Secessionmarks a definitive time in American history and would ultimately leadto a war that would cost the lives of more Americans than all ourwars combined. You must be either a Unionist in favor of keeping theUnited States whole or a Secessionist t…
Secessionrefers to a period in American history when eleven states of theSouth severed ties with the other states of the Union that formed theUnited States. This occurred between 1860 and 1861. The election ofPresident Abraham Lincoln was not received well by the Southernstates. Since Lincoln came from the North which was opposed toslavery, he was seen as a threat to the slavery activities of thesestates. The secession was one of the major causes of the AmericanCivil War (1861-1865). This war pitted Unionists againstSecessionists. While the Unionists favored keeping the United Stateswhole, the Secessionists supported separation.
Thispaper discusses how secession was a definitive time in Americanhistory and how it led to a civil war that cost lives of manyAmericans than all other wars put together. The paper examines howthe war highlighted differences between the Unionists andSecessionists.
Secessionand the American Civil War
Asantislavery sentiments grew stronger in the states of the Northduring the 1840s, the Southern States threatened to move out of theUnion. The Compromise of 1850 played a crucial role in easing thistension (Navarro 167). However, the idea of secession dominated thepublic debate throughout the 1850s. It is during this period that theRepublican Party emerged. This party supported the abolitionism andit was popular among the Northerners who were against slavery. Theelection of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 as the RepublicanParty’s first President threatened the Southerners (Anderson 106).They were convinced that the new president would interfere with theirslavery activities that were important to their economy. In order toavoid these, the Southern states decided to secede. South Carolinawas the first state to move out of the Union on December 20, 1860. Itwas closely followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia,Louisiana, and Texas (Risley 35). Since the Southerners supported theidea of breaking away from the Union, they came to be known as theSecessionists. The Northerners were referred to as the Unionistssince they favored the Union.
Asthe Southerners insisted that they had the right to legally leave theunion, the Northerners swore to prevent this. This matter had to bedecided through a war. The American Civil War broke out on April 12,1861 when the armies of the Southern States opened fire against theprovisions sent by President Lincoln to Fort Sumter. The beginning ofthe civil war forced the upper Southern states (Virginia, Arkansas,North Carolina, and Tennessee) to secede since they had to decidewhether to leave the Union or remain in it (Anderson 109). Thesestates joined the other Southern states that had seceded earlier onto form an alliance known as the Confederate States of America. TheAmerican Civil War was basically a war between the Unionists andConfederates. This war remains to be the bloodiest kind of war thatthe United States has experienced in the history of its existence.The civil war led to the death of about 700,000 soldiers and morethan 50,000 civilians (Risley 124). Infrastructure and other valuableproperties were also destroyed. The American Civil War ended in 1865.The Confederate armies surrendered and the Confederate governmentcollapsed.
Beingone of the main causes of the American Civil War, the secession isone of the most important periods in the history of the UnitedStates. The eleven Southern States were alarmed by the election ofPresident Lincoln. They felt that being a member of the RepublicanParty which supported the abolitionist movement, Lincoln would endtheir slave activities. That is why they decided to leave the Union.On their part, the Northern States felt that the Union was importantfor the unity of the American states. This disagreement is what ledto the bloody American Civil War that consumed the lives of thousandsof soldiers and civilians. The Southern states lost heavily and theirdream of leaving the Union never became true.
Anderson,Lawrence M. Federalism,Secessionism, and the American State.London: Routledge, 2013.
Navarro,Bob. TheCountry in Conflict: Executives and Events During the American CivilWar.Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2008. Print.
Risley,Ford. TheCivil War: Primary documents on events from 1860 to 1865.Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2004.