Charleston, S.C. Evans & Cogswell, . Broadside, printed in red and blue on glazed paper. Matted to 18 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches, framed to 27 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches. Old folds. A few small chips to margins, a few small closed tears with expert repairs to verso. Very good. Item #WRCAM57570
A particularly rare early printing of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, the document which caused the departure of South Carolina from the Union and set the nation irrevocably on the path to the Civil War. It is thus one of the most important printed documents of the entire Civil War.
After Lincoln's election, South Carolina moved vigorously to follow through on its threat to secede from the Union. A secession convention was called and assembled at Charleston on December 20, 1860. Their entire business was to debate the issue of secession, which they favored overwhelmingly, and to settle on the wording of a secession ordinance. Within the day, the 169 members of the Convention voted unanimously for the ordinance.
This copy, printed in red and blue with an image of the South Carolina palmetto flag at the top center and surrounded by an elaborate border, was likely printed for public display shortly after the Convention. The color scheme and layout of the broadside are highly evocative - as in early printings of the Declaration of Independence of 1776, the names of the members of the secession convention are given below the text. The dates "1776" and "1860" are printed in the upper corners of the broadside, making an explicit comparison between the two events. Following the title given above, the text reads: "We, the People of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the Ordinance adopted by us in Convention, on the Twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also, all Acts and parts of Acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of 'The United States of America,' is hereby Dissolved." Below this are the names of all 169 members of the Convention.
Over the next six weeks, six more states followed suit: Mississippi (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10), Alabama (January 11), Georgia (January 19), Louisiana (January 26) and Texas (February 1). On February 8, these states formed the Confederate States of America, and added North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas soon after. Just as Charleston witnessed the first secession convention, it was also the scene of the first shots fired in anger when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in April 1861, marking the formal start of the American Civil War.
Evans & Cogswell had been printing in Charleston since 1821, and were the official printers of the 1860 secession convention. They printed the first version of this Ordinance for the convention in December 1860 in an elaborate lithographic broadside, and also produced many other important documents during the "Secession winter." In 1864, the firm moved to the relative safety of Columbia, in the wake of Sherman's March. When Union forces captured Charleston, the original shop burned.
This copy was previously in the collection of prominent financier, William E. Simon (1927-2000), the first administrator of the Federal Energy Office under Nixon, Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Nixon and Ford, and President of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the Sarajevo and Los Angeles Olympic Games.
This broadside is exceptionally rare in the market, and we could find only three instances of it at auction. OCLC and Parrish & Willingham together locate seven copies: Trinity College, Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public, Harvard, Duke, South Carolina State Library, and the University of Virginia. This is the first copy this firm has handled. PARRISH & WILLINGHAM 3759. CRANDALL 1872. SABIN 87433. OCLC 11699984.