|Date(s):||November 15, 1860|
|Tag(s):||South Carolina, Abraham Lincoln, Confederates, Secession|
|Course:||“Civil War and Reconstruction,” Juniata College|
The Republicans of the northern states ignored all threats from the South regarding the idea of secession when the rumors regarding secession began to circulate. In some cases they took false hope that the only real threat to secede came from the state of South Carolina. Statements from a small town central Pennsylvania newspaper, The Democratic Watchman, affirmed that it was not possible, nor likely, for any of the other southern states to follow South Carolina’s lead and leave the Union.
In regards to the small town doubt about secession, the Democratic Watchman stated, “It is probable that no southern state will cooperate with South Carolina in secession and resistance to the General Government, and that she will not attempt to go out of the Union alone.” The Watchman, similar to other small northern towns, believed that South Carolina would not leave the Union unless they had support and alliance of other southern states that were willing to secede.
In the South, the push for secession was speared by the election of republican Abraham Lincoln as the president of the United States on November 6, 1860. The election stands as the final controversial political moment before southerners began to formally choose secession. Southerners believed that Lincoln would take their liberties because he was a member of the Republican Party and this pushed southern trust of the federal government to its breaking point.
Secession should not have caught the Union by surprise because before the election of 1860, southern citizens, who were considered supporters of the Union, warned northerners of the likelihood of secession upon Lincoln’s presidential victory. This “fever” for independence soon spread out of the deep south and into the upper south. South Carolina called for a convention immediately following the news of Lincoln’s victory. The federal judge at Charleston, the District Attorney, the Collector, and other federal officers, all from the state of South Carolina, resigned from their respective offices. These officials were attempting to bring immediate issues with the federal government.
South Carolina voted 169 to 0 to secede from the Union of the United States of America on December 20, 1860. By May 21, 1861, the eleven states that all eventually comprised the Confederacy had officially broken from the Union.