Back to the Interactive Road to Civil War Timeline



       Several days after Lincoln's election, South Carolina began discussing the idea of secession.  Secession means to leave the union or to withdraw from the United States to start their own country.  On December 20, 1860, the South Carolina legislature chose to

(Click here to hear a southern newspaper account of secession)

"resume her position among the nations of the world" as the delegates announced and seceded from the United States.  By February 1, 1861 six other states including: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana had followed South Carolina's example and also seceded from the union.  A week later these states meet in Montgomery Alabama to form a new government and a new nation they called The Confederate States of America.  Soon Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and even Virginia would secede from the union and join the Confederacy.  President Buchanan did nothing.

     No simple explanation is possible as to explain why southerners were willing to wreck the union their grandfathers worked so hard to put together.  Lincoln had assured the south that he would not attempt to abolish slavery were it already existed.  The Supreme Court had made slavery constitutional after the Dred Scott Decision.  Only a Constitutional amendment could have made slavery illegal and getting one would have required 3/4's of the states to agree on the issue which was an unlikely occurrence at the time.  Slavery was safer than it had ever been, but still a church bell in Charlestown rang out in honor of each seceding state.  The United States was no longer united.

Click below to hear the Charlestown Mercury's account of the Session Crisis:

"The tea has been thrown overboard.  The Revolution of 1860 has been initiated."