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declaration of independence and ordinance of separation

Commonwealth of Kentucky

Adopted November 20, 1861 by a Convention of the People of Kentucky, assembled at Russellville, and presided by George W. Johnson, Governor of the Confederate Provisional Government of Kentucky, as follows:

Whereas, The Federal Constitution, which created the Government of the United States, was declared by the framers thereof to be the supreme law of the land, and was intended to limit, and did expressly limit, the powers of said Government to certain general specified purposes, and did expressly reserve to the States and people all other powers whatever, and the President and Congress have treated this supreme law of the Union with contempt, and usurped to themselves the power to interfere with the rights and liberties of the States and the people against the express provisions of the Constitution, and have thus substituted for the highest forms of national liberty and constitutional government a central despotism founded upon the ignorant prejudices of the masses of Northern society, and instead of giving protection with the Constitution to the people of fifteen States of the Union, have turned loose upon them the unrestrained and raging passions of mobs and fanatics; and because we now seek to hold our liberties, our property, our homes, and our families under the protection of the reserved powers of the States, have blockaded our ports, invaded our soil, and waged war upon our people, for the purpose of subjugating us to their will;

And whereas, Our own honor and our duty to posterity demand that we shall not relinquish our own liberty, and shall not abandon the rights of our descendants and the world to the inestimable blessings of constitutional government, therefore,

Be it ordained, That we do hereby forever sever our connection with the Government of the United States, and in the name of the people we do hereby declare Kentucky to be a free and independent State, clothed with all the power to fix her own destiny, and to secure her own rights and liberties.

And whereas, The majority of the Legislature of Kentucky have violated their most solemn pledges made before the election, and deceived and betrayed the people; have abandoned the position of neutrality assumed by themselves and the people, and invited into the State the organized armies of Lincoln; have abdicated the Government in favor of the military despotism which they have placed around themselves, but cannot control, and have abandoned the duty of shielding the citizen with their protection; have thrown upon our people and the State the horrors and ravages of war, instead of attempting to preserve the peace; and have voted men and money for the war waged by the North for the destruction of our constitutional rights; have violated the express words of the Constitution by borrowing five millions of money for the support of the war without a vote of the people; have permitted the arrest and imprisonment of our citizens, and transferred the constitutional prerogatives of the executive to a military commission of partisans; have seen the writ of habeas corpus suspended without an effort for its preservation, and permitted our people to be driven in exile from their homes; have subjected our property to confiscation, and our persons to confinement in the penitentiary as felons, because we may choose to take part in a contest for civil liberty and constitutional government against a sectional majority, waging war against the people and institutions of thirteen States of the old Federal Union, and have done all these things deliberately, against the warnings and voice of the Governor, and the solemn remonstrances of the minority in the Senate and House of Representatives; therefore,

Be it further ordained, That the unconstitutional edicts of a factious majority of a Legislature, thus false to their pledges, their honor, and their interests, are not law, and that such a Government is unworthy of the support of a brave and free people; and we do hereby declare, that the people are absolved from all allegiance to said Government, and have the right to establish any government which to them may seem best adapted to the preservation of their rights and liberties.

Adopted November 20, 1861



congress of the confederate states

Commonwealth of Kentucky

Admitted December 10, 1861, into the Confederate States by an act passed by
the Provisional Congress, Fifth Session, held at Richmond, Virginia, as follows:

Whereas, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky have been prevented by the unconstitutional interference of the Government of the United States from expressing their will through their legally constituted authorities in regard to a union with the Confederate States of America, and are now engaged in repelling a lawless invasion of their territory by armed forces; and,

Whereas, it is the right and duty of the Confederate States to aid the people and government of the said Commonwealth in resisting such invasion, and in securing the means and the opportunity of expressing their will upon all questions affecting their rights and liberties; now,

Therefore, the Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact that the President of the Confederate States be, and he is hereby authorized, to cooperate through the military power of this Government with the authorities and the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in defending that Commonwealth against a lawless invasion by the United States, and in maintaining the liberty and independence of her people; and that he be authorized and empowered, at his discretion, to receive and muster into the service of the Confederate States, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, such troops of that Commonwealth as may volunteer to serve in the army of the Confederate States, subject to the rules and regulations of said army, and in accordance with the laws of Congress, and said troops may be received into service by companies, battalions, or regiments, with their officers elected by the troops, and the officers so elected shall be commissioned by the president, and when mustered into service, said companies, battalions, or regiments may be attached to such brigades or divisions as the President may determine.

