January 10, 1861 — Florida seceded from the Union today as the US Civil War heated up.
A special convention of delegates from around the state met in Tallahassee earlier in the week to consider the decision. Governor Madison Starke Perry and Governor-elect John Milton were strong supporters of secession, and for days, the issues were debated inside and outside the convention.
In a minority opinion, former territorial governor Richard Keith Call, acting as a private citizen, argued that secession would bring only ruin to the state.
Today, the delegates voted 62 to 7 to withdraw Florida from the Union. The next day, in a public ceremony on the east steps of the capitol, they signed a formal Ordinance of Secession. News of the event generally led to local celebrations. Later, the delegates adopted a new state constitution.
Florida was the third state to leave the Union, and within a month it joined with other southern states to form the Confederate States of America. Eventually, 11 states would leave the Union.
Words of Wisdom
We, the People of the State of Florida in Convention assembled, do solemnly ordain, publish and declare: That the State of Florida hereby withdraws herself from the Confederacy of States existing under the name of the United States of America, and from the existing Government of said States; and that all political connection between her and the Government of said States ought to be and the same is hereby totally annulled, and said union of States dissolved; and the State of Florida is hereby declared a Sovereign and Independent Nation; and that all ordinances heretofore adopted in so far as they create or recognize said Union are rescinded; and all laws or parts of laws in force in this State, in so far as they recognize or assent to said Union be and they are hereby repealed.