Convention to stand adjourned to August 17th; when, if it should appear that Secession had received a majority, this should be regarded as an instruction from their constituents to pass the Ordinance, which they had now rejected; and so, having elected five delegates to a proposed Conference of the Border States, at Frankfort, Ky.
, May 27th, the Convention
Yet this identical Convention was reconvened upon the reception of the news from Fort Sumter
, and proceeded, with little hesitation, to pass an Ordinance of Secession,2
by a vote of 69 to 1.
That Ordinance asserts that this Convention, by resolves adopted March 11th, had pledged “the State of Arkansas
to resist to the last extremity any attempt on the part of such power to coerce any State that seceded from the old Union.”
The Ordinance proceeds to set forth that the Legislature of Arkansas
had, on the 18th of October, 1836, by virtue of authority vested therein by the Convention
which framed the State Constitution
, adopted certain propositions made to that State by Congress, which propositions “were freely accepted, ratified, and irrevocably confirmed, as articles of compact and union between the State of Arkansas
and the United States
;” which irrevocable
compact this Convention proceeded formally to revoke
and annul, and to declare “repealed, abrogated, and fully set aside,” by the identical act which withdraws Arkansas
from the Union
and absolves its citizens from all allegiance to its Government!
The meaning of this may not be understood without explanation.
The soil or public lands of Arkansas
, before there was any such State or Territory, had belonged fully and absolutely to the Union
, having been acquired by it in the purchase of Louisiana
To that soil, thus purchased and paid for, and the Indian
title thereto at a still further cost extinguished, Congress had not chosen either to alienate or imperil its title by the creation and admission of the State of Arkansas
As a prerequisite, therefore, of such admission, said State was required to enter into an irrevocable compact never to claim nor exercise ownership of said public lands, until that title should be ceded and conveyed, upon due consideration, by the Union
, to individual or other purchasers.
Having thus become a State and been admitted into the Union
by virtue of this irrevocable compact, Arkansas
proceeds to revoke the compact and seize the lands!
The ‘conservatives’ in the Convention
— that is, those who were opposed to Secession at its earlier meeting — now issued an address, justifying their change of position by the fact that the Federal Government
had determined to use force against the seceded States, and adding:
The South is “our country;” and, while we are satisfied that, up to the moment when the Government committed the folly and wickedness of making war upon the seceded States, the conservative party in Arkansas was largely in the ascendant, we cannot believe that her soil is polluted by a being base and cowardly enough to stop to consider, in casting his lot in the unequal struggle in which she is engaged, whether she is “right or wrong.”
The “conservatism” of these gentlemen, it seems, had not been shocked by the military seizure by Secessionists,