Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 12/13/2010

John Marszalek: What motivated South Carolina to secede so quickly?

By John Marszalek

Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of history at Mississippi State University
Marszalek

Over the years there has been a good deal of writing on secession and the coming of the war, and South Carolina, which went first, always receives particular interest. I continue to believe, however, that the best analysis of South Carolina secession remains an older but still classic publication: Steven Channing's, "Crisis of Fear in South Carolina" (1970).

The title gives insight into the thesis, but one must read the entire book to understand the subtlety and thoroughness of Channing's argument. It was fear about the future of slavery that drove South Carolina to leave the Union.

In a brief statement of Channing's argument: South Carolina feared what the newly organized Republican Party under new president Abraham Lincoln would mean to them. Lincoln said in his first inaugural that he would not touch slavery where it already existed, as in South Carolina, but that he would not allow it to expand into the new territories. In other words, slavery could only exist where it already did. However, South Carolinians feared slavery insurrection and what that would do to their white society. If slavery could not expand into the new territories, not only would land within the state soon be depleted, but blacks would come to outnumber whites by such a huge number that they would rise up and take over, egged on by the militant abolitionists.Thus, in order to protect themselves from such possibilities, to deal with such fears, South Carolina had to secede for self protection right away. Time was running out.

By John Marszalek  | December 13, 2010; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Views  | Tags:  John Marszalek  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tweeting the War: Showdown in Charleston
Next: Lonnie Bunch: What motivated South Carolina to secede so quickly?

Comments

Lincoln stayed at the Crenshaw house while campaigning. In Equality, Illinois, Saline County. Hickory Hill as it was called was a slave house. He danced while slaves were in breeding rooms a floor above. Lincoln got into politics to create new river routes and he is the only president with a patent, to raise grounded riverboats and get them flowing again, up North. First thing he brought back into the union was the Mississippi. Slavery was in ALL the states. Difference was you could own them in the South. You had to lease them in the North. Industries used indentured servants. The South wanted a slave empire. If they had a guaranty of a free flowing Mississippi, the war would not have been fought. It was fear of a Southern empire, in the North, and a fear of slavery being squeezed in the South. Greed then as greed now rules. Now we have young black men walking around in Nike caps. I don't know why they don't just put on white hoods. Means the same thing. No one minds slave labor today. Why would anyone really care then? The old South on average takes in about 1.50 for every dollar they pay in taxes. The South loves Federalism. Yells small government, practices a big overbearing plutocracy sucking in pork as fast as they can. We still are so self centered we don't see our own hypocrisy. Not much has changed in 150 years. Next time, let them go. It will cut down on the debt and we can fly our goods in.

Posted by: GriffBennett | December 20, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company