Learning Lincoln On-line

FROM--SET ONE, CIVIL WAR STUDIES

 Secession and the Civil War-- About the Process of Secession-- HOME PAGE

. . . Holding the 
Union Together

Holding the Union Together
Commander & Chief of the United States

Presidential Leadership

Soon after Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency in November 1860, seven southern states seceded from the Union. In March 1861, after he was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States, four more followed.

    The secessionists claimed that according to the Constitution every state had the right to leave the Union. Lincoln claimed that they did not have that right. He opposed secession for these reasons:

Read the article on the Origin of Secession

Definition:   To secede–verb (used without object), -ced·ed, -ced·ing. to withdraw formally from an alliance, federation, or association, as from a political union, a religious organization, etc.

. .  With these Lincoln thoughts and values, the United States would enter a four-year Civil War, 1861-1865.  Lincoln did not allow the seceded states' stars to be taken off the flag.  He considered his job, one of ending the division, and making the country one again.  This would take great leadership skills, as well as political skills.  The United States was seemingly falling apart, but Abraham Lincoln wasn't going to allow it.

Lincoln's "Cannot or Should not Secede" reasons:

The Union Viewpoint

The Confederate Viewpoint

Your Opinion:  Should they have & Why?

1. Physically, the states cannot separate from the union
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2. Secession is unlawful.
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3. A government that allows secession will disintegrate into anarchy.

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4. That Americans are not enemies, but friends.
 

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5.  Secession would destroy the world's only existing democracy, and prove for all time, to future Americans and to the world, that a government of the people cannot survive.
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 Other Activities

Secession was not a new idea.  During the history of the U.S., politicians in cities and states would get irritated with the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and mention the idea of secession.  New York City considered secession.

1. About the same time that Abraham Lincoln was elected President, a small group of southern states had already seceded.  What states were first to secede?

2. List all the states that seceded from the U.S.


3. What did the President think about secession?


4.  Did President Lincoln remove the seceded states' stars from the U.S. flag?


5. What was the main cause of the Civil War?


6. What act of war occurred (when, where and what) to start the Civil War?

 


SECESSION:  States would declare that they were leaving the Union.  Secession had been considered by states even as far back as Jefferson's time, and even by cities such as New York City.  It was not a new idea, but is one that most patriotic Americans do not like to think of as a part of our history.
 

    Soon after Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency in November 1860, seven southern states seceded from the Union. In March 1861, after he was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States, four more followed.

    The secessionists claimed that according to the Constitution every state had the right to leave the Union. Lincoln claimed that they did not have that right. He opposed secession for these reasons.  Information from:  the National Park Service.

SECESSION "MOVEMENT"

    This secession movement brought about the American Civil War. The position of the Union was that the Confederacy was not a sovereign nation—and never had been, but that "the Union" was always a single nation by intent of the states themselves, from 1776 onward—and thus that a rebellion had been initiated by individuals. Historian Bruce Catton described President Abraham Lincoln's April 15, 1861, proclamation after the attack on Fort Sumter, which defined the Union's position on the hostilities:

    After reciting the obvious fact that "combinations too powerful to be suppressed" by ordinary law courts and marshals had taken charge of affairs in the seven secessionist states, it announced that the several states of the Union were called on to contribute 75,000 militia "...to suppress said combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed." ... "And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse, and retire peacefully to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST SECESSION

1. Physically, the states cannot separate from the union

2. Secession is unlawful.

3. A government that allows secession will disintegrate into anarchy.

4. That Americans are not enemies, but friends.

5.  Secession would destroy the world's only existing democracy, and prove for all time, to future Americans and to the world, that a government of the people cannot survive.

