Restricted Why was the South in such a hurry to leave?

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MikeyB

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Why not give Lincoln a year and see how he governs? And if he goes on an antislavery crusade, then secede and fight. Weren't all of 1860 Lincoln's statements to the effect that I have no intention of interfering with slavery? Not to mention the fact that Lincoln is not an emperor and the South still has legitimate governmental institutions (and conservative Northern Democratic allies. Maybe even a conservative supreme court? Taney was still Chief Justice) to use to block any radical changes to the peculiar institution. So why did they feel that Lincoln, a guy who wasn't campaigning on abolishing slavery (at least I don't think) and who only cared about preserving the Union, would be so unreasonable that they just had to leave?

Was this just a SC thing? Perhaps the other 10 states WERE willing to give Lincoln a shot? And its just that after SC seceded, things unraveled and escalated so quickly and Southern honor forced their hand into solidarity?

Look forward to any thoughts!
mike
 

James N.

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I believe the Deep South states had already made up their collective minds - South Carolina had basically been preparing for it and the possibility of war since around the Compromise of 1850 when they began placing orders for artillery and munitions with Northern factories - and were just waiting for what they judged would be an opportune moment and a new, inexperienced Chief Executive in the White House.
 
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Tailor Pete

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'New, inexperienced Chief Executive' hit the nail right on the head. The Republican Party had built a platform around abolition. A great many people assumed Lincoln would be a puppet of his party and fall in step with their ideological desires. Their secession was more in protest of a 'radical' party in control of the executive branch than Lincoln himself, though as the figurehead of the party, he took the brunt of Southern anger.

As it turned out, Lincoln was far more independent of spirit than most everyone expected, and a quick end to slavery wasn't at hand. Certainly, when viewing it from the present day, it looks as though the Cotton States had 'jumped the gun', but not necessarily over Lincoln himself.
 

James N.

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'New, inexperienced Chief Executive' hit the nail right on the head. The Republican Party had built a platform around abolition. A great many people assumed Lincoln would be a puppet of his party and fall in step with their ideological desires. Their secession was more in protest of a 'radical' party in control of the executive branch than Lincoln himself, though as the figurehead of the party, he took the brunt of Southern anger.

As it turned out, Lincoln was far more independent of spirit than most everyone expected, and a quick end to slavery wasn't at hand. Certainly, when viewing it from the present day, it looks as though the Cotton States had 'jumped the gun', but not necessarily over Lincoln himself.
Of course most of those fears centered around the man everyone - including himself - assumed would win the Republican nomination, the hated William Seward of New York. When Lincoln chose Seward as his Secretary of State that seemed only to confirm those fears and everyone assumed Seward would be the puppeteer pulling the strings.
 

Lubliner

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Why not give Lincoln a year and see how he governs? And if he goes on an antislavery crusade, then secede and fight. Weren't all of 1860 Lincoln's statements to the effect that I have no intention of interfering with slavery? Not to mention the fact that Lincoln is not an emperor and the South still has legitimate governmental institutions (and conservative Northern Democratic allies. Maybe even a conservative supreme court? Taney was still Chief Justice) to use to block any radical changes to the peculiar institution. So why did they feel that Lincoln, a guy who wasn't campaigning on abolishing slavery (at least I don't think) and who only cared about preserving the Union, would be so unreasonable that they just had to leave?

Was this just a SC thing? Perhaps the other 10 states WERE willing to give Lincoln a shot? And its just that after SC seceded, things unraveled and escalated so quickly and Southern honor forced their hand into solidarity?

Look forward to any thoughts!
mike
It is an interesting afterthought to meditate on the possibilities of Lincoln's Presidency if South Carolina had not immediately seceded. Or if, for the same matter of the stand off in Charleston, if the call for troops and the evacuation had taken place and a settlement had transpired. The what if's are vastly separate from the actual events though.
Lubliner.
 
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uaskme

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Didn’t have anything to do with a fear of Lincoln. The Republican Party was a Sectional Party. Cotton States made the Democratic Party Sectional by 1860. They had determined that Douglas was a Threat. Not allowing Slaves into the Territories had become a issue of Equality. Cotton States knew that Slavery would not dominated in the Territories, but were not going to except Exclusion.
 

OpnCoronet

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To the extent slavery identified the South and its way of life, Lincoln's election was a watershed event.

The Compromise of 1850, completed the encirclement of the South with Free States or Territories. The Republican was committed to eventual eliminastion of Slavery, within the borders of the Union and its Constitution and Laws. not immediately but, eventually.

