Why preserve the Union?: Unionism vs Secessionism

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#1
Slavery explains the reasons for disunion, it does not explain the reasons for union. That is, slavery does not explain the reasons why so many Americans wanted to keep the Union together.

These two forces - secessionism and unionism - were kind of like a yin and yang. You don't get the full picture until you see both sides of the circle. Protecting slavery was the driving force for the white southern elites who championed a separate slave states' nation. For those in the free states, unionism, IMO, was driven by the feeling that the putative Confederate regime was an economic, military and geo-political threat that was created by traitors who sought to annul an election they lost fair and square. And the threat being made, would not be ignored.​

I am opening this thread to discuss some of the points I made earlier (see above) in another thread.

I find it interesting that we have a forum called "Secession and Politics," but the term unionism is not referred to in this or any forum title. This is one more example of how, IMO, the subject of unionism is not seen as a major focus in discussing the Civil War.

As I posit above, there was a force called unionism that compelled Americans to preserve the Union in the face of slave state secessionism. Unionism was not northernism: there were southerners who supported preserving the Union.

My opinion is that 1860-1865 unionism was mainly a response to the actions of secessionists. Unionists did not care so much about the reasons that caused the slave states to dissolve the union (although many recognized that slavery was the underlying cause); they were upset that the union was being dissolved, period. Even more, the method that the union was dissolved - by armed force - was especially outrageous. This opinion may be controversial.

These are reasons that led to the desire to preserve the union as I currently see it:

(1) Outrage that secessionists annulled an election they didn't like by dissolving the union

In America today, and to many Americans in 1860, victory in a fair election is something that must be respected, regardless of whether we like the results. Yet, here were the secessionists in 1860-61, walking away from the country because the 1860 presidential election didn't go their way.

Secessionism, as I see it, was a reversal of the revolutionary imperative of the Founders. One of their rallying cries was "no taxation without representation." The Founders demanded a democratic process that allowed taxpayers to be heard in government. After independence from Britain was won, a constitutional government was created to enable representation of the people.

Secession was a rejection of the constitution. Rather than accept a election they didn't like, the secessionists bailed out. Abraham Lincoln would intone many times that the seceding states were out of "proper relation with the Constitution." After the attack on Ft Sumter, Lincoln called a special session of Congress into order. In discussing how the country should respond to secession, Lincoln stated:

And this issue embraces more than the fate of the United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy -- a government of the people by the same people -- can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their government and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask -- Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?

Thus, one aspect of unionism was the desire to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and the American democratic republic. This would manifest itself in a willingness to use armed force to enforce election results, or more precisely/correctly, to use armed force to preserve the Union and its institutions, such as, federal elections.

This was one of many issues that probably resonated with the American (non-secessionist) public. Many were outraged that the slave states could leave the Union after the election of northerner like Lincoln, after so many southerners (and southern slave owners) had held the high office. It seemed to many that southerners were dishonorable - they followed the rules as long as they were winning, but refused to do so when they lost. This betrayal of the constitutional process, and of basic fairness, gave support to a military response to preserve the Union.

- > more to come

- Alan
 
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#2
I'd agree with what you have said so far Alan. I'd add that the notion of secession caused many to feel that if such was allowed then the Union of states would just dissolve away over ever-more-petty issues and the grand experiment would have been for naught. As Pat Young has pointed out, many immigrants certainly saw it that way and were willing to fight to preserve a governmental model that they saw as superior to the monarchies of Europe and providing hope to the world. I think probably most Unionists had such feelings.

Good question.
 

jgoodguy

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#3
Slavery explains the reasons for disunion, it does not explain the reasons for union. That is, slavery does not explain the reasons why so many Americans wanted to keep the Union together.

These two forces - secessionism and unionism - were kind of like a yin and yang. You don't get the full picture until you see both sides of the circle. Protecting slav
Slavery explains the reasons for disunion, it does not explain the reasons for union. That is, slavery does not explain the reasons why so many Americans wanted to keep the Union together.

