Virginia's Ordinance of Secession
Original Author: Virginia Convention of 1861
Created: April 17, 1861
Medium: Document
Publisher: Library of Virginia

Virginia’s Ordinance of Secession

The Virginia Ordinance of Secession, passed in Richmond on April 17 by the Convention of 1861, bears the signatures of the elected delegates who took part in the proceedings. The document repealed Virginia's ratification of the U.S. Constitution and claimed that the federal government had "perverted" its "powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States." Thus, the document asserted, "the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid is hereby dissolved, and … the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty, which belong and appertain to a free and independent State." Delegates at the convention voted 88 to 55 in favor of leaving the Union; a statewide referendum on May 23, 1861, ratified the document and made secession official.