"Why A Lincoln Presidency Meant War"


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This presentation covers the 1860 election, the secession winter, and the Firing on Fort Sumter to illuminate the history leading up to the beginning of the Civil War. It is the fifth in a series of textbook/lecture substitutes designed for students in a college seminar on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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  • http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/geography/slave_census_1860.htm. Date accessed: 6/4/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/11/map-of-the-last-u-s-slave-census-1860/. Date accessed: 6/4/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661605/. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/war-in-the-cabinet/. Date accessed: 7/9/2012.
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://www.emersonkent.com/map_archive/united_states_secession_1860.htm. Date accessed: 6/4/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://bradnehring.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/james-buchanan-0808-lg-17794534.jpg. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/13/how-lincoln-undid-the-union/. Date accessed: 7/9/2012.
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Davis. Date accessed: 6/4/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln's_first_inaugural_address. Date accessed: 6/4/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/hh/12/hh12b.htm. Date accessed: 6/8/2012
  • http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/09/upon-the-points-of-our-swords/. Date accessed: /79/2012.
  • http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/images/at0042b.1s.jpg
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/the-great-sumter-rally-in-union-square/. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/shots-heard-round-the-world/. Date accessed: 6/23/2012.
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:American_Secession_War_map.png.The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=382. 7/9/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • http://maap.columbia.edu/place/38.html. 7/9/2012. The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • "Why A Lincoln Presidency Meant War"

    1. 1. The Civil War & Reconstruction
    2. 2.  With sectional strife over slavery’s expansion westward at an all time high, Americans go into the 1860 electoral season divided. By the end of the year, Lincoln will be elected and South Carolina will secede from the Union, and the U.S. will be on a path toward civil war. Neither of these events was a foregone conclusion but we can look to some major political issues concerning Civil War era Americans and the actions of individuals and groups to understand why the Civil War came when and how it did.
    3. 3.  The Democratic Party remains a national party, with support in the North and in the South. Both sectional factions are anxious about the rise of the Republican Party and its strong opposition to slavery in the western territories. However, they remain divided over how to handle the opposition to slavery in the West. Two platforms emerge at the convention  The federal government must protect slavery in the territories  The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott case would stand Tensions between the two result in a disrupted convention.
    4. 4.  Southern Democrats agree to nominate John C. Breckinridge Northern Democrats agree to nominate Stephen A. Douglas
    5. 5.  Had absorbed the Know-Nothings and Free Soilers. Political lions William Seward and Salmon Chase were obvious candidates but their abolitionist sentiments would make it more difficult for them to get the support of people who were more opposed to slavery spreading west (they feared they were more radical abolitionist, in the vein of John Brown, than they were anti-slavery). Abraham Lincoln, who had established himself as someone who opposed slavery’s existence but accepted its constitutional legality and opposed its extension westward, was an unlikely contender. Lincoln built his political reputation over several decades of work, especially with his debates with Stephen A. Douglas.
    6. 6.  Lincoln-Douglas debates occurred throughout 1858. Lincoln won most of the ideological points on the problems of slavery generally and in the western territories particularly, but he lost the Senate election to Douglas. Lincoln went on to esthimself as GOP contender by sketching out his opposition to slavery expanding westward. This started what became his path to the White House.
    7. 7.  In the Cooper Institute speech Lincoln laid out his agenda. He opposed John Brown’s raid and made a point to distance himself from abolitionists. He declared his opposition to slavery in the western territories but accepted its constitutional legality in existing states. He argued for conciliation between the sections. At the Republican convention, Lincoln and others decided to sketch out a platform that sidestepped hot and divisive issues and focused on getting elected by campaigning on a priority to stop slavery from spreading into the western territories.
    8. 8. Constitutional UnionPartyFormer members of theAmerican Party (aka theKnow Nothings) mobilizedto form a new fourth party.This party avoided suchissues as slavery andfocused on adherence tothe Constitution, supportfor the Union, and existinglaws.They nominated John Bell.
    9. 9. On the Eve of theCivil WarPolitical cartoons suchas this illuminate theways that ideas aboutrace and sex factoredinto the 1860 election.Dred Scott is depictedin thecenter, Breckinridgewith PresidentBuchanan, Lincoln isdancing with a blackwoman, John Bell witha supposed NativeAmerican, Douglaswith a “squatter.”
