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Ordinance of the Kentucky Convention - Bruce Frohnen, The American Nation: Primary Sources 
The American Nation: Primary Sources, ed. Bruce Frohnen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Ordinance of the Kentucky Convention
November 20, 1861
Whereas the Federal Constitution, which created the Government of the United States, was declared by the framers thereof to be the supreme law of the land and was intended to limit the powers of said Government to certain general specified purposes, and did expressly reserve to the States and people all other powers whatever; and the President and Congress have treated this supreme law of the Union with contempt, and usurped to themselves the power to interfere with the rights and liberties of the States and the people against the expressed provisions of the Constitution, and have thus substituted for the highest forms of rational liberty and constitutional government, a central despotism, founded upon the ignorant prejudices of the masses of Northern society, and, instead of giving protection with the Constitution to the people of fifteen States of this Union, have turned loose upon them the unrestrained raging passions of mobs and fanatics, and because we seek to hold our liberties, our property, our homes, and our families, under the protection of the reserved powers of the States, have blockaded our ports, invaded our soil, and waged war upon our people for the purpose of subjugating us to their will; and
Whereas our honor and our duty to posterity demand that we shall not relinquish our own liberty, and shall not abandon the right of our descendants and the world to the inestimable blessings of constitutional government: Therefore,
Be it ordained, That we do hereby forever sever our connections with the Government of the United States, and, in the name of the people, we do hereby declare Kentucky to be a free and independent State, clothed with all power to fix her own destiny and to secure her own rights and liberties; and
Whereas the majority of the legislature of Kentucky have violated their most solemn pledges, made before the election, and deceived and betrayed the people; have abandoned the position of neutrality assumed by themselves and the people, and invited into the State the organized armies of Lincoln; have abdicated the government in favor of the military despotism which they have placed around themselves, but can not control, and have abandoned the duty of shielding the citizens with their protection; have thrown upon our people and the State the horrors and ravages of war, instead of attempting to preserve the peace, and have voted men and money for the war waged by the North for the destruction of our constitutional rights; have violated the express words of the Constitution by borrowing five millions of money for the support of the war, without a vote of the people; have permitted the arrest and imprisonment of our citizens and transferred the constitutional prerogatives of the executive to a military commission of partisans; have seen the right of habeas corpus suspended without an effort for its preservation, and permitted our people to be driven in exile from their homes; have subjected our property to confiscation, and our persons to confinement in the penitentiary as felons, because we may choose to take part in a contest for civil liberty and constitutional government against a sectional majority waging war against the people and institutions of fifteen independent States of the old Federal Union, and have done all these things deliberately against the warnings and vetoes of the governor and the solemn remonstrances of the minority in the senate and house of representatives: Therefore,
Be it further ordained, That the unconstitutional edicts of a factious majority of a legislature thus false to their pledges, their honor, and their interests, are not law, and that such government is unworthy of the support of a brave and free people; and that we do therefore declare that the people are thereby absolved from all allegiance to said government, and that they have a right to establish any government which to them may seem best adapted to the preservation of their rights and liberties.
Section 1. The supreme executive and legislative power of the provisional government of this Commonwealth, hereby established, shall be vested in a governor and ten councilmen, one from each of the present Congressional districts, a majority of whom shall constitute a quorum to transact business. The governor and councilmen to be elected by the members of this convention in such manner as this convention may prescribe.
Sec. 2. The governor and council are hereby invested with full power to pass all laws necessary to effect the objects contemplated by the formation of this government. They shall have full control of the army and navy of this Commonwealth, and the militia thereof.
Sec. 3. No law shall be passed, or act done, or appointment made, either civil or military, by the provisional government, except with the concurrence of a majority of the council and approval of the governor, except as herein specially provided.
Sec. 4. In case of a vacancy in the gubernatorial office, occasioned by death, resignation, or any other cause, the council shall have power to elect a governor, as his successor, who shall not, however, be a member of their own body.
Sec. 5. The council hereby established shall consist of one person selected from each Congressional district in the State, to be chosen by this convention, who shall have power to fill all vacancies from any cause from the district in which such vacancy shall occur.
Sec. 6. The council shall have power to pass any acts which they may deem essential to the preservation of our liberty and the protection of our rights, and such acts, when approved by the governor, shall become law, and as such shall be sustained by the courts and other departments of the government.
