Confederate Truths: Documents of the Confederate & Neo-Confederate Tradition from 1787 to the Present.

Florida Secession Convention speeches on why secession is necessary

The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader has the Florida Resolutions as to why they seceded. Additionally in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Convention of the People of Florida, Begun and Held at the Capitol in the City of Talahasssee on Thursday January 3, A.D. 1861, reprinted 1928 by H. & W.B. Drew Company, had speeches as to why Florida needed to secede by prominent persons such as the president of the secession convention and serve as additional sources as to the motivations of the state of Florida to secede. My comments are in square brackets [].

I extract the following from the opening page of the Journal, page 3:

THURSDAY, January 3d, 1861.

The people of the State of Florida, on this, the third day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, through their Delegates, chosen in pursuance of the act of the General Assembly of the State of Florida, approved November 30th, A.D. 1860, assembled in the Convention in the Hall of the House of Representatives in the Capitol of the State, at the city of Tallahassee.

And thereupon, on motion, John C. Pelot, of the county of Alachua, was called to the Chair, and B. Garden Pringle, of Gadsen, was requested to act as Secretary.

On taking the Chair, Mr. Pelot addressed the Delegates in the following language:

Gentlemen of the Convention:―We meet together under no ordinary circumstances. The rapid spread of Northern fanaticism has endangered our liberties and institutions, and the election of Abraham Lincoln, a wily abolitionist, to the Presidency of the United States, destroys all hope for the future. We have therefore, been sent by the people of our State to devise the best means for our security. Their dearest interests are placed in our hands―to us is committed a high trust―upon us rests a heavy responsibility, and we are expected to meet the grave questions before us with calmness and deliberation; precipitation and rashness may prove disastrous. But, gentlemen, while prudence and a proper discretion should characterize all our deliberations, we must not forget that the important crisis demands great firmness. I trust we are fully prepared to meet the grave issues before us as true Patriots. …

[The Journal records the election of a John C. McGehee, as President of the Secession Convention. Upon his election he gives a speech. From page 7 & 8 of the Journal.]

Before I take this Chair, gentlemen, I ask you to indulge me in a few remarks.

The occasion on which we are called together is one of the most solemn and important that ever assembled a People. Our Government―the inheritance from a noble ancestry―the greatest achievement of human wisdom, made to secure to their posterity the Rights and Liberties purchased with their blood, is crumbling into ruins. Every day and almost every hour brings intelligence confirming the opinion that its dissolution is at hand. One State―one of the time-honored Thirteen―has withdrawn the powers granted in the Constitution which constituted her a member of the Union, and she is now from under the political power of the Government. All our sister Southern States immediately adjacent to us are at this moment moving in the same direction, under circumstances that render their action as certain as any thing in the future. And as we look further and beyond, we see the same swell of public sentiment, that a sense of wrong always inspires, agitating the great heart of the more distant Slave States. And no reasonable doubt can be entertained by the most hopeful and sanguine, that this excitement in public sentiment will extend and increase, and intensify until all the States that are now known as slave States will withdraw their political connection from the non-slaveholding States, unite themselves in a common destiny and establish another Confederation.

Why all this? The story is soon told.

In the formation of the Government of our Fathers, the Constitution of 1787, the institution of domestic slavery is recognized, and the right of property in slaves is expressly guaranteed.

The People of a portion of the States who were parties to the Government were early opposed to the institution. The feeling of opposition to it has been cherished, and fostered, and inflamed until it has taken possession of the public mind of the North to such an extent that it overwhelms every other influence. It has seized the political power and now threatens annihilation to slavery thoughout the Union.

At the South, and with our People of course, slavery is the element of all value, and a destruction of that destroys all that is property.

This party, now soon to take possession of the powers of the Government, is sectional, irresponsible to us, and driven on by an infuriated fanatical madness that defies all opposition, must inevitably destroy every vestige or right growing out of property in slaves.

Gentlemen, the State of Florida is now a member of the Union under the power of the Government, so to go into the hands of this party.

As we stand our doom is decreed.

The speech then goes on to urge the exercise of secession.