What led the Southern states to secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861?…
What led the Southern states to secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861?
The southern states felt that the federal government was taking away their rights and powers.
Idea of states' rights was not new to the Civil War. Since the Constitution was first written there had been arguments about how much power the states should have versus how much power the federal government should have.
Believed they had the right to treat their property (slaves) how they want to.
All citizens of the United States have an equal right to settle with their property in the Territory, without their rights, either of person or property, being…impaired…” (Document 1)
"We deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States." (Document 1)
Secession was not an accident from the South's end. The president said that the division of the country on the matter of slavery was not wanted or needed. The South decided, "Okay, We'll start our own country".
Abraham Lincoln's election
The presidential election of 1860 was held on November 6th. By December 20th, South Carolina became the first state to secede. Many others followed in January. The reason for this was that the South felt that Lincoln’s election meant the end of slavery.
southern states felt that Lincoln was against slavery and also against the South.
“If Lincoln were president…the Union would be endangered from that hour.” (Document 3) So because of that, the South started to think that it is “Better leave the Union in the open face of day, than be lighted from it at midnight by the [arsonist’s] torch.” (Document 2)
Because Lincoln "has declared that the Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free" (Document 6)
For South Carolina not having slavery was like their own freedom being taken away.
"The Election was not the Cause [of secession] it was but the last feather which you know breaks the Camel’s back." (Doc. 7)
Dred Scott's Decision
Dred Scott Decision opposed a slave becoming free if moved to free state, since it stated that black slaves were not free in a free state. This served as an eye-opener for the North who believed that slavery was tolerable as long as it stayed in the South.
“It opened our eyes to the fact that there were two hostile elements in the country, and that if we allowed slaves to enter any territorial acquisition, our free labor must be excluded from it.” (Document 5)
Huge impact on the war because Southerners believe Congress shouldn't tell them what to do with their property.
All citizens of the United States have an equal right to settle with their property in the Territory, without their rights, either of person or property, being…impaired…” (Document 1) This means that the south believed that slaves were their property, and that they had the right to take them with them.
"The North is accumulating power, and it means to use that power to emancipate your slaves...Disunion is a fearful thing, but emancipation is worse. Better leave the Union in the open face of day, than be lighted from it at midnight by the [arsonist's] torch. (Document 2)
-Government passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowing the residents of Kansas to vote on whether they would be a slave state or a free state.
-The region was flooded with supporters from both sides. They fought over the issue for years.
-Kansas later joined as a free state
The split number between the election of 1860. (Document 4)
Most of Lincoln's support came from Northern States which were the free states.
"A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to Slavery" (Document 6).
"Southern ruffianism and brutality are very bad, but the
selfishness, baseness, and corruption of the North are no good at all." (Document 5)
Sectionalism, it involves this idea that you have competing interests that have different economies, social structure, different customs, and political values.
Industry vs. Farming
Manufacturing was stronger in the North while the South fared better in agriculture like cotton farming. The trade balance was in favor of the North.
The South relied on slavery for labor to work the fields.
The Midwest became the breadbasket of the industrial northeast, especially after the Erie Canal and, later, the railroad made it possible to move bulk cargoes east efficiently.
Cotton was the most valuable export in the United States;
American economy is still pretty much agricultural based. However, in the North, states were beginning to expand their economies to include manufacturing and factories producing large quantities of products so that they could be shipped overseas to international markets.
Around the late 1850’s and early 1860, the United States were on the brink of secession. One side being the north and the other side being the South. What could’ve led to this? What led to the southern states to secede did not occur overnight. Many problems and compromises led to secession. “It was the last feather which you know breaks the camel’s back” (Document 7) .
We really don’t know what really caused secession. Even researchers can’t solidly say what the cause of secession was. But people can infer, and with clues, can have an idea of what caused secession.
Caused Sectional Conflict
"Icing on the Cake"
Tension is Heavy