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Foreign and Colonial News

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1069, pp. 26-27.

January 12, 1861

United States.
The Secession of South Carolina

The long-threatened blow has fallen—South Carolina, the chief of the Southern States, has seceded from the great American Federation. At the Convention sitting at Charleston the 109 delegates unanimously

Page 27

resolved, on the 20th of December last, to dissolve the union between South Carolina and the other States. The formal act was voted in the following terms:—

An Ordnance to Dissolve the Union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the Compact entitled the Constitution of the United States of America.

We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is declared and ordained, that the ordnance adopted by us in Convention on the 23rd day of May, in the year of our Lord 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all Acts and parts of Acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.

The Legislature has approved the vote, and has taken measures for its formal communication to the Government at Washington. The members from South Carolina announced to the House of Representatives that they had ceased to belong to the House, as their State had seceded from the Union, but the Speaker ordered their names to be retained on the roll. The South Carolina Legislature invited the slaveholding States to follow the example which it has set to them.

The decree of secession of South Carolina from the Union had been followed up by Fort Moultrie, Castle Pinackney [sic], the Custom House, Post Office, and Arsenal being occupied by the State troops.

Some important discussions have since taken place in the Legislature of South Carolina with regard to the appropriation of Federal property in the State, the arrangements of the Post Office, and the collection of the customs duties. Various propositions were made—none of them differing materially in principle. One authorised the Governor to make temporary regulations; another proposed to abolish the existing duties as far as the other Slave States were concerned, but to retain them in all other cases; and a third proposition had for its object the reduction of the duties to half their present rates.

The secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union will no doubt be speedily followed by that of other Slave States; indeed, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana have already sounded the tocsin, and will soon meet in convention for the purpose of deciding on the question of secession. The news of the secession of South Carolina was received with exultation at Norfolk, Richmond, Mobile, New Orleans, and other places in the slaveholding interest.

On the other hand, the North men assert that, though individual States may practically stop their Government, though their Federal officers may resign, and though they may close their courts and public offices, they cannot withdraw from the Union; that to do so is treason to the Federal Government; and the organ of the future President intimates pretty plainly that if South Carolina (and of course any other seceding State) interferes with the action of the Federal Government, by obstructing the collection of revenues at her ports or otherwise, the Government will enforce the law—which means that the North will by force compel, or try to compel, the seceding States to give way and return to the Union. "Disunion (says the Springfield Journal, understood to be Mr. Lincoln's organ) by armed force is treason, and treason must and will be put down at all hazards."

Mr. Seward, who, notwithstanding the election of Mr. Lincoln, may still be regarded as the virtual leader of the Republican party, has delivered a speech at New York on the Disunion question. He spoke in a very conciliatory tone, as if anxious to pour oil upon the troubled sea of Southern politics, and expressed his belief that the Disunion movement was losing strength. He appears to have taken—perhaps designedly—a more hopeful view of the prospects of the Union than the real state of affairs actually justified.

The Republican party are evidently determined to agree to no compromise which will involve a surrender on their part of the principles laid down in the Chicago Convention. The propositions submitted by Mr. Crittenden to the Senate Committee of Thirteen for the pacification of the country have been rejected by seven to five—the Republicans voting unanimously against it. Mr. Crittenden's scheme involved the legalisation of slavery south of 36 deg. 30 min. of latitude, the abrogation of ths [sic] right of Congress to abolish the inter-state slave trade, and the exaction of an indemnity from the Free States for those fugitive slaves whose reclamation might be prevented by the Personal Liberty Acts or by rescue. This was regarded by the border Slave States as a most moderate proposal!

The Pacific Railroad Bill passed the House of Representatives on the 20th ult., after a considerable debate, by a vote of ninety-five to seventy-four. During the course of the debate Mr. Garnett, of Virginia, announced his belief that Virginia would not hold herself responsible for the debt to be incurred in the issue of the necessary bonds for the construction of the road.

A gigantic fraud has been discovered in the Department of the Interior at Washington, a South Carolinian named Bailey, having, as it is alleged, contrived to embezzle nearly 1,000,000 dollars.

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