Date Original

1861 January 14


The collection contains "an act to provide a state convention" to determine if Arkansas should have a secession convention to discuss leaving the Union during the Civil War. It is dated January 14, 1861.

Biographical/Historical Note

After Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860, many southern states contemplated secession. In January of 1861, officials called for an election to decide whether Arkansas should hold a convention to consider secession from the Union. The February 18 election results favored such a convention. Arkansas delegates of a Secession Convention met in Little Rock on March 4, 1861 and decided to put the decision of leaving the United States before voters in August. On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Secession Convention reconvened and passed a secession ordinance on May 6, 1861 which withdrew Arkansas from the Union. Arkansas later joined the Confederate States of America on May 20, 1861. The Secession Convention also enacted a new constitution, which was very similar to the 1836 Constitution. The government's basic structure remained the same, but the words "United States of America" were replaced with "Confederate States of America." Text in the Declaration of Rights article changed from all free men to "all free white men" or "all free white men, or Indian." Emancipation became legally impossible in Arkansas. The new constitution was adopted by the convention on June 1, 1861, but it was never submitted to a vote of the people.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area

Little Rock, Pulaski County (Ark.)





Resource Type



Convention Act of 1861 Arkansas General Assembly, SMC.OV.001


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Convention Act of 1861 Arkansas General Assembly, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History