American historical documents related to secession

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i wonder if there are any documents from the New Englanders’ move toward independence during the war of 1812 and, I think, the antebellum period when they were looking at secession to protest slavery.


If you are referring to the Hartford Convention… much of that was done in secret. The following document was released publicly, and as the introduction at the top of the page says, there are hints of secession, more on maintaining sovereignty.

The following is not a primary source, but it was written by the Secretary of the Convention (Hartford Convention).

The following is a little hard to read, but it is a primary source for the “proceedings” and “reports” etc of the Hartford Convention.

A good copy of " Public documents, containing proceedings of the Hartford convention of delegates; report of the commissioners while at Washington; letters from Massachusetts members in Congress. Letter from the governor of Pennsylvania; report and resolutions of Pennsylvania state. Letter of governor of New-Jersey, inclosing sundry papers. Letter of governor of New-York, inclosing sundry papers, relating to amendments of the constitution, proposed by Massachusetts
can be found at

An often-reproduced artwork from 1814 can be found many places, this is just one of them:

The Hartford Convention was just the culmination of the what has been called the “Northern Secession” of 1804 – there was also something called “Northern Secession” associated with the American Civil War.

While much is written about the 1804 secession, with quotations given, I have been unable to find online versions of any original documents from which those quotations are taken. In many cases the authors simply don’t give their sources, or they only vaguely cite “a letter” or “in a speech”, etc.

There might be something found in the literature addressing the Louisiana Purchase, which seems to be the basis for much of the talk of secession at this time.

All of the Ordinances of secession passed by the southern states/territories/etc. can be found at

Note that some of these ordinances were voted on by the people as well as the legislatures, but not all of them.

The Supreme Court case Texas v. White et al. is often taken as laying to rest the legality of secession. As we have seen elsewhere, this is not really the case. In the text of the majority opinion the sections of interest begin about paragraph 97.

Here is a protest against the Louisiana ordinance of secession (Civil War).

The following is at times rambling, it seems, but documents some of the early feelings about secession. It was written in 1817, as an impassioned plea for union over disunion, by Matthew Carey.

South Carolina ordinance of nullification.

The Kentucky Resolutions were an attempt to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts.
I recommend downloading the TIFF file.