Two Reasons for Secession from the Union


Feb 2, 2021
Everything I’ve read about the secession of the states and their secession letters, had more than 1 reason for doing so. To say slavery was the ONLY reason for secession is not true.


Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Feb 20, 2005
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Everything I’ve read about the secession of the states and their secession letters, had more than 1 reason for doing so. To say slavery was the ONLY reason for secession is not true.

Slavery was the primary and only cause for secession.

No other reason, the tariff, big business, big government, etc., was not cause enough for Americans to slaughter each other by the hundreds of thousands.

Only the continued insistence of the slaveholding South, to keep, protect, and even expand slavery at the expense of States Rights, was strong enough, decisive enough, to bring on secession and the Civil War.


Brigadier General
Jan 12, 2016
South Carolina
With regard to my earlier discussion with CW Buff, I've been reading "John C. Calhoun: A biography" by Margaret Coit. It's a well-written book, and I am enjoying it quite a bit. The passages dealing with Calhoun's support of the tariff immediately after the War of 1812 speak to the fact that even within his lifetime, he was accused of inconsistency on this issue.

He had left no doubts as to his meaning. Despite his later concessions to a 'small permanent protection,' he was supporting the new tariff primarily as a measure of war reconstruction. It was as a gesture of unity and concession that he offered his support - 'not for South Carolina, but for the nation' - convinced, as he was, that the tariff would bring a harmonious balance to the three great interests of the country. He would withdraw his support twelve years later because it had done exactly the reverse. His tactics had changed, not his strategy. Nevertheless, the man who in 1833 would endeavor to restrict Congressional power to tariffs for 'revenue only' had in 1816 taken an unqualified stand for the protective policy so satisfying to the most ardent of high-tariff supporters that his address was framed and tacked upon the walls of taverns and barrooms beside Washington's Farewell Address.​
Calhoun himself, despite the inner qualms that were troubling him within a very few years, did not feel compelled to deny the support of Pennsylvania protectionists, who hailed him as their candidate for the Presidency. He did not know that the measure he had offered to the nation as a whole was to be turned against his own people. His error was the error of virtually the whole South; and if "Mad Jack' Randolph felt the body blow that protection gave, both to agriculture and the 'strict construction' of the Constitution, it was Thomas Jefferson, who from the blue hills of Charlottesville endorsed protectionism and 'joined hands' with Calhoun, Lowndes and Clay. - pp. 113-114
'What is necessary for the common good may apparently be opposed to the interest of particular sections. It must be submitted to as the condition of our greatness.'​
Here, indeed, is the crux of the charge that Calhoun was inconsistent, that the Great Nationalist of 1816 right-about-faced to become the Great Sectionalist of the eighteen-forties. The man who in youth voiced these words would thirty years later become the leader of the minority South's struggle to maintain her own way of life against the majority of the nation.​
But Calhoun did not use words loosely. Young as he was, he was a realist. Already he had sensed the danger to political freedom in the wage-slavery of the workshops. Already he was aware of the danger when 'attachment to party becomes stronger than attachment to country.' His thinking deepened and expanded with the passing years, but it is hard to believe that the whole basis of his poltical thought overturned. The key to the dilemma is the phrase 'what is necessary for the common good.'​
For what Calhoun saw as the common good, he had defined clearly, if negatively, in his speech, pointing out 'the greatest of all calamities, next to the loss of liberty - disunion.' Already Calhoun saw what Webster saw, years later, that to the common good liberty and union were the ideal. To Calhoun, liberty meant the right of an individual, a state, a section, or 'an interest' to manage its own affairs - to adopt its own 'peculiar institutions,' unless these institutions threatened the common good. In all sincerity, Calhoun never deemed the peculiar institutions of the South, either slavery or the agrarian way of life, incompatible with the 'common good,' or endangering either the liberty or the union of the country as a whole.​
The agitation against slavery, however, and legislative attempts to restrict its extension, he deemed a violation of the South's liberty, and knew from the first that the end would be disunion. Thus, vehemently, he opposed all such agitation and legislation. His 'moral obtuseness' on the slave question may be condemned, but it has nothing to do with his consistancy.​
What, then, of the Calhoun presented to us by history - the 'Nationalist' of 1817; the 'Sectionalist' of 1850 - the man who changed sides? The interpretation simply does not hold up under examination. Calhoun could have made the same speech in 1850 that he had made over thirty years earlier. - pp 115-116