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Long and Short-Term Causes of Secession

  • Abolitionist John Brown is Hanged

    Short-term cause: John Brown was hanged in Virginia after he tried to incite a slave revolt. Brown advocated for armed insurrection to overthrow the slavery system and he also foreshadow the Civil War in a note he wrote before his death that said, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” Brown's actions and those of other abolitionists threatened the slavery system and those governing the South.
  • Abolitionist John Brown is Hanged

    Short-term: Radical abolitionist John Brown was hanged in Charles Town, Virginia for attempting to incite a slave revolt.
  • Democratic Party of Alabama Calls for a Law to Protect Slavery

    Short-Term Cause: The Democratic Party in Alabama adopted a resolution which instructed their delegates to a convention in Charleston to insist on a clause that protects slavery in their territories and to withdraw if it is rejected.
  • Democratic Party of Alabama adopts a resolution

    The Democratic Party of Alabama adopts a resolution which instructs the state’s delegates to the Convention in Charleston to “insist” on a clause in the national platform calling for a law to protect slavery in the territories. Moreover, the delegates are instructed to withdraw from the convention if such a clause is rejected.
  • Senator Jefferson Davis from Mississippi Introduces Resolutions to Protect Slavery

    Senator Jefferson Davis introduced resolutions in the House which called for a federal code to protect slavery in their territories. The resolutions were passed by the Democratic caucus, which divided the party even further along sectional lines.
  • Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis Introduces Resolutions to Protect Slavery

    Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis introduced resolutions in the House that called for a federal code protecting slavery in the territories. The resolutions were passed by the Senate Democratic caucus and thus divided further the party along sectional lines.
  • Abraham Lincoln Delivered the Cooper Union Address in NYC

    Lincoln's address presented a convincing case on the Founding Fathers’ objections to the spread of slavery. The speech was widely printed in northern newspapers and enabled Lincoln to secure his party’s presidential nomination.
  • Lincoln's Cooper Union Address in NYC

    Abraham Lincoln delivered his Cooper Union Address in NYC, which presented a convincing case on the original objections to the spread of slavery. The speech was printed in northern newspapers and helped Lincoln secure his party’s nomination.
  • 50 Democratic delegates storm out of Institute Hall in Charleston, SC

    50 southern delegates of the Democratic national convention stormed out of Institute Hall in Charleston, SC in order to protest the party’s unwillingness to endorse a federal code protecting slavery in the territories.
  • 50 Democratic Delegates Storm Out of Institute Hall in SC

    Short-term: Fifty southern delegates of the Democratic national convention stormed out of Institute Hall in Charleston, SC to object to their party’s resistance to endorse a federal code protecting slavery in the territories.
  • Republican Convention in Chicago

    The Republican convention opens in Chicago. William Seward emerges early as the party’s strongest presidential candidate, but is defeated by Abraham Lincoln on the third ballot. Lincoln has fewer enemies within the Republican ranks and is viewed by most members as a political moderate. The party platform calls for a higher tariff, a ban on slavery in the territories, federal money for internal improvement projects, and a homestead act.
  • Republican Convention in Chicago

    The Republican convention opened in Chicago. William Seward was the party’s strongest presidential candidate, until he was defeated by Abraham Lincoln on the third ballot. Lincoln had fewer enemies within the Republican standings and was a moderate. The party called for higher tariffs, a ban on slavery, federal money for internal projects, and a homestead act.
  • Democratic Convention in Baltimore

    At the convention anti-Douglas delegates from VA, NC, TN, MD, CA, OR, KY, MO, and AR withdraw from the meeting to protest the assembly’s decision to seat newly-elected, pro-Douglas state delegations. Stephen A. Douglas is nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate by the remaining delegates. However, the disgruntled delegates assembled a competing convention which nominated John Breckinridge, a federal slave code supporter. The Democratic Party is split into two sectional factions.
  • Democratic Convention in Baltimore

    Anti-Douglas delegates from VA, NC, TN, MD, CA, OR, KY, MO, and AR withdrew from the convention to protest the decision to seat pro-Douglas state delegations. Stephen A. Douglas was nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate by the remaining delegates. However, the agitated delegates assembled a convention and nominated John Breckinridge, a federal slave code supporter, for president. The Democratic Party was then split into two sectional factions.
  • Stephen Douglass Speaks to the Virginians