Sec. 7. The governor shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the council, shall appoint all judicial and executive and other officers necessary for the enforcement of law and the protection of society under the extraordinary circumstances now existing, who shall continue in office during the pleasure of the governor and council, or until the establishment of a permanent government.
Sec. 8. The governor shall have power, by and with the consent and advice of the council, to conclude a treaty with the Confederate States of America, by which the State of Kentucky may be admitted as one of said Confederate States upon an equal footing in all respects with the other States of said Confederacy.
Sec. 9. That three commissioners shall be appointed by this convention to the Government of the Confederate States of America, with power to negotiate and treat with said Confederate States for the earliest practicable admission of Kentucky into the Government of said Confederate States of America, who shall report the result of their mission to the governor and council of this provisional government, for such future action as may be deemed advisable, and, should less than the full number attend, such as may attend may conduct such negotiation.
Sec. 10. So soon as an election can be held, free from the influence of the armies of the United States, the provisional government shall provide for the assembling of a convention to adopt such measures as may be necessary and expedient for the restoration of a permanent government. Said convention shall consist of one hundred delegates, one from each representative district in the State, except the counties of Mason and Kenton, each of which shall be entitled to two delegates.
Sec. 11. An auditor and treasurer shall be appointed by the provisional government, whose duties shall be prescribed by law, and who shall give bond with sufficient security for the faithful discharge of the duties of their respective offices, to be approved by the governor and council.
Sec. 12. The following oath shall be taken by the governor, members of the council, judges, and all other officers, civil and military, who may be commissioned and appointed by this provisional government: “I, ——, do solemnly swear (or affirm), in the presence of Almighty God, and upon my honor, that I will observe and obey all laws passed by the provisional government of Kentucky. So help me God.”
Sec. 13. The governor shall receive, as his salary, $2,000 per annum, and the councilmen, $5 per diem, while in session, and the salary of the other officers shall be fixed by law.
Sec. 14. The constitution and laws of Kentucky, not inconsistent with the acts of this convention, and the establishment of this government, and the laws which may be enacted by the governor and council, shall be the laws of this State.
Sec. 15. That whenever the governor and council shall have concluded a treaty with the Confederate States of America, for the admission of this State into the Confederate Government, the governor and council shall elect two Senators, and provide by law for the election of members of the House of Representatives in Congress.
Sec. 16. The provisional government hereby established shall be located at Bowling Green, Ky., but the governor and council shall have power to meet at any other place that they may consider appropriate.
Done at Russellville, in the State of Kentucky, this 20th day of November, in the year of our Lord 1861.
(Signed) H. C. BURNETT,
T. L. BURNETT,
T. S. BRYAN,
W. M. COFFEE, of Ballard County.
A. D. KINGMAN.
W. J. LUNSFORD.
J. J. CUNNINGHAM, of Grayson County.
JOHN J. GREEN.
J. P. BURNSIDE.
GEORGE W. MAXSON.
ROBERT S. FORD, of Hardin County.
WILLIAM JOHNSTON, of Hardin County.
WILLIAM W. THOMPSON, of Hart County.
W. S. SHOWDY, of Hart County.
J. J. GROVES, of Hart County.
J. W. CROCKETT, of Henderson County.
B. W. JENKINS, of Henry County.
L. M. LOWE, of Hopkins County.
GREEN MALCOLM, of Jefferson County.
B. K. HORNSBY, of Jefferson County.
WILLIAM K. DANIEL, of Jessamine County.
D. P. BUCKNER, of Kenton County.
C. BENNETT, of Livingston County.
C. N. PENDLETON, of Logan County.
JAMES M. BEALL, of Logan County.
JOHN W. MALONE, of Logan County.
E. D. RICKETTS, of Louisville, First district.
J. A. PENTON, of Louisville, Second district.
GEORGE P. TALBOT, of Louisville, Third district.
J. G. P. HOOE, of Louisville, Fourth district.
H. W. BRUCE, of Louisville, Fourth district.
R. L. COBB, of Lyon County.
WILLIS B. MACHEN, of Lyon County.
GEORGE R. MERRITT, of Lyon County.
J. C. GILBERT, of Marshall County.
WILLIAM E. RAY, of Marion County.
L. M. RAY, of Marion County.
MICHAEL McARTY, of Marion County.
