South Carolina was the first state
to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860. South Carolina asked the
other slave states to join together in forming a new nation. By February
1861 six other states from the lower south followed South Carolina. They
were Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
These seven states formed a new
union called the Confederate States of America. The South gave three
reasons for leaving the Union:
The Confederate States felt
the United States thought they had broken the Constitution.
The Confederacy argued that
the United States had failed to enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws.
The government would not allow
slavery in the new territories.
The upper southern states remained
with the Union at this time. Virginia said that if the North decided to
fight they would fight against them. Lincoln said they would not use force
to get the states back into the Union. He hoped they would do so on their
The Confederate States began
taking over the forts on their land from the federal soldiers. There was
no fighting. Only two federal forts were left in the South. They were Fort
Pickens in Florida and Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. Both of
the forts were surrounded by Confederate troops.
Fort Sumter in 1861
In April 1861 Lincoln sent
word to Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy. He told
Davis he was sending needed supplies to the troops at Fort Sumter.
This left Davis with two
choices. He could let the supplies in, or he could order his troops
to fire on the fort. Davis ordered his troops to fire. The fort
returned the fire. This was the beginning of the Civil War.
Virginia voted to leave the
Union a few days later. North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas
followed shortly after Virginia. The slave states of Missouri,
Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware remained loyal to the Union.
Western Virginia formed a new state, West Virginia, for those who
wanted to be a free state.
Fort Sumter today
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