It Will Not Be A Peaceful Secession

Wednesday, November 14, 1860

As times went on, the pull for secession increased. This is especially true in Charleston. On the 14th, The Philadelphia Pennsylvanian sent a series of telegraphs from the seaboard city to its base in Philly.

The feeling of secession grows stronger. Many openly express the fear that Alabama or Georgia will secede before South Carolina holds her Convention, and thus rob her of her long-coveted glory. Some even express the hope that it will not be a peaceful secession, but desire blood to be spilt to cement it forever.

It was also relayed that a fully grown palmetto tree (a long-time symbol of South Carolina and now of secession) was somehow transplanted to Broad Street. On Meeting Street, a large Liberty Pole was raised. “A large number of banners, bearing the device of a Palmetto tree, with a lone star, have been hung out in various parts of the city during the day.”

Some of the reports seemed a bit more serious: “The firemen in this city, who number about fifteen hundred, have organized themselves into military companies, and drill nightly.”

At the urging of the citizens of Charleston, the mayor detached a company of the Washington Light Infantry (a state militia unit) to guard the arsenal, which housed a large quantity of arms. The intent was to guard against the secession mob arming themselves, but there was also a report of an “unsuccessful attempt … made to-day by troops to remove the government arms from the arsenal in the city to Fort Moultrie.”

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In Milledgeville, Georgia, United States senator, Alexander Stephens gave a speech of his own – a reply to Robert Toombs speech made the day before. He stated that though Lincoln would “subvert the constitution,” the south must not rush to secession. “Shall the people of the South secede from the Union…? My countrymen, I tell you frankly, candidly, and earnestly, that I do not think that they ought.” Though any state had the right to leave the Union, he hoped that it would not come to such a thing.

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4 thoughts on “It Will Not Be A Peaceful Secession

  1. Any discussion of the secession and Lincoln’s election should mention the obvious and admitted attitude by the South generally.

    According to Edward Pollard, the editor of a Richmond newspaper, and authoer of the 1866 book “Southern History of the Civil War” — the South had promised — promised! — the North that if they dared to election Lincoln, the South would take this as “a declaration of war.”

    Pollard was not admitting this, he was bragging about it.

    Why would the South be so seething with hate? Lincoln was bending over backwards to assure the slave owning states that he was not inclined, or able, or willing, to do anything about slavery where it existed. So why was the hatred so extreme, that according to SOUTHERN historians, they vowed war if Lincoln was elected?

    Simple. The South had stopped free speech decades earlier. So almost no one in the South had any clue what Lincoln was about — other than the insane venomous attacks made by Southern newspapers. Read the newspapers of the South before the Civil War, read the rhetoric of Southern leaders.

    They shouted from the rooftops that Lincoln was going to force their children to sleep with negroes. They had every southern citizen who depended on the newspaper for their reality, thinking Lincoln was out to “burn them to death slowly” according to the governor of Florida.

    Lincoln, of course, was not even allowed to campaign in the South. It was illegal, from 1820’s on, to even preach against slavery in the South, or even own a book which QUESTIONED slavery. Lincoln was not allowed on the ballot in 9 Southern states, and the states where he was allowed on the ballot, they simply didn’t count his votes, such as in Virginia. We forget today, but the big reason West Virginia broke away was NOT slavery — but the incessant dishonesty and fraud by Virginia in elections. With the election of 1860, the people in West Virginia had just had enough of the rampant dishonesty in elections.

    SO even BEFORE the election, the South promised war. They stopped real elections anyway, but Lincoln won none the less. Even the South’s cheating and violent suppression of free speech could not stop the people from voting for Llincon.

    In fact, Hiton Helper wrote that IF the South had allowed real elections (which they did not) and IF the South allowed free speech (which they did not) the slave owners would have been kicked out of power. The main reason the South stopped free speech and real elections is that those in power — slavers –intended to stay in power. If free speech got in the way — free speech had to go. If real elections got in the way – real elections had to go.

    It’s hard to tell if secession would have been voted in, had there been real free speech, and free and honest elections. You can debate that for 150 years. By 1861, however, the polarization and distortion was so vile, so complete, that people in the South were brainwashed to hate anything North. The personal antimosity by Southern leaders against the North was extreme.

    But — its almost certain that if, from 1820 on, free speech and free press and freedom of religion had been the rule in the South — slavery would have vanished by itself. The only way slavery could continue, is if opposition to it was suppressed. Debow bragged in 1847 that “opposition to slavery has been silenced by the Holy Word of God Almighty”.

    Not really. The laws that provided for the torture of those who owned the wrong book, or had the wrong pamphlet, or gave the wrong sermon, THAT is what silenced opposition to slavery.

    If you don’t know about the 40 year suppression of free speech, the mockery of free elections, the torture to men who dared owned books the government didnt like — you don’t know the South.

    Learn what really happened. Then take another look at the Civil War.

    1. I tend to agree with most of these points here. I’ve done a bit of reading about the South in the decades leading up to the war. It seems more of a social fascism which got much more radical as the younger Southerners got a bit nostalgic for the early 1800s.

      Anyway, this is all well and good, but there’s hardly a need to come off so condescending. This was a shortish post about one single day after the election. While I welcome any and all discussion and realize that even a single moment of a single day can spin off years of debate, simmer down a bit, please.

      -Eric

      1. It is interesting how passionate some people can be about something that happened so long ago. It is apparent to me that you are doing your best to present the events leading up to the Civil War as even handedly as possible in brief. And yet somebody with a serious act to grind can jump in and suggest that unless one thoroughly abuses the reputation of the south the discussion is incomplete…

        So far I like your efforts. Thanks! =)

        1. Thanks! That means quite a lot.

          In the coming months, we’ll see things pick up and get much more complicated. These short posts will largely be a thing of the past. Hopefully people will be able to trudge through some deeper snow when the time comes.

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