On December 20, 1860 South Carolina delegates to a special secession convention voted unanimously to secede from the United States of America. In November, Abraham Lincoln had been elected President of the United States with little support from the southern states. The critical significance of this election was expressed in South Carolina’s Declaration of the Immediate Causes of Secession: “A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all states north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of president of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.” The Declaration claimed that secession was justified because the Federal government had violated the constitutional compact by encroaching upon the rights of the sovereign states. As the primary violation, the Declaration listed the failure of 14 northern states to enforce the Federal Fugitive Slave Act or to restrict the actions of antislavery organizations. “Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.” The Declaration expressed South Carolina’s fear that “The slaveholding states will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.”
What brought the people of the United States to a point where talking had ceased which eventually led to war? Was war the only option? Join us in the history section to learn about the many events and policies that led America to split in 1861 at Fort Sumter.
Did You Know?
Fort Moultrie is the only unit of the National Park System where the entire 171-year history of American seacoast defense (1776-1947) can be traced. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC