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The Clays of Alabama
U.S. Senator for Alabama

Clement Claiborne Clay (C.C. Clay) had a successful career as a Lawyer, a Representative in the Alabama House of Representatives, and a the Judge for the County Court of Madison County.
In 1848 - 1849 he had his eyes set on becoming a Senator for Alabama. 


Drawing of C.C. Clay when he was a U.S Senator

C. C. Clays last act as a U.S. Senator:  The Succession Speech

January 21, 1861


I rise to announce, in behalf of my colleague and myself, that the people of Ala­bama, assembled in convention at their capital on the 11th of this month, have adopted an ordinance whereby they withdraw from the Union, formed under a compact styled the Constitution of the Uni­ted States, resume the powers delegated to it, and assume their separate station as a sovereign and independent people. This is the act, not of faction or of party, but of the people. True, there is a respectable minority of that convention who op­posed this act, not because they desired to pre­serve the Union, but because they wished to se­cure the cooperation of all, or of a majority, of the southern or of the planting States. There are many cooperationists, but I think not one union­ist in the convention; all are in favor of withdraw­ing; from the Union. I am therefore warranted in saying that this is the act of the freemen of Ala­bama.


In taking this momentous step, they have not acted hastily or unadvisedly.    It is not the eruption of sudden, spasmodic, and violent passion. It is the conclusion they have reached after years of bitter experience of enmity, injustice, and in­jury, at the hands of their northern brethren; after long and painful reflection; after anxious debate and solemn deliberation; and after argument, per­suasion, and entreaty have failed to secure them their constitutional rights. Instead of causing surprise and incurring censure, it is rather matter of amazement, if not reproach, that they have endured so much and so long, and have deferred this act of self-defense until to-day.


It is now nearly forty-two years since Alabama was admitted into the Union. She entered it, as she goes out of it, while the Confederacy was in convulsions, caused by the hostility of the North to the domestic slavery of the South. Not a de­cade, nor scarce a lustrum, has elapsed, since her birth, that has not been strongly marked by proofs of the growth and power of that anti-slavery spirit of the northern people which seeks the overthrow of that domestic institution of the South, which is not only the chief source of her prosperity, but the very basis of her social order and State polity. It is to-day the master spirit of the northern States, and had, before the secession of Alabama, of Mis­sissippi, of Florida, or of South Carolina, severed most of the bonds of the Union. It denied us Christian communion, because it could not endure what it styles the moral leprosy of slaveholding; it refused us permission to sojourn, or even to pass through the North, with our property; it claimed freedom for the slave if brought by his master into a northern State; it violated the Constitution and treaties and laws of Congress, because designed to protect that property; it refused us any share of lands acquired mainly by our diplomacy and blood and treasure; it refused our property any shelter or security beneath the flag of a common Government; it robbed us of our property, and refused to restore it; it refused to deliver criminals against our laws, who fled to the North with our property or our blood upon their hands; it threat­ened us, by solemn legislative acts, with igno­minious punishment if we pursued our property into a northern State; it murdered southern men when seeking the recovery of their property on northern soil; it invaded the borders of southern States, poisoned their wells, burnt their dwellings, and murdered their people; it denounced us by de­liberate resolves of popular meetings, of party con­ventions, and of religious and even legislative as­semblies, as habitual violators of the laws of God and the rights of humanity; it exerted all the moral and physical agencies that human ingenu­ity can devise or diabolical malice can employ to heap odium and infamy upon us, and to make us a by-word of hissing and of scorn throughout the civilized world. Yet we bore all this for many years, and might have borne it for many more, under the oft-repeated assurance of our northern friends, and the too fondly cherished hope that these wrongs and injuries were committed by a minority party, and had not the sanction of the majority of the people, who would, in time, rebuke our enemies, and redress our grievances.


