Confederate History Month 2012: William L. Harris Addresses the Georgia Secession Convention

William L. Harris explains why Mississippi seceded from the Union


William L. Harris of Mississippi addresses the Georgia secession convention and gives a fire-eating statement of Confederate nationalism.

As Harris explains to the Georgia legislature, Mississippi has seceded from the Union because “she would rather see the last of her race, men, women and children, immolated in one common funeral pile [pyre], than see them subjected to the degradation of civil, political and social equality with the negro race.”

“Black Republicanism” has triumphed in Washington. The only honorable course left to the Deep South is to secede from Lincoln’s Union and create a Southern Confederacy:

“There were three candidates presented to the North by Southern men, all of whom represented the last degree of conservatism and concession, which their respective parties were willing to yield, to appease the fanaticism of the North. Some of them were scarcely deemed sound, in the South, on the slavery question, and none of them suited our ultra men. And yet the North rejected them all; and their united voice, both before and since the overwhelming triumph in this election, has been more defiant and more intolerant than ever before. They have demanded, and now demand, equality between the white and negro races, under our Constitution; equality in representation, equality in the right of suffrage, equality in the honors and emoluments of office, equality in the social circle, equality in the rights of matrimony. The cry has been, and now is, “that slavery must cease, or American liberty must perish,” that “the success of Black Republicanism is the triumph of anti-slavery,” “a revolution in the tendencies of the government that must be carried out.”

To-day our government stands totally revolutionized in its main features, and our Constitution broken and overturned. The new administration, which has effected this revolution, only awaits the 4th of March for the inauguration of the new government, the new principles, and the new policy, upon the success of which they have proclaimed freedom to the slave, but eternal degradation for you and for us.

No revolution was ever more complete, though bloodless, if you will tamely submit to the destruction of that constitution and that Union our fathers made.

Our fathers made this a government for the white man, rejecting the negro, as an ignorant, inferior, barbarian race, incapable of self-government, and not, therefore, entitled to be associated with the white man upon terms of civil, political, or social equality.

This new administration comes into power, under the solemn pledge to overturn and strike down this great feature of our Union, without which it would never have been formed, and to substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.

Our fathers secured to us, by our Constitutional Union, now being overturned by this Black Republican rule, protection to life, liberty and property, all over the Union, and wherever its flag was unfurled, whether on land or sea.

Under this wretched, lawless spirit and policy, now usurping the control of that government, citizens of the South have been deprived of their property, and for attempting to seek the redress promised by the compromise laws, have lost their liberty and their lives.

Equality of rights secured to white men, in equal sovereign States, is among the most prominent features of the Constitution under which we have so long lived.

This equality has been denied us in the South for years in the common territories, while the North has virtually distributed them as bounties to abolition fanatics and foreigners, for their brigand service in aiding in our exclusion.

Our Constitution, in unmistakable language, guarantees the return of our fugitive slaves. Congress has recognized her duty in this respect, by enacting proper laws for the enforcement of this right.

And yet these laws have been continually nullified, and the solemn pledge of the Compromise of 1850, by which the North came under renewed obligations to enforce them, has been faithlessly disregarded, and the government and its officers set at defiance.

Who now expects these rebels against the laws passed by their own consent and procurement — rebels against justice and common honesty — to become pious patriots by the acquisition of power? Who now expects Mr. Lincoln to become conservative, when the only secret of his success, and the only foundation of his authority, is the will and command of that robber clan, whose mere instrument he is, who have achieved this revolution in our government by treading under their unhallowed feet our Constitution and laws and the Union of our fathers, and by openly defying high heaven by willful and corrupt perjury?

And, above all, who is it in the South, born or descended of Revolutionary sires, who so loves such company, as that he will long hesitate before he can obtain the consent of a virtuous and patriotic heart and conscience to separate from them forever?

Mississippi is firmly convinced that there is but one alternative:

This new union with Lincoln Black Republicans and free negroes, without slavery, or, slavery under our old constitutional bond of union, without Lincoln Black Republicans, or free negroes either, to molest us.

If we take the former, then submission to negro equality is our fate. if the latter, then secession is inevitable — each State for itself and by itself, but with a view to the immediate formation of a Southern Confederacy, under our present Constitution, by such of the slave-holding States as shall agree in their conventions to unite with us.

Mississippi seeks no delay — the issue is not new to her people. They have long and anxiously watched its approach they think it too late, now, to negotiate more compromises with bankrupts in political integrity whose recreancy to justice, good faith and constitutional obligations is the most cherished feature of their political organization.

She has exhausted her rights in sacrificial offerings to save the Union, until nearly all is lost but her honor and the courage to defend it. She has tried conventions until they have become the ridicule of both our friends and our enemies — mere instruments of fraudulent evasion and delay, to wear out the spirit of our people and encourage the hopes of our common enemy. In short, she is sick and tired of the North, and pants for some respite from eternal disturbance and disquiet. . . .

I need not remind your great State, that thousands and thousands of her sons and daughters, who have sought and found happy homes and prosperous fortunes in the distant forests of her old colonial domain, though now adopted children of Mississippi, still cling with the fond embrace of filial love to this old mother of States and of statesmen, from whom both they and their adopted State derive their origin. It will be difficult for such to conceive, that they are not still the objects of your kind solicitude and maternal sympathy.

Mississippi indulges the most confident expectation and belief, founded on sources of information she cannot doubt, as well as on the existence of causes, operating upon them, alike as upon her, that every other Gulf State will stand by her side in defence of the position she is about to assume; and she would reproach herself, and every Georgia son within her limits, would swell with indignation, if she hesitated to believe that Georgia too, would blend her fate with her natural friends; her sons and daughters — her neighboring sisters in the impending struggle.

Whatever may be the result of your deliberations, I beg to assure her from my intimate knowledge of the spirit and affections of our people, that no enemy to her constitutional rights, may consider his victory won, while a Mississippian lives to prolong the contest. Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, the part of Mississippi is chosen, she will never submit to the principles and policy of this Black Republican Administration.

She had rather see the last of her race, men, women and children, immolated in one common funeral pile [pyre], than see them subjected to the degradation of civil, political and social equality with the negro race.”

Is there a Southern movement?

Absolutely. It has nothing to do though with the likes of Connie Chastain or the Southern Heritage Non-Preservation Group whose only real conviction is Black Republicanism. Those people are promoting Americanism while calling it “Southern heritage.”

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Compare and contrast Harris’s speech with the following words from the article titled ”Is there a Southern movement?”

    ”One group missing from this article is African Americans. They are an intregal part of the future of the South. They have been an intregal part of the South from its earliest moments. During the War for Southern Independence, it was the African American community which did not revolt, but remained loyal to the South, who made the plantations work and were part of the home front infrastructure for the war. And many blacks fought for the South, as freed man and slave. Their contributions have been sorely under reported because it is inconvenient history. But in any new South, black Southerners would be essential. ”

    The writer condemns the Southern groups that are ‘backward-looking’ but it’s preferable to look backward to a generation of leaders like Harris, rather than listening today’s politically correct kowtowing.

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