During the 1860 presidential election and its aftermath secessionist commissioners communicated to southern states which were still undecided about secession from the United States. In early 1861, North Carolina was one of those undecided states.
While Governor John W. Ellis was himself a secessionist, many North Carolinians were not and had been waiting to see what President Abraham Lincoln and the federal government would do about the seceding states. On April 15, 1861 Ellis received a telegram from United States Secretary of War Simon Cameron requesting “…two regiments of military for immediate service” following the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.
Almost immediately after the receipt of the telegram became common knowledge, the state gave its support to the seceded southern states. Governor Ellis replied that “…you can get no troops from North Carolina;” stressing that the call for troops was, in his view, a clear violation of the United States Constitution.