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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

December 10, 1860

“Committee of Thirteen” Senators Proposed Resolution to Stop Secession

A “Committee of Thirteen” U.S. Senators worked out a resolution to present before the Senate, in a vain attempt to prevent the Southern states from seceding. One of the thirteen Senators was Robert Toombs of Georgia, who had already given a secessionist speech before the Georgia legislature on November 13. Interestingly, another member of the Committee of Thirteen was the man who would become President of the Confederate States of America - Jefferson Davis - then a Senator from Mississippi. The committee had retired by the end of December, realizing the futility of their effort. The resolution they proposed was:

Resolved, That the select committee of thirteen be instructed to inquire into the expediency of establishing, by constitutional provision, 1. A line running through the territory of the United States, not included within the States, making an equitable and just division of said territory, south of which line slavery shall be recognized and protected as property, by ample and full constitutional guarantees, and north of which line it shall be prohibited. 2. The repeal of all acts of Congress in regard to the restoration of fugitives from labor, and an explicit declaration in the Constitution that it is the duty of each State for itself to return fugitive slaves when demanded by the proper authority, or pay double their cash value out of the treasury of the State. 3. An amendment to the Constitution declaring that slavery shall exist in navy-yards, arsenals, &c., or not, as it may be admitted or prohibited by the States in which such navy-yards, arsenals, &c., may be situated. 4. Congress shall never interfere with slavery in the District of Columbia so long as it shall exist in the State of Maryland, nor even then without the consent of the inhabitants and compensation to the owners. 5. Congress shall not touch the representation of three fifths of the slaves, nor the inter-State trade, coastwise or inland. 6. These provisions to be unamendable like that which relates to the equality of the States in the Senate.