but there was no talking to-day. On a call of the roll, the vote stood 105 yeas and 3 nays, the nays being the three delegates from the Barnwell district — Messrs. ALDRICH, BRABHAM and WHETSTONE. Mr. ALDRICH explained that the dominant party of the North had proclaimed for four years that the States were not out of the Union, and he couldn’t see any sense, therefore, in passing such an ordinance. The passage was received in silence — strikingly suggestive when one remembered with what dramatic applause the ordinance of secession was proclaimed passed.

Immediately after the passage of this ordinance, there came to light the following very remarkable resolutions, which were introduced by Mr. WM. WALLACE, one of the delegates from this city:

Whereas, By the fortunes of war, our former noble and beloved Chief Magistrate, JEFFERSON DAVIS, is now languishing in prison, awaiting his trial for treason; and

Whereas, The fanatics of the North, not satisfied with the wide-spread ruin and desolation which they have caused, are shrieking for his blood;

Resolved, That it is the paramount duty of South Carolina, who led the way in our late struggle for independence, and for which struggle he is now suffering, to use every lawful means in her power to avert the doom which threatens him.

Resolved, That to this end, a deputation of members of this body be sent to the City of Washington, in behalf of the people of South Carolina, to ask of His Excellency, the President of the United States, to extend to the Hon. JEFFERSON DAVIS that clemency which he has shown to us, who are equally the sharers of his guilt, if guilt there be, and which is accomplishing so much toward restoring the peace and harmony of the Union.

The fluttering began before the reading of these resolutions was finished, and several members were on their feet at once. Mr. DUDLEY got the floor and quietly suggested that this was scarcely appropriate language for a body which had just returned the State to the Union, and was relying on the generosity of the North for full admission again into the sisterhood of States. Two or three other delegates made remarks to the same effect, and Mr. WALLACE then accepted as a substitute, a simple resolution, appointing a committee to memoralize the President in favor of the pardon of DAVIS, STEPHENS, MAGRATH and TRENHOLM. …



The Palmetto State song (1861; LOC:

what were we thinking …

During the day an immense number of resolutions were presented and referred to the appropriate committees. They touch almost every conceivable question of State policy, but are merely representative of individual views, and need not, therefore, be given in this record. They are indicative, however, of a disposition to make some sweeping and radical changes in the constitution.



The various committees are at work in good earnest, and already begin to make their reports. The report on the slavery question was made this morning. It declares that whereas slavery has been destroyed by the military force of the United States, therefore be it ordained that henceforth slavery shall not exist in this State, but that all persons heretofore held as slaves are, and they and their descendants forever shall be, free; provided, however, that the General Assembly may ordain involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime whereof any party is duly convicted. This ordinance is made the order for Monday next, and will probably pass without much debate, except as to the phraseology. …


[A few days later the convention debated whether slavery should be prohibited in the new state constitution. Read all about it at the Times link]


COLUMBIA. Tuesday, Sept. 19, 1865.

The convention to-day were employed chiefly in discussing the question of the prohibition of slavery in this State. As this is the subject on which we are all most deeply interested, I shall, at the risk of taking up more of your space than your Columbia correspondent is fully entitled to, give you in this letter a copy of my notes of the debate. …


On a call of the yeas and nays, the clause was adopted, and at the time that your correspondent writes negro slavery has ceased forever to be an organic law of the State of South Carolina.

The attendance on the sessions of the convention is not large, but increasing daily. Possibly one hundred persons were present to-day in the galleries of the church. No ladies were present on the first day; on the second day there were four, evidently of the middling class of society; yesterday the number from that class was increased; and to-day there were about a score present of those who evidently class themselves among the elite of the city. DOVER.

Speaking of South Carolina The American Civil War has posted about an 1849 written debate between native son John C. Calhoun and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Flags at Fort Sumter in South Carolina (LOC:

“Flags at Fort Sumter in South Carolina” (Library of Congress)

The images found at the Library of Congress: secession ordinance (a copy found by Union troops in March 1865); state song; Carol M. Highsmith’s photo of Fort Sumter since 1980. The view of Columbia apparently after it was torched in February 1865 by General Sherman’s troops comes from the National Archives
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