Main Idea: The election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860 led a number of southern states to secede from the Union

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US History

Fort Burrows

16.5 -- A Nation Divides

READ pgs 478 – 481

Main Idea:
The election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860 led a number of southern states to secede from the Union.


Born – 2 / 12 /1809 -- Died 4 / 15 / 1865

Birthplace – Hardin County, Kentucky

Served as President 1861 – 1865

Honest Abe Lincoln

16th President of the United States

Many Americans knew Abraham Lincoln as ‘Honest Abe’ when he was running for president in 1860. His nickname and reputation for honesty helped Lincoln win the election. Even those opposed to Lincoln admired his simple, straightforward manner. It reflected his humble beginnings. Born in a log cabin, he had little formal schooling. But he loved reading, learned much on his own, and became a lawyer. He would walk for miles to borrow a book. He held many jobs before going into public service. Lincoln gained people’s respect by treating them fairly when he was a storekeeper and a lawyer in Illinois.

Lincoln’s presidency began during a troubled time. The Civil War between Northern and Southern States started just five weeks after he took office.

In addition to his nickname ‘Honest Abe’, Lincoln is also known as the “Great Emancipator” for signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Lincoln was determined to keep all states united as a single country. The war was long and many men were lost on both sides. But Lincoln persisted in keeping the United States whole. The war ended with the surrender of the Confederate Army, April 9, 1865. Just five days later, Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater by an actor who supported the South. The President died the next day.

Setting the Scene:
Thousands of people swarm into Chicago, Illinois, for the 1860 Republican national convention. They filled all of the city’s 42 hotels. When beds ran out, people slept on billiard tables. All were there to find out one thing: who would win the Republican nomination for president -- William Seward of New York or Abraham Lincoln of Illinois ?

On the third day of the convention, a delegate rushed to the roof of the hall. There, a man stood next to a cannon. “Fire the salute,” ordered the delegate. “Old Abe is nominated!” Amid the celebration, though, a delegate from Kentucky struck a somber note. “Gentlemen, we are on the brink of a great civil war.”
The Election of 1860
Democratic Convention of 1860 was in Charleston, South Carolina

Southern Democrats wanted the party platform to support slavery

Northern Democrats refused

This caused the Democratic Party to split at the national level

Southerners chose John Breckinridge

Northerners chose Stephen Douglas

A third party was formed; Constitutional Union Party chose John Bell, Tennessee

Bell was a moderate that wanted to keep the Union together

Douglas knew Lincoln would win, so he urged Southerners to stay in the Union

and support whoever was elected

Abraham Lincoln becomes the #16 US President

Lincoln carried the North – Southern votes had no affect on the election—

10 Southern states did not even put Lincoln’s name on the voting ballot

The South Reacts
Lincoln’s election brought a strong reaction from the South
“The excitement was very great. Everybody was talking at the same time. One…more moved than the others, stood up saying… ‘No more vain regrets— sad forebodings are useless. The stake is life or death--.”

Mary Boykin Chesnut, from South Carolina, A Diary From Dixie, 1860
With Lincoln being elected, Southerners felt they no longer had a voice in the national government

South Carolina’s governor, William Henry Gist, even before the election had taken place, wrote a letter to each southern governor

He wrote, ‘If Lincoln won, it would be their DUTY to leave the Union’

Gist bitterly opposed Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. Gist conversed with governors of other Southern states about what course of action they would take if Lincoln was elected. Receiving assurances from the governors of Florida and Mississippi that they would follow South Carolina's lead, Gist called for a secession convention to be held in Columbia on December 17. Gist was one of the signers of the Ordinance of Secession on December 20.

After the war in 1865, Gist took an oath of allegiance to the United States and received a pardon from President Andrew Johnson. He remained on his plantation at Rose Hill, which had lost all of its grandeur, and rented out the land to sharecroppers. Gist developed a case of appendicitis and died at Rose Hill on September 30, 1874.
₫ Secession

Ŧ December 1860, Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky was trying to find a way to save the Union

Ŧ He introduced a two-part bill:

Part I -- extend the Missouri Compromise line all the way to the Pacific Ocean—never allowing slavery north of the line

Part II -- create an “unamendable” amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing forever ‘the right’ to hold slaves in the states south of the compromise line
Ŧ The compromise bill received little support; things had gone TOO far !!

Ŧ Slavery in the West was no longer an issue; an abolitionist was in the White House; secession was the only choice

Ŧ December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the 1st state to secede; by February 1861, she was joined by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas

¿¿ Why was the South dissatisfied with the election of Lincoln ?

The Confederacy

Ŧ Most Southerners believed they had the right to secede

Ŧ Quoting the Declaration, “it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish” a government that denies the rights of its citizens

Ŧ They believed Lincoln would deny Southerners the right to own slaves

Ŧ So, 7 southern states meet in Montgomery, Alabama to form a new nation

Ŧ The Confederate States of America; Jefferson Davis of Mississippi became the 1st and only President
An American Profile

Jefferson Davis 1808 – 1889

After service in the Mexican War, Jefferson Davis became a United States Senator from Mississippi. Here, he championed states’ rights. Then as Secretary of War, he influenced President Pierce to sign the Kansas-Nebraska Act. But Davis opposed splitting the Union. As tensions grew between the South and the North, he urged southern states not to secede.

They disregarded his advice. When Mississippi left the Union in 1861, Davis left the Senate and became the president of the Confederacy.
The Civil War Begins
Lincoln took the oath of the Presidency on March 4, 1861

In his inaugural address, he warned, “no state… can legally get out of the Union”

He pledged no war… unless the South started it

“In YOUR hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in MINE,

is the momentous issue of civil war… We are not enemies, but friends.

We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not

break our bonds of affection.” Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address
¿¿ What is Lincoln’s message to the South in this quote ?

₫ Lincoln’s Difficult Secession

Ŧ Jefferson Davis ordered Confederate forces to begin seizing federal forts in the South

Ŧ Lincoln had to decide…

Ŧ If he allowed the Confederates take over federal property, he would be admitting they had a right to leave the Union

Ŧ If he sent Union troops to protect and keep the forts, he might start a civil war and he might lose the support of the remaining eight slave states that had not seceded from the Union

Ŧ By April, Lincoln had made his decision

Ŧ Confederate troops occupied and controlled all but three forts on the Florida coastline and Fort Sumter in South Carolina

Ŧ Fort Sumter was very important to the Confederacy;

it guarded Charleston harbor

₫ Bombardment of Fort Sumter

Ŧ Food supplies were running low at Fort Sumter

Ŧ Lincoln notified the South Carolina government he was gonna ship food to the fort; he promised not to send troops or weapons

Ŧ This was unacceptable to the Confederates; they demanded Fort Sumter to surrender

Ŧ Union Commander Major Robert Anderson refused to surrender until ordered by the United States government

Ŧ Confederate guns opened fire – the Civil War had begun

Ŧ April 13, 1861, Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter to the Confederacy

Ŧ People of Charleston watched the bombardment from their rooftops; a really big ‘fireworks’ show

Ŧ The ‘fireworks’ would last four terrible years

1. How did the election of 1860 reflect sectional divisions ?

2. How did the south react to the election results ?

3. How did the Civil War begin in 1861 ?


Lincoln and Kennedy
Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.

John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.

John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both Presidents were shot in the head.
Lincoln 's secretary was named Kennedy.

Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.
Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.

Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.

Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.

Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
Lincoln was shot at the theater ! named 'Ford.'

Kennedy was shot in a car called ' Lincoln' made by 'Ford.'
Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.

Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.
Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.

A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.

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