From the State of Florida

In the fall of 1859, the Florida legislature formed a Joint Select Committee on Federal Relations which submitted the following report of its deliberations, on December 19, 1859. Although not formally passed as a resolution by either house of the Florida legislature, the House did vote to have 100 copies printed for distribution. I was originally made aware of the existence of this document by David Coles, during an Internet discussion, and the partial text that was here for some time was what David posted to the discussion. I eventually was able to find the complete text in the Journal of Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Florida, 1859.


That the Union of the States of this Confederacy and the American nation are the offspring of the Constitution of the United States;

That both are dependent on it for their vitality and perpetuity;

That the wilful violation or disregard of the Constitution involves the destruction of the Union and the dissolution of the American Nation into the original elements from which it sprung;

That every State of this Confederacy is sovereign within the limits of its territorial jurisdiction, except in so far as the people of such State have surrendered a part of their sovereign power under the grants of the Constitution of the United States;

That every State, in the exercise of its reserved sovereign power, has an unquestionable right to establish, maintain and enjoy within its own limits such domestic institutions as it may approve, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States;

That neither the government of the United States nor the government or people of any other State can of right annul, abrogate, control, or in any manner disturb the institutions constitutionally established in any other State;

That any state has a right to establish and maintain within their own limits the institution of African Slavery free from the molestation or disturbance of the people or government of any other State of the Confederacy;

That this right is recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, in the 1st article, 2d section, providing for the enumeration and representation of the people, and in the 4th article and 2d section, providing for the return of any slave escaping from one State and found within the jurisdiction of another;

That the Congress of the United States has provided by law for carrying into effect the several provisions of the Constitution. The Supreme Court of the United States, the highest source of judicial power, after solemn deliberation, has declared the laws of Congress in relation to African Slavery to be constitutional.

That as no State can be admitted into the Union holding and maintaining a political creed directly repugnant and hostile to the Constitution of the United States and the Union, it follows that when any State, or the majority of the people of any State, already within the Union, shall assume, adopt, and persistently follow principles of political action repugnant and hostile to the Constitution and the Union, such State or people must be regarded as faithless in their allegience, foes to the Union and enemies to the Constitution.

That any State which shall, in the exercise of the elective franchise, manifest a firm and determined resistence to the rightful laws of Congress, the provisions of the Constitution and the decision of the Supreme Court, must be regarded as in rebellion against the government of the United States; as having placed themselves beyond the boundaries of the Constitution --- as having dissolved their political and national connection with those States which still maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union --- and such States are therefore alien and foreign in all their political relations to the republic.

That the Union of these States was formed by mutual concessions, friendships and sympathies, between the people of the different States, and it can only be maintained by the cultivation of the feelings and sympathies from which it sprang.

That the election of an individual to the Presidency of the United States, by a local and sectional party whose political creed is repugnant to the Constitution and Union, and hostile to the rights and institutions of another section, though the election of such person may be made under the forms known to the Constitution, yet in the spirit of the law and the constitution, such person could only be regarded as an usurper of the administrative functions and could not be clothed with the majesty of administrative power.

That a compliance with the constitutional forms in conducting the exercise of the elective franchise, cannot heal the leprosy of moral treason, nor entitle the traitor to the obedience due only to the patriot.

That the General Assembly of this State, faithful to the Constitution and the Union, and ready to peril life and treasure in its just defence, have long regarded with painful apprehension the progress of feelings and opinions amongst a portion of our northern brethren, alike unfriendly to the Constitution, the Union, and the rights and privileges of the people of the South.

They have long indulged the hope that time, still developing in its progress the wisdom of the Fathers of the Constitution --- still disclosing the blessings of the Federal Union, by our progress in national wealth, power, and dominion, and the happiness and propsperity of our people, might induce our brothers of the North, in a just appreciation of these inestimable blessings, if not from the higher obligations of justice and law, to pause in their career of wrong, and to consider well that as these blessings are the offspring of the Constitutional Union, so they can only be preserved by a just administration of the government and a forbearance on their part from trespassing on the constitutional rights of the Southern States. But recent events have forced upon us the painful and irresistable conviction that a majority of the people of the North are aliens and hostile to us and the institutions of the South.