These two forces - secessionism and unionism - were kind of like a yin and yang. You don't get the full picture until you see both sides of the circle. Protecting slavery was the driving force for the white southern elites who championed a separate slave states' nation. For those in the free states, unionism, IMO, was driven by the feeling that the putative Confederate regime was an economic, military and geo-political threat that was created by traitors who sought to annul an election they lost fair and square. And the threat being made, would not be ignored.​

I am opening this thread to discuss some of the points I made earlier (see above) in another thread.

I find it interesting that we have a forum called "Secession and Politics," but the term unionism is not referred to in this or any forum title. This is one more example of how, IMO, the subject of unionism is not seen as a major focus in discussing the Civil War.

As I posit above, there was a force called unionism that compelled Americans to preserve the Union in the face of slave state secessionism. Unionism was not northernism: there were southerners who supported preserving the Union.

My opinion is that 1860-1865 unionism was mainly a response to the actions of secessionists. Unionists did not care so much about the reasons that caused the slave states to dissolve the union (although many recognized that slavery was the underlying cause); they were upset that the union was being dissolved, period. Even more, the method that the union was dissolved - by armed force - was especially outrageous. This opinion may be controversial.

These are reasons that led to the desire to preserve the union as I currently see it:

(1) Outrage that secessionists annulled an election they didn't like by dissolving the union

In America today, and to many Americans in 1860, victory in a fair election is something that must be respected, regardless of whether we like the results. Yet, here were the secessionists in 1860-61, walking away from the country because the 1860 presidential election didn't go their way.

Secessionism, as I see it, was a reversal of the revolutionary imperative of the Founders. One of their rallying cries was "no taxation without representation." The Founders demanded a democratic process that allowed taxpayers to be heard in government. After independence from Britain was won, a constitutional government was created to enable representation of the people.

Secession was a rejection of the constitution. Rather than accept a election they didn't like, the secessionists bailed out. Abraham Lincoln would intone many times that the seceding states were out of "proper relation with the Constitution." After the attack on Ft Sumter, Lincoln called a special session of Congress into order. In discussing how the country should respond to secession, Lincoln stated:

And this issue embraces more than the fate of the United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy -- a government of the people by the same people -- can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their government and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask -- Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?

Thus, one aspect of unionism was the desire to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and the American democratic republic. This would manifest itself in a willingness to use armed force to enforce election results, or more precisely/correctly, to use armed force to preserve the Union and its institutions, such, federal elections.

This was one of many issues that probably resonated with the American (non-secessionist) public. Many were outraged that the slave states could leave the Union after the election of northerner like Lincoln, after so many southerners (and southern slave owners) had held the high office. It seemed to many that southerners were dishonorable - they followed the rules as long as they were winning, but refused to do so when they lost. This betrayal of the constitutional process, and of basic fairness, gave support to a military response to preserve the Union.

- > more to come

- Alan
ery was the driving force for the white southern elites who championed a separate slave states' nation. For those in the free states, unionism, IMO, was driven by the feeling that the putative Confederate regime was an economic, military and geo-political threat that was created by traitors who sought to annul an election they lost fair and square. And the threat being made, would not be ignored.​

I am opening this thread to discuss some of the points I made earlier (see above) in another thread.

I find it interesting that we have a forum called "Secession and Politics," but the term unionism is not referred to in this or any forum title. This is one more example of how, IMO, the subject of unionism is not seen as a major focus in discussing the Civil War.

As I posit above, there was a force called unionism that compelled Americans to preserve the Union in the face of slave state secessionism. Unionism was not northernism: there were southerners who supported preserving the Union.

My opinion is that 1860-1865 unionism was mainly a response to the actions of secessionists. Unionists did not care so much about the reasons that caused the slave states to dissolve the union (although many recognized that slavery was the underlying cause); they were upset that the union was being dissolved, period. Even more, the method that the union was dissolved - by armed force - was especially outrageous. This opinion may be controversial.

These are reasons that led to the desire to preserve the union as I currently see it:

(1) Outrage that secessionists annulled an election they didn't like by dissolving the union

In America today, and to many Americans in 1860, victory in a fair election is something that must be respected, regardless of whether we like the results. Yet, here were the secessionists in 1860-61, walking away from the country because the 1860 presidential election didn't go their way.

Secessionism, as I see it, was a reversal of the revolutionary imperative of the Founders. One of their rallying cries was "no taxation without representation." The Founders demanded a democratic process that allowed taxpayers to be heard in government. After independence from Britain was won, a constitutional government was created to enable representation of the people.

