James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  Southern confederacy. 1 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.” 2 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. 3 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,
Note 1. III, 115. [back]
Note 2. Jowett, III, 82. [back]
Note 3. Dec. 20, 1860. [back]