American History and Genealogy Project

Civil War


Confederate States of America - Mississippi Secession

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes
which Induce and Justify
the Secession
of the
State of Mississippi 
from the
Federal Union.

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection
with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we
should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest
material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes
by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These
products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an
imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical
sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery
is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the
institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice
left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union,
whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts
will sufficiently prove.

The hostility to this institution commenced before the adoption of the Constitution,
and was manifested in the well-known Ordinance of 1787, in regard to the North-
western Territory.

The feeling increased, until, in 1819-20, it deprived the South of more than half the
vast territory acquired from France.

The same hostility dismembered Texas and seized upon all the territory acquired
from Mexico.

It has grown until it denies the right of property in slaves, and refuses protection
to that right on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever the government
of the United States had jurisdiction.

It refuses the admission of new slave States into the Union, and seeks to extinguish
it by confining it within its present limits, denying the power of expansion.

It tramples the original equality of the South under foot.

It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and
has utterly broken the compact which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain.

It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and 
incendiarism in our midst.

It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole popular
mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.

It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of
emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.

It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition
without providing a better.

It has invaded a State, and invested with the honors of martyrdom the wretch whose
purpose was to apply flames to our dwellings, and the weapons of destruction to our lives.

It has broken every compact into which it has entered for our security.

It has given indubitable evidence of its design to ruin our agriculture, to prostrate 
our industrial pursuits and to destroy our social system.

It knows no relenting or hesitation in its purposes; it stops not in its march of aggression,
and leaves us no room to hope for cessation or for pause.

It has recently obtained control of the Government, by the prosecution of its unhallowed
schemes, and destroyed the last expectation of living together in friendship and brotherhood.

Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it.
It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation,
and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the
Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property.
For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.

Our decision is made. We follow their footsteps. We embrace the alternative of separation;
and for the reasons here stated, we resolve to maintain our rights with the full consciousness
of the justice of our course, and the undoubting belief of our ability to maintain it. 


Fugitive Slave Act 1850

Section 1

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America
in Congress assembled, That the persons who have been, or may hereafter be, appointed 
commissioners, in virtue of any act of Congress, by the Circuit Courts of the United States, 
and Who, in consequence of such appointment, are authorized to exercise the powers that
any justice of the peace, or other magistrate of any of the United States, may exercise in 
respect to offenders for any crime or offense against the United States, by arresting, imprisoning,
or bailing the same under and by the virtue of the thirty-third section of the act of the twenty-
fourth of September seventeen hundred and eighty-nine, entitled "An Act to establish the
judicial courts of the United States" shall be, and are hereby, authorized and required to exercise
and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.

Section 2

And be it further enacted, That the Superior Court of each organized Territory of the United
States shall have the same power to appoint commissioners to take acknowledgments of bai
l and affidavits, and to take depositions of witnesses in civil causes, which is now possessed by
the Circuit Court of the United States; and all commissioners who shall hereafter be appointed
for such purposes by the Superior Court of any organized Territory of the United States, shall
possess all the powers, and exercise all the duties, conferred by law upon the commissioners 
appointed by the Circuit Courts of the United States for similar purposes, and shall moreover 
exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.

Section 3

And be it further enacted, That the Circuit Courts of the United States shall from time to time
enlarge the number of the commissioners, with a view to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim
fugitives from labor, and to the prompt discharge of the duties imposed by this act.


Section 4

And be it further enacted, That the commissioners above named shall have concurrent jurisdiction
with the judges of the Circuit and District Courts of the United States, in their respective circuits
and districts within the several States, and the judges of the Superior Courts of the Territories, 
severally and collectively, in term-time and vacation; shall grant certificates to such claimants, upon
satisfactory proof being made, with authority to take and remove such fugitives from service or
labor, under the restrictions herein contained, to the State or Territory from which such persons
may have escaped or fled.