    10. 10.  Lincoln is elected president of the U.S. in 1860 with little support from many of the slaveholding states in the Lowcountry and deep South. Angered over his election and concerned that he will either end slavery or stop its expansion, slaveholders begin to discuss secession from the Union. They argue that if the U.S. government intervenes with slavery that the government will violate the rights of the individual states and the property rights of slaveholders inherent to the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, and the establishment of the Constitution.
    11. 11. Abraham Lincoln to Alexander Stephens 12/22/1860
    12. 12.  Lincoln tries to assure the slaveholding South that he has no intentions of interfering with their right to own slaves in the states where slavery already exists. Many members of the slaveholding apparatus do not believe him. They see his insistence on stopping slavery from expanding westward and northerners’ mobilized opposition to slavery as threats that jeopardizes their rights and their livelihood. They decide to secede from the Union before Lincoln and/or northern elected officials can act. See this timeline from the Library of Congress for detailed information about secession and the course of the war.
    13. 13.  Contrary to popular myth, with the exception of South Carolina, the seceding states did not leave the Union immediately or easily. This is because many citizens opposed secession generally and without direct provocation particularly. What is more, white southerners were deeply divided:  Fire-breathers—advocated immediate secession.  Cooperationists—those who wanted to wait for provocation.  Unionists—those who opposed secession. Because of these divisions, secessionists had to strategically maneuver their states out of the Union.
    14. 14.  South Carolina declared that the Constitution that the framers created was a compact (or an agreement or contract) with the states and the national government having separate powers. They argued that northern states’ refusal to accept their constitutionally protected right to own slaves (aiding fugitive slaves, passing personal liberty laws, and electing a president and members of Congress who were opposed to slavery’s westward expansion) represented a violation of the compact, justifying secession. They often cloaked their movement in the rhetoric of the American Revolution.
    15. 15.  Some states held conventions but as Stephanie McCurry (see Confederate Reckoning) and others show, other states used political machinations—playing on racial and gender fears, limiting voting, limiting citizenship rights, vote rigging, violence and intimidation—to maneuver their states out of the Union. Even within this climate, most electoral processes were really close, illuminating the diversity of opinion.  Two key demographics—yeomen farmers and non- slaveholding whites, many of whom did not necessarily have as big of a stake in slavery’s existence and its extension westward as did many of the fire-breathing planter class.
    16. 16. Order of SecessionSouth Carolina December 20, 1860Mississippi January 9, 1861Florida January 10, 1861Alabama January 11, 1861Georgia January 19, 1861Louisiana January 26, 1861Texas February 1, 1861Virginia April 17, 1861Arkansas May 6, 1861North Carolina May 20, 1861Tennessee June 8, 1861
    17. 17. James BuchananAs the outgoing president,Buchanan tried to avoid warwithout getting too involved.He admonished abolitionistsfor “causing” the crisis.He denied the legitimacy ofsecession because the federalgovernment had taken noaction.He refused to hand over federalproperties as South Carolinahad demanded.This gave Congress time to act.
    18. 18.  Secession leaders argued that secession was a done deal but not everyone felt that way. Proposed Compromises:  Enforcement of Fugitive Slave Law;  Repeal of Personal Liberty (legislation passed by several northern states that prohibited state officials from helping to return runaway slaves to their masters);  Constitutional amendment to protect the South against any further Congressional interference with slavery;  Allow territories-turned states to make decisions on slavery for themselves President-elect Lincoln was prepared to accept most of the compromises but he held firm on slavery’s extension into the western territories.
    19. 19. Crittenden’s Proposed CompromiseSlavery prohibited north of 36*30’ lineCongress forbidden to abolish slavery in places under its jurisdiction under inslave statesCongress could not abolish slavery in Washington, D.C.Congress could not interfere with or prohibit interstate slave tradeCongress would provide full compensation to owners of fugitive slaves notreturned by northern states or municipalitiesNo further amendment of the Constitution could change these previousagreements or allow Congress to interfere with or prohibit slavery
    20. 20.  As Eric Foner shows in The Fiery Trial, many northern members of Congress worked for months to avoid full secession. They offered a variety of resolutions included such concessions as a constitutional amendment declaring that Congress could not interfere with slavery. Lincoln agreed to most concessions because he understood that slavery was protected for the states by the Constitution. However, the institution had no constitutional protection in the western territories and Lincoln was firm in his opposition to slavery extending there. What is more, he was equally firm in his insistence that southerners respect the results of the 1860 election and that they did not have the right to secede. Secessionists see Lincoln’s refusal to compromise on these matters as further justifying their right to secede.
