Monday, December 20, 2010

South Carolina Secedes

Secession Convention
As soon as South Carolina heard of the election of the Republican anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln, the General Assembly of South Carolina called for the election of delegates to a Convention to consider secession from the Union. While the convention was gathering, a group of Southern Senators and Representatives wrote this:
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.1
The 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.

At this point the question for the North was whether or not the South had a Constitutional right to secede. It had been threatened by several states North and South previously, but now one had actually tried it. Would they allow South Carolina to leave the Union peaceably or would they use force to attempt to bring them back?

1. The Century May 1887 – October 1887 (New York: The Century Co, 1887) p. 829. Source.


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