School segregation in the United States by state prior to Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

The Declaration of Constitutional Principles (known informally as the Southern Manifesto) was a document written in February and March 1956, during the 84th United States Congress, in opposition to racial integration of public places.[1] The manifesto was signed by 19 US Senators and 82 Representatives from the Southern United States. The signatories included the entire congressional delegations from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia, most of the members from Florida and North Carolina, and several members from Tennessee and Texas. All of them were from the former Confederate states.[1] 97 were Democrats; 4 were Republicans.

The Manifesto was drafted to support reversing 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 South at the time.[2]

"Massive resistance" to federal court orders requiring school integration was already being practiced across the South, and was not caused by the Manifesto. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas had worked behind the scenes to tone down the original harsh draft. The final version did not pledge to nullify the Brown decision, nor did it support extralegal resistance to desegregation. Instead, it was mostly a states' rights attack against the judicial branch for overstepping its role.[3]

The Southern Manifesto accused the Supreme Court of "clear abuse of judicial power" and 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."[4] It suggested that the Tenth Amendment should limit the reach of the Supreme Court on such issues.[5] Senators led the opposition, with Strom Thurmond writing the initial draft and Richard Russell the final version.[6]

Three Democratic Senators from the former Confederate states did not sign:

The following Democratic Representatives from the former Confederate states also did not sign:

Also, none of the 12 U.S. Senators or 39 U.S. House Representatives from the states of Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma signed the Manifesto despite all requiring segregation in their public school systems prior to the Brown v. Board decision.[7]

This refusal earned them the enmity for a time of their colleagues who signed.[citation needed]

There were seven Republican Representatives and three Senators from former Confederate states. Only four signed the Manifesto: Charles Jonas of North Carolina, William Cramer of Florida, Joel Broyhill and Richard Poff of Virginia.[8]

Key quotes

Signatories and non-signatories

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]

United States Senate (in state order)

Signatories Non-signatories

United States House of Representatives

Signatories Non-signatories
North Carolina
Signatories Non-signatories
South Carolina
Signatories Non-signatories
Signatories Non-signatories

See also


  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 Badger, Tony (June 1999). "Southerners Who Refused to Sign the Southern Manifesto". The Historical Journal. 42 (2): 517–534. doi:10.1017/S0018246X98008346. JSTOR 3020998. S2CID 145083004.
  2. ^ John Kyle Day, The Southern Manifesto: Massive Resistance and the Fight to Preserve Segregation (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2014).
  3. ^ Brent J. Aucoin, "The Southern Manifesto and Southern Opposition to Desegregation". Arkansas Historical Quarterly 55#2 (1996): 173-193.
  4. ^ James T. Patterson,Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (1996), p. 398
  5. ^ Zornick, George. "Republican race to turn on 'Tentherism?'" CBS News, 20 May 2011.
  6. ^ "The Southern Manifesto". Time. March 26, 1956. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
  7. ^ "Senate – March 12, 1956" (PDF). Congressional Record. U.S. Government Printing Office. 102 (4): 4459–4461. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  8. ^ "Southern Congressmen Present Segregation Manifesto". CQ Almanac. 1956. Retrieved January 3, 2024.
  9. ^ "Southern Manifesto on Integration (March 12, 1956)". June 25, 2020. Archived from the original on May 28, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.

Further reading