Southern Manifesto

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The Declaration of Constitutional Principles (known informally as the Southern Manifesto) was a document written in February and March 1956, in the United States Congress, in opposition to racial integration of public places.[1] The manifesto was signed by 101 politicians (99 Southern Democrats and two Republicans) from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.[1] The Congressmen drafted the document to counter the landmark Supreme Court 1954 ruling Brown v. Board of Education, which determined that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. School segregation laws were some of the most enduring and best-known of the Jim Crow laws that characterized the American South and border states at the time.

Senators led the opposition, with Strom Thurmond writing the initial draft and Richard Russell the final version.[2] The manifesto was signed by 19 Senators and 82 Representatives, including the entire congressional delegations of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. All of the signatories were Southern Democrats except two Virginia Republicans, Joel Broyhill and Richard Poff. However, four Southern Senate Democrats refused to sign: Albert Gore, Sr. and Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, and Lyndon B. Johnson and Sam Rayburn, both of Texas. Their opposition earned them the enmity of their colleagues for a time.

The Southern Manifesto accused the Supreme Court of "clear abuse of judicial power." It promised to use "all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation."[3] The Manifesto suggested that the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution should limit the reach of the Supreme Court on such issues.[4]

Key quotes[edit]

  • "The unwarranted decision of the Supreme Court in the public school cases is now bearing the fruit always produced when men substitute naked power for established law."
  • "The original Constitution does not mention education. Neither does the 14th Amendment nor any other amendment. The debates preceding the submission of the 14th Amendment clearly show that there was no intent that it should affect the system of education maintained by the States."
  • "This unwarranted exercise of power by the Court, contrary to the Constitution, is creating chaos and confusion in the States principally affected. It is destroying the amicable relations between the white and Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by the good people of both races. It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding."

Signatories and non-signatories[edit]

In many southern States, signing was much more common than not signing, with signatories including the entire delegations from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia. Those from southern States who refused to sign are noted below.[1] Refusal to sign occurred most prominently among the Texas and Tennessee delegations, in both of which the majority of members of the United States House of Representatives refused to sign.[1]

United States Senate (in state order)



United States House of Representatives (in state order)









North Carolina:


South Carolina:



Texas: Signatories:


Virginia: Signatories:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Badger, Tony (June 1999). "Southerners Who Refused to Sign the Southern Manifesto". The Historical Journal. 42 (2): 517–534. JSTOR 3020998. doi:10.1017/S0018246X98008346. 
  2. ^ "The Southern Manifesto". Time Magazine. March 26, 1956. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  3. ^ Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (1996), p. 398
  4. ^ Zornick, George. "Republican race to turn on "Tentherism?"" CBS News, 20 May 2011.

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