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Posted at 9:35 AM ET, 02/22/2011

John Marszalek: Why did South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas choose to secede?

By John Marszalek

Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of history at Mississippi State University


There is little debate among historians over why southern states seceded from the United States in late 1860 and early 1861. Yet letters to the editor in 21st century newspapers throughout the nation, in a variety of popular magazines, in reputable and non-reputable publications of Neo-Confederate, heritage, white supremacy, and local historical groups, and in on-line blogs often continue to refuse to acknowledge obvious fact. The documentary support for the assertion that the major reason that the South seceded was slavery is as solid as any data presented to support any accepted historical reality. It is based on the most primary of primary sources, the reasons given by the seceding states themselves. These justifications are readily available today in printed and on-line sources.

South Carolina, the first state to secede, began its rationale by discussing how the Union had been formed and then quoted the 4th article of the Constitution concerning the return of fugitive slaves. It then pointed out how northern states were violating that article. When the Republican party would come to office in March 1861, South Carolinians insisted, a war would “be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.” here was, therefore, no choice but to secede.

Alabama lamented the election of Lincoln and “a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions” of the state. Georgia based its reason for secession by presenting “a brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed.“ The rise of Republicans to power “will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia” to secede. Texas similarly blamed “an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery.”

Perhaps the Mississippi secession convention put it most forthrightly in sentences at the beginning and end of its statement: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” “We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of dollars, or we must secede from the Union.”

By John Marszalek  | February 22, 2011; 9:35 AM ET
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#1 - Okay, then why was Andrew Jackson able to stop S. Carolina from the "nullification" attempt to seceed?

#2 - Why did The People of The South,
95% of which never owned a slave, go to war?

Take a breath usual what the landed gentry uses as an official reason has little or nothing to do with why volunteers came running. Try this - Lincoln invaded Virginia - the fount of American liberties.

Take a walk outside academia once in awhile, it will help balance your perspective.

While you're at it, explain to me why we invaded Vietnam, I had skin in that one.

Posted by: BluePelican | February 22, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Okay everyone in America, turn on your brains!


The easiest way to prove this point is to "check the record." That is, check any source that lists the 50 United States along with their "date of admission" into the Union. Holy Toledo! EVERY STATE HAS ONLY ONE DATE OF ADMISSION!!

You don't even have to consider the facts that (1) trying to leave the Union or destroy the U.S. Government would be unlawful, and considered a traitorous act, or (2) if any of the states had left the Union, then been re-admitted, those states would have two (or more?) dates of admission. Or, a "date of admission" followed by a "date of re-admission."

The reason our Constitution has no provision for leaving the Union is because, once you're in, you're in for good. No government -- in the entire history of the world -- has ever been created with a "how to get out of this government whenever you feel like it" clause!

Brains on, yet?

Posted by: Spaboy | February 23, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Great article, It baffles my mind how people in 2011 still don’t get the obvious, the civil war was about slavery!!!!!
BluePelican wake up!!!

Posted by: persingerce | February 24, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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