|Fort Sumpter. Source.|
|Major Anderson, commander of the fort|
|Fort Sumpter. Source.|
|Major Anderson, commander of the fort|
We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.You may recognize that they are using the exact same language that the founders used in the Declaration of Independence. They were pointing back the the War for Independence and claimed that they had the right to do the same thing in 1860.
|A Slave Ship|
The clause too, reprobating the enslaving [of] the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures; for tho' their people have very few slaves themselves yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.1By 1808 several more states had outlawed the slave trade and Congress outlawed it on January 1st, the earliest date that it was permitted to by the Constitution. When the Southern States left the Union and formed the Confederacy, not only did they not try to reestablish the slave trade, it was actually outlawed in the Confederate Constitution. They did not want to be associated with what they considered the evil practice of the slave trade.
To our Constituents: The argument is exhausted. All hope of relief in the Union, through the agency of committees, Congressional legislation, or constitutional amendments, is extinguished, and we trust the South will not be deceived by appearances or the pretence of new guarantees. The Republicans are resolute in the purpose to grant nothing that will or ought to satisfy the South. We are satisfied the honor, safety, and independence of the Southern people are to be found only in a Southern Confederacy —a result to be obtained only by separate State secession—and that the sole and primary aim of each slaveholding State ought to be its speedy and absolute separation from an unnatural and hostile Union.1The convention convened on December 17th and on the first day passed a unanimous resolution to secede. On December 20th, 1860, 150 years ago today, they again unanimously passed the Ordinance of Secession which was their official statement that they were seceding from the Union and becoming independent states. A few days later they wrote a document which declared their reasons for separation, which we will discuss at that time.
|John J. Crittenden|
|The green line marks the proposed barrier between free and slave states|
|Abraham Lincoln as a candidate for President|
The Crittenden Compromise was referred to the Senate committee of thirteen. Lincoln, the president-elect, sent out letters to try to get the compromise rejected. This is what he wrote to E. B. Washburne regarding the compromise:
Prevent as far as possible, any of our friends from demoralizing themselves and our cause by entertaining propositions for compromise of any sort on ‘slavery extension.’ There is no possible compromise upon it but which puts us under again and leaves all our work to do over again. … On that point hold firm, as with a chain of steel.1
Lincoln was successful and all five Republicans voted against it. Jefferson Davis and another member agreed since the compromise was worthless if the Republicans did not agree.
‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as South.3In another speech he said “I think Slavery is wrong, morally, and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union.”4 Lincoln threw away his chance to save the Union because he believed that slavery needed to be removed from the United States.
They have impoverished the slave-holding States by unequal and partial legislation, thereby enriching themselves by draining our substance.1The roots of the economic disagreements went all the way back to the United States Constitution. In the writing of the Constitution the founders had to consider how to raise money for the federal government. Rather than modern taxes such as the income tax, they chose only two, the head tax and the tariff.2 A tariff is a tax on imports or exports. The federal government was not intended to have any jurisdiction inside a state. It was only allowed to regulate commerce that crossed state borders. Therefore it was only given the right to tax goods that crossed the national border. The problem with a tariff is that the government can easily use it to give advantages or punishments to particular industries or states. The Constitution specifically forbade different tariff rates for different states,3 but as we will see it still can be unfair even while charging the same rate.
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.1However, as we will see through the next few weeks, Lincoln frequently lied. He did have a chance to save the Union and preserve slavery, but he rejected it. But most of the Northern soldiers were fighting to preserve the Union, not to end slavery.
John Brown was encouraged to raid Harper's Ferry by the "Secret Six", a group of six prominent Bostonians who were abolitionists and Unitarians. The raid was not a very smart idea. He had 21 men, 16 white and 5 black. He chose Harper's Ferry because at that time it was a large arsenal and weapon factory where about 100,000 guns were stored. His plan was to get the weapons and leave, and then he excepted the slaves to flock to him from their plantations. First of all, he did not have any way to transport the 100,000 weapons. Secondly, if the slaves did come to him, it would just be a mob. Brown had never commanded more than 30 men, and the slaves probably did not know how to use the weapons. It would have been a bigger disaster than it was.
The actual raid went well to start with. He captured the arsenal, but then he made a big mistake by not leaving at once. The militia of the area gathered and attacked him. He ended up trapped in the fire engine house with only four men. The next day Col. Robert E. Lee and Lt. Jeb Stuart came up from Washington with 88 marines, and stormed the engine house at the point of the bayonet and captured it. John Brown and his men were tried for murder and slave insurrection and were convicted. They were hung on December 2nd. There is much interesting history about the raid which I studied before we went to the Shenandoah Valley.
Last year we took a tour to Harper's Ferry and it was great to see what actually happened there. Much of the town is the same as it was then, and it is a very nice location.
Here is a short video clip from our VAlley Tour:
To view in HD click here.