Two Reasons for Secession from the Union

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Tom Hughes

Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
We all know that there was no simple answer to Southern secession from the Union in 1861. It's not as "black & white" (literally) as one would suspect.
So, when dealing with a complex issue such as this you really need to break it down to two elements:
1. What were the reasons that the Government leaders supported and passed secession from the Union? And I'm sure it was slavery which would be supported by the aristocracy/planter class that had the money and controlled electorates.
2. What were the reasons being supported by the local citizenry? Because most of the white voting population were non-slave holders. So what was there motivation to fight? Seriously, why would a man give his life for a cause in which he had no stake? Either Southerners were completely daft or there were other reasons at play.
I would love to hear responses and opinions on these. Thanks!
 

Eric Calistri

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 31, 2012
Location
Austin Texas
I think the declarations of causes issued by several states are the most direct and primary sources. For your state and mine:



In all the secession conventions, slave owners and particularly owners of many slaves (20 or more) were vastly over-represented. This should not be surprising as they were the wealthiest 1%ers who more or less controlled the state governments. They made great efforts to get and keep the yeomanry on their side. For just one example, and there are many more in this vein, Debow's Review was a widely read and influential Southern publication which in January 1861 issue contained an article entitled "THE NON-SLAVEHOLDERS OF THE SOUTH: THEIR INTEREST IN THE PRESENT SECTIONAL CONTROVERSY IDENTICAL, WITH THAT OF THE SLAVEHOLDERS"


 
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Irishtom29

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Comancheria
2. What were the reasons being supported by the local citizenry? Because most of the white voting population were non-slave holders. So what was there motivation to fight? Seriously, why would a man give his life for a cause in which he had no stake? Either Southerners were completely daft or there were other reasons at play.
Non slaveholding Whites often had a social interest in slavery; even poor white trash had a higher social status than a slave. And many hoped to some day hold slaves, the way a person today hopes to someday own a high status car.

And of course many were simply dupes servilely working in the interests of their "betters". There's nothing novel about that.
 
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thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Because most of the white voting population were non-slave holders. So what was there motivation to fight?
But about 1/3 of all household owned slaves. Many of the rest benefited directly from it in other ways.
And the entire society in many areas was centered on slavery. It was the cornerstone of the CSA. So anyone interested in preserving things as they where, would have an interest in fighting.
 

Tom Hughes

Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
But about 1/3 of all household owned slaves. Many of the rest benefited directly from it in other ways.
And the entire society in many areas was centered on slavery. It was the cornerstone of the CSA. So anyone interested in preserving things as they where, would have an interest in fighting.
I agree with your assessment. However, states like Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia were heavily involved in cotton production and hence their dependency on the slave system was stronger than other states. Since each state had its own constitutional convention, the reasons for secession varied with each state.
Secession was more complex than people think. In Mississippi, for instance, some important river port counties (including Warren county where Vicksburg is situated) was opposed to secession from the Union. However, when the state's convention voted to secede, Warren county actually raised more companies for the Confederacy than any other county in the state.
Another complexity is Jones county (also is the heart of Mississippi) ended up seceding from the Confederacy and staying loyal to the Union. Very unusual indeed, but goes to show that the loyalty of secession and the reasons behind secession were not simple.
 
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