Thursday, December 20, 2012


DECEMBER 20, 1860


Charleston, South Carolina (JFK+50) The South Carolina secession convention passed unanimously today an ORDINANCE OF SECESSION which "dissolves the union between the State of South Carolina & other States united with her under the compact entitled 'The Constitution of the United States of America.'"

          Charleston Historic Marker
                       Meeting Street
           Photo by John White (2012)

The secession convention had been called by the governor & legislature once the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln was finalized.

Delegates were elected on the 6th of December & the convention convened here in Charleston on the 17th.

The SECESSION ORDINANCE was presented to the body just before 1 p.m. & the vote was completed in 15 minutes time.

The vote was taken behind closed doors, but once completed "loud shouts of joy rent the air" & "the enthusiasm was unsurpassed.  Old men went shouting down the streets. Cannon were fired & bright triumph was depicted on every countenance."

*SOURCE:  Charleston Mercury, December 21, 1860.


We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare & ordain...that the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the 23rd of May (1788), where by the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, & also all acts...of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; & that the union now subsisting between South Carolina & other States, under the name of the "United States of America," is hereby dissolved.

Done at Charleston the 20th day of December in the year of our Lord, 1860.

                    Patriotic Envelope
            United States Post Office
                       Charleston, SC
           Photo by John White (2012)

Charleston, South Carolina (JFK+50) Reportedly upon hearing today's news of the adoption of the Ordinance of Secession here in the city, Attorney General James L. Petigru remarked...

"South Carolina is too small for a republic & too large for an insane asylum."

Mr. Petigru seems to be the only unionist left in a state that is no longer a part of the union.

James L. Petigru was born in 1789 & graduated from South Carolina College (University of SC) in 1809.  He was admitted to the bar in 1812 & came to Charleston to practice law in 1819.

Petigru served in the State Legislature & later became Attorney General.**

**James L. Petigru was a slaveholder but recognized the humanity of slaves & defended the right of freedmen in court.  His home on Broad Street was burned in the fire of 1861 & his residence on Sullivan's Island was confiscated by the Confederate army to build a fort.  Petigru moved to Summerville.  He died in 1863.

Stephen Hurlbut wrote President Lincoln in March 1861:

"At this day, Fort Sumter is the only spot where the United States have jurisdiction & James L. Petigru the only citizen loyal to the Union..."

Here is the last verse of a poem written in 1865 titled simply 'Petigru':

"Thus he died:  unnerved, unshaken
By opinion's subtle art;
Now the stricken city weepeth
And the nation holds his heart.

'Tis for this we render honor
That he ranks among the few,
Who, amid a reign of Error
Dared sublimely to be true."

There is a bust of Petigru displayed in the Charleston City Council chamber today which reads:

"James Louis Petigru.  
 Jurist, Orator, Heroic Man."***

***SOURCE:  "Charleston's Last Union Soul," by Greg Hambrick, Charleston City Paper, April 6, 2011.

                Charleston City Hall
              "Four Corners of  Law"
                    80 Broad Street
                     Charleston, SC
      Photo by Billy Hathorn (2012)