After the American Revolutionary War Northern and Southern societies developed in a very different manner. While Northern states took long strides towards industrialization and urbanization, Southern economy remained heavily dependent on plantation agricultural system. Slave labor was the backbone of plantations and slavery was an integral part of society in the south. In North the sentiments against slavery were strong and abolitionist movement gained strength by mid 19th century. The issue of slavery was the basic bone of contention between North and South. South felt that North was infringing upon its rights by not only trying to abolish slavery in North but also in Border States.
They felt that decline in slavery would sooner or later hit the South. This decline in slavery was viewed as a direct threat to economy and interests of South. Abraham Lincoln’s election to presidency in 1860 proved to be the final nail in the coffin. Lincoln belonged to the Republican Party, that had a very radical anti-slavery stance and Lincoln had repeatedly stated his intentions to contain slavery and finally see its end. Immediately after Lincoln’s success South Carolina announced secession from Union in December, 1860, thus becoming the first state to secede from union.
As the size and population of North was considerably more than south and it was economically much stronger, it exercised more influence in policy making. South felt uneasy with Northern states’ anti slavery stance. The institute of slavery had almost vanished in North and was on a rapid decline in the Border States. Southern economy however; was still largely dependent on cotton plantations where slaves were in demand. Southern states felt that by not acting according to the laws regarding fugitive slaves north was guilty of not protecting other states rights. They also felt that by forcefully expanding the non slave territory north was threatening the social norms and values of south. By the time secession was announced, Southern states had minimal presence and support in Congress and election of Lincoln to the office meant a certain demise of slavery in near future.
South Carolina announced secession from union on December 24, 1860. The reason given was that Northern states were not abiding by the Fugitive Slave Act and the rights of slave owners of South were not protected and states’ rights were also compromised by North by not acting according to federal legislations that protected the institute of slavery.
Interestingly Lincoln had not even taken office till then. By the time he assumed presidency on March 4, 1861 seven states had already announced secession. Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida followed South Carolina into secession. A Confederation was announced on February 4, 1861 and Jefferson Davis was appointed as the President. The government was modeled on the original United States constitution.
More States Follow:
After the bombardment of Fort Sumter in South Carolina by Confederate forces in April, four more states followed suit. North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia also joined Confederation. 23 states remained loyal to union and two new states West Virginia and Nevada were also admitted to the union during the war period. Union regained control of Tennessee and Louisiana very early in the war and they were also added back to the union.