The Proclamations


Marking the Official


Beginning of the Civil









Establishes a  Naval



of the


Ports of Virginia and North Carolina

(April 27, 1861)



The general blockade of the Confederacy was proclaimed on April 19, 1861: "a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels" from the ports of the states in rebellion. Then, to make the proclamation official, he signed a document, authorizing "the Secretary of State to affix the Seal of the United States to a Proclamation setting on foot a Blockade of the ports of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas."   

Virginia had seceded just hours before, on April 17 and of course immediately violated the general blockade. Lincoln determined that a second official proclamation was necessary to include Virginia. Lincoln was so confident that North Carolina would also secede that he decided to include this state in second official proclamation, even though North Carolina was still part of the United States. Indeed North Carolina did secede on May 20. The second official proclamation was issued on April 25, 6 days after the general blockade and 6 days after the first  official proclamation.

Lincoln’s most difficult decision was the State of Maryland. Like North Carolina, it had not yet seceded – and he was not so sure that Maryland would secede. Lincoln added Maryland to the second official April 25th proclamation.

Then on April 27, two days after signing the second official proclamation, Lincoln had second thoughts and crossed out the reference to  'Maryland' and  re-dated the Proclamation to April  27, 1861. Indeed Maryland never did secede!!



After the war The Supreme Court


officially fixed the beginning of the


Civil War as the signing of the


proclamations of these blockades.



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