HOW SECESSION STARTED

    South Carolina Secedes  "The First To Act"  December 20, 1860

       The doctrine of state's rights, the legality of secession, and the institution of black slavery had been issues of debate in the United States for decades before the election of Abraham Lincoln brought on the secession of the Southern states. Time after time the South had forced political compromises by threatening to dissolve the union, but by 1860 many Northern politicians had come to view the threat as a bluff and were sick of compromising when it came to slavery. Southerners were thoroughly indoctrinated in the issues, and their education emphasized the inviolability of the Constitution and honored such state's-rights leaders as Thomas Jefferson and John C. Calhoun.

       "The tug has to come and better now, than any time hereafter," wrote President-elect Lincoln in response to the movements among Southerners toward making good their threat to remove themselves from the United States if he were elected. On November 10, 1860, four days after the election, the legislature in South Carolina, the undisputed leading agitator for secession and the home of John C. Calhoun, became the first of the Southern congresses to call for a convention to consider secession.

       Meeting in Charleston on December 20, that convention passed unanimously the first ordinance of secession, which stated, "We, the people of the State of South Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain... that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of 'the United States of America,' is hereby dissolved," making South Carolina a free and independent country. The people of Charleston went wild with joy amid fireworks, booming cannon, and ringing bells. Within six weeks, six other states in the Deep South followed South Carolina out of the Union. Southern diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote, "We are divorced, North and South, because we have hated each other so."

FROM http://civilwar.bluegrass.net/secessioncrisis/601220.html

. . . With these Lincoln thoughts and values, the United States would enter a four-year Civil War, 1861-1865.  Lincoln did not allow the seceded states stars to be taken off the flag.  He considered his job, one of ending the division, and making the country one again.  This would take great leadership skills, as well as political skills.  The United States was seemingly falling apart, but Abraham Lincoln wasn't going to allow it.

Go to the Secession-Unity Worksheet to Study the Topic

 

READ ABOUT SECESSION FROM PRIMARY SOURCES:  

Go to the Library of Congress Real Sources Page on Secession of the States.  Click Here.


PART ONE concerns the President Elect Lincoln's responses and handling of seceding states.  Read the real documents and answer the questions.


PART TWO concerns Lincoln's first inaugural address, and how he responded to seceding states.  Read the real documents and answer the questions.


PART THREE concerns more about the first inaugural address and its final form.  Read the real documents and answer the questions.

READING ABOUT SECESSION AND ITS' CAUSES FOR THE CIVIL WAR

1.   Read from the 19th Century School Books Collection Pages 240-242"...a conversation between a slave (that has attempted to escape) and his master."

2.   Even in Free Illinois, many complications for the Underground Railroad made it very dangerous for flight for freedom in a northern state.  (In Illinois)  The Black Laws of 1819, the conditions for flight are displayed.   Click Here to find out about them.

Plus---

3.   Read the short version: An American History of Slavery Timeline


4.   Review The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850--  A federal law that demands that runaway slaves be returned from the north, and no aid be given to them.  Jail time and a $1,000 fine could occur by persons breaking this law.

5.   Songs used by slaves to communicate to each other.  Very few could read & write, and it would be very dangerous to use written notes, so .......A song like "Follow the Drinking Gourd" was used to provide secret messages on how to travel on the railroad.  Songs slaves sang often had double meanings. Since slaves were forbidden to read and write, they had to communicate in ways that would not be obvious to their slave owners. One way was through song. (In tribal cultures of Africa, songs were often used to  transmit  information and therefore historians tell us that slaves used this same method when captured and enslaved in America.  Have students listen to and/or read the lyrics to the song Follow the Drinking Gourd and then challenge them to crack its code. (Historians know that the lyrics secretly identified landmarks and constellations to guide slaves along the trail to freedom. A “drinking gourd” described the Big Dipper constellation and its North Star, since slaves were familiar with carved gourds which they used to scoop water from buckets to get a drink.)

6.  Study the lyrics of "Follow the Drinking Guard."   Teachers can find lyric meanings at the NASA Quest Archives.

7.  Visit the 20th Century Declaration of Human Rights, from the United Nations.  Think about our American "Declaration of Independence."  How do they compare?


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