Why South Carolina Was the First Southern State to Leave the Union

8 02 2011

The New York Times is live blogging the Civil War, albeit with a 150 year delay. In effect, the paper is carrying stories about key events in the conflict 150 years to the day after they happened. The blog posts are rich in images and material drawn from the paper’s archives. (The NYT was established in 1851). They also include insights from academic historians.

150 years ago this week, the actual Civil War had not yet broken out: the United States was still in a political crisis caused by the secession of the Southern States. Lincoln, who was President elect, had not yet assumed office. Nobody was clear about what he would do once he took the reins of power.

South Carolina was the first southern state to secede from the union. Its declaration of independence triggered a wave of secession votes throughout the Deep South. On Sunday, the NYT’s Disunion blog carried an essay by Manisha Sinha explaining why this particular state took the lead. Sinha is an associate professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the author of “The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina.” She is writing a history of abolition.




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