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The Southern Rights Vigilance Club of Savannah, Georgia, Threatens Secession
Digital History ID 378

Author:   The Southern Rights Vigilance Club of Savannah, Georgia


In May, the Constitutional Union party, which consisted of conservative former Whigs, Know Nothings, and pro-Union Democrats nominated John Bell of Tennessee for President. This short-lived party denounced sectionalism and tried to rally support around a platform that supported the Constitution and Union. Meanwhile, the Republican party nominated Abraham Lincoln on the third ballot. The 1860 election revealed how divided the country had become. There were actually two separate sectional campaigns: one in the North, pitting Lincoln against Douglas, and one in the South between Breckinridge and Bell. Only Stephen Douglas mounted a truly national campaign. The Republicans did not campaign in the South and Lincoln's name did not appear on the ballot in ten states.

Intense anti-Union feelings marked the campaign in the South, where groups like the Southern Rights Vigilance Club of Savannah, Georgia threatened secession in the event of Lincoln's election. In the final balloting, Lincoln won only 39.9 percent of the popular vote, but received 180 electoral college votes, 57 more than the combined total of his opponents.


In the present excited State of the Country, when the foundations of the Republic trembles under the shock of contending factions, and the mass of the people are distracted and divided by designing demagogues, we The Southern Rights Vigilance Club of Savannah regretting the apathy that prevails among us, and the culpable neglect in failing to prepare for the coming issue, while every breeze form the north brings us tidings of the mustering of the abolition hordes under the names of Wide Awakes, for the avowed purpose of forcing their loathsome Candidate and territorial doctrines upon an unwilling section. We The Southern Rights Vigilance Club of Savannah professing loyalty to the constitution yet preferring first and last our own institutions to every other and loving our own Sunny South with an affection warmer and more devoted than the present so called Union, after waiting in vain for older heads to take steps to vindicate the honor and preserve the social organization of our section, have banded ourselves to-gether for her support. And that all may know the solemn and earnest object of our union. Be it Resolved 1st That in the event of the election to the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln that we will unite with any organization that will resist and prevent his inauguration. 2nd That we offer our services to any State which shall secede from the union and refuse to submit to a government administered by abolitionists. 3rd That we pledge ourselves to make Savannah too warm a climate for any man who may degrade himself and disgrace our city by accepting office under such an administration. 4th That we pledge ourselves to join any organized body in protecting slave property in the territories.

Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Additional information: Resolutions of the Southern Rights Vigilance Club of Savannah, Georgia

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