Secession was a rejection of the constitution. Rather than accept a election they didn't like, the secessionists bailed out. Abraham Lincoln would intone many times that the seceding states were out of "proper relation with the Constitution." After the attack on Ft Sumter, Lincoln called a special session of Congress into order. In discussing how the country should respond to secession, Lincoln stated:

And this issue embraces more than the fate of the United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy -- a government of the people by the same people -- can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their government and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask -- Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?

Thus, one aspect of unionism was the desire to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and the American democratic republic. This would manifest itself in a willingness to use armed force to enforce election results, or more precisely/correctly, to use armed force to preserve the Union and its institutions, such, federal elections.

This was one of many issues that probably resonated with the American (non-secessionist) public. Many were outraged that the slave states could leave the Union after the election of northerner like Lincoln, after so many southerners (and southern slave owners) had held the high office. It seemed to many that southerners were dishonorable - they followed the rules as long as they were winning, but refused to do so when they lost. This betrayal of the constitutional process, and of basic fairness, gave support to a military response to preserve the Union.

- > more to come

- Alan
Unionism is covered in the 'and politics'.
 
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#6
These are reasons that led to the desire to preserve the union as I currently see it:

(2) The feeling that the CSA was a military threat to the United States

Almost universally it is said that the Civil War began with the attack on Ft Sumter. (Although a recent post points to a court decision that says the war began several days after that event, when Lincoln order the naval blockade of the seceding states.)

But in fact, a number of acts of rebellion/acts of war preceded Sumter. Before then, a number of federal properties were seized by seceding states. Forum member @unionblue excerpted the following timeline from The Beginning And The End, by Dayton Pryor - this details military actions taken up to, during, and after the attack on Sumter:
********************

December 27, 1860. The first Federal property to fall into South Carolina hands is the U.S. revenue cutter William Aiken, turned over to secessionists by its commander, Capt. N. l. Coste, who did not resign his commission and herefore was in violation of his oath of office. The crew left the ship and went North.

Castle Pickney was seized by South Carolina militia and a problem arose: were the two Federal soldiers capture in the fort to be considered prisoners of war? If so, it would imply there was, in fact, a war. Following a lengthy discussion, the one Federal officer was allowed to go to Fort Sumter while a sergeant and his family were given safe conduct to remain in their quarters at the fort. What was significant was that the secessionists no held, for the first time, a U.S. fort. Union officer Abner Doubleday called it "...the first overt act of the Secessionists against the Sovereignty of the United States."

Fort Moultrie is taken by South Carolina militia.

December 28, 1860. A detachment of South Carolina militia enters and takes control of Fort Johnson. Three out of four Federal forts have been seized and are now under the control of South Carolina militia troops.

January 3, 1861. The War Department cancelled plans to ship guns from Pittsburgh to the forts in the South. Former Secretary of War Floyd, who resigned and went South, had been shipping weapons and large guns South for the past several months to help build up the Southern arsenals.

January 4, 1861. Even though it has not yet seceded from the Union, Alabama troops seize the U.S. arsenal at Mt. Vernon, Alabama.

January 5, 1861. Even though it STILL has not yet seceded fro the Union, Alabama seizes Fort Morgan and Gaines which protect the harbor at Mobile.

January 6, 1861. Even though it has not yet seceded from the Union, Florida troops seize the Federal arsenal at Apalachiocola.

January 7, 1861. Still not having yet separated from the Union, Florida troops seize Fort Marion at St. Augustine.

January 8, 1861. At Fort Barrancas, guarding the entrance to Pensacola Harbor, Federal troops fired on a raiding party of about twenty men, who then fled.

January 9, 1861. On this day, Senators Judah P. Benjamin and John Slidell of Louisiana telegraphed Gov. Moore of that state, which had not yet seceded from the Union, that Federal gunboats were secretly bringing supplies to the forts at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Here are a pair of men who were secretly betraying a government to which they still swore their allegiance. Gov. Moore ordered Braxton Bragg and 500 troops to seize the forts and the United States arsenal at Baton Roughe.

