Digital History>eXplorations>Why Did the South Secede?>Timeline of Secession

Timeline of Secession

November 6, 1860
Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States.
December 20, 1860
Map of South CarolinaSouth Carolina secedes.
December 24, 1860
"Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina"
"[A]n increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution... Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free."
January 9, 1861
Map of MississippiMississippi secedes
    "A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union."

Before Georgia seceded, Mississippi sent its commissioner, William L. Harris, to the Georgia Legislature.

He decried the threat of Lincoln and the Republicans and told the members that they had to choose between "This new union with Lincoln Black Republicans and free Negroes, without slavery; or, slavery under our old constitutional bond of union, without Lincoln Black Republicans, or free Negroes either, to molest us."

January 10, 1861
Map of FloridaFlorida secedes from the Union.
    Florida did not write a declaration.
January 11, 1861
Map of AlabamaAlabama secedes from the Union.

Alabama Commissioner Stephen Fowler Hale failed in his effort to convince Kentucky to secede, but wrote to the governor a diatribe against Northern attacks on slavery and lamented that Lincoln's election was "nothing less than an open declaration of war, for the triumph of this new theory of government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a Santo Domingo servile resurrection...."

"Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States of America by a sectional party avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the Constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security."

January 19, 1861
Georgia secedes from the Union.
    "Declaration of the Causes of Secession, Georgia"
"The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of [the Republicans]," and that "by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union."
January 26, 1861
Map of LouisianaLouisiana secedes from the Union.

Commissioner George Williamson George Williamson to the Texas Secession Convention on March 9, 1861:

"Being desirous of obtaining the concurrence of the people of Texas in what she has done, Louisiana invites you to a candid consideration of her acts in resuming the powers delegated to the government of the late United States, and in providing for the formation of a confederacy of "The States which have seceded and may secede." ... She was impelled to this action to preserve her honor, her safety, her property and the free institutions so sacred to her people. She believed the federal agent had betrayed her trust, had become the facile instrument of a hostile people, and was usurping despotic powers. She considered that the present vacillating executive, on the 4th of March next, would be supplanted by a stalwart fanatic of the Northwest, whose energetic will, backed by the frenzied bigotry of unpatriotic masses, would cause him to *establish* the military despotism already inaugurated."

February 1, 1861
Map of TexasTexas secedes from the Union.
    "A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union"
    "We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial and tolerable."
February 4, 1861
Seceded states held a Convention in Montgomery, Alabama.
February 8, 1861
Convention adopted a Confederate Constitution.
February 9, 1861
Jefferson Davis elected president of the Confederate States.

After taking the oath of office as the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens, a former Congressman from Georgia, stated that:
Jefferson Davis

"Our new government is founded on the opposite idea of the equality of the races . . . Its corner stone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man. This . . . government is the first in the history of the world, based on this great physical and moral truth."

March 4, 1861
Lincoln's Inauguration.
    Unknown photographer , Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, Library of Congress, 1861.At Lincoln's inauguration the new president said he had no plans to end slavery in those states where it already existed, but he also said he would not accept secession. He hoped to resolve the national crisis without warfare.
March 9, 1861
Address of George Williamson to the Texas Secession Convention
March 11, 1861
Confederate Constitution
April 12, 1861

Attack on Fort Sumter - the opening engagement of the American Civil War.

This attack prompted four more states to join the Confederacy.

April 17, 1861
Virginia secedes from the Union.
    With Virginia's secession, Richmond was named the Confederate capitol.
May 6, 1861
Arkansas secedes from the Union.
May 6, 1861
Tennessee secedes from the Union.

May 21, 1861

North Carolina secedes from the Union.
June, 1861
West Virginia is created.
    Residents of the western counties of Virginia did not wish to secede along with the rest of the state. This section of Virginia was admitted into the Union as the state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863.
June, 1861
Four Slave States Stay in the Union.
    Despite their acceptance of slavery, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri did not join the Confederacy. Although divided in their loyalties, a combination of political maneuvering and Union military pressure kept these states from seceding.
August 16, 1861
Confederate states declared to be in a state of insurrection by President Lincoln.



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