History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION

“The irrepressible conflict is about to be visited upon us through the Black Republican nominee and his fanatical, diabolical Republican party,” ran an appeal to the voters of South Carolina during the campaign of 1860.  If that calamity comes to pass, responded the governor of the state, the answer should be a declaration of independence.  In a few days the suspense was over.  The news of Lincoln’s election came speeding along the wires.  Prepared for the event, the editor of the Charleston Mercury unfurled the flag of his state amid wild cheers from an excited throng in the streets.  Then he seized his pen and wrote:  “The tea has been thrown overboard; the revolution of 1860 has been initiated.”  The issue was submitted to the voters in the choice of delegates to a state convention called to cast off the yoke of the Constitution.

THE SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY

=Secession.=—­As arranged, the convention of South Carolina assembled in December and without a dissenting voice passed the ordinance of secession withdrawing from the union.  Bells were rung exultantly, the roar of cannon carried the news to outlying counties, fireworks lighted up the heavens, and champagne flowed.  The crisis so long expected had come at last; even the conservatives who had prayed that they might escape the dreadful crash greeted it with a sigh of relief.

[Illustration:  THE UNITED STATES IN 1861

The border states (in purple) remained loyal.]

South Carolina now sent forth an appeal to her sister states—­states that had in Jackson’s day repudiated nullification as leading to “the dissolution of the union.”  The answer that came this time was in a different vein.  A month had hardly elapsed before five other states—­Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—­had withdrawn from the union.  In February, Texas followed.  Virginia, hesitating until the bombardment of Fort Sumter forced a conclusion, seceded in April; but fifty-five of the one hundred and forty-three delegates dissented, foreshadowing the creation of the new state of West Virginia which Congress admitted to the union in 1863.  In May, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee announced their independence.

=Secession and the Theories of the Union.=—­In severing their relations with the union, the seceding states denied every point in the Northern theory of the Constitution.  That theory, as every one knows, was carefully formulated by Webster and elaborated by Lincoln.  According to it, the union was older than the states; it was created before the Declaration of Independence for the purpose of common defense.  The Articles of Confederation did but strengthen this national bond and the Constitution sealed it forever.  The federal government was not a creature of state governments.  It was erected by the people and derived its powers directly from them.  “It

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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