But the fallacy of these promises and folly of our hopes have been too clearly and conclusively proved in late elections, especially the last two presidential elections, to permit us to indulge longer in such pleasing delusions. The platform of the Republican party of 1856 and 1860 we regard as a libel upon the character and a declaration of war against the lives and property of the southern people. No bitterer or more offensive calumny could be uttered against them than is expressed in de­nouncing their system of slavery and polygamy as "twin relics of barbarism." It not only re­proaches us as unchristian and heathenish, but imputes a sin and a crime deserving universal scorn and universal enmity. No sentiment is more insulting or more hostile to our domestic tranquility, to our social order, and our social ex­istence, than is contained in the declaration that our negroes are entitled to liberty and equality with the white man. It is in spirit, if not effect, as strong an incitement and invocation to servile insurrection, to murder, arson, and other crimes, as any to be found in abolition literature.


And to aggravate the insult which is offered us in demanding equality with us for our slaves, the same platform denies us equality with northern white men or free negroes, and brands us as an inferior race, by pledging the Republican party to resist our entrance into the Territories with our slaves, Or the extension of slavery, whichas its founders and leaders truly assertmust and will effect its extermination. To crown the climax of insult to our feelings and menace of our rights, this party nominated to the Presidency a man who not only indorses the platform, but promises, in his zealous support of its principles, to disre­gard the judgments of your courts, the obliga­tions of your Constitution, and the requirements of his official oath, by approving any bill prohibit­ing slavery in the Territories of the United States.


A large majority of the northern people have declared at the ballot-box their approval of the platform and the candidates of that party in the fate presidential election. Thus, by the solemn verdict of the people of the North, the slavehold­ing communities of the South are " outlawed, branded with ignominy, consigned to execration, and ultimate destruction."


Sir, are we looked upon as more or less than men? Is it expected that we will or can exercise that godlike virtue which " beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things;" which teaches us to love our enemies, and bless them that curse us 1 Are we devoid of the sensibilities, the sentiments, the passions, the reason, and the instincts of mankind? Have we no pride of honor, no sense of shame, no rever­ence of our ancestors, no care of our posterity, no love of home, or family, or friends? Must we confess our baseness, discredit the fame of our sires, dishonor ourselves, degrade our posterity, abandon our homes, and flee from our country, all for the sake of the Union? Must we agree to live under the ban of our own Government? Must we acquiesce in the inauguration of a President, chosen by confederate, but unfriendly, States, whose political faith constrains him, for his con­science and country's sake, to deny us our con­stitutional rights, because elected according to the forms of the Constitution? Must we consent to live under a Government which we believe will henceforth be controlled and administered by those who not only deny us justice and equality, and brand us inferiors, but whose avowed prin­ciples and policy must destroy our domestic tranquility, imperil the lives of our wives and chil­dren, degrade and dwarf, and ultimately destroy, our State? Must we live, by choice or compul­sion, under the rule of those who present us the dire alternative of an " irrepressible conflict" with the northern people in defense of our altars and our fireside, or the mamumission of our slaves, and the admission of them to social and political equality? No, sir, no! The freemen of Alabama have proclaimed to the world that they will not; and have proved their sincerity by seceding from the Union, and hazarding all the dangers and dif­ficulties of a separate and independent station among the nations of the earth.


They have learned from history the admoni­tory truth, that the people who live under gov­ernors appointed against their consent by un­friendly foreign or confederate States, will not long enjoy the blessings of liberty, or have the courage to claim them. They feel that were they to consent to do so, they would lose the respect of their foes and the sympathy of their friends. They are resolved not to trust to the hands of their enemies the measure of their rights. They intend to preserve for themselves, and to transmit to their posterity, the freedom they received from their ancestors, or perish in the attempt. Cor­dially approving this act of my mother State, and acknowledging no other allegiance, I shall return, like a true and loyal son, to her bosom, to defend her honor, maintain her rights, and share her fate.


The Congressional Globe

The Offical Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rivers

Washington, DC

Thirty-Sixth Congress, 2nd Session.

Page 486

(this document was only available in image format(.gif & .tiff), so I took the time to type the document.)

Rob Henshaw


Photo/Portrait of C.C. Clay as a U.S. Senator