Abraham Lincoln won the presidency in the election of 1860, defeating three other candidates, including two Democrats, with nearly forty percent of the popular vote and an absolute majority in the Electoral College. Democrats had split into two factions. Northern Democrats, headed by Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas (who had defeated Lincoln in the Senate election two years earlier) held that the question of admitting slavery into the western territories should be answered by referendum in each territory. Southern Democrats, headed by Senator John J. Breckinridge of Kentucky, upheld the claim most famously enunciated decades earlier by Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina–namely, that property in slaves is an unalienable right, that slavery was “a positive good” for both white masters and black slaves, and that slave owners therefore could keep their slaves wherever in the territories they pleased. Popular sovereignty might not protect, and surely did not posit a natural or absolute legal right to slave property, and could never satisfy the slave owners. Although Douglas won the nomination of the regular Democratic organization, he won only a single state in the national election: Missouri. The southern Democrats (who had `seceded’ from the party’s convention before the final vote was taken) won ten states, all of them by overwhelming margins. Read more
On December 20, 1860 South Carolina became the first state to declare that it had seceded from the Federal union. Many modern historical revisionists will try to explain away slavery’s role in the secessionist movement and the civil war, that followed. For these individuals it is critical that the conflicts that led to the Civil War involve issues such as tariffs and other domestic policies over which reasonable men might disagree.
Curiously the South Carolina Declaration fails to mention these issues. Read more
In December 1860, South Carolina announced its departure from the United States of America, citing Abraham Lincoln’s election as a primary cause. Six states quickly followed South Carolina’s lead, and on February 4, 1861, they banded together to form the Confederate States of America.
December 24, 1860 Read more