January 9, 1861 – Mississippi Becomes the Second State to Secede from the Union

Mississippi joined the Union as the 20th state on December 10, 1817. On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the second state to declare its secession from the Union, voting in favor of secession by a vote of 83-15 with one in absentia.

Mississippi in the United States

Mississippi in the United States

In the state’s “Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union,” Mississippi provided the reasons why it took the position that it could no longer be a part of the United States, a position, as it stated, which “is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery–the greatest material interest of the world.”

Among the “crimes” committed by the Federal Government, Mississippi listed:

It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.

It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole popular mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.

It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.

It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better.

. . .

Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.”

Imagine the outrage that the North wanted to provide Blacks with a condition different from dawn to dusk work, rape and beatings, forced mating, and the threat of being sold to even worse conditions at any time!

Mississippi’s Declaration concluded: “. . . for the reasons here stated, we resolve to maintain our rights with the full consciousness of the justice of our course, and the undoubting belief of our ability to maintain it.”

Today, Mississippi has the distinction of being “the Nation’s most segregated state.” In 2018, author and National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward wrote in “The Atlantic”:

The seed of difference, and the belief in our poverty, our inferiority, persists. This seed, present at the beginning of our subjugation as slaves, has sprouted and thrived as virulently as kudzu. It has strangled us for hundreds of years. Under the thin veneer of mutability, the belief that anyone of African descent is inferior still flourishes: sunk into the soil, springing from the well of the rivers. It made itself known after emancipation, when minor offenses committed by black people led to imprisonment for crimes such as vagrancy and loitering and petty thievery, especially of food, and black men and women were essentially re-enslaved; a century later, some civil-rights activists in Mississippi would be sentenced to the notorious Parchman Farm to suffer torture. The belief made itself known when Mississippi finally ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, banning slavery—on February 7, 2013. Now it makes itself known in the letters to the editor of local papers, where white people excoriate any and all activities associated with black college students’ spring-break festivities. It makes itself known when high-school football players take a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, and then the parents of their white classmates call them nigger thugs. It made itself known on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2017, when the city of Biloxi declared that it would celebrate “Great Americans Day” instead.”

Mississippi State Representatives still support the Confederacy – 2017 (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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