In his Cooper's Union Speech, Lincoln refuted southern charges that the Republican Party was section by its policies, but by the use of threats of vilene and use of intimidation kept Republican's from garnering any votes in most slave states. He challenged the leaders of the South to engage infree and open debates with republicans over their policies and see if they did not elect representatives or not. Which, of course, was the very worst possible event for southern separatists of all stripes. Electing Republicans, or even southern opponents to slavery would be death kneww indeed.

There ws no hope for it, the tide had turned, with Lincoln's election. If Slavery and the southern way ofg life were to be maintained, it could only be saely done, outside the United States Constitution and its laws.
 

uaskme

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To the extent slavery identified the South and its way of life, Lincoln's election was a watershed event.

The Compromise of 1850, completed the encirclement of the South with Free States or Territories. The Republican was committed to eventual eliminastion of Slavery, within the borders of the Union and its Constitution and Laws. not immediately but, eventually.

In his Cooper's Union Speech, Lincoln refuted southern charges that the Republican Party was section by its policies, but by the use of threats of vilene and use of intimidation kept Republican's from garnering any votes in most slave states. He challenged the leaders of the South to engage infree and open debates with republicans over their policies and see if they did not elect representatives or not. Which, of course, was the very worst possible event for southern separatists of all stripes. Electing Republicans, or even southern opponents to slavery would be death kneww indeed.

There ws no hope for it, the tide had turned, with Lincoln's election. If Slavery and the southern way ofg life were to be maintained, it could only be saely done, outside the United States Constitution and its laws.
Radicals thought their view of the Constitution was correct. The View that Slavery was protected. However, there is a view that all this was a pretext:

They Yancey introduced a new theme: the glory that awaited a southern republic. Not only could a southern nation manage just fine without the North, Yancey promised that it would thrive. Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Pensacola, and Mobile would all emerge as dynamos one southern commerce stopped funneling through northern ports. In fact, Yancey asserted that the only people who would suffer from secession were northerners. The shipping industries of Boston and Philadelphia would collapse, their wharves and warehouses rot, and grass would grow in the streets of New York. All of this, according to Yancey, because the South could do without northern commercial facilities far better than the North could without southern agriculture staples. "The Union is everything to New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. The Union is much to the South." If the South did secede, he asserted, "we are independent of the world; we have the great peace-maker, King Cotton, within our midst." Yancey closed on the defiant note, vowing that the South alone could clothe the world. "Unless these people, therefore, want to go naked, and show their nakedness, they better come and solicit the support of our cotton planters. pp259 William Lowndes Yancey by Walther

The few months the Cotton States had between Secession and War, they were doing pretty well. The Federal Government was seeing reduced Imports and Taxes.
 
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OpnCoronet

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Radicals thought their view of the Constitution was correct. The View that Slavery was protected. However, there is a view that all this was a pretext:




I do tend to agree with the thesis, that Secession of 1860 - '61, was the result of a gneral conspiracy of highly placed Sotheern radicals, in out of slave state gov'ts and not a gdneral popular movemment at the time.

I beleve though, that once the conspirators started the ball rolling for Revolution and Independence, the reasoning of the various proclamations of secession and its causes, by the states, were generally true, for those who ended up supported the confederacy rather than the Union.
 

CSA Today

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It's hard to say SC was in a hurry when they had already intended to secede in 1852, so this was a long time coming. Having said that, once in convention they wanted to move quickly to encourage the other states who were considering secession to move forward as well.
I can't help but to smile when somebody disparages the presidencies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, had it not been for those moderate Northerners South Carolina and the other Southern States would have seceded even earlier when there was a much better chance of success.
 
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chitoryu12

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Secession was something that had momentum building for decades before Lincoln. Because the South had become economically dependent on slavery, anything that seemed like a threat to the continued existence of slavery was seen as an existential threat to the South (especially the wealthy plantation owners who made all the money off it Edited.).

While the South was willing to play by the rules when it favored them, they weren't so willing when it didn't. After the Union repeatedly tried to prevent slavery from expanding any further than it already had and abolition started becoming a more vocal cause, the potential election of a president that would work to abolish slavery was taken as a sign that it was coming. Without any legal means to fight potential emancipation of their cheap workforce, they began setting the stage for secession so it could effectively be triggered by Lincoln's election.
 

OpnCoronet

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Essentially, Secessionism was a revolutionary movement and secessionists were its fomenters and leaders.

Secessionits were to all intents and purposes, Southern Nationalists. Proponents of a free and independent southern nation, based upon the institution of chatel slavery.

The secesionists/revolutionaries had convinced themselves that the apparently divisions within the polity of the Union just before and during the election process of 1860-61 was the best time to strike for independence with the best opportunity to succeed and at the samme time, when the South could not expect to be any stronger, in relation to that of the rest of the Union.

