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How Many Southerners Favored Secession?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by brass napoleon, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year Honored Fallen Comrade

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    Prior to the start of the Civil War, on April 12, 1861, how many Southerners actually were in favor of secession? There's no way of knowing exactly, since there was no polling back then and only one Southern state actually put the issue to a voter referendum. The closest thing we have to a poll is the voting of the delegates to the secession conventions, but this in itself is a problem. For one thing, in most states these delegates weren't chosen by a direct vote for secession or union, rather it was a vote for a candidate who favored immediate secession or for a "cooperationist" candidate, who favored a cooperative approach to try and avoid secession. For another thing, the Georgia Historical Society has found that "abnormalities" skewed this vote dramatically in Georgia in favor of the secessionist candidates, and Professor David Williams of Valdosta State University in Georgia has documented similar problems in other states, all in favor of secessionist candidates.

    Even so, I thought it would be an interesting study to use the best information we have for each state to determine the percentage of voters in that state who favored immediate secession. By taking that number and multiplying it by the population of the state, we should get a rough approximation of the number of people in that state who favored immediate secession. Adding the results for all 11 states of the Confederacy will give us an approximation of the total number of Southerners who favored secession.

    The results are tabulated below. For each state, I list the total free population of the state (in thousands, from the 1860 census), followed by the percentage of people in that state who favored immediate secession (as taken from the votes of the delegates to the secession convention, unless otherwise noted), followed by the total approximate number of people in that state who favored immediate secession (multiplying the two previous numbers together).

    Here's what I came up with (updated 4/13/11):

    AL.. 529 54% 286 See note #1
    AR.. 324 43% 139 See note #2
    FL... 79 90% 71
    GA.. 595 49% 294 See note #3
    LA.. 376 54% 203 See note #4
    MS.. 355 85% 302
    NC.. 662 33% 215 See note #5
    SC.. 301 100% 301
    TN.. 834 20% 167 See note #6
    TX.. 422 76% 320 See note #7
    VA. 1105 34% 376
    -------------------
    TOT 5582....2674


    Notes:


    1. Alabamians voted 54 secessionists and 46 cooperationists to their secession convention.
    2. The Arkansas Gazette determined that 43% of Arkansas voters voted for secessionist delegates.
    3. The Georgia Historical Society has determined that only 49% of Georgia voters voted in favor of secessionist delegates, even though those delegates turned around and voted 70% in favor of immediate secession.
    4. Louisiana voters either voted 4,258 to 3,978 (52%) in favor of secessionist delegates or 20,448 to 17,296 (54%) in favor of secessionist delegates, depending on who you believe.
    5. North Carolina voters voted 32.5% in favor of secessionist delegates, but voted against holding a secession convention.
    6. Tennessee voters voted 20% in favor of secessionist delegates, but voted against holding a secession convention.
    7. Texas was the only state to actually put the issue of secession to a direct voter referendum prior to Fort Sumter. The vote was 76% in favor of secession.

    The above results, which again are only a rough approximation, show that 2.674 million out of 5.582 million Southerners supported secession prior to the bombardment of Fort Sumter; in other words, a slim minority. But when you take into consideration the "abnormalities" documented by Professor Williams and the Georgia Historical Society and apply them to the other states, it's likely a significant majority of Southerners opposed secession. And if you count Kentucky, Maryland and/or Missouri as Southern states, a large majority of Southerners opposed secession.

    Sources:
    http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/censusbin/census/cen.pl?year=860
    http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/location.html
    http://www.csawardept.com/documents/secession/
    http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=6304
    http://www.bonniebluepublishing.com/Detailed Chronology.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_in_the_American_Civil_War
    http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/52/entry/
    http://books.google.com/books?id=zP4wDcT3PeQC&pg=PA25
    http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/35337
    http://books.google.com/books?id=OC0QAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA700&lpg=PA700

    Have at it...
     

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  3. The Iron Duke

    The Iron Duke First Sergeant

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    So in other words about 49% of the population supported immediate secession. A ratio of 1:1. Cooperationists like Alexander Stephens were really wait-and-see secessionists.
     
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  4. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year Honored Fallen Comrade

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    Well, the other 51% would be divided between cooperationists and staunch unionists; we have no way of knowing how many of each. And it's worth noting that Stephens believed that secession would be unnecessary as long as no "injudicious and unwise" moves were made by the secessionists:

    Source: http://civilwarcauses.org/steph2.htm
     
  5. Stonewall1982

    Stonewall1982 First Sergeant

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    That number is much higher than 80+- years prior during the Revolution. Only 1/3 of the population wanted to break from England, while another 1/3 were royalists, and the last 1/3 didn't care one way or the other.
     
  6. wilber6150

    wilber6150 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    Very nice work, I would say wait and see what other people come up with in regards to your table then put it in links section as independent research :smile:
     
  7. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    That is what is said and accepted. I still haven't seen any justificatioun for the guesses.
     
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  8. Stonewall1982

    Stonewall1982 First Sergeant

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    I guess that is what I have always heard. I have never seen any numbers before like the ones above that BN showed.
     
  9. The Iron Duke

    The Iron Duke First Sergeant

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    I believe that statement was made by John Adams. I've never really seen what evidence he used to make that guess.
     