    21. 21.  In February, political figures gathered to try to halt secession and avert war. Several factors undermined their effort:  Missing from this gathering were representatives from what would be many of the seceding states (note that by this time SC, MS, FL, AL, LA, GA, and TX had seceded);  The lateness of their mobilization;  Opposition from both southern secessionists and northerners who argued “let them go!”  Republicans’ seeming inability to recognize the seriousness of the threat of further secession and war Despite their inability to avoid war, the conference revealed the extent of support border states had for remaining in the Union.
    22. 22.  Meeting in Montgomery on February 4, 1861 to form a new nation, create a constitution, and elect officials. Analyzing the rhetoric of speeches and secession documents, Stephanie McCurry summarizes their mission as—creating a slaveholding republic that protected the interests of white men to own human property.  She bases this argument on the very narrow idea of who constituted “the people” of the Confederacy and the policies and practices instituted to protect slavery. Indeed, most of the arguments re: “states’ rights” were centered around protecting slavery from interference. The CSA Constitution resembled the U.S. Constitution expect it had specific language supporting slavery.
    23. 23. Jefferson DavisLong and distinguished military andpolitical career.Advocate of states’ rights andfilibustering schemes in Cuba andNicaragua.He opposed the secession movementbut when called to serve as presidentof the CSA he did.He was elected with great fanfare butover the course of the war, hissupport among his people declined.After the war, he would betried, imprisoned, and released.
    24. 24. Jefferson Davis, President of the CSA, 2/18/1861
    25. 25. Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the CSA, 3/21/1861
    26. 26. Jefferson Davis, President of the CSA, 4/29/1861
    27. 27. Davis, Stephens, and other firebreathers revert to theconstitutional principles of “states’ rights” to explain theiractions. Neo-Confederates use the postwar apologies andexplanations as the basis for their states’ rights arguments.
    28. 28. See Charles B. Dew’s Apostles of Disunion: Southern SecessionCommissioners and the Causes of the Civil War.
    29. 29. Abraham LincolnOpposed secession andargued that as president hehad to maintain authorityagainst disunion.He was opposed to slavery onprinciple but accepted itsconstitutional legality in theU.S.He was not an abolitionist.Like many anti-slaverymen, Lincoln was opposed toslavery spreading into thewestern territories largelybecause it undercut thesociopolitical opportunities ofworking class white men.
    30. 30. Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural Address, 3/4/1860
    31. 31. Abraham LincolnAt his first inauguration Lincolndeclared that the “only substantialdifference” between Confederatesand Unionists was about slavery.Secessionists did not believe thatLincoln and his administrationwould not interfere with slavery.They painted him as anabolitionist who supported racialequality.Secessionists believed that theirfate was tied to their ability tomove westward. So Linc0ln’sopposition to slavery’s spread wasa deal breaker.
    32. 32.  Lincoln, like Buchanan, refused to surrender to Confederates the federal government’s forts (or the post offices, hospitals, custom houses, and other public buildings). To avoid war, Lincoln did not repossess federal property seized by Confederates. This issue came to a head at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Rather than abandon federal property during a rebellion, Lincoln authorized the provisioning of the fort. Confederates eventually fired on the fort, forcing Anderson to surrender it, igniting the war.
    33. 33. Major RobertAndersonFort Sumter, whichwas still occupied byMajor RobertAnderson but beingharassed byConfederates,became the test ofwhether the USAwould defend itsproperty from theCSA.Men at the fort faceddwindling supplies.
    34. 34. Fort SumterBefore the firing.Lincoln authorizedthe re-supplying ofthe fort.Confederates firedon the fort, forcingAnderson toabandon it.
    35. 35. Fort SumterThe image depictsthe CSA’sbombardment ofthe fort in 1861.
    36. 36.  Lincoln responds to the firing on Fort Sumter by calling for 75,000 men to suppress the insurrection, which was virtually a declaration of war.  Lincoln gets the volunteers but when free African Americans volunteer for service, the president declines. This action becomes the catalyst for VA, AR, NC, and TN to secede.
