1861 · [San Antonio
by [Texas]: [Civil War]: [Brown, John Henry]
[San Antonio: Herald Office, 1861. Letterpress broadside, 19 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches, on purple satin, printed in five columns surrounded by an ornamental border. Old folds, creases, and resultant wrinkling. Small ink stain above "CAUSES" in the title. A handful of tiny holes, mostly marginal, but with four touching the text and affecting about ten words. A few short fold separations, minor fraying to edges. Small ink crosses next to four delegate names; one penciled arrow next to another name. Overall good plus. An extraordinary Texas secession broadside, printed on satin in San Antonio in 1861. This rare broadside enumerates the reasons Texans felt forced them to secede from the United States at the outset of the Civil War. It is one of the three documents created by the Texas Secession Convention that led to a direct vote of the people of Texas for secession. On February 1, 1861, the Convention passed the ORDINANCE OF SECESSION; the DECLARATION OF CAUSES was adopted the next day. The DECLARATION OF CAUSES was written by a committee tasked to prepare it, composed of John Henry Brown, George Flournoy, John A. Wilcox, M.D. Graham, and A.P. Wiley, though Brown is known to be the principal author. Both documents are printed on the present broadside. It is a scathing document - a states' rights document of the first order - listing a number of wrongs perpetrated on Texas by the Northern states and the federal government. In seething language, leaving no doubt about the central issue spurring on secession, the first substantive paragraph reads: "Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated States to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution, and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery - the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits - a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?" The authors of the text then focus their ire on the federal government, and in stark, blistering language: "The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slave-holding States. By the disloyalty of the Northern States and their citizens and the imbecility of the Federal Government, infamous combinations of incendiaries and outlaws have been permitted in those States and the common territory of Kansas to trample upon the federal laws, to war upon the lives and property of Southern citizens in that territory, and finally, by violence and mob law, to usurp the possession of the same as exclusively the property of the Northern States." The document goes on to pronounce further "grievances" and decry the various "wrongs" perpetrated by the North "in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist even between entirely distinct nations...." Texas blames the North for failing to protect the state "against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico." Specific to the issue of slavery, the Texas authors call out twelve mostly northern states for violating Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, specifically regarding interstate return of escaped slaves to their rightful owners (which would be rendered moot later by passage of the Thirteenth Amendment). They excoriate the Northern states, which they pejoratively refer to as an "abolition organization" for their "debasing doctrine of the equality of all men irrespective of race or color - a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the divine law." Further, the document accuses Northern anti-slavery forces of a litany of abusive encroachments and invasive practices with regard to slavery. The North has "placed the slave-holding States in a hopeless minority in the federal congress, and rendered representation of no avail in protecting Southern rights...." The North has "encouraged and sustained lawless organizations to steal our slaves" and "invaded Southern soil and murdered unoffending citizens" and "sent seditious pamphlets and papers among us to stir up servile insurrection and bring blood and carnage to our firesides" and "sent hired emissaries among us to burn our towns and distribute arms and poison to our slaves" and "finally, by the combined sectional vote of the seventeen free or non-slave-holding States, they have elected as President and Vice President of the whole Confederacy, two men whose chief claims to such high positions, is their approval of these long continued wrongs, and their pledges to continue them to the final consummation of these schemes for the ruin of the slaveholding States." Due to this long list of perceived wrongs, arguing that the American government should be the exclusive province of "all white men," and citing "the secession of six of the slave-holding States" as motivation, the present document reports that Texas has "passed an Ordinance dissolving all political connection with the Government of the United States of America, and the people thereof...." The delegates then call for the citizens of Texas to ratify the ordinance on February 23. This broadside then prints the text of the ORDINANCE OF SECESSION, followed by a list of the delegates to the secession convention. The ordinance was passed the day before the DECLARATION OF THE CAUSES, and officially dissolved "the Union between the State of Texas and the other States, united under the Compact styled the Constitution of the United States of America." This short, legalistic document argues for secession based on three main failures of the United States government - to protect Texas citizens on the frontier, for violating the compact of the Constitution, and for seeking to end slavery. The ordinance then repeals and annuls the Constitution's power within the state of Texas, and submits the document for a vote on February 23. This copy of