North Carolina in the Civil War

The State Convention of 1861-1862

Delegates Elected to the State Convention

Journal of the State Convention

Ordinances and Resolutions of the State Convention
On December 20, 1860, the South Carolina Secession Convention unanimously passed an Ordinance to secede from the Union, and on December 24th, this decision was made public. President James Buchanan declared the Ordinance illegal but made no attempts to stop it.
On January 1, 1861, the sitting North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act calling for its own "secession convention" - A Convention of the People. Click Here to view this legislative Act calling for the convention. This Act first specified that "the people" must vote for "a convention" or "no convention" on February 28, 1861. The People overwhelmingly voted for "a convention."
On May 1, 1861, the second session of the sitting North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize Governor John W. Ellis to call for "A Convention of the People" and for the people to elect their delegates on May 13th such that the Convention may commence on May 20th, the 86th anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of 1775. Click Here to view this legislative Act. The people were to elect 120 delegates in the same proportion as they recently voted for in the House of Commons.
On May 20th, the State Convention assembled at 11 o'clock a.m. in the House of Commons chamber in Raleigh and the delegates elected Weldon N. Edwards of Warren County as their President. Walter L. Steele of Richmond County was elected Principle Secretary, and Leonidas C. Edwards of Granville County as Assistant Secretary. By the end of this first day, these delegates unanimously voted for North Carolina to secede from the Union.

Since the North Carolina General Assembly had convened, this Convention continued to meet on four separate occasions. Since they were not the official legislature of the State, they could not pass legislative Acts, but they did pass many Ordinances, which served the same purpose as Acts. They also issued many Resolutions that were considered to be a legal as any passed by the General Assembly. The four sessions of the State Convention met:

Session #1 - May 20th to June 28th in 1861.
Session #2 - November 18th to December 13th in 1861.
Session #3 - January 20th to February 26th in 1862.
Session #4 - April 21st to May 13th in 1862.

It was also on the first day of this Convention that John D. Whitford of Craven County introduced the first North Carolina State Flag. Click Here to read more about the state flag.


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