By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
The year brings the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War.
Mississippi, on Jan. 9, 1861, was the South’s second state to secede, after South Carolina on Dec. 20, 1860.
Organizations throughout the U.S. are gearing up to remember what some call “The Great Rebellion.”
Two events in Jackson will revisit Mississippi’s withdrawal from the Union – Jan. 7 with a re-enactment of one of the speeches from the secession convention and on Jan. 28 with ceremonies observing the secession.
Vicksburg also will re-enact the secession Jan. 8 with a reading of the Ordinance of Secession and the replacement of the U.S. flag with the Confederate “Bonnie Blue Flag.”
The Civil War stretched across four bloody years, and the nation’s observances generally follow that timetable.
On that fateful day 150 years ago, Mississippi’s secession convention stated its reasons for the vote.
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world,” stated a related document called The Declaration of the Immediate Causes.
Slavery was the engine for the South’s agrarian economy, and “none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun,” it explained to the rest of the world.
“Our decision is made,” the delegates announced, two days after their assemblage in Jackson. “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.”
More than 80 delegates voted for secession, although 16 opposed it.
Among those against it were Arthur Benjamin Bullard and Malachai Crawford Cummings of Itawamba County, and John A. Blair, Wright Walker Bonds Jr., Arthur Exum Reynolds and Thomas P. Young of Tishomingo County.
From that convention, delegates were elected to the Confederate Congress: Jefferson Davis and Albert Gallatin Brown, Mississippi’s U.S. senators; and U.S. congressmen Lucius Q.C. Lamar and Reuben Davis, both of Aberdeen, William Barksdale of Columbus, Otho R. Singleton of Canton and John J. McRae of Wayne County.
Of course, talk of leaving the Union was no new subject to Southerners and other back then.
As reflected in The Declaration of the Immediate Causes, they were smarting since before the adoption of the U.S. Constitution from the Ordinance of 1787. Through it, members of the Continental Congress established that United States would expand westward by the admission of new states, not by the expansion of existing states.
It also prohibited slavery in the territory and basically established the Ohio River as the free-or-slave boundary between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.
In the “Causes,” the delegates complained they had been deprived of territory from the Louisiana Purchase, denied the right of property in slaves and saw the refusal to admit new slave states into the union, among other grievances.
Historians also point to the South’s profound shock by the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860.
Edward A. Pollard in his 1867 book “The Lost Cause,” reflected on the impact of Lincoln’s election on the South:
“True, Mr. Lincoln was the choice of the majority of the electoral college. [But] his election was almost purely geographical. The South had sustained a defeat, not at the hands of a party, but at those of the Northern power. Every Northern State but New Jersey had voted for Mr. Lincoln; every Southern State had voted against him. He was not known as a statesman, whose name might therefore be one of national significance; he was known only as a partisan, and the election of such a man in such a character was plainly to declare war against the other side.”
The election hit hard on the Deep South and its leadership’s deeply held tenet that while their states had joined the Union for a national government, they never had given away their fundamental underlying sovereignty itself. Any state, then, by its own convention, could withdraw and reassert its individual sovereignty, they asserted.
Five other states joined the exit by February, when their representatives met in Montgomery, Ala., to celebrate the birth of the Confederate States of America.
Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis became its president.
Contact Patsy Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or email@example.com.
■ Jan. 9: Ordinance of secession adopted in Mississippi State Capitol, Jackson.
■ Jan. 20: Fort then under construction by the U.S. Engineers on Ship Island, occupied
by state troops.
■ Jan. 21: Mississippi’s congressional delegation withdrew from Congress.
■ Sept. 17: Ship Island evacuated by Confederate troops.
■ Nov. 27: Federal Expeditionary Force sailed from Hampton Roads, Va. – destination Ship Island.
■ Dec. 3: Ship Island occupied by Union forces, commanded by Brigadier Gen. John W. Phelps.
■ Dec. 31: Raid by Union navy on Biloxi.
SOURCE: EDWIN C. BEARSS,
RESEARCH HISTORIAN, VICKSBURG
NATIONAL MILITARY PARK
January ’11 events
■ Jan. 7 – Commemorate Mississippi’s Civil War Sesquicentennial. 10 a.m.-noon, Old Capitol Museum, Jackson. Re-enactment of speech from secession convention. Historians analyze state’s decision to leave the Union. Contact:(601) 576-6920.
■ Jan. 8 – Vicksburg kicks off 150th anniversary with reenactment of state’s secession and the “First Guns in the West,” the firing on the riverboat A.O.Tyler. 10 a.m., Old Court House Museum, 2 p.m. Fort Hill. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Jan. 28 – 150th anniversary observation with speakers.
6:30 p.m., War Memorial Building, Jackson. Sponsored by Miss. Division, United Daughter of the Confederacy. Contact: (228) 596-4828.