  10. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year Honored Fallen Comrade

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    Actually, the numbers I posted don't take into account the "didn't care one way or the other". Voter turnout, in fact, was down significantly. According to Dr. Williams (history professor, Valdosta State University, Georgia) in his book A People's History of the Civil War:

    He also notes:

    and he goes on to list numerous examples of fraud, intimidation, and delegates switching their votes on pages 57 and 58. I've posted some of it on another thread here in the past (Post #21):

    http://civilwartalk.com/forums/show...idea-backfired&p=318226&viewfull=1#post318226
     
  11. Battalion

    Battalion Banned

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    Secession in North Carolina

    North Carolina had a direct vote on the subject on February 28, 1861. 46,672 voted for "dis-union" and 47,323 voted for "union." In a separate vote 39 secession and 81 union delegates were elected to a convention.

    After Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for troops, North Carolina had another election for delegates on May 13, 1861. These voted unanimously for secession (112-0).

    Based on the number of delegates elected only 33% supported secession before Sumter/Lincoln's call for troops. Afterward it was 100% for secession.

    Source:
    http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/52/entry/
     
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  12. Battalion

    Battalion Banned

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  13. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year Honored Fallen Comrade

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    OK, thanks for the info. I didn't have figures for the delegates to the secession convention, which I've now updated. The votes you quoted as being for "dis-union" or "union" though were actually for whether a secession convention should be held or not. From my source:

    Source: http://www.bonniebluepublishing.com/Detailed Chronology.htm

    I've also updated my table with your Alabama stats.
     
  14. Dugger

    Dugger Banned

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    Ole that 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 comes from a statement alledgedly made by John Adams. Just a guess on his part since they had no media polls back in that day and I envy our Revolutionary War ancestors for not having them!

    Imagine...
    Poll after Washington kicked outta New York. END THE WAR!
    Poll after Trenton/Princeton victories. CONTINUE THE WAR!
    Poll during Valley Forge Winter. END THE WAR!
    Poll after victories in Carolinas. CONTINUE THE WAR!
    And so on and so forth. Hah
     
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  15. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year Honored Fallen Comrade

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    Found some more complete info on Louisiana. Louisiana voters voted 52% in favor of immediate secession delegates, but the secession convention voted 87% in favor of immediate secession. I've updated the table accordingly.

    Source: http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/35337
     
  16. Freddy

    Freddy 2nd Lieutenant

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    I have read recently that only 20% supported the revolution. I will see if I can find that source.

    A higher estimate of about 40-45 percent comes from Robert M. Calhoon, in 'A Companion to the American Revolution', (2000); p 235.

    "Historians now believe that forty percent of Americans were patriots; twenty percent were Loyalists, who supported the British; and forty percent were neutral, preferring to be left alone during the hostilities."

    http://revolution.h-net.msu.edu/essays/carp.html

    Here is what is being taught in this textbook.

    "A. Loyalists
    About 20 percent of Americans recognized dangers in resistance and remained loyal to England. One thing that loyalists had in common was their opposition to men who became patriot leaders.
    B. Patriots and Neutrals
    Those who became active revolutionaries constituted about 40 percent of the population and came primarily from those who had dominated colonial society. Another 40 percent chose to be neutral and, along with loyalists, suffered persecution at the hands of the patriots."

    http://www.course-notes.org/us_hist...book_notes/chapter_06_a_revolution_indeed_177
     
  17. Dugger

    Dugger Banned

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    Freddy,
    I am an academic. sorta. It is late and I WILL read your links tomorow. Academics tend to BEGIN with an Idea/theory/belief and then seek data that will support their ***-spumtion. Believe me, I know all about it. In simple terms it is called "cherry pickin". Kinda like the global warmists who kinda sorta said back in the 1980's...we think CO2 is causing global warming....here is the money....now go prove it! Ignoring the fact that NOTHING significant nor out of the normal had, or
    has, occured...nothing. The observable data is now coming in...it is NOT the end of the world. The end of the world is only in computer cyber-space! Who knows bout the American Revolution? Get back to you tomorow when I read yer posts.
     
  18. Battalion

    Battalion Banned

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  19. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year Honored Fallen Comrade

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    I thought it seemed low too. I don't know how to account for the discrepancy. Hanging chads, maybe? :hmmm: The ratios are pretty close though (52% pro-secession in the one case, 54% pro-secession in the other). I'll update the table with your numbers since they seem to make more sense.
     
  20. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Captain

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    Has anyone explained why there was around 20,000 less total votes in the Georgia secession vote of January 1861 as compared to Georgia's vote total in the election of 1860? Thats a 20% decline in voting.
     
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  21. trice

    trice Lt. Colonel

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    By coincidence, my first boss after I changed my career to software development was a naturalized American citizen. One day I heard he was going to a celebration of his ancestors up in Boston -- the Wyman family, famous people -- and I asked him how come he wasn't a natural-born American. Turned out his branch of the Wymans were Tory loyalists who left town in 1776 with British General Gage and moved to Canada.

    Added Later: Oops! Gage was gone by then; Howe took command before they evacuated.

    Tim
     

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