CONSTITUTION OF 1865

RATIFICATION


[NOTE: The Constitution of 1865 was not submitted to the electorate for ratification, and no document can be found, declaring such ratified. Such submission to the people was not stipulated in President Andrew Johnson's letter, appointing Lewis E. Parsons as Provisional Governor of Alabama, nor in Governor Parsons' Proclamation, calling for a constitutional convention. (See ENABLING INSTRUMENTS) The issue of submission was hotly debated in the waning days of the Convention, and, on a vote of 61-25, the Convention decided against submission of the Constitution to the electorate. The Constitution of 1865 became operable upon final adjournment of the Convention, September 30, 1865. Elections were held and the Legislature convened in Regular Session, November 20th. Robert M. Patton was elected Governor and inaugurated in the Hall of the House of Represenatatives at the Capitol. What follows are two letters from William H. Seward, United States Secretary of State: 1) To Lewis Parsons, relieving him of his duties as Provisional Governor; and, 2) To Governor Patton, as official recognition by the President of his status as the legally-elected Governor of Alabama. In addition, included is a document of outgoing Provisional Governor Parsons, reciting the events of the Constitutional Convention, and officially handing over the reigns of the Executive Department to Governor Patton. Although these items are not documentary declarations of ratification of the Constitution of 1865, they nevertheless serve to indicate that the new Constitution was fully operable, and acceptable to the President.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Washington, 18th Dec., 1865

To His Excellency Lewis E. Parsons, Provisional Governor of the State of Alabama, Montgomery, Alabama:

Sir:

The time has arrived when, in the judgment of the President of the United States, the care and conduct of the proper affairs of the State of Alabama may be remitted to the constitutional authorities chosen by the people thereof, without danger to the peace and safety of the United States. By direction of the President, therefore, you are relieved from the trust which was heretofore reposed in you as Provisional Governor of the State of Alabama. Whenever the Governor elect shall have accepted and become qualified to discharge the duties of the Executive office, you will transfer the papers and property of the State, now in your custody, to his excellency the Governor elect.

It gives me especial pleasure to convey to you the President's acknowledgment of the fidelity, the loyalty, and the discretion which have marked your administration. I have the honor to be

Your Excellency's most obedient servant,

 

W. H. SEWARD


DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Washington, 18th Dec., 1865

To His Excellency, the Governor of the State of Alabama, Montgomery, Alabama:

Sir:

By direction of the President, I have the honor herewith to transmit to you a copy of a communication which has been addressed to His Excellency Lewis E. Parsons, late Provisional Governor of Alabama, whereby he has been relieved of the trust heretofore reposed in him, and directed to deliver into your Excellency's possession the papers and property relating to that trust. I have the honor to tender you the co-operation of the Government of the United States, wheresoever it may be found necessary in effecting the early restoration and the permanent prosperity and welfare of the State over which you have been called to preside. I have the honor to be,

With great respect, Your most obediant servant,

 

WILLIAM H. SEWARD


EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT
Provisional Government Of Alabama

To all to whom these presents shall come - Greeting:

KNOW YE, That on the 19th day of June, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States of America, by his Proclamation of that date, appointed Lewis E. Parsons, a citizen of the county of Talladega, Provisional Governor of the State of Alabama "for the purpose of enabling the loyal people of said State to re-organize a State government, whereby justice may be established, domestic tranquillity insured, and loyal citizens protected in all their rights of life, liberty, and property", and the President had made it his duty "to prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper for convening a Convention, composed of the people of said State who are loyal to the United States, and no others, for the purpose of altering and amending the Constitution thereof; and with authority to exercise within the limits of said State, all the powers necessary and proper, to enable such loyal people of the State of Alabama to restore said State to its constitutional relations to the Federal Government, and to present such a Republican form of State Government as will entitle the State to the guarantee of the United States therefor, and its people to protection by the United States against invasion, insurrection and domestic violence."

That on the 20th of July, thereafter, the said Provisional Governor issued a Proclamation to the people of Alabama, which provided, among other things, for an election of delegates in each county of the State, on the 31st day of August, then ensuing, to a Convention of the people of Alabama, to assemble at the Capitol in the city of Montgomery, on Tuesday, the 12th day of September, 1865.

The said Convention, in which the wisdom and patriotism of the people of Alabama were admirably blended, assembled at the Capitol on the day indicated, and was duly organized, each county in the State being represented by the same number of delegates as representatives in the General Assembly of said State, on the 11th day of January, 1861; and after making many important changes in the Constitution of the State, among which are -

An ordinance in relation to the institution of slavery, and the abolition thereof;

An ordinance declaring the ordinance of secession null and void;

An ordinance declaring null and void certain ordinances and other proceedings of a Convention of the State of Alabama, adopted in January and March, A. D. 1861;

An ordinance declaring the war debt void, and for other purposes;

An ordinance concerning election of State, county, and municipal officers, and members of Congress, and for the assembling of the Legislature at the Capitol, on the third Monday in November, 1865;

Adjourned to re-assemble at the call of the Hon. Benjamin Fitzpatrick, President of the Convention, at any time before the first day of September, A. D. 1866;

That the Legislature assembled on the day appointed, to-wit: the 20th of November, A. D. 1865, and was organized according to the Constitution and laws of the State;

That among other acts, it adopted joint resolutions of the General Assembly of Alabama, ratifying an amendment of the Constitution of the United States, approved December 2d, 1865; and an act to protect freedmen in their rights of person and property in this State;

That senators and representatives have been duly elected by the people and State to the Congress of the United States;

That the President of the United States has been officially advised, from time to time, of the foregoing acts performed for the purpose of restoring our beloved State to her proper relation to the Federal Union;

That on the 10th day of December, 1865, the President of the United States authorized the inauguration of the Hon. Robert M. Patton, Governor elect of the State of Alabama, at such time as might be indicated by the legislature;

That said inauguration took place on the 13th day of December, 1865, in the presence of a convention of the Houses of the General Assembly of this State, in the hall of the House of Representatives, and, in accordance with the time-honored usage of this State, the great seal of the State was delivered to him as Governor of Alabama, by the Provisional Governor;

That on the 18th of December, instant, at the hour of 11 P. M., the Provisional Governor received a telegram from the Honorable William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States, dated at Washington on that day, informing him that "the time had arrived when, in the judgment of the President of the United States, the care and conduct of the proper affairs of the State of Alabama may be remitted to the constitutional authority, chosen by the people thereof, without danger to the peace and safety of the United States. By direction of the President, therefore, you are relieved from the trust which was heretofore reposed in you as Provisional Governor of Alabama. Whenever the Governor elect shall have accepted and become qualified to discharge the duties of the Executive office, you will transfer the papers and property of the State now in your custody, to his excellency the Governor elect."

Now, therefore, I, Lewis E. Parsons, as Provisional Governor, under the instructions aforesaid, do by these presents, in this solemn and public manner, transfer the papers and property of the State, now in my custody, to his excellency Robert M. Patton, Governor of the State of Alabama.

This done at Montgomery, in the Hall of the House of Representatives of the State of Alabama, on the 20th day of December, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the Independence of the United States, the ninetieth year.

God save the State of Alabama!

 

L. E. PARSONS

 


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