Secession and War

American History before 1877

Secession Crisis

  Election: Nov. 6, 1860

          Lincoln wins without a single Southern state

                  Not even on the ballot in 11 Southern states

  1860 census: North +41%, South +27%

  South Carolina secedes, Dec. 20

  Divided cabinet paralyzes Buchanan

          Condemns Northern troublemakers; secession illegal

  Crittenden Compromise

          Extend 36°30" Missouri Compromise line to Pacific

          Slavery protected where it is

          Lincoln opposes

Cotton states secede

  Union holds Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor

          Buchanan sends secret ship to reinforce

          Rumors: Buchanan sending invasion force

  Reinforcement of Ft. Sumter prevented, Jan. 11

  Jan. 9-Feb. 1: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas secede, seize federal property

  Feb. 7: Constitution of the Confederate States of America

          President: one 6-year term

          Constitutional protection for slavery

          No internal improvements; no tariffs

          Convention chooses Jefferson Davis as President

Slavery or States’ Rights?


          . . . We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

          That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race . . . is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.

          By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South.

Cornerstone of the Confederacy

  Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens’s “Cornerstone Speech,” Mar. 21, 1861

    The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. . . . Those ideas [that slavery was evil and must pass away] were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.”

    Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.

Lincoln’s Inauguration

  Long trip to Washington

          Reports of assassination plot; sneaks through Baltimore

  A plea for peace: the First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

    In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

    I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Firm, but not aggressive

  Delicate task: holding on to 8 other slave states

  Public non-military resupply ship to Fort Sumter

  April 4: Virginia votes against secession!

  Pressure on Confederate government

  April 12: Confederacy attacks Fort Sumter

  Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers for 3 months

          Perhaps a million volunteer

  Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas secede

  The Civil War begins