The South Secedes

Following the election of Lincoln, the events moved very quickly. South Carolina acted first, calling for a convention to secede from the Union. Conventions were held in each state and the confederacy was formed.

Within three months of Lincoln’s election, seven states had seceded from the union. As Springfield, Illinois celebrated the election of its favorite son to the Presidency on November 7, so did Charleston, South Carolina, which did not cast a single vote for him. It knew that the election meant the formation of a new nation.

Within a few days, the two United States Senators from South Carolina submitted their resignations. On December 20, 1860 by a vote of 169-0, the South Carolina legislature enacted an ordinance that “the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of ‘The United States of America,’ is hereby dissolved. “

The action in South Carolina resulted in conventions in other southern states; Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas all left the Union by February 1. On February 4, delegates from all these states except Texas met in Montgomery, Alabama to create a government called the Confederate States of America and elected President Jefferson Davis.

In an effort to end the crisis, on March 2, 1861, two days before Lincoln's inauguration, the 36th Congress passed the Corwin Amendment and submitted it to the states for ratification as an Amendment to the Constitution. The proposed amendment was designed to reassure the seceding slave states that the federal government would not interfere with their "peculiar institution." If it had passed, it would have rendered unconstitutional any subsequent amendments restricting slavery. The Corwin Amendment failed to get the required approval of ¾ of all state legislatures.

What was the President doing during all this furor? Abraham Lincoln would not be inaugurated until March 4. Both regions awaited the arrival of President Lincoln and wondered anxiously what he would do.

Source: The South Secedes
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