Secession Facts for Kids

When talking about secession in the United States, it is referring to the time of the beginning of the Civil War in 1860 when many of the southern states decided to “secede” or remove their statehood.

While it began with the state of South Carolina, four months later, there were six other states that seceded, including Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. This began the creation of the Confederate States of America that were part of the major actions that started the Civil War.

After the first conflict in Charleston, South Carolina, additional states joined the Confederacy, including Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and all of Virginia except the northwestern counties, totaling 11 states.


  • Secession has been part of the American conversation as far back as 1776. When the founders taxed all colonies and use the population as the basis for the amount of tax, including slaves, the colony of South Carolina objected and threatened to secede from the other twelve colonies. The word seemed to be popular every time there was an argument arose, and it was usually based on slavery.
  • Secession was an idea that was promoted by the Whig party as a way for a state to revolt against what they might consider being a despotic style of government. The founders held secession as a major concern when, in 1787, they held the Constitutional Convention. Those that supported secession used the argument that the original colonies seceded against Great Britain. However, the opposing group stated that the colonies didn’t secede; they had a revolution. Each of the original thirteen colonies considered themselves to be a “sovereign state,” which means they didn’t have to answer to anyone other than themselves, and they only worked with the other twelve states for freedom.
  • The cause of the Civil War is based on who you talk to. Historians maintain that slavery was the key problem that sparked the war, whereas the southern states argue that it had to do with taxation and states’ rights. Each of the states that seceded created a formal declaration called an “Article of Secession,” stating that they were no longer part of the Union. Only the four states of Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas added an additional document called the “Declarations of Causes” to explain their reasons for seceding from the Union.
  • The wording for the various Articles of Secession from each of the states included fiery terms such as but not limited to: the Federal government refusing to honor their Constitutional right to have African slaves as property, the desire of the Federal government to undermine the economy of the state by refusing to allow slaves, the Federal government was trying to impose unlimited power over the states, the U.S. Constitution was a failure, the use of northern newspapers, schools, and religious pulpits to argue against the southern states, that the state felt less safe, the Federal government was limiting the state’s ability to have commerce with other countries, the state was being unfairly taxed, and so on. Each of their complaints narrowed down to one thing: their demand for slavery.


What was the first state to secede from the Union?
South Carolina

How many total states seceded from the Union?

What are the two sides of the argument for the Civil War?
Southern states say taxes and states’ rights; all others say slavery

What is the name of the official document supplied to the Federal government by the seceding states?
Article of Secession

What is the name of the additional document supplied by the states of Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas to explain why they were seceding?
Declaration of Clauses

What was the baseline reasoning that appeared in all of the documents supplied by the states that were seceding?