The Star of the West attempted to resupply Fort Sumter, but was fired upon by a masked battery from Morris Island and then by guns from Fort Moultrie, in spite of the fact two U.S. flags were flown. The ship was repeatedly fired on, forcing it to turn and steam away.

January 10, 1861. Gen. Bragg and the militia seize the U.S. forts and arsenals in Louisana.

January 12, 1861. Capt. James Armstrong, commander of the Warrington Navy Yard at Pensacola, Florida, is captured and regarded as a prisoner of war, and ...placed on his parole of honor...not to bear arms against the State of Florida.

January 13, 1861. Several men are seen near Fort Pickens in the night and were fired upon. These unknown men retired from the area of the fort.

January 21, 1861. Mississippi troops seize Fort Massachusetts off the coast, in the Gulf. Ship Island is also taken.

January 24, 1861. Georgia troops occupy the U.S. arsenal at Augusta.

January 24, 1861. At Savannah, Georgia, Fort Jackson and the Oglethorpe Barracks are seized by state troops.

January 29, 1861. Louisiana state troops take possession of Fort Macomb, outside New Orleans. The revenue cutter Robert McClelland was surrendered to Louisiana state authorities by Capt. Breshwood, despite orders not to do so by the Secretary of the Treasury.

January 31, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Branch Mint was seized by state troops along with the revenue schooner Washington.

February 8, 1861. Before it had seceded from the Union, Arkansas troops seize the Little Rock U.S. arsenal.

(February 11, 1861. Lincoln boards the train that will take him to Washington.)

February 12, 1861. Confederate officials in Montgomery took charge of matters related to occupation of Federal property within the seceded states and all other military matters. On that date they "Resolved in the Congress of the Confederate States of American, That this government takes under its charge the questions and difficulties now existing between the several states of this Confederacy and the government of the United States of America, relative to the occupation of forts, arsenals, navy-yards, and other public establishments..."

February 15, 1861. The Confederate Congress passes a second resolution "That it is the sense of this Congress that immediate steps should be taken to obtain possession of Forts Sumter and Pickens...either by negotiations or force, as early as practicable, and that the President is hereby authorized to make all necessary military preparations..."

February 16, 1861. Before it had seceded from the Union, Texas militia in San Antonio seize the U.S. military compound, barracks and arsenal.

February 19, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Paymaster's office was seized by state troops.

March 2, 1861. Texas, now out of the Union, seized the U.S. revenue schooner Henry Dodge at Galveston.

(March 4, 1861. Lincoln is sworn in as the 16th President of the United States in Washington, D. C.)

March 6, 1861. The Confederate Congress authorizes an army of 100,000 volunteers for twelve months.

March 15, 1861. The State of Louisiana transferred over $536,000 in money taken from the U.S. Mint in New Orleans to the Confederate government.

March 18, 1861. In the Florida panhandle, Gen. Braxton Bragg refused to permit further supply of Fort Pickens.

March 20, 1861. Texas troops seize three more Federal forts. At Mobile, a Federal supply ship, the U.S. sloop Isabella, was seized before it could sail with supplies to Pensacola.

April 3, 1861. In the South, a battery placed on Morris Island in Charleston harbor fired at the Federal schooner Rhoda H. Shannon.

April 12, 1861. At 4:30AM, Fort Sumter was fired upon by Southern forces.

April 15, 1861. President Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers.
********

Taken together or even individually, the seizures made by the secessionists even before Sumter could be considered acts of insurrection. Certainly, the seizure of US forts/bases by a foreign power or even a group of civilians today would be cause for a military response by the US government.

Of note is that many people in the North were outraged that President Buchanan (Lincoln's predecessor) seemingly did nothing in response to the secessionists' actions. It was left to Lincoln to respond to events - and he did. When Lincoln called for men to fight the rebellion, thousands enlisted. Indeed, several hundred thousand would die to protect the Union from the threat, whether considered foreign or domestic, that was posed by the Confederate regime.

The Confederate attacks and seizures were not merely the taking of federal property. To many Americans, these were attacks on the flag, attacks on the United States, and attacks on Americans themselves. And so one aspect of unionism was the need to defend the nation from the military threat to the South.

