Lincoln’s victory in the presi- dential election of November 1860 made South Carolina’s secession from the Union December 20 a foregone conclusion . The state had long been waiting for an event that would unite the South against the antislavery forces . By February 1, 1861, five more Southern states had seceded . On February 8, the six states signed a provisional constitu- tion for the Confederate States of America . The remaining Southern states as yet remained in the Union, although Texas had begun to move on its secession .

Less than a month later, March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States . In his inaugural address, he declared the Confederacy “legally void .” His speech closed with a plea for restora-

tion of the bonds of union, but the South turned a deaf ear . On April 12, Confederate guns opened fire on the federal garrison at Fort Sumter in the Charleston, South Carolina, harbor . A war had begun in which more Americans would die than in any other conflict before or since .

In the seven states that had se- ceded, the people responded posi- tively to the Confederate action and the leadership of Confeder- ate President Jefferson Davis . Both sides now tensely awaited the action of the slave states that thus far had remained loyal . Virginia seceded on April 17; Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina followed quickly .

No state left the Union with greater reluctance than Virginia . Her statesmen had a leading part in the winning of the Revolution and the framing of the Constitution, and she had provided the nation with


“That this nation under God

shall have a new birth of freedom.”

President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863



five presidents . With Virginia went Colonel Robert E . Lee, who declined the command of the Union Army out of loyalty to his native state .

Between the enlarged Confed- eracy and the free-soil North lay the border slave states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, which, despite some sympathy with the South, would remain loyal to the Union .

Each side entered the war with high hopes for an early victory . In material resources the North enjoyed a decided advantage . Twenty-three states with a population of 22 mil- lion were arrayed against 11 states inhabited by nine million, including slaves . The industrial superiority of the North exceeded even its prepon- derance in population, providing it with abundant facilities for manu- facturing arms and ammunition, clothing, and other supplies . It had a greatly superior railway network .

The South nonetheless had cer- tain advantages . The most impor- tant was geography; the South was fighting a defensive war on its own territory . It could establish its inde- pendence simply by beating off the Northern armies . The South also had a stronger military tradition, and possessed the more experienced military leaders .

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