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July 11, 1861: Senate Expels Ten Southern Members

Document courtesy of
The National Archives
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On July 10, 1861, Daniel Clark of New Hampshire offered a resolution to expel ten southern senators who had failed to appear for the emergency session. Clark accused the absent members of supporting the “conspiracy for the destruction of the Union and Government.” The following day, July 11, 1861, Clark called up his resolution for a vote. Senator James Bayard of Delaware objected: “I see no reason why we should depart from the determination of the Senate at the last session, in declaring the seats vacant.” Expulsion, Bayard argued, should be reserved for cases of individual misconduct. Senator James McDougall of California defended expulsion, calling the acts of absent southern members “treason” and offered: “No man has a right to a place on this floor who espouses a cause adverse to the Government.” Senator Milton Latham of California offered an amendment to declare the seats vacant, which the Senate rejected, 11-32. The Clark expulsion resolution passed with a final vote of 32-10. Among the fifteen members whose votes were not recorded on the official tally sheet featured here were ten southerners whose absence from the chamber prompted Clark’s resolution.

With the required two-thirds of the Senate voting in favor, the resolution passed, expelling: Senators James Mason and Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia; Senators Thomas L. Clingman and Thomas Bragg of North Carolina; James Chesnut, Jr., of South Carolina; A. O. P. Nicholson of Tennessee; William K. Sebastian and Charles B. Mitchel of Arkansas; and John Hemphill and Louis T. Wigfall of Texas.


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