That the Commonwealth of Kentucky be admitted as a member of the Confederate States of America on an equal footing with the other States of the Confederacy.

That the Congress of the Confederate States recognizes the government, of which George W. Johnson is the chief magistrate, to be the legally elected and regularly constituted government of the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the President of the Confederate States be, and is hereby empowered, at his discretion, at any time prior to the admission of the said Commonwealth as a member of this Confederacy, to perfect and proclaim an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the said Government, limited to the period of existing war between this Confederacy and the United States, the said treaty to be in force from the date thereof and until the same shall be disaffirmed or rejected by this Congress.

Approved December 10, 1861  



congress of the confederate states


Passed in January 1863, by an act of the Provisional Congress, Fifth Session, held at Richmond, Virginia, as follows:

The thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered to General John H. Morgan, officers and men of his command, for their varied, heroic, and invaluable services in Tennessee and Kentucky immediately preceding the battles before Murfreesboro services which have conferred upon their authors fame as enduring as the records of the struggle which they have so brilliantly illustrated.



resolutions to the confederate congress

Passed at a meeting of Kentucky soldiers, held at Camp Lee, near the city of Richmond,
in relation to the prosecution of the war and placing Negroes in the army as soldiers.

Senate, February 27, 1865

Ordered, to lie on the table and be printed by Mr. Simms.

At a meeting of Kentucky soldiers, held at Camp Lee, near Richmond, Va., on the 25th February, 1865, almost four hundred privates and non-commissioned officers from the 2nd, 7th, and 11th Kentucky Cavalry Regiments, Duke's Brigade, being present, who were recently released from northern prisons. On motion, Serg't. H. H. Barlow, was called to the chair and Richard Wintersmith appointed Secretary.

The object of the meeting being explained, W.W. Kendall, Thos. D. Henry, W.S. Wheatly, J.C. Brashear, and John Funell were appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the meeting. After consultation they offered the following preamble and resolutions which were unanimously adopted.

Whereas, after long suffering and imprisonment, we are again on our often hoped and prayed for Southern soil, endeared to us by the associations, perils, and pleasures of the past, and doubly sacred because it is now the burial-ground of so many of our comrades and brothers; we desire, at this our earliest opportunity, to let our countrymen and fellow soldiers, as also our northern foes and traducers know the unchanging and undying sentiments of Kentuckians.

Therefore, Be it Resolved:

1st. That to win our independence we should resort to every honorable means and cheerfully make every sacrifice. We know the fate that awaits us should the enemy succeed in crushing our gallant armies, and rather than submit let us exhaust every resource and use every means of defeating him.

2d. That we heartily endorse the conduct of our illustrious Chief Magistrate in designating independence as the only basis on which we could or ought to negotiate for peace with the United States, and we know that declaration filled the hearts of thousands of our fellow-prisoners with new hope and joy and confidence.

3d. That we will take up the gauntlet which the enemy has again thrown down, with renewed energy, devotion and determination, and trusting in God, with the guidance of our President, our glorious hero and Chief Commander, and our gallant and gifted, tried and true Secretary of War, we will, on the battle-field, submit to the arbitrament of the sword, the issue of independence or subjugation, and prove our determination to die freemen rather than live slaves.

4th. That we approve of the policy of placing Negroes in the army as soldiers, and respectfully urge our members of Congress to pass such laws as will make them most available to our cause.

5th. That we tender to Lieutenant-Colonel J. B. McCreary, of the 11th Kentucky Cavalry, our sincere thanks for the kind attention and many favors extended to us since our arrival in Richmond, and we request him to present these resolutions to our members in the Confederate States Congress and to the Richmond papers for publication.

On motion, the meeting adjourned.  

H.H. Barlow, Chairman. 
R.M. Wintersmith, Secretary 


Choose from the following hyperlinks to view other historical documents:

Broadsides             Proclamations             Resolutions
& Illustrations                & Reports                    & Ordinances   

Verses & Songs           The Vidette             Articles of War