- Alan
 
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Pat Young

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#7
A few ideas from the writings of immigrants in 1860-1861:

1. Secessionists were seen by many immigrants as not only trying to leave the Union, but also of trying to enlist foreign powers, particularly Britain, in a war against the US. Many viewed England as the arch enemy of the US and they were horrified that any American would conspire with England against the US. While Southern whites may have had very specific goals in mind, inviting a rapacious and revanchist foreign power into a domestic conflict risked an international conflict that could turn America into a client state. Union was a very important war aim for many immigrants.
 

KansasFreestater

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#8
Slavery explains the reasons for disunion, it does not explain the reasons for union. That is, slavery does not explain the reasons why so many Americans wanted to keep the Union together.

These two forces - secessionism and unionism - were kind of like a yin and yang. You don't get the full picture until you see both sides of the circle. Protecting slavery was the driving force for the white southern elites who championed a separate slave states' nation. For those in the free states, unionism, IMO, was driven by the feeling that the putative Confederate regime was an economic, military and geo-political threat that was created by traitors who sought to annul an election they lost fair and square. And the threat being made, would not be ignored.​

I am opening this thread to discuss some of the points I made earlier (see above) in another thread.

I find it interesting that we have a forum called "Secession and Politics," but the term unionism is not referred to in this or any forum title. This is one more example of how, IMO, the subject of unionism is not seen as a major focus in discussing the Civil War.

As I posit above, there was a force called unionism that compelled Americans to preserve the Union in the face of slave state secessionism. Unionism was not northernism: there were southerners who supported preserving the Union.

My opinion is that 1860-1865 unionism was mainly a response to the actions of secessionists. Unionists did not care so much about the reasons that caused the slave states to dissolve the union (although many recognized that slavery was the underlying cause); they were upset that the union was being dissolved, period. Even more, the method that the union was dissolved - by armed force - was especially outrageous. This opinion may be controversial.

These are reasons that led to the desire to preserve the union as I currently see it:

(1) Outrage that secessionists annulled an election they didn't like by dissolving the union

In America today, and to many Americans in 1860, victory in a fair election is something that must be respected, regardless of whether we like the results. Yet, here were the secessionists in 1860-61, walking away from the country because the 1860 presidential election didn't go their way.

Secessionism, as I see it, was a reversal of the revolutionary imperative of the Founders. One of their rallying cries was "no taxation without representation." The Founders demanded a democratic process that allowed taxpayers to be heard in government. After independence from Britain was won, a constitutional government was created to enable representation of the people.

Secession was a rejection of the constitution. Rather than accept a election they didn't like, the secessionists bailed out. Abraham Lincoln would intone many times that the seceding states were out of "proper relation with the Constitution." After the attack on Ft Sumter, Lincoln called a special session of Congress into order. In discussing how the country should respond to secession, Lincoln stated:

And this issue embraces more than the fate of the United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy -- a government of the people by the same people -- can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their government and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask -- Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?

Thus, one aspect of unionism was the desire to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and the American democratic republic. This would manifest itself in a willingness to use armed force to enforce election results, or more precisely/correctly, to use armed force to preserve the Union and its institutions, such as, federal elections.

This was one of many issues that probably resonated with the American (non-secessionist) public. Many were outraged that the slave states could leave the Union after the election of northerner like Lincoln, after so many southerners (and southern slave owners) had held the high office. It seemed to many that southerners were dishonorable - they followed the rules as long as they were winning, but refused to do so when they lost. This betrayal of the constitutional process, and of basic fairness, gave support to a military response to preserve the Union.

- > more to come

- Alan
Brilliant analysis. Yes, indeed, the question was "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." Lincoln's feeling was shared by millions of Americans, who knew how very special the American experiment was and were determined that it should not be destroyed from within.

Thank you for this. Eager to see more!
 
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#10
Thinking about this thread I had another thought about why Union was seen as important by many. While perhaps fewer in number (??), I think there were many who I'd call the 'don't rock the boat' people who just felt separation was bad for business and the like. These would have included the people who were more or less content to leave slavery where it was (or even profited from such) and just felt it was in the collective best interest to stay together. Copperheads, peace Democrats, and southern unionists might be lumped in that pot. So, Unionists for sure but for maybe not so idealistic reasons.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#12
I know that there was a strong current of aversion to firing on "the old flag" among a substantial number of naval officers... even as diehard a Southern partisan as Raphael Semmes admitted to deep misgivings about attacking the flag he'd sworn to defend, and noted that the first U.S.-flagged prize taken by CSS Sumter was handled very solemnly and regretfully. (He also noted that that reaction ebbed with repetition...) So there was a definite emotional component that may be somewhat resistant to objective scholarly discussion. In Semmes' example, his regret was real, yet it did not prevent him from carrying out his duty to the new flag he'd sworn loyalty to.

