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Ordinance of Secession (Enrolled)

Union or Secession
  • Ordinance of Secession (Enrolled Version)
  • Ordinance of Secession (Enrolled Version)
On April 17, 1861, the Virginia Convention by a vote of 88 to 55 adopted the Ordinance of Secession.
Related documents:
  • First signed Ordinance of Secession
    Ordinance of Secession (First Signed Version)
  • Ordinance of Secession (Calligraphy)
    Ordinance of Secession (Calligraphy Version)
Related Biographies:
  • John Janney (1798–1872). Engraving in <em>Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper</em>, March 23, 1861.
    John Janney
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Ordinance of Secession (Enrolled Version)

Enrolled Ordinance of Secession, adopted April 17, 1861, Virginia Convention (1861: Richmond), Records, 1861–1961, Acc. 40586, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 93, Library of Virginia.

On April 17, 1861, the Virginia Convention by a vote of 88 to 55 adopted the Ordinance of Secession. It repealed the 1788 state convention's ratification of the Constitution of the United States and the General Assembly's resolutions ratifying amendments to that Constitution. The ordinance stated that Virginia resumed all the powers that the state had granted to the federal government on the grounds that the federal government had "perverted said powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States." The ordinance was ratified in a popular referendum on May 23, 1861.

The formal, legal text of the Ordinance of Secession was inscribed on parchment (as were bills enacted by the General Assembly) and signed by the convention's president. In the margin are the signatures of two of the five members of a committee that the convention appointed to verify the texts of the ordinances that the convention adopted. During the second session of the convention in June 1861, Delegates James H. Cox, of Chesterfield County, and John A. Carter, of Loudoun County, examined and certified the enrolled ordinance. Convention President John Janney then signed it to make it official.

Ninety-two members of the convention signed a preliminary parchment late in April during the final days of the first session of the convention, and 142 members signed a ceremonial parchment of the ordinance during the second and third sessions in June and November 1861.

Enrolled Ordinance of Secession, adopted April 17, 1861, Virginia Convention (1861: Richmond), Records, 1861–1961, Acc. 40586, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 93, Library of Virginia.

An Ordinance
To repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution
The people of Virginia in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America adopted by them in Convention, on the twenty fifth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government having perverted said powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.
Now, therefore, we the people of Virginia do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty fifth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified; and all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the Union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid is hereby dissolved and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.
This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted
Done in Convention in the city of Richmond on the seventeenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty one and in the eighty fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
JOHN JANNEY, Prest

JAMES H. COX
JOHN A. CARTER