    37. 37. War beginsThis image depicts aCSA mob’s attack onUnion soldiers inBaltimore. In titlingthe piece “TheLexington of 1861,”Currier and Ives arereflectingcontemporaryrhetoric on bothsides that the war issimilar to theAmericanRevolution.
    38. 38.  Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Delaware were the four slaveholding states that did not secede. Their decisions would be crucial to both sides. They were generally opposed to secession and their economies and populations leaned toward the Union  They had smaller populations of enslaved people;  Slavery was not as critical to their existence. Indeed, the institution was declining;  They were more modern and urban than their more southern counterparts;  Unionists (rather than secessionists) dominated the political landscape and they steered their states away from the secession movement. Lincoln would do whatever was in his power to keep these states from leaving the Union and joining the Confederacy.
    39. 39.  Birthplaces of both Lincoln and Davis. Slavery is very important to residents but slaveholders did not dominate the political scene. The state’s other social and political ties were stronger re: the Union—many Kentuckians had relocated to other northern states. The state declares itself neutral in the secession movement but this was hard to maintain in a state where people chose sides and when both sides estd military camps within its borders.  When Confederate forces seized Columbus, the state requested federal protection and remained within the Union. Confederate forces within the state tried to form a rump government and tensions over slavery’s continued existence would make Kentuckians waiver but ultimately, the state remained a Union state.
    40. 40.  Like Kentucky, Maryland’s location and its continued support for slavery make it crucial to boththe CSA and the USA. The majority of the population opposed secession and slaveholders in the state would balk at any wartime measure of emancipation. Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus (against illegal imprisonment) from DC to Philly, which angered Marylanders.  Tensions between Maryland and the USAcame to a head in ex parte Merryman.  Support for the Union was ultimately proven via the election of candidates who supported the Union.
    41. 41.  Surrounded by Union states and with a very small population of enslaved people, Delaware constituted less of a threat for leaving the Union than were the other border states. Very strong Union sentiment in the state results in it remaining in the USA.
    42. 42.  Unlike, Delaware, Missouri’s location and political economy made it more susceptible to secession. Tensions over slavery’s existence dated back not only to the Missouri Compromise but more recently to the Kansas- Nebraska battles. The state’s population remained divided on secession. Guerilla warfare broke out, leading Union officials to intervene to maintain order. A shadow Confederate government mobilized and the struggle for control over the state continued. The more than 100,000 Missouri men who enlisted in the Union Army and the approximately 30,000 men who enlisted for the Confederate Army illustrates the general Union-leaning sentiment in the state.
    43. 43.  Union supporters in the western part of Virginia seceded and created West Virginia. West Virginians had long opposed slaveholders’ domination over the states’ affairs and they were opposed to Virginia’s secession. In 1862, they maneuvered themselves out of Virginia and the Confederacy. Congress passed legislation admitting West Virginia to the Union over the opposition of Unionists in the Virginia.
    44. 44.  The decision of these states to remain in the Union granted more geographic space as well as manpower and war matériel to the Union. Lincoln would do whatever was in his power to keep these states from leaving the Union and joining the Confederacy.
    45. 45.  Looking at the rhetoric of secessionists in newspapers, journals, diaries, letters, political speeches, AND the ordinances of secession, we can see that the mission of the Confederate States of America was to preserve political economy rooted in slavery and extending right of slaveholders to carry human property into the west. They used language suggesting that they wanted to build upon what the U.S. founders created by creating a republic that protected slavery. Although “states’ rights” did appear in the rhetoric, hearkening back to John C. Calhoun, the primary right about which they were concerned states being able to protect was those governing slavery. See for example Gary Gallagher’s The Confederate War & Stephanie McCurry’s Confederate Reckoning.
    46. 46.  Looking at the rhetoric of Unionists in newspapers, journals, diaries, letters, political speeches, we can see that the mission of the United States of America was to preserve the Union by suppressing the rebellion and returning the seceded states to the Union.  The mission was not to end slavery.  When Civil War Americans used the phrase “Union,” they meant a democratic republic built on the principles of “free labor, economic opportunity, and a broad political franchise they considered unique in the world.”  See Gary Gallagher’s The Union War, especially 6.
