Election of 860 15-4

By Anna Eckholm

Why the South Seceded

Lincoln and the Republicans had promised not to disturb slaver where it already existed. Many people in the South, however, didn't trust the party, fearing that Republican administration wouldn't protect Southern rights. On December 20, 1860, the South's long-standing threat to leave the Union became reality when South Carolina held a special convention and voted to secede.

Attempts at Compromise

Even after South Carolina's action, many people still wished to preserve the Union. The question was how. As other Southern states debated secession leaders in Washington D.C., worked frantically to fashion a last-minute compromise.

December 18, 1860

On December 18, 1860, Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky proposed a series of amendments to the Constitution. Central to Crittenden's plan was a provision to protect slavery south of 36 degrees 30' N latitude the line set by the Missouri Compromise-- in all territories "now held or hereafter acquired."

The Confederacy

By February 1861, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia had joined South Carolina and also seceded. Delegates from these states and South Carolina met in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 4 to form a new nation and government. Calling themselves the Confederate States of America, they chose Jefferson Davis, a senator from Mississippi, as their president.

Reactions to Secession

Many Southerners welcomed secession. In Charleston, South Carolina, people rang church bells, fired cannons, and celebrated in the streets. Other Southerners, however, were alarmed. A South Carolinian wrote, "My heart has been rent by...the destruction of my country--the dismemberment of that great and glorious Union."