The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery

By Don E. Fehrenbacher; Ward M. McAfee | Go to book overview

10
THE REPUBLICAN REVOLUTION

TWO WEEKS BEFORE the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of a new republic, erected in less than a hundred days and extending from South Carolina to Texas. Nothing in the history of the Civil War is more remarkable than the speed with which secession proceeded and the Confederacy took shape, once the outcome of the presidential election was known. The rush to action reflected a passion also expressed in much southern rhetoric. A New Orleans editor called Lincoln's election a “deliberate, cold-blooded insult and outrage upon the people of the slaveholding states.” 1The Richmond Enquirer declared that it amounted to “an act of war.” 2 Private feeling was often as intense as public sentiment. The wife of a Georgia planter exclaimed in a letter to her son: “We have no alternative; and necessity demands that we now protect ourselves from entire destruction at the hands of those who have rent and torn and obliterated every national bond of union.” 3

When it came to choosing a specific course of action, southerners were, as usual, unable to agree, but what proved to be decisive in the winter of 1860–61 was the critical number among them who viewed the election of Lincoln as adequate reason for immediate dissolution of the Union. At the heart of the matter was southern perception of the Republican party not as a mere political opposition, but as a hostile, revolutionary force bent on total destruction of the slaveholding system. “Our enemies are about to take possession of the Government,” wrote a South Carolinian. “We must expect just that sort of leniency which is shown by the

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The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Slaveholding Republic 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Slavery and the Founding of the Republic 15
  • 3 - Slavery in the National Capital 49
  • 4 - Slavery in American Foreign Relations 89
  • 5 - The African Slave Trade, 1789 to 1842 135
  • 6 - The African Slave Trade, 1842 to 1862 173
  • 7 - The Fugitive Slave Problem to 1850 205
  • 8 - The Fugitive Slave Problem, 1850 to 1864 231
  • 9 - Slavery in the Federal Territories 253
  • 10 - The Republican Revolution 295
  • 11 - Conclusion 339
  • Notes 345
  • Index 453
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