Ordinance of Secession (Enrolled Version)
Enrolled Ordinance of Secession, adopted April 17, 1861, Virginia Convention (1861: Richmond), Records, 1861–1961, Acc. 40586, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 93, Library of Virginia.
On April 17, 1861, the Virginia Convention by a vote of 88 to 55 adopted the Ordinance of Secession. It repealed the 1788 state convention's ratification of the Constitution of the United States and the General Assembly's resolutions ratifying amendments to that Constitution. The ordinance stated that Virginia resumed all the powers that the state had granted to the federal government on the grounds that the federal government had "perverted said powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States." The ordinance was ratified in a popular referendum on May 23, 1861.
The formal, legal text of the Ordinance of Secession was inscribed on parchment (as were bills enacted by the General Assembly) and signed by the convention's president. In the margin are the signatures of two of the five members of a committee that the convention appointed to verify the texts of the ordinances that the convention adopted. During the second session of the convention in June 1861, Delegates James H. Cox, of Chesterfield County, and John A. Carter, of Loudoun County, examined and certified the enrolled ordinance. Convention President John Janney then signed it to make it official.
Ninety-two members of the convention signed a preliminary parchment late in April during the final days of the first session of the convention, and 142 members signed a ceremonial parchment of the ordinance during the second and third sessions in June and November 1861.