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Why Did the Confederate States Secede?

Between December 1860 and March 1861, seven states in the Deep South left the Union. After the southern attack on Fort Sumter, a union installation in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, in April 1861, another four states seceded.

Why did they these states decided to withdraw from the United States? Was it over slavery? Over states rights? Or was it for some other reason?

The easiest way to answer this question is to look at the arguments that the Confederate states advanced. Read the proclamations from the southern states in the header above and then describe why the Confederate states seceded.

Click to Enlarge

A political cartoon from 1861 shows Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana as men riding donkeys, following South Carolina's lead toward a cliff.

Florida, immediately behind South Carolina, cries, "Go it Carolina! We are the boys to "wreck" the Union."

CREDIT: "THE 'SECESSION MOVEMENT'." Currier & Ives 1861. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.


Timeline of Secession

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