Those that remained with the North experienced less of this sort of divided thinking, of course, and the term "traitor" was freely applied by many to those who (in the view of the "loyal" officers) broke their oaths. There were almost certainly a number of people who saw things on a more pragmatic/practical level, but in the stirred-up emotions of the moment they tended to be drowned out.
 

Georgia Sixth

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#13
These are reasons that led to the desire to preserve the union as I currently see it:

(2) The feeling that the CSA was a military threat to the United States

Almost universally it is said that the Civil War began with the attack on Ft Sumter. (Although a recent post points to a court decision that says the war began several days after that event, when Lincoln order the naval blockade of the seceding states.)

But in fact, a number of acts of rebellion/acts of war preceded Sumter. Before then, a number of federal properties were seized by seceding states. Forum member @unionblue excerpted the following timeline from The Beginning And The End, by Dayton Pryor - this details military actions taken up to, during, and after the attack on Sumter:
********************

December 27, 1860. The first Federal property to fall into South Carolina hands is the U.S. revenue cutter William Aiken, turned over to secessionists by its commander, Capt. N. l. Coste, who did not resign his commission and herefore was in violation of his oath of office. The crew left the ship and went North.

Castle Pickney was seized by South Carolina militia and a problem arose: were the two Federal soldiers capture in the fort to be considered prisoners of war? If so, it would imply there was, in fact, a war. Following a lengthy discussion, the one Federal officer was allowed to go to Fort Sumter while a sergeant and his family were given safe conduct to remain in their quarters at the fort. What was significant was that the secessionists no held, for the first time, a U.S. fort. Union officer Abner Doubleday called it "...the first overt act of the Secessionists against the Sovereignty of the United States."

Fort Moultrie is taken by South Carolina militia.

December 28, 1860. A detachment of South Carolina militia enters and takes control of Fort Johnson. Three out of four Federal forts have been seized and are now under the control of South Carolina militia troops.

January 3, 1861. The War Department cancelled plans to ship guns from Pittsburgh to the forts in the South. Former Secretary of War Floyd, who resigned and went South, had been shipping weapons and large guns South for the past several months to help build up the Southern arsenals.

January 4, 1861. Even though it has not yet seceded from the Union, Alabama troops seize the U.S. arsenal at Mt. Vernon, Alabama.

January 5, 1861. Even though it STILL has not yet seceded fro the Union, Alabama seizes Fort Morgan and Gaines which protect the harbor at Mobile.

January 6, 1861. Even though it has not yet seceded from the Union, Florida troops seize the Federal arsenal at Apalachiocola.

January 7, 1861. Still not having yet separated from the Union, Florida troops seize Fort Marion at St. Augustine.

January 8, 1861. At Fort Barrancas, guarding the entrance to Pensacola Harbor, Federal troops fired on a raiding party of about twenty men, who then fled.

January 9, 1861. On this day, Senators Judah P. Benjamin and John Slidell of Louisiana telegraphed Gov. Moore of that state, which had not yet seceded from the Union, that Federal gunboats were secretly bringing supplies to the forts at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Here are a pair of men who were secretly betraying a government to which they still swore their allegiance. Gov. Moore ordered Braxton Bragg and 500 troops to seize the forts and the United States arsenal at Baton Roughe.

The Star of the West attempted to resupply Fort Sumter, but was fired upon by a masked battery from Morris Island and then by guns from Fort Moultrie, in spite of the fact two U.S. flags were flown. The ship was repeatedly fired on, forcing it to turn and steam away.

January 10, 1861. Gen. Bragg and the militia seize the U.S. forts and arsenals in Louisana.

January 12, 1861. Capt. James Armstrong, commander of the Warrington Navy Yard at Pensacola, Florida, is captured and regarded as a prisoner of war, and ...placed on his parole of honor...not to bear arms against the State of Florida.

