Texas in the Confederacy: An Experiment in Nation Building

By Clayton E. Jewett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
“The Cold Sweat of Death” Texas Prosecession and Antisecession Politics

In September 1860, Texas politician Louis Trezevant Wigfall spoke in Tyler, Texas, where he outlined the pending political crisis. 1. With the importance of slavery to the political and economic life of Texans increasing, Texas's interest in the sectional conflict heightened. Southern political leaders such as Wigfall believed that if Abraham Lincoln won the upcoming presidential election, it would be a direct threat to the Southern way of life. A little more than two months after Wigfall spoke to the Tyler crowd, Abraham Lincoln's election victory in November 1860 heightened the fears of Southerners and Texans. They believed that Lincoln and the Republican Party would trample on individual rights by preventing the spread of slavery, and possibly worse—the full abolition of slavery. Consequently, politicians began to speak out about the state of the Union and the concern of individual states in this crisis. They spoke not only to clarify their interests and the interests of their constituents, but also to either support or refute the secession of Southern states.

Over the years, arguments have appeared attempting to explain the complexity of Texas's secession from the Union. The first thesis emerged during the Civil War when many individuals viewed secession as the work of radical fire-eaters and conspirators, leaders who were antidemocratic, who led the people to believe that only secession could guarantee the preservation of Southern rights and Southern institutions. In Texas, these sentiments sprang mainly from Union supporters who fled north once hostilities began to erupt. 2. In the early twentieth century with the need for a “new South” argument,

____________________
1.
See Louis T. Wigfall, Speech of Louis T. Wigfall on the Pending Political Issues, Delivered at Tyler, Smith County, Texas, September 3, 1860.
2.
James P. Newcomb, Sketch of Secession Times in Texas and Journal of Travel from Texas through Mexico to California, Including a History of the 'Box Colony'; John T. Sprague, The Treachery in Texas, the Secession in Texas, and the Arrest of the United States Officers and Soldiers Serving in Texas. For more detailed attention to

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