THE SECESSION CRISIS
In the presidential election of 1860, a plurality of American citizens cast ballots for Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln won the office without receiving a single vote from a Mississippian—or for that matter any resident of the Deep South. That Lincoln failed to garner support in Mississippi should hardly surprise: white Mississippians approved of neither Lincoln nor his party, which they regarded as the party of abolitionism. Lincoln's election placed Mississippians in a precarious situation. Since 1856, when the Republican party first ran a candidate for the presidency, Mississippians had promised that if the northern states elected a president without the support of southerners, they would not submit to the results of the election. True to their promise, two months after Lincoln's election, representatives attending a statewide convention voted to sever the state's ties to the union. The road to secession ended in January 1861.
The origin of the secession movement in Mississippi can be traced to a much earlier time. During the early 1830s, a State Rights Association formed to oppose President Andrew Jackson's stand during the nullification crisis, but fervent support for secession mounted only during the Mexican War, particularly in response to the Wilmot Proviso. The proviso, a congressional resolution offered in 1846 by Pennsylvanian David Wilmot, called for the Federal government to exclude slavery from any territory acquired from Mexico during the war. Even though the proviso never passed in congress, it provoked great fear among white southerners, who suspected that northern