January 13, 1861. Several men are seen near Fort Pickens in the night and were fired upon. These unknown men retired from the area of the fort.

January 21, 1861. Mississippi troops seize Fort Massachusetts off the coast, in the Gulf. Ship Island is also taken.

January 24, 1861. Georgia troops occupy the U.S. arsenal at Augusta.

January 24, 1861. At Savannah, Georgia, Fort Jackson and the Oglethorpe Barracks are seized by state troops.

January 29, 1861. Louisiana state troops take possession of Fort Macomb, outside New Orleans. The revenue cutter Robert McClelland was surrendered to Louisiana state authorities by Capt. Breshwood, despite orders not to do so by the Secretary of the Treasury.

January 31, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Branch Mint was seized by state troops along with the revenue schooner Washington.

February 8, 1861. Before it had seceded from the Union, Arkansas troops seize the Little Rock U.S. arsenal.

(February 11, 1861. Lincoln boards the train that will take him to Washington.)

February 12, 1861. Confederate officials in Montgomery took charge of matters related to occupation of Federal property within the seceded states and all other military matters. On that date they "Resolved in the Congress of the Confederate States of American, That this government takes under its charge the questions and difficulties now existing between the several states of this Confederacy and the government of the United States of America, relative to the occupation of forts, arsenals, navy-yards, and other public establishments..."

February 15, 1861. The Confederate Congress passes a second resolution "That it is the sense of this Congress that immediate steps should be taken to obtain possession of Forts Sumter and Pickens...either by negotiations or force, as early as practicable, and that the President is hereby authorized to make all necessary military preparations..."

February 16, 1861. Before it had seceded from the Union, Texas militia in San Antonio seize the U.S. military compound, barracks and arsenal.

February 19, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Paymaster's office was seized by state troops.

March 2, 1861. Texas, now out of the Union, seized the U.S. revenue schooner Henry Dodge at Galveston.

(March 4, 1861. Lincoln is sworn in as the 16th President of the United States in Washington, D. C.)

March 6, 1861. The Confederate Congress authorizes an army of 100,000 volunteers for twelve months.

March 15, 1861. The State of Louisiana transferred over $536,000 in money taken from the U.S. Mint in New Orleans to the Confederate government.

March 18, 1861. In the Florida panhandle, Gen. Braxton Bragg refused to permit further supply of Fort Pickens.

March 20, 1861. Texas troops seize three more Federal forts. At Mobile, a Federal supply ship, the U.S. sloop Isabella, was seized before it could sail with supplies to Pensacola.

April 3, 1861. In the South, a battery placed on Morris Island in Charleston harbor fired at the Federal schooner Rhoda H. Shannon.

April 12, 1861. At 4:30AM, Fort Sumter was fired upon by Southern forces.

April 15, 1861. President Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers.
********

Taken together or even individually, the seizures made by the secessionists even before the Sumter attack could be considered acts of insurrection. Certainly, the seizure of US forts/bases by a foreign power or even a group of civilians today would be cause for a military response by the US government.

Of note is that many people in the North were outraged that President Buchanan (Lincoln's predecessor) seemingly did nothing in response to the secessionists' actions. It was left to Lincoln to respond to events - and he did. When Lincoln called for men to fight the rebellion, thousands enlisted. Indeed, several hundred thousand would die to protect the Union from the threat, whether considered foreign or domestic, that was posed by the Confederate regime.

The Confederate attacks and seizures were not merely the taking of federal property. To many Americans, these were attacks on the flag, attacks on the United States, and attacks on Americans themselves. And so one aspect of unionism was the need to defend the nation from the military threat to the South.

- Alan
A veritable coup d'etat.
 
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#14
I'll post some more tomorrow. But I invite others to talk about what drove unionism, among the public especially, but not exclusively.

- Alan
I like the word 'unionism' and you ask a great question. I've elsewhere said that it was my first question in my first college class on the Civil War - why didn't Lincoln just say 'go in peace' and wish the seceding states well as they left?
If Lincoln felt that democracy itself was on trial - and he said some things that suggest he did think that - he thought the 'great American experiment' was being put to its greatest trial and he wanted the work of the republic to go on.