Section 5

And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of all marshals and deputy marshals to obey
and execute all warrants and precepts issued under the provisions of this act, when to them
directed; and should any marshal or deputy marshal refuse to receive such warrant, or other 
process, when tendered, or to use all proper means diligently to execute the same, he shall, 
on conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of one thousand dollars, to the use of such claimant, 
on the motion of such claimant, by the Circuit or District Court for the district of such marshal; and
after arrest of such fugitive, by such marshal or his deputy, or whilst at any time in his custody 
under the provisions of this act, should such fugitive escape, whether with or without the assent
of such marshal or his deputy, such marshal shall be liable, on his official bond, to be prosecuted for
the benefit of such claimant, for the full value of the service or labor of said fugitive in the State,
Territory, or District whence he escaped: and the better to enable the said commissioners, when
thus appointed, to execute their duties faithfully and efficiently, in conformity with the requirements
of the Constitution of the United States and of this act, they are hereby authorized and empowered,
within their counties respectively, to appoint, in writing under their hands, any one or more suitable
persons, from time to time, to execute all such warrants and other process as may be issued by
them in the lawful performance of their respective duties; with authority to such commissioners,
or the persons to be appointed by them, to execute process as aforesaid, to summon and call to
their aid the bystanders, or posse comitatus of the proper county, when necessary to ensure a
faithful observance of the clause of the Constitution referred to, in conformity with the provisions
of this act; and all good citizens are hereby commanded to aid and assist in the prompt and efficient
execution of this law, whenever their services may be required, as aforesaid, for that purpose;
and said warrants shall run, and be executed by said officers, any where in the State within which
they are issued.

Section 6

And be it further enacted, That when a person held to service or labor in any State or Territory
of the United States, has heretofore or shall hereafter escape into another State or Territory of
the United States, the person or persons to whom such service or labor may be due, or his, her,
or their agent or attorney, duly authorized, by power of attorney, in writing, acknowledged and
certified under the seal of some legal officer or court of the State or Territory in which the same
may be executed, may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procuring a warrant from
some one of the courts, judges, or commissioners aforesaid, of the proper circuit, district, or county,
for the apprehension of such fugitive from service or labor, or by seizing and arresting such fugitive,
where the same can be done without process, and by taking, or causing such person to be taken,
forthwith before such court, judge, or commissioner, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine
the case of such claimant in a summary manner; and upon satisfactory proof being made, by deposition
or affidavit, in writing, to be taken and certified by such court, judge, or commissioner, or by other
satisfactory testimony, duly taken and certified by some court, magistrate, justice of the peace, or
other legal officer authorized to administer an oath and take depositions under the laws of the State
or Territory from which such person owing service or labor may have escaped, with a certificate of
such magistracy or other authority, as aforesaid, with the seal of the proper court or officer thereto
attached, which seal shall be sufficient to establish the competency of the proof, and with proof,
also by affidavit, of the identity of the person whose service or labor is claimed to be due as aforesaid,
that the person so arrested does in fact owe service or labor to the person or persons claiming him 
or her, in the State or Territory from which such fugitive may have escaped as aforesaid, and that said
person escaped, to make out and deliver to such claimant, his or her agent or attorney, a certificate 
setting forth the substantial facts as to the service or labor due from such fugitive to the claimant, and
of his or her escape from the State or Territory in which he or she was arrested, with authority to such
claimant, or his or her agent or attorney, to use such reasonable force and restraint as may be necessary,
under the circumstances of the case, to take and remove such fugitive person back to the State or
Territory whence he or she may have escaped as aforesaid. In no trial or hearing under this act shall
the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence; and the certificates in this and the
first [fourth] section mentioned, shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose
favor granted, to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he escaped, and shall prevent
all molestation of such person or persons by any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or 
other person whomsoever.

Section 7

And be it further enacted, That any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent
such claimant, his agent or attorney, or any person or persons lawfully assisting him, her, or them,
from arresting such a fugitive from service or labor, either with or without process as aforesaid, or shall
rescue, or attempt to rescue, such fugitive from service or labor, from the custody of such claimant,
his or her agent or attorney, or other person or persons lawfully assisting as aforesaid, when so arrested,
pursuant to the authority herein given and declared; or shall aid, abet, or assist such person so owing
service or labor as aforesaid, directly or indirectly, to escape from such claimant, his agent or attorney,
or other person or persons legally authorized as aforesaid; or shall harbor or conceal such fugitive, so
as to prevent the discovery and arrest of such person, after notice or knowledge of the fact that
such person was a fugitive from service or labor as aforesaid, shall, for either of said offences, be subject
to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, by indictment
and conviction before the District Court of the United States for the district in which such offence may
have been committed, or before the proper court of criminal jurisdiction, if committed within any one
of the organized Territories of the United States; and shall moreover forfeit and pay, by way of civil
damages to the party injured by such illegal conduct, the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive
so lost as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, in any of the District or Territorial Courts aforesaid,
within whose jurisdiction the said offence may have been committed.