the DECLARATION OF THE CAUSES may have belonged to a Dallas delegate to the Texas Secession Convention, or someone who had a connection with a delegate from Dallas. Small crosses are inked next to the names of Thomas J. Nash, Pleasant Taylor, E.P. Nicholson, and W.S.J. Adams. There is also an arrow pointing to Nash, perhaps indicating that he or a proud family member was in possession of this document at some point. These four men were the only four delegates to the secession convention from Dallas, elected to be Dallas County's secession convention delegates on January 8, 1861, according to John Henry Brown's HISTORY OF DALLAS COUNTY. Noted bibliographer Everett C. Wilkie, Jr. made a recent study of the Texas secession documents in his book, THE 1861 PRINTINGS OF THE ORDINANCE OF SECESSION A DECLARATION OF CAUSES AND AN ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS... (Dallas: The Book Club of Texas, 2011). Wilkie treats with the three known editions of the present DECLARATION OF THE CAUSES, all printed in San Antonio by the Herald Office (WILKIE 23, 24, and 25). Of these three editions, only five total copies are known to exist; Parrish and Willingham record another copy at Baylor, but it is actually the seven-page Austin edition (the prior entry in Parrish & Willingham). The differences in the three editions basically come down to the list of delegates noted as having signed the secession ordinance. The first edition, WILKIE 23, was likely printed in February 1861. Here, the list of delegates ends with Philip A. Work. The second entry, WILKIE 24, was likely issued in early March, and the last delegate listed is Tignal W. Jones. The third entry, WILKIE 25, was likely printed in mid-March 1861, as it lists "J.L.L. McCALL" who was not seated as a convention delegate until March 11, and ends with delegate "Wm. Nash." This last edition is especially notable because it includes the names of all delegates who signed the secession ordinance, as does the present copy. The present example was also likely printed in mid-March, as the last name is also Nash, though here his first name is spelled out, "William Nash." We believe the present example was likely printed between Wilkie's numbers 24 and 25, owing to the list of names having the same spelling of the name "Chas A. Russell;" in WILKIE 25, there is an out-of-place apostrophe in the middle of his name, thus reading, "CHA'S A. RUSSELL." Also, in the present example, as in WILKIE 24, the name "D.M. STAPP" is printed the same way; in WILKIE 25, the name is printed with a date after it, reading "D.M. STAPP, (Mar. 2, '61)." The reason for the differences here is that the list of delegates after Work's name was reset sometime between WILKIE 24 and 25; we believe the present copy is closer to WILKIE 24 because the list of delegates was simply added to for the present copy, not reset, as in WILKIE 25. Presumably, Wilkie's entry 24, the present example, and Wilkie's entry 25 are all printed from substantially the same setting of type, except for the list of delegate names and the printed notices after the list of delegates. The printed notices might be another clue that the present example is closer to WILKIE 24 than is WILKIE 25, because in both the present example and WILKIE 24, the list of delegates is followed by the same six- line notice regarding the delegates who voted against the secession ordinance, with the type appearing to be in the same composition, just lower down the column in the present example. This notice is not present in WILKIE 25 at all. We believe that the present copy would have been the third edition (of four) in Wilkie's bibliography had he been able to examine it. The broadside's survival is especially remarkable considering the problems Texas printers faced in 1861, making all secession-related works, in Wilkie's words, "monuments to the importance of these documents held at the time; otherwise such care and trouble would hardly have been taken to print them in such a fashion. Thus handsomely embodied, they conveyed to the Texas public their import." Two of the three editions identified by Wilkie had a printed notice at the end of the list of delegates reading, "These sheets on Fine Satin may be had at the Herald Office for $1, or on fine Book Paper at 10 cents each" (WILKIE 23 and 25). Further, the only known copy of WILKIE 24, which did not have the printed notice (as with the present copy), is printed on satin. Considering that copy was a delegate's copy (as we believe the present copy is, too), it is natural to assume that convention delegates would have wanted as fine a memento of their work as possible, and ordered the work printed on satin. As stated, Wilkie confirms a total of just five copies of all three editions. The only two copies of the first edition are located at the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas at Austin. The only known copy of the second edition, also printed on satin, and also belonging to a delegate resides in a private collection. According to Wilkie, it was bought by the current owner at Christie's on Dec. 16, 2004 for $16,730. It is the only auction record for any San Antonio Herald Office broadside printing of the 1861 DECLARATION OF THE CAUSES. The two copies of Wilkie's third edition are located at the Library of Congress and in a private collection. A remarkable surviving document of Texas political history, the history of slavery, and an important piece of Texana, printing the bellicose DECLARATION OF THE CAUSES that forced Texas to secede from the United States and the formal ORDINANCE OF SECESSION passed by the Texas legislature convened in Austin just before the outbreak of the Civil War. WILKIE 25 (variant). WINKLER & FRIEND 171 (variant). PARRISH & WILLINGHAM 4151 (variant). CRANDALL 2153 (variant).
(Inventory #: WRCAM55492)