But what did the common person think? I think there's a certain gut reaction that people can have and did have. I think it's telling that they called them 'rebels' - not 'states' righters' or 'secessionists'. They called it The War of The Rebellion and young men signed up out of patriotic fervor for the 'old flag'. Nor did the everyday person likely concern themselves with 'Lockian philosophy' or a doctrine of self-determination.

They saw the ratification of the Constitution as having signed, sealed and delivered all of the states to the Union forever. From the very beginning it was believed that the USA has a certain special place in the world and a special destiny to fulfill.

I'd search around a bit and see if any readily available online primary sources offer up any quotes from diaries and the like to offer us a glimpse into what a common man signing up actually said were his reasons for doing so.
 

brass napoleon

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#15
I like the word 'unionism' and you ask a great question. I've elsewhere said that it was my first question in my first college class on the Civil War - why didn't Lincoln just say 'go in peace' and wish the seceding states well as they left?
If Lincoln felt that democracy itself was on trial - and he said some things that suggest he did think that - he thought the 'great American experiment' was being put to its greatest trial and he wanted the work of the republic to go on.

But what did the common person think? I think there's a certain gut reaction that people can have and did have. I think it's telling that they called them 'rebels' - not 'states' righters' or 'secessionists'. They called it The War of The Rebellion and young men signed up out of patriotic fervor for the 'old flag'. Nor did the everyday person likely concern themselves with 'Lockian philosophy' or a doctrine of self-determination.

They saw the ratification of the Constitution as having signed, sealed and delivered all of the states to the Union forever. From the very beginning it was believed that the USA has a certain special place in the world and a special destiny to fulfill.

I'd search around a bit and see if any readily available online primary sources offer up any quotes from diaries and the like to offer us a glimpse into what a common man signing up actually said were his reasons for doing so.
Here's a couple from James McPherson's For Cause and Comrades:

"the cause of the Constitution and law... Admit the right of the seceding states to break up the Union at pleasure... and how long will it be before the new confederacies created by the first disruption shall be resolved into still smaller fragments and the continent become a vast theater of civil war, military license, anarchy, and despotism? Better settle it as whatever cost and settle it forever." - a private in the 70th Ohio.

"for the great principles of liberty and self government at stake, for should we fail, the onward march of Liberty in the Old World will be retarded at least a century, and Monarchs, Kings and Aristocrats will be more powerful against their subjects than ever." - a private in the 2nd Ohio Cavalry

Source: <http://books.google.com/books?id=1qhEHVki8tEC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA113>
 
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#16
I like the word 'unionism' and you ask a great question. I've elsewhere said that it was my first question in my first college class on the Civil War - why didn't Lincoln just say 'go in peace' and wish the seceding states well as they left?
If Lincoln felt that democracy itself was on trial - and he said some things that suggest he did think that - he thought the 'great American experiment' was being put to its greatest trial and he wanted the work of the republic to go on.

But what did the common person think? I think there's a certain gut reaction that people can have and did have. I think it's telling that they called them 'rebels' - not 'states' righters' or 'secessionists'. They called it The War of The Rebellion and young men signed up out of patriotic fervor for the 'old flag'. Nor did the everyday person likely concern themselves with 'Lockian philosophy' or a doctrine of self-determination.

They saw the ratification of the Constitution as having signed, sealed and delivered all of the states to the Union forever. From the very beginning it was believed that the USA has a certain special place in the world and a special destiny to fulfill.

I'd search around a bit and see if any readily available online primary sources offer up any quotes from diaries and the like to offer us a glimpse into what a common man signing up actually said were his reasons for doing so.
 
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#17
A.P. Hoadley of Pennsylvania explained his enlistment to his sister Emma in these words:

I wanted to serve my country, I wanted to have the name of volunteering, I would never go as a substitute, it required something more than money to separate me from the loved ones I have left behind. It was a principle of duty...
 

BillO

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#18
Brilliant analysis. Yes, indeed, the question was "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." Lincoln's feeling was shared by millions of Americans, who knew how very special the American experiment was and were determined that it should not be destroyed from within.

Thank you for this. Eager to see more!
Makes me think of Viet Nam. "We had to destroy the village to save it".
 



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