The secession of the South was one of the seminal events in American history, but it also remains one of the most controversial. The election of Abraham Lincoln was the impetus for secession, but that was merely one of many events that led up to the formation of the Confederacy and the start of the Civil War.
On December 20, a little more than a month after Republican Abraham Lincoln had been elected the 16th president, a convention met in Charleston and passed the first ordinance of secession by one of the states, declaring, "We, the people of the State of South Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain.... That the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of 'the United States of America', is hereby dissolved." In January 1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Kansas followed South Carolina's lead, and the Confederate States of America was formed on February 4 in Montgomery, Alabama, with former Secretary of War Jefferson Davis inaugurated as its president. A few weeks later, Texas joined.
The Confederacy's hope of being let go in peace ended at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of April 12, 1861, when Confederate Brigadier-General P. G. T. Beauregard ordered the first shots to be fired at the federal garrison defending Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor, effectively igniting the Civil War. For nearly 36 hours, Beauregard's Confederates unleashed a general bombardment from 43 guns and mortars positioned at various points across the Harbor.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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