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History of the American Civil War (Illustrated)

by (Didactic Press)

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THE GREAT factor in the destruction of slavery was the election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860 by the Republican party, who had declared against the extension of slavery into the territories. The territories were those divisions of the national domain which lacked as yet the necessary qualifications for statehood through insufficient population or certain other impediments; they were under the control of Congress and the President. The Republicans were opposed to any interference with slavery in the States where it already existed, but they demanded freedom for the vast unorganized territory west of the Missouri river. How the election of Lincoln was brought about I have already related at length in my History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the Final Restoration of Home Rule at the South in 1877 and more briefly in the first of my Oxford Lectures. It was a sectional triumph, inasmuch as Lincoln did not receive a single vote in ten out of the eleven States that afterwards seceded and made up the Confederate States. Charleston, South Carolina, an ultra-pro-slavery city and eager for secession, rejoiced equally with the Northern cities over the election of Lincoln, but the Charleston crowds were cheering for a Southern confederacy. Herein were they supported by the people of South Carolina generally, who saw in the election of Lincoln an attack on their cherished institution of slavery and cared no longer for political union with a people who held them to be living in the daily practice of evil. They regarded their slaves as property and believed that they had the same constitutional right to carry that property into the common territory as the Northern settlers had to take with them their property in horses and mules. Lincoln as President would deny them that privilege; in other words he would refuse them equality. In his speeches he had fastened a stigma upon slavery; believing it wrong, he must oppose it wherever he had the power, and he certainly would limit its extension. Could a free people, they asked, have a more undoubted grievance? Were they not fired by the spirit of 1776 and ought they not to strike before any distinct act of aggression? Revolution was a word on every tongue. The crisis was like one described by Thucydides when "the meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things... Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness... Frantic energy was the true quality of a man." The people of South Carolina amid great enthusiasm demanded almost with one voice that their State secede from the Federal Union. The authorities promptly responded. A Convention duly called and chosen passed an Ordinance of secession which was termed a Declaration of Independence of the State of South Carolina. This act, in view of the South Carolinians and of the people of the other cotton States, was based on the State's reserved right "under the compact entitled the Constitution." Martial music, bonfires, pistol firing, fireworks, illuminations, cries of joy and exultation greeted the passage of the Ordinance, which seemed to the people of Charleston to mark the commencement of a revolution as glorious as that of 1776...

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  • Publication Date: December 15, 2014
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Disabled
  • Print Length: 326 Pages
  • File Size: 4,750 KB

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