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The Confederacy is Formed


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:

  1. The Confederate States felt the United States thought they had broken the Constitution.

  2. The Confederacy argued that the United States had failed to enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws.

  3. 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 own.

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.

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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.

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Fort Sumter today

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