North Carolina Takes a Stand on Arming Slaves

Update: Andy Hall has an interesting post up on the absence of any significant debate on the arming of slaves in Texas. Philip Dillard recently wrote an essay that analyzes the various factors that led to the debate in Virginia and the reasons why Texans failed to consider this crucial step. It can be found in Inside the Confederate Nation: Essays in Honor of Emory M. Thomas, which is edited by Lesley Gordon and John Inscoe.

Resolutions Against the Policy of Arming Slaves

Resolved, That the State of North Carolina protests against the arming of slaves by the Confederate government, in any emergency that can possibly arise, but gives its consent to their being taken and used as laborers in the public service, upon just compensation being made.

Resolved, That North Carolina denies the constitutional power of the Confederate government to impress slaves for the purpose of arming them, or preparing them to be armed, in any contingency, without the consent of the States being freely given, and then only according to State laws.

Resolved, That his Excellency Governor Z.B. Vance be requested to communicate a copy of these resolutions to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

Ratified 3d day of February, 1865.

I would love to be able to transport a group of modern day black Confederate myth proponents back to 1865 to discuss this issue with the North Carolina legislature.  Now that would be a real whoot.

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8 comments… add one
  • London John Jun 20, 2011 @ 0:24

    The claim that secession was about States’ Rights has been conclusively refuted on this site, but one aspect of SR not much discussed is SR in the Confederacy,, which is the issue in this post. What was Confederate policy wrt SR? I understand that NC and Georgia were the “awkward squad” of Confederate states, and the myth that SR was part of the Confederate cause was invented by their governors to justify defying the Confederate govt when they felt like it.

  • TF Smith Jun 18, 2011 @ 14:54

    And not just “arming” slaves; even in the middle of the onslaught of the Yankee Horde (TM), slaves should only employed as forced labor upon “just compensation being made” – to the owners, one presumes, as opposed to the laborers.

    And the northerners are insulted as greedy and focused on money…

    • Richard Jun 20, 2011 @ 2:01

      So much for giving your all for “the cause”. When Union troops approached from the coast these same slave owners took their slaves and moved inland. They did not mind leaving their neighbors to fight and die but please dont touch my slaves.

  • Bob Huddleston Jun 18, 2011 @ 5:44

    What I like about this is the refusal of a state, then being ravaged by Sherman’s Hordes :>) and Armageddon descending, they *still* refused to consider arming slaves!

    • Kevin Levin Jun 18, 2011 @ 5:48


      What I find somewhat humorous is that many of the proponents of the black Confederate myth also view the issue of states rights as central to understanding the war. Here we have a wonderful example of NC standing up against what they perceived to be a central government that had overstepped its bounds. Yet, I won’t anticipate any significant outpouring of support from this crowd. 🙂

  • Will Stoutamire Jun 17, 2011 @ 12:59

    Is it possible that the (likely very brief) debates which preceded this resolution were recorded in writing? Perhaps summaries appeared in the local newspapers?

    I know I feel much the same way about transporting Lost Causers back to the secession debates. Granted, we have copies of many of those (Virginia’s being particularly famous) and still the argument lumbers on…

    • Kevin Levin Jun 17, 2011 @ 13:01

      I plan to follow up on just that question in the next few months.

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