There were many causes of secession, such as the raid on Harper's Ferry to end slavery or the North's opposition to the Southern ways of legitimizing slavery, but the event that really threw the states' conflict over the point of no return was the election of President Abraham Lincoln in 1860. His views disturbed the south as he stated that he did not want to abolish slavery where it already stood, yet at the same time as mentioned in his 1858 "House Divided" speech he wanted to set the publics mind on the fact that slavery was on "the course of ultimate extinction". The South realized that their own government was going to take away their right to their businesses and economy. Then an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence would decide the South's future. It stated, "That to secure these rights, governments are in
First Confederate National Flag with Seven Stars to Represent the First Seven States to Secede From the Nation
stituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." On these terms laid down by Thomas Jefferson almost a century before the South seceded, the South decided to leave the Untied States government behind and create their own nation with its own government; they made the Confederate States of America. And so on Dec. 20, 1860, South Carolina was the first to secede, swiftly followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, with four other states still on the fence about seceding. After the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861, and the North's surrender of the fort, there was no question which way the straddling states would go. With that southern victory, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee left the Union and joined on with the Confederate States of America. With those eleven states in the Confederacy and Lincoln determined not to allow them to secede, a very bloody battle would ensue, that changed the course of American history forever.

An animated map of the United States and the CSA from 1860 - 1870 (Grey=Confederate States, Dark Blue=Union States, Light Blue=United States Territories


The North saw southern secession as an irrational and distasteful reaction to the recent election of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, as well as a childish response to Republican and Northern anti-slayer agenda. Additionally, many northerners, including President Lincoln, felt that Union had to wage war in order to reclaim the states lost and prevent the further disintegration of the Union. Even President Buchanan felt that there was no reason for southern secession due to the Dred Scott ruling and the Union was "intended to be perpetual." The Upper South’s economic allegiances were more inclined to lay with the North. However, whether or not the states of the Deep South were to follow South Carolina or not was of deep concern. Furthermore, there existed a very real fear in the North that outside powers in Europe, such as England or France, would recognize the newly formed Confederacy as it’s own nation, and subsequently provide economic, militaristic, and otherwise aid to the rebellious coalition.


Contrary to northern opinions, the South saw secession as an opportunity. It was a way out of an oppressive and abusive relationship with the harsh and inconsiderate North. The North was trying to inhibit their livelihood by destroying their right to property, and had taken control over a government that would not even stop to consider the effects its sectionalist laws had on the South. Also, Lincoln, who received not a single electoral vote below the Mason Dixon line, was to stop the spread of slavery in its tracks. This impediment of a prosperous asset to would (according to the secessionist southerner) segue into a complete ban on slavery. Because of the events that had perspired, southerners were very sensitive to criticisms of why they were in such a state of discontinuity. They were left to defend their actions with talk of natural black subservience, economic instability that would result from bans on slavery, sectionalist policies of the North and states rights. Essentially, the view of secession was all around favorable to the average southerner. It was a way to opt out of a tyrannical northern reign and opened many paths to the newly born nation that was the CSA.


We ranked the southern secession of 1860 a five, as it was quite possibly the most divisive occurrence that lead to the Civil War. It completely divided the slave and free states, as well as forced the North into a “do or die” situation. It was war or destruction, and the North chose war.


1. An anthem of the CSA! (With lyrics:
2. The unofficial CSA anthem, " I Wish I Was in Dixie"

"American Civil War." Wikipedia. 18 May 2009. 18 May 2009
Ayers, Edward L. "The First Wave of Secession." The Valley Project. 2001.
"Secession." ThinkQuest. 2002. Novi Meadows Elementary. 18 May 2009
"Why Did the South Secede In 1860?." 18 May 2009