Section 8

And be it further enacted, That the marshals, their deputies, and the clerks of the said District and 
Territorial Courts, shall be paid, for their services, the like fees as may be allowed for similar services in
other cases; and where such services are rendered exclusively in the arrest, custody, and delivery of
the fugitive to the claimant, his or her agent or attorney, or where such supposed fugitive may be 
discharged out of custody for the want of sufficient proof as aforesaid, then such fees are to be paid
in whole by such claimant, his or her agent or attorney; and in all cases where the proceedings are 
before a commissioner, he shall be entitled to a fee of ten dollars in full for his services in each case, 
upon the delivery of the said certificate to the claimant, his agent or attorney; or a fee of five dollars in
cases where the proof shall not, in the opinion of such commissioner, warrant such certificate and delivery,
inclusive of all services incident to such arrest and examination, to be paid, in either case, by the claimant,
his or her agent or attorney. The person or persons authorized to execute the process to be issued by
such commissioner for the arrest and detention of fugitives from service or labor as aforesaid, shall also
be entitled to a fee of five dollars each for each person he or they may arrest, and take before any
commissioner as aforesaid, at the instance and request of such claimant, with such other fees as may
be deemed reasonable by such commissioner for such other additional services as may be necessarily 
performed by him or them; such as attending at the examination, keeping the fugitive in custody, and
providing him with food and lodging during his detention, and until the final determination of such 
commissioners; and, in general, for performing such other duties as may be required by such claimant,
his or her attorney or agent, or commissioner in the premises, such fees to be made up in conformity
with the fees usually charged by the officers of the courts of justice within the proper district or county,
as near as may be practicable, and paid by such claimants, their agents or attorneys, whether such supposed
fugitives from service or labor be ordered to be delivered to such claimant by the final determination of
such commissioner or not.

Section 9

And be it further enacted, That, upon affidavit made by the claimant of such fugitive, his agent or attorney,
after such certificate has been issued, that he has reason to apprehend that such fugitive will he rescued
by force from his or their possession before he can be taken beyond the limits of the State in which the
arrest is made, it shall be the duty of the officer making the arrest to retain such fugitive in his custody,
and to remove him to the State whence he fled, and there to deliver him to said claimant, his agent, or
attorney. And to this end, the officer aforesaid is hereby authorized and required to employ so many persons
as he may deem necessary to overcome such force, and to retain them in his service so long as circumstances
may require. The said officer and his assistants, while so employed, to receive the same compensation, 
and to be allowed the same expenses, as are now allowed by law for transportation of criminals, to be
certified by the judge of the district within which the arrest is made, and paid out of the treasury of the
United States.


Section 10

And be it further enacted, That when any person held to service or labor in any State or Territory, or in the
District of Columbia, shall escape therefrom, the party to whom such service or labor shall be due, his,
her, or their agent or attorney, may apply to any court of record therein, or judge thereof in vacation,
and make satisfactory proof to such court, or judge in vacation, of the escape aforesaid, and that the
person escaping owed service or labor to such party. Whereupon the court shall cause a record to be
made of the matters so proved, and also a general description of the person so escaping, with such 
convenient certainty as may be; and a transcript of such record, authenticated by the attestation of
the clerk and of the seal of the said court, being produced in any other State, Territory, or district in
which the person so escaping may be found, and being exhibited to any judge, commissioner, or other
office, authorized by the law of the United States to cause persons escaping from service or labor to
be delivered up, shall be held and taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of escape, and
that the service or labor of the person escaping is due to the party in such record mentioned. And upon
the production by the said party of other and further evidence if necessary, either oral or by affidavit,
in addition to what is contained in the said record of the identity of the person escaping, he or she shall
be delivered up to the claimant, And the said court, commissioner, judge, or other person authorized by
this act to grant certificates to claimants or fugitives, shall, upon the production of the record and other
evidences aforesaid, grant to such claimant a certificate of his right to take any such person identified
and proved to be owing service or labor as aforesaid, which certificate shall authorize such claimant to
seize or arrest and transport such person to the State or Territory from which he escaped: Provided, 
That nothing herein contained shall be construed as requiring the production of a transcript of such record
as evidence as aforesaid. But in its absence the claim shall be heard and determined upon other satisfactory
proofs, competent in law.

Approved, September 18, 1850. 




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