Historically, it is usually the case that once the revolutionary ball becomes in motion, it is imperative to keep it in motion with every increasing speed, for success. There must be no time for second thoughts, or taking council of ones fears, enthusiasm and action is the order of the day, with little time for reflection or thought.
 

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I can't help but to smile when somebody disparages the presidencies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, had it not been for those moderate Northerners South Carolina and the other Southern States would have seceded even earlier when there was a much better chance of success.
This was very much the reason that none other than Ulysses S. Grant gave for voting as he did for Buchanan at the time, though when secession finally came on Buchanan's watch Grant referred to him as an old granny! Grant as a young officer during the Mexican War had met and actually played cards with then-militia General Franklin Pierce, of whom he also approved personally.
 
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OpnCoronet

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The Fire-Eaters, of 1860 - 61, had difficulty getting firm assurances from the leading slave states of the lower South, under what circumstances they would, or, could, secede, or, even if, they would. The closer the time for action the more temporizing.

SC was reluctant to be seen as leading the slave states of the South out of the Union, and the other states wanted some one else to leade. I think if Buchanan had been another Andrew Jackson, the liklihood of the unity of the seceders was juust as likely to have been less than more inclined to test his resolve.


P.S. did not Pierce, have some strong ideas on how he would handle secession and, especially those who practiced it?
 

Eric Calistri

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Why not give Lincoln a year and see how he governs? And if he goes on an antislavery crusade, then secede and fight. Weren't all of 1860 Lincoln's statements to the effect that I have no intention of interfering with slavery? Not to mention the fact that Lincoln is not an emperor and the South still has legitimate governmental institutions (and conservative Northern Democratic allies. Maybe even a conservative supreme court? Taney was still Chief Justice) to use to block any radical changes to the peculiar institution. So why did they feel that Lincoln, a guy who wasn't campaigning on abolishing slavery (at least I don't think) and who only cared about preserving the Union, would be so unreasonable that they just had to leave?

Was this just a SC thing? Perhaps the other 10 states WERE willing to give Lincoln a shot? And its just that after SC seceded, things unraveled and escalated so quickly and Southern honor forced their hand into solidarity?

Look forward to any thoughts!
mike

I lot of the opposition to secession at the conventions (those who voted against) was from men who felt that Lincoln should be given a chance to commit a "sin" as executive to justify secession, that the mere act of his election was not sufficient. Others who voted against secession favored an independent slave nation, but felt that unilateral secession by individual states was not the proper vehicle. Though often referred to as "conditional unionists" these were all folks who had only procedural objections to secession, they would all favor it under what they believed were "proper circumstances."

The other thing that is important about the delegates to these conventions is that slave owners, particularly those owning 20 or more slaves, were vastly over-represented compared to the white male populations. So secession was driven by these wealthy elites, who caricatured Lincoln and all "Black Republicans" as radical, wild-eyed advocates of equality for their slaves.
 

jackt62

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I don't see that the south was in "a hurry to leave" despite the secession crisis of late 1860. The actions of southern states to secede from the national union was simply the last straw as far as they were concerned and represented the final step in a process that began in earnest around 1850. The decade of the 1850's contained an ever growing series of conflicts between the south and north, beginning with the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1855, the outright warfare that subsequently took place in "Bleeding" Kansas, the Dred Scott decision in 1857, John Brown's Harpers Ferry raid in 1859, and finally, the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Some of these events temporarily papered over differences between the two parties; other actions clearly benefited the south for the time being. But by the time of the Republican ascendancy to federal power in the 1860 election, the South saw the writing on the wall, and understood that its power and influence could only wane in future. So secession became the final, and only step that the south could take in order to maintain its economic system based on chattel slavery.
 
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JohnJW

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Why not give Lincoln a year and see how he governs?
Why give the criminals intent on breaking into your home a chance to go upstairs and harm your children? Why not just meet them in the front yard and end the threat before if grows in strength?

It's always about understanding the CONTEXT. See it as politicians in South Carolina saw it:

1) Northern states were openly defying the Fugitive Slave Act.

2) The North was full of rabble-rousing abolitionist organizations helping slaves escape and inciting rebellion

3) The Kansas-Nebraska Compromise of 1854 had started a bloody civil war in Kansas.

4) The John Brown Raid of 1859 . . . . which was financed and supported by Northern factions . . . .was about arming slaves and taking the fight into Southern states.

5) The Republicans . . . . while not working against slavery in Southern states . . . were intent on denying slavery in future territories and states . . . thus dooming the South to political subjugation.


As South Carolina declared

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of Slavery; they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.
 
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5) The Republicans . . . . while not working against slavery in Southern states . . . were intent on denying slavery in future territories and states . . . thus dooming the South to political subjugation.
How would that doom the South? Plenty of Southerners didn't own slaves and those that did could just sell them before moving West.
 
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