That while they are in the full and undisturbed enjoyment of all the advantages and blessings arising from the Union, they are resolved that the South shall not hold and enjoy domestic institutions and rights equally secured to her by the provisions of that Constitution.

To prove these truths we refer to the organization of a dominant sectional party in the North, having for its fundamental principles of action these propositions of hostility to the South:

Opposition to the admission into the Union of any State tolerating the institution of African Slavery; opposition to the provision of the Constitution, which declares that no person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due; opposition to the act of Congress designed to carry into effect this provision of the Constitution; opposition to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States for the execution of the law and the Constitution; opposition to the decisions of all Courts for carrying into effect the law and the Constitution in relation to African Slavery.

These are the principles of a dominant geographical party, demonstrating by the result of the recent elections its power to control the political action of the Northern States, and its ambitious aspirations to the control and dominion of the whole Republic.

Nor is this unhappily the only manisfestation of the deep design and hostility of the Black Republican party against the Union, the Constitution, the people and the institutions of the South. They have chosen a leader well worthy their treasonable designs; one hoary with the crimes of treachery and dissimulation; one red with the blood of murder and treason; one responsible in the sight of God and man for the mad fanaticism which has led to murder, treason and rapine; one who says there is a higher law, which must override the Constitution, and annihilate the institutions of the South . . . one who says there is an 'irrepressible conflict' between 'opposing and enduring forces,' and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become entirely a slave-holding nation, or entirely a free labor nation. This is the enlightened theory and philosophy pf the Black Republican party; a creed illustrating its practical results in the bloody tragedy of Harper's Ferry. It was this creed, and the mad prophets of its faith, that led to the invasion of Virginia by a band of robbers and murderers, and when, in expiation of their crimes, they were doomed to death by the just penalty of violated law, instead of receiving the merited execrations due the felon, they were hailed by their sympathizing friends in the North as heroes and martyrs in the holy cause of charity and philanthropy. And the lawless scenes of Harper's Ferry, where the midnight slumbers of the mother and the child were broken by the violent intrusion of robbers and murderers, where the slave was excited to revolt and armed for the destruction of the master; where the blood of peaceful, unoffending citizens was shed in sight of their own dwelling--scenes shocking to humanity, and revolting to the sensibilities of all good men, all christian people--have given new impulse, new life, new hopes, and new successes to the Black Republican party.

Nor does the shame and sin end here. The Christian Church has been desecrated, the House of God defiled, and the name and mission of the Saviour profaned by assimilating the blood of treason and murder to the redeeming blood of the Lamb of God.

In view of these momentous truths, and the present threatening aspect existing between the North and the South, your Committee cannot repress deep anxiety and serious apprehension for the safety of the Union. Nevertheless, we recognize but one course which is left to the South. We therefore recommend the passge of the following resolutions:

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Florida in General Assembly convened, That, in view of our national affairs, the time for argument has passed, the time for action arrived, and that Florida, as one of the Southern States, abides the destiny of her sisters, extends her warmest assurance and co-operation in any course their united wisdom may devise.

Resolved, that in the event of the election of a President by a northern party, opposed to slavery as it exists in the Southern States, it will be the duty of the Southern States to prevent his inauguration or to take some measures in common to protect themselves, and, as one of the southern States, Florida hereby pledges herself to do her duty.

Resolved, That, to give effect to this assured co-operation, the governor be and he is hereby authorized, upon the call of any of our sister slave-holding States, and particularly of those bordering on the free States, to take any and all steps necessary for the maintenance of their rights, and to convene the Legislature in extraordinary session should the necessity occur.

Resolved, That the Governor be requested to forward a copy of the report and these resolutions to our Senators and Representative in Congress, as also to the Governors of the several States of the United States.

Respectfully submitted,

THEO. W. BREVARD, Jr., Ch'n.