JOHN BURNAM, of Warren County.
J. H. D. McKEE, of Anderson County.
JAMES A. McBRAYER, of Anderson County.
W. TOWSLEY, of Ballard County.
J. P. BATES, of Barren County.
R. W. THOMAS, of Barren County.
N. A. SMITH, of Barren County.
W. K. EDMUNDS, of Barren County.
C. W. PARRISH, of Barren County.
J. W. EVARTS, of Barren County.
WILLIAM F. BELL, of Barren County.
S. S. SCOTT, of Barren County.
W. R. CUNNINGHAM, of Bourbon County.
SAMUEL H. McBRIDE, of Boyle County.
DORSEY B. BOWERS.
WILLIAM N. GAITHER.
JAMES W. MOORE.
HARDY S. LYPERT.
L. K. CHILTON.
JOHN J. THOMAS.
P. C. BARNETT.
D. MATHEWSON, of Calloway County.
P. S. HAMLIN, of Calloway County.
T. M. JONES, of Calloway County.
ALEXANDER WESSON, of Calloway County.
FRANCIS W. DODDS, of Calloway County.
WILLIAM T. MATHES, of Calloway County.
C. A. DUNCAN, of Calloway County.
A. J. HOLLAND, of Calloway County.
H. L. GILTNER, of Calloway County.
THOMAS T. BARRETT.
ROBERT J. BRECKINRIDGE.
J. S. GIBBON.
R. B. ALEXANDER.
E. R. WOODWARD, of Metcalfe County.
E. M. BRUCE, of Nicholas County.
J. J. CONOVER, of Owen County.
OWEN DORSEY, of Oldham County.
GEORGE W. JOHNSON, of Scott County.
A. KEENE RICHARDS, of Scott County.
WILLIAM B. CLARK, of Simpson County.
B. W. WILLIAMS, of Simpson County.
T. L. BURNETT, of Spencer County.
J. A. RUSSELL, of Todd County.
W. B. HARRISON, of Todd County.
G. LINE, of Todd County.
H. H. POSTON, of Trigg County.
W. H. MURTRIE, of Trigg County.
ROBERT WOLDRIDGE, of Trigg County.
ANDREW CUNNINGHAM, Jr., of Trigg County.
J. Y. NEWKIRK, of Trimble County.
WILLIAM D. RAY.
WILLIAM J. PAYNE, of Union County.
S. D. BLACKBURN, of Warren County.
SANDFORD LYNE, of Woodford County.
JOHN W. ARNETT.
ROBERT A. BRECKENRIDGE, of Washington County.
WARREN LYTTLETON JENKINS, of Webster County.
THOMAS S. BRYAN, of Christian County.
J. F. BELL, of Calloway County.
A. R. BOONE, of Graves County.
H. M. ROSE, of Graves County.
J. A. PERTLE, of Graves County.
J. D. SCAFF, of Graves County.
JOHN RIDGWAY, of Graves County.
BLANTON DUNCAN, of Louisville.
PHILIP B. THOMPSON, of Mercer County.
Z. McDANIEL, of Monroe County.
W. N. WAND, of Muhlenburgh County.
A. F. WILLIAMS, of McCroskin County.
JOHN M. JOHNSON, of McCroskin County.
WILLIAM G. BULLITT, of McCroskin County.
H. H. HUSTON, of McCroskin County.
JOHN Q. A. KING, of McCroskin County.
WILLIAM E. MINER, of Nelson County.
JOHN C. BRODHEAD, of Nelson County.
JOHN J. DENNIS, of Calhoun, McLean County.
J. L. GREGORY, of Calhoun, McLean County.
On February 4, 1861, a convention of delegates from the seceding states convened in Montgomery, Alabama. They drafted a provisional constitution in four days and ratified a permanent document a month later. That document repeats much of the U.S. Constitution, but with important differences. In addition to provisions protecting chattel slavery against any legislative encroachments, either in the Confederate states or territories, the Confederate Constitution also limited the president to one six-year term, provided the president with a limited line-item veto, and forbade the use of tariffs to promote industry. Several provisions strengthened the capacity of state legislatures to check officials of the central government. Of particular note is the Confederate Constitution’s preamble, which, while following the basic pattern of the original Constitution, refers to “each State acting in its sovereign and independent character” and invokes “the favor and guidance of Almighty God.”