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‘ [287] Charleston had been evacuated, a secret expedition was fitted out and steathily dispatched to commence the war by an attempt to throw reinforcements into that fortification. To high criminality in involving the country was added base perfidy in exciting hopes and expectations to be dashed at the moment of fruition.’

In the meantime Forts Macon at Beaufort, and Caswell and Johnston near Wilmington were taken possession of and garrisoned (by the Governor's order) by State troops; defences were erected at New Inlet, Ocracoke, Hatteras and elsewhere on the coast, and an inpromptu navy—a mosquito fleet as it was called—for the defense of the sounds was organized. The United States Arsenal at Fayetteville, in which were stored large quantities of small arms—most of them of antiquated patterns—a battery of light artillery and other munitions of war, was seized, its contents appropriated to arming and equipping the troops and its garrison sent North.

The legislature, having met promptly, passed an act, with scarcely any opposition, calling a convention of the people to consider the question of secession. The convention met in Raleigh on the 20th of May, 1861, the anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and on the same day passed by unanimous vote the following ordinance:

We, the people of the State of North Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly, ratifying and adopting amendments to the said constitution are hereby repealed, rescinded and abrogated.

We do further declare and ordain that the Union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States under the title of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and the State of North Carolina is in the full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

There was no dissenting voice, and the next day the ordinance was formally signed by every member of the convention—120 in number.

This convention of the people—the highest authority, the origin and foundation of all law and authority known to a republican form of government—was elected especially to determine upon the question

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