Why Did Arkansas Secede?

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Potomac Pride

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That is a very good article, Al. At the Arkansas secession convention in March of 1861, the issue of slavery was an important topic. However, the convention delegates voted against secession and agreed to adjourn until after a statewide referendum on the issue was held in August. However, subsequent events would result in a dramatic change. After Lincoln's call for troops in April 1861, the secession convention was recalled in a special session. The delegates at the convention were in agreement on one major issue - any attempt to coerce the southern states to remain in the Union would be a legitimate reason for Arkansas to secede. Subsequently, the convention then voted overwhelmingly to secede from the Union in May 1861 and a statewide referendum was not even held. The convention delegates considered Lincoln's call for troops to be an abuse of federal power and an attempt to subjugate the south. The Arkansas ordinance of secession even stated that "he (Lincoln) has.........proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States until they should be compelled to submit to their rule,.........and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas."
 

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That is a very good article, Al. At the Arkansas secession convention in March of 1861, the issue of slavery was an important topic. However, the convention delegates voted against secession and agreed to adjourn until after a statewide referendum on the issue was held in August. However, subsequent events would result in a dramatic change. After Lincoln's call for troops in April 1861, the secession convention was recalled in a special session. The delegates at the convention were in agreement on one major issue - any attempt to coerce the southern states to remain in the Union would be a legitimate reason for Arkansas to secede. Subsequently, the convention then voted overwhelmingly to secede from the Union in May 1861 and a statewide referendum was not even held. The convention delegates considered Lincoln's call for troops to be an abuse of federal power and an attempt to subjugate the south. The Arkansas ordinance of secession even stated that "he (Lincoln) has.........proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States until they should be compelled to submit to their rule,.........and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas."
Thanks.

Upper south secession is a little more complex than lower south secession due to the fact that the conditional unionists held sway. Understanding what made the conditional unionists tick is important for understanding upper south secession. The conditional unionists also were concerned about protecting slavery, but they felt that slavery could be best protected within the Union, until the Union acted against slavery. They defined "coercion" in part as the government enforcing the laws. Governments enforce laws. That's what they do. So their definition of "coercion" was the government acting like a legitimate government. It's important that they always identified the seceded states as slaveholding states. That was their identity.

I agree that it wasn't totally protection of slavery that drove the upper south's secession, but protection of slavery was still the primary driver.
 
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Old_Glory

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"he (Lincoln) has.........proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States until they should be compelled to submit to their rule,.........and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas."
Lincoln was the reason North Carolina left the Union as well.
 

Old_Glory

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ANY one elected to president of the US in 1860 would be the reason North Carolina left the Union.
I'm actually shocked you believe that. Literally. I can't say I've ever heard of anyone who believed that. Any Republican foolish enough to ask them to attack a friend, yes. Any Democrat, no.
 
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rpkennedy

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North Carolina did not originally want to leave the union until Lincoln called for troops.
Which was all but inevitable once states seceded. The border states wanted to have their cake and eat it too but when push came to shove, they were going to leave.

R
 

thomas aagaard

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But what did they expect the president to do when rebels fired on the US flag?
Or if we accept the view that it was legal for SC to leave, then a foreign nation fired at the flag. That is a deceleration of war.
 
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But North Carolina isn't a part of Arkansas, and therefore isn't part of this thread.
 
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Ellsworth avenger

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Excellent article. The author refers to a Wooster article showing the disparity in slaveholding between the anti and pro- secessionist. Wooster's book in 1962,The Secession Conventions of the South, details the economic disparity these facts reveal between the two sides.; "The most marked difference between the secessionists and their opponents was in the matter of property owned in 1860. In real property, for instance, the average for the secessionists was $18,024.33,as compared to $7,020.89 for their opposition. The difference in the median real-property holding is even greater , the secessionist having $13,170 median, and the anti-secessionists a $2500 median. Personnel-property holding likewise was greater among the secessionists, who averaged $24,038.97, compared to $8,551.92 for the anti-secessionists. The median personal-property holding of the secessionists ($20,000) was eight times as great as that of the anti-secessionists ($2,500) ." A nice table in the book details the Arkansas Secession Convention Property Holdings.
 
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thomas aagaard

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Yes, but then Lincoln called up the troops and that resulted in more stats leaving. including Arkansas.
My point is, What should Lincoln have done? Nothing?

If I get angry over something you do, I must have an idea abut what I think you should have done instead.

So what should Lincoln have done in the opinion of the convention delegates?
Did they actually expect him to do nothing?
 

Ellsworth avenger

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Yes, but then Lincoln called up the troops and that resulted in more stats leaving. including Arkansas.
My point is, What should Lincoln have done? Nothing?

If I get angry over something you do, I must have an idea abut what I think you should have done instead.

So what should Lincoln have done in the opinion of the convention delegates?
Did they actually expect him to do nothing?
The threat of economic insecurity traditionally wins most arguments in the US.
 

CharacterGroove

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I'm actually shocked you believe that. Literally. I can't say I've ever heard of anyone who believed that. Any Republican foolish enough to ask them to attack a friend, yes. Any Democrat, no.
I think you've touched on a far more important point. Sticking with Arkansas, and I think your statement is equally valid in that context, we're told that its impetus for secession was Lincoln's call for troops. That is undoubtedly true. But then we're lead to the bigger question: why did Lincoln's declaration cause Arkansas to secede? You've provided a worthwhile answer: "[Lincoln asked] them to attack a friend[.]"

So let's go deeper. Why did the good people in Arkansas consider folks in South Carolina its "friends," while those in Iowa, for example, did not? As importantly, why did the good people in Arkansas not consider General Anderson and his men - who had already been subject to "attack" - its "friends," while the folks in Indiana, for example, apparently did?

It seems to me that there was something more substantial going on in Arkansas than a mere protestation against violence, or even some fraternal interstate affection.
 
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I think you've touched on a far more important point. Sticking with Arkansas, and I think your statement is equally valid in that context, we're told that its impetus for secession was Lincoln's call for troops. That is undoubtedly true. But then we're lead to the bigger question: why did Lincoln's declaration cause Arkansas to secede? You've provided a worthwhile answer: "[Lincoln asked] them to attack a friend[.]"

So let's go deeper. Why did the good people in Arkansas consider folks in South Carolina its "friends," while those in Iowa, for example, did not? As importantly, why did the good people in Arkansas not consider General Anderson and his men - who had already been subject to "attack" - its "friends," while the folks in Indiana, for example, apparently did?

It seems to me that there was something more substantial going on in Arkansas than a mere protestation against violence, or even some fraternal interstate affection.
That's right. Conditional Unionists were still interested in protecting slavery.
 
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