    From the steps of Norfolk’s City Hall, presidential candidate Stephen Douglas tells a crowd of seven thousand Virginians that he believes Lincoln’s election would not be a just cause for secession and that the federal government has the right to use force in order to preserve the Union.
  • Stephen Douglass Speaks to the Virginians

    Presidential candidate Stephen Douglas told Virginians that he believed Lincoln’s election would not be a just cause for secession and that the federal government had the right to use force in order to preserve the Union.
  • Wide-Awake Parade

    A massive “Wide-Awake” torchlight parade takes place in New York City. The Wide-Awakes were young Republicans who staged theatrical nighttime rallies during the campaign of 1860 to show their support for Lincoln’s candidacy.
  • Wide-Awake Parade in NYC

    Short-term:A Wide-Awake parade took place in NYC. The Republicans who staged the nighttime rally were showing their support for Lincoln’s candidacy.
  • Election of Lincoln as President

    Americans go the polls and elect Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth president of the United States. Lincoln receives 1,866,452 popular votes and 180 electoral votes from 17 of the 33 states. Not a single slave state endorses Lincoln. Stephen Douglas receives 1,376,957 popular votes and 12 electoral votes; John Breckinridge receives 849, 781 popular votes and 72 electoral votes; and John Bell receives 588, 879 popular votes and 39 electoral votes.
  • Election of Lincoln as President

    Long-term: Abraham Lincoln was elected as president of the United States. Not one slave state endorsed Lincoln. Lincoln's election pushed the South further away from the Union and set-up the beginning of succession and eventually the Civil War.
  • James Buchanan convenes a cabinet meeting

    Lame duck president James Buchanan convenes a cabinet meeting to discuss the national crisis that has been unleashed in the wake of Lincoln’s election. Like the country as a whole, his advisors are split over the issue of secession. Buchanan proposes a convention of the states with the object of hammering out a compromise.
  • James Buchanan Convened a Cabinet Meeting

    President Buchanan convened a cabinet meeting to discuss the crisis that was unleashed after Lincoln’s election. His advisors were split over the issue of secession. Buchanan suggested a convention where the states could create a compromise.
  • Both SC Senators Resign

    Both of South Carolina’s senators, James Chesnut, Jr. and James H. Hammond, resigned their seats. South Carolina legislature ordered a convention to meet in Columbia on December 17 to decide whether or not the state should remain in the Union.
  • SC Legislature Authorize the Raising of 10,000 Men

    Short-term: The SC legislature authorized the raising of 10,000 men for the state’s defense. This led to other states such as Georgia to raise their own arms and men.
  • Georgia Legislature Authorized $1 million for Weapons Purchases

    Short-term: The Georgia legislature authorized $1 million dollars for weapons purchases. This displayed the Souths intent to raise arms to defend themselves if necessary.
  • President Buchanan's State of the Union Speech

    President Buchanan's State of the Union speech tried to appease both northerners and southerners. He viewed secession as a consequence of the interference of the Northerners with the question of slavery and he urged them to respect the rights of the southern states. However, Buchanan condemned secession and signaled his intent to defend any federal forts in the South that came under attack. Both the North and the South were displeased with the address.
  • The Creation of a Southern Confederacy

    Short-term: 23 House representatives and 7 Senators from the South made a public announcement that called for the creation of a Southern Confederacy.
  • SC’s Secession Convention

    Short-term: SC’s secession convention opened in Columbia. It took three days for the delegates to vote and reach a decision to secede from the Union.
  • SC Secedes from the Union

    Short-term event with Long-term Effects: South Carolina delegates voted 169 to 0 to leave the Union. This news stunned President Buchanan. SC's decision strengthened secessionists movements in other southern states. Within the next 6 months the rest of the Southern states would secede.
  • South Carolinians seized the Federal Weaponry at Charleston

    Short-term: South Carolinians were able to seize the federal arsenal in Charleston. This made Fort Sumter the last property in the state controlled by the United States government.
  • Last Southerner in the President's Cabinet Resigns

    Short-term: President Buchanan sent a message to Congress that endorsed Senator John Crittenden’s proposal to resurrect the old Missouri Compromise line. Moreover, the last southerner in President Buchanan's cabinet, Secretary of the Interior, Jacob Thompson, MS, resigned.