1Notice the parallel between the opening
words of this paragraph and those of the
U.S. Constitution, with “the people of the
State of South Carolina” now substituted for
the “People of the United States.”
2The doctrine of secession, which had
largely been formulated by South Carolina’s
John C. Calhoun, was based on the notion
that the U.S. Constitution was a compact
that individual states could dissolve.
South Carolina Ordinance of Secession
December 20, 1860
I N T R O D U C T I O N
Just as the U.S. Constitution was preceded by the Declaration of Independence, so too
Southern states adopted ordinances of secession from the United States prior to forming
their own confederacy. South Carolina, whose militia would begin the Civil War by fi ring on
Fort Sumter, off the coast of Charleston, was the fi rst to adopt such a resolution in Decem-
ber 1860, even before the new Republican president was inaugurated.
AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of
South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact
entitled “Th e Constitution of the United States of America.”
We, the people of the State of South Carolina,
in convention assem-
bled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained,
Th at the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third
day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred
and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States
of America was ratifi ed, and also all acts and parts of acts of the
General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said
Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting
between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the
“United States of America,” is hereby dissolved .
Done at Charleston the twentieth day of December, in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
Source: Offi cial Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, p. 1.