It was a land where profitable and efficient plantations worked by slave labor produced cotton for the world market.
It was also a land where a majority of its white population was made up of subsistence farmers who lived isolated lives on the edge of poverty and whose literacy rates were low compared with those in the more densely populated North. The South nevertheless was beginning to industrialize, a factor that added to the social tensions surfacing during the s between the haves—plantation owners and professional groups in the few urban centers—and the have-nots—an increasingly restive yeoman or small-farmer group.
But the issue of black servitude provided cohesion for the white bloc and contributed greatly to a patriarchal system wherein the masses of the whites still looked to a planter-professional elite for political and social guidance. Although the northern masses might also defer to the opinions of the powerful and living conditions among the urban poor were precarious, educational levels were far higher than in the South.
The ethic of free capital and free labor was deeply ingrained in the cities and in farm communities as well. It was this ethic that formed the ideological basis for a broad antislavery movement. Southern leaders were concerned over internal stresses in their society and were increasingly aware of the moral and social repugnance the slave system engendered not only in the North but also in Western Europe.
Southern leadership, though surely not unified in its response to a political victory of antislavery forces in , began as early as to prepare its section for separation from the Union. Even though the Republican platform of disavowed any move that would interfere with slavery where the custom and the law of a given state upheld it, many of the more extreme opinion makers in the South promoted the idea that a Republican victory meant eventual emancipation and social and political equality for their black population.
So inflamed were the voters in South Carolina that before the election of Lincoln, they had chosen a convention that was committed to secession on news of a Republican victory. The situation of other states in the Deep South was more complicated. Elections were held promptly, but the results showed considerable division on secession. Three factions emerged: those for immediate secession, those who sought delay until the policy of the new administration toward the slave states became clear, and those who believed they could bargain with the new administration.
All these groups, however, were united in support of the doctrine of secession. With this idea as a basic commitment, the better organized immediate secessionists were able to prevail. The close connection between the right to revolution and separation from the governing power in the spirit of was an early theme in the provisional Confederacy. To be sure, the revolution was posited as a peaceful one. Separation from a Union perceived to be under the control of a tyrannical power that would destroy southern institutions was the objective. Confederate leaders at this early date thought that the North would not fight to preserve the Union.
But the provisional government nevertheless began purchasing arms and munitions, and seceded states started to equip and train their militias. State and Confederate government authorities seized federal forts, arsenals, and other national property within their jurisdiction. Concerned about the loyalty of the border states of Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky, the new administration went so far as to offer the slave states an amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee slavery where it legally existed.
Secession | Definition of Secession at wisolyvahode.tk
Lincoln himself in his inaugural address pledged only to hold federal property that was in the possession of the Union on March 4, The provisional Confederacy likewise sought vigorously to stimulate secession sentiment in the border states. Had all the border slave states thrown in their lot with one or the other government, there might not have been a war, or conversely, separation might well have become an accomplished fact.
As it was, however, the prompt action of the Lincoln administration after the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter secured Maryland and Delaware for the Union. Kentucky proclaimed its neutrality but eventually remained loyal to the Union. Once the war was joined, waves of patriotic sentiment swept over North and South. Vocal political opposition would exist on both sides, but it was never strong enough to overthrow either government. Secession as revolution, an early theme in southern rhetoric, was not emphasized after the formation of the Confederacy.
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A nation could not have been formed, nor a war fought, if the states were wholly independent of any central authority. Behind it all, of course, was the unity of a minority geographical section defending a distinct set of institutions that were thought to be under attack. The original federal Union that shared the exercise of power with the states strengthened the concept of secession. It also supplied a pretext for southern leaders to seize the initiative and form a separate nation.
See more words from the same year. More Definitions for secession. See the full definition for secession in the English Language Learners Dictionary. Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with secession. Nglish: Translation of secession for Spanish Speakers.
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