South Carolina is First State to Secede

Thursday, December 20, 1860

South Carolina secedes. According to Ordinance of Secession passed by the state legislature , the “ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of Slavery, they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace of and purloin the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books, and pictures, to servile insurrection…”

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Secession Process Intensifies

Monday, December 10, 1860

In Charleston, Francis W. Pickens takes office as governor of South Carolina which continues to move toward secession.

In Springfield, President-elect Lincoln attempts to stiffen Republican resolve against any compromise that involves the extension of slavery. He writes Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull a letter – which over the next few days would be replicated in different forms to other Republican congressmen from Illinois: “Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost, and, ere long, must be done again. The dangerous ground—that into which some of our friends have a hankering to run—is Pop. Sov. Have none of it. Stand firm. The tug has to come, & better now, than any time hereafter.”

Connecticut editor Gideon Welles, who will become secretary of the Navy in the Lincoln administration, writes him: “I would not intrude uponyou, but to offer my congratulations on the result of the late election, but our friend Gen’l Welch expressed an earnest desire that I would write you on the subject of issugin a document in some form that shoudl appease the discontented and violent portion ofour countrymen who have been defeated. At no time have I entertained an apprehension thatyou would sent out a proclamation or an official paper before you were in office, and your note to Mr. Fogg settles this question, but as it had been asserted so authoritatively and the temper exhibited in certain quarters is so excited, Gen’l W. (who has known my opinions) wishes me to say how cordially I approve of your conclusions. This I do most cheerfully and unqualifiedly…What then is to be done? Must we be maligned and misrepresented for the nextg three months? Shall the present hostile and erroneous feeling go on increasing. I am sorry to believe that the Administration and its partisans wish it. He suggested that Lincoln set forth his political position in a letter to a friend that might be reprinted.

Senator Trumbull speaks out on secession crisis

Tuesday, November 20, 1860

Senator Lyman Trumbull

Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull speaks at a Springfield rally celebrating Mr. Lincoln’s election.  Under pressure to address the threat of secession, Lincoln writes out some material for Trumbull to use.  As Mr. Lincoln feared, the press reaction is negative – reinforcing his predilection to make no public statements before he takes office.  Lincoln biographer Michael Burlingame wrote: “The press identified Lincoln as the author of these sentiments, and the public reaction confirmed his view that he should remain silent.”  He complained of his critics: “This is just as I expected, and just what would happen with any declaration I could make.  These political fiends are not half sick enough yet.  ‘Party malice’ and not ‘public good’ possesses them entirely.  ‘They seek a sign, and no sign shall be given them.'”

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Future Confederate Vice President opposes secession

Alexander H. Stephens

Wednesday, November 14, 1860

Former Georgia Congressman Alexander H. Stephens addresses the Georgia State Legislature during a series of presentations for and against secession. Stephens, who had served in Congress with Lincoln for two years, argued forcefully against secession. Reading press reports of the speech, Lincoln subsequently writes Stephens to request a copy. Their correspondence provides insight into Lincoln’s political thinking at the time and that of Stephens – who would become vice president of the Confederacy. Stephens would later deny that he had been considered for the Lincoln cabinet – although Lincoln was under pressure to find a southerner he could appoint.

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Secession process begins

Saturday, November 10, 1860

The South Carolina legislature calls for a state convention to consider secession. By the time that Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated on March 4, 1861, seven southern states will have seceded.

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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