Historical Reprints History Day of The Confederacy

Day of The Confederacy

Day of The Confederacy
Catalog # SKU1342
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Nathaniel W. Stephenson


The Day of
The Confederacy

A Chronicle of the
Embattled South

Nathaniel W. Stephenson

The secession movement had three distinct stages. The first, beginning with the news that Lincoln was elected, closed with the news, sent broadcast over the South from Charleston, that Federal troops had taken possession of Fort Sumter on the night of the 28th of December. During this period the likelihood of secession was the topic of discussion in the lower South.


What to do in case the lower South seceded was the question which perplexed the upper South. In this period no State north of South Carolina contemplated taking the initiative. In the Southeastern and Gulf States immediate action of some sort was expected. Whether it would be secession or some other new course was not certain on the day of Lincoln's election. Various States earlier in the year had provided for conventions of their people in the event of a Republican victory.

The first to assemble was the convention of South Carolina, which organized at Columbia, on December 17, 1860. Two weeks earlier Congress had met. Northerners and Southerners had at once joined issue on their relation in the Union. The House had appointed its committee of thirty-three to consider the condition of the country.

So unpromising indeed from the Southern point of view had been the early discussions of this committee that a conference of Southern members of Congress had sent out their famous address To Our Constituents: "The argument is exhausted. All hope of relief in the Union . . . is extinguished, and we trust the South will not be deceived by appearances or the pretense of new guarantees.

In our judgment the Republicans are resolute in the purpose to grant nothing that will or ought to satisfy the South. We are satisfied the honor, safety, and independence of the Southern people require the organization of a Southern Confederacy--a result to be obtained only by separate state secession." Among the signers of this address were the two statesmen who had in native talent no superiors at Washington--Judah P. Benjamin of Louisiana and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

The appeal To Our Constituents was not the only assurance of support tendered to the convention of South Carolina. To represent them at this convention the governors of Alabama and Mississippi had appointed delegates. Mr. Hooker of Mississippi and Mr. Elmore of Alabama made addresses before the convention on the night of the 17th of December. Both reiterated views which during two days of lobbying they had disseminated in Columbia "on all proper occasions."

Their argument, summed up in Elmore's report to Governor Moore of Alabama, was "that the only course to unite the Southern States in any plan of cooperation which could promise safety was for South Carolina to take the lead and secede at once without delay or hesitation...that the only effective plan of cooperation must ensue after one State had seceded and presented the issue when the plain question would be presented to the other Southern States whether they would stand by the seceding State engaged in a common cause or abandon her to the fate of coercion by the arms of the Government of the United States."

Ten years before, in the unsuccessful secession movement of 1850 and 1851, Andrew Pickens Butler, perhaps the ablest South Carolinian then living, strove to arrest the movement by exactly the opposite argument. Though desiring secession, he threw all his weight against it because the rest of the South was averse. He charged his opponents, whose leader was Robert Barnwell Rhett, with aiming to place the other Southern States "in such circumstances that, having a common destiny, they would be compelled to be involved in a common sacrifice." He protested that "to force a sovereign State to take a position against its consent is to make of it a reluctant associate.... Both interest and honor must require the Southern States to take council together."

That acute thinker was now in his grave. The bold enthusiast whom he defeated in 1851 had now no opponent that was his match. No great personality resisted the fiery advocates from Alabama and Mississippi. Their advice was accepted. On December 20, 1860, the cause that ten years before had failed was successful. The convention, having adjourned from Columbia to Charleston, passed an ordinance of secession.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, at a hundred meetings, the secession issue was being hotly discussed. But there was not yet any certainty which way the scale would turn. An invitation from South Carolina to join in a general Southern convention had been declined by the Governor in November. Governor Brown has left an account ascribing the comparative coolness and deliberation of the hour to the prevailing impression that President Buchanan had pledged himself not to alter the military status at Charleston. In an interview between South Carolina representatives and the President, the Carolinians understood that such a pledge was given. "It was generally understood by the country," says Governor Brown, "that such an agreement...had been entered Into...and that Governor Floyd of Virginia, then Secretary of War, had expressed his determination to resign his position in the Cabinet in case of the refusal of the President to carry out the agreement in good faith.

The resignation of Governor Floyd was therefore naturally looked upon, should it occur, as a signal given to the South that reinforcements were to be sent to Charleston and that the coercive policy had been adopted by the Federal Government."

140+ pages - 8 x 5 inches SoftCover


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