    47. 47.  Though Civil War Americans from both sides understood and said that secession was the reason for the war, they all knew that slavery was at the heart of secession (read the secession declarations if you have any doubts). Yet whites on both sides of the conflict argued that the war had nothing to do with African Americans. Indeed, when black men volunteer to serve in the Union Army, Lincoln rejects them. When abolitionists call on Lincoln to use the abolition of slavery as a tool for quickly winning the war, he rejects them too. It will take more than a year of fighting and with no end in sight for Lincoln to change his mind.
    48. 48. David TodWhen black Ohioansvolunteer to serve,they are rejected.Ohio Governor Tod’sresponse reflectswidespread beliefs.Don’t you know…thatthis is a white man’sgovernment; thatwhite men are able todefend and protect it?When we want youcolored men we willnotify you.
    49. 49. FrederickDouglassDouglass embodiesAfrican Americans’opposition to Lincoln’sfailure to strike againstslavery and toauthorize blackenlistment.To fight against slaveholderswithout fighting againstslavery, is but a half-heartedbusiness, and paralyzes thehand engaged in it…Fire mustbe met with water…War for thedestruction of liberty must bemet with war for thedestruction of slavery.
    50. 50.  Both free and enslaved African Americans rejected the rhetoric of white men such as David Tod and the idea that the war was only about secession (stripped of anything relating to slavery). Free blacks mobilized drilling companies. Enslaved people’s understanding of this reality guides their mass exodus from plantations, farms, urban factories, businesses, and homes. Enslaved people will not only seek out Union forces, they will provide service as guides, spies, informants, and servants.
    51. 51.  Was the war avoidable? Yes.  Americans on both sides could have continued to reach compromises in the vein of the Northwest Ordinance, the compromises of 1787, the Missouri Compromise, the Compromises of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  South Carolina didn’t have to use Lincoln election to the presidency as cause for secession, her state’s leaders could have waited for him to act directly against slavery.  Lincoln could have taken more seriously the threat of secession and authorized a constitutional amendment allowing slavery to extend into the West.  Indeed, the actions proposed by Congress during the secession winter could have averted war. Unfortunately, the political brokers on both sides would not concede enough to their opponents. None of these counterfactuals occurred. So, after several decades of fighting over slavery’s expansion and a decade of intense political fighting, the Civil War began.
    52. 52.  David Herbert Donald, et al eds., The Civil War and Reconstruction; Jean Baker, The Politics of Continuity; William Barney, The Road to Secession &The Secessionist Impulse; Gabor S. Boritt, ed., Why the Civil War Came; Daniel Crofts, Reluctant Confederates; Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial and Free Soil, Free Land, and Free Men; Gary Gallagher, TheUnion War &The Confederate War; Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning; Mark Neely, The Last Best Hope of Earth; Charles Dew, Apostles of Disunion; Mark Summers, The Plundering Generation; Ralph Wooster, The Secession Conventions of the South;
    53. 53.  Slave Populations: http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/geography/slave_census_1860.htm Census Image: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/11/map-of-the-last-u-s-slave-census-1860/ 1860 Election Map: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-antebellum/5331. Crittenden Compromise: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/13/how-lincoln-undid-the-union/ John Bell: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9f/JBell.jpg/245px-JBell.jpg Abraham Lincoln: http://www.historyplace.com/lincoln/lincpix/linc-2.jpg Stephen A. Douglas: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/media/uploads/2009/06/stephenarnolddouglas.jpg Political Quadrille: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661605/ James Buchanan: http://bradnehring.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/james-buchanan-0808-lg-17794534.jpg Map of secession: http://www.emersonkent.com/map_archive/united_states_secession_1860.htm Jefferson Davis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Davis Lincoln: Alexander Stephens: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8a/Alexander_Stephens.jpg Inauguration: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincolns_first_inaugural_address Robert Anderson: http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/hh/12/hh12b.htm Fort Sumter before firing: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/09/upon-the-points-of-our-swords/ and after: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/images/at0042b.1s.jpg South Carolina’s Ultimatum: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/war-in-the-cabinet/ David Tod: http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=382 Frederick Douglass: http://maap.columbia.edu/place/38.html Pro-Union rally in NYC: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/the-great-sumter-rally-in-union-square/. Lexington of 1861: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/shots-heard-round-the-world/
    54. 54.  Confederate Ascendancy; Campaigns from 1861-1862;