• Reply in the Senate to William Seward

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Reply in the Senate to William Seward Reply in the Senate to William Seward 1 Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) The Senate of 1860 looked little like the Senate of 1790, its proceedings having degenerated into unbridled partisanship. Several years before this debate, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks savagely beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner following anti-slavery remarks on the Senate floor. The South had few defenders more tenacious than Mississippi's Senator Jefferson Davis. He had opposed the Compromise of 1850 and hoped for the annexation of much of northern Mexico, which he believed a natural place to expand Southern interests. Here, in response to New York Senator William Seward, Davis makes clear that, like John C. Calhoun, he rejects the ...
  • Farewell Address to the Senate

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Farewell Address to the Senate Farewell Address to the Senate 1 Jefferson Davis Most Southern members of Congress followed their states into secession. In this farewell speech, Senator Davis expresses admiration for the late Senator John C. Calhoun, author of the nullification doctrine, and surprisingly invokes the Declaration of Independence in his cause. January 21, 1861 I rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of Mississippi, by a solemn ordinance of her people in convention assembled, has declared her separation from the United States. Under these circumstances, of course my functions are terminated here. It has seemed to me proper, however, that I should appear in ...
  • First Inaugural Address

     |  Secession and Civil War

    First Inaugural Address First Inaugural Address 1 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, delivered a month after the formation of the Confederacy, served as a final plea for Americans to reunite. Lincoln makes clear that he has no intention to change the status of slavery in the states where it exists, having no constitutional authority to do so. He makes equally clear that secession is not a constitutional option. March 4, 1861 Fellow citizens of the United States: In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of ...
  • Message to Congress in Special Session

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Message to Congress in Special Session Message to Congress in Special Session 1 Abraham Lincoln On April 12, 1861, a Confederate commander informed the Union forces stationed at Fort Sumter, in the Charleston harbor, of his plans to attack. The Civil War began an hour later. President Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 volunteers. Four states from the upper South seceded over the following month. With Congress out of session, Lincoln led the military effort without congressional approval for nearly three months. In this speech to Congress, which convened on Independence Day, he depicts the Confederacy as a section of the Union in insurrection rather than a foreign nation requiring a declaration of war. July 4, 1861 Fellow-citizens of the ...
  • The Emancipation Proclamation

     |  Secession and Civil War

    The Emancipation Proclamation The Emancipation Proclamation 1 Abraham Lincoln The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862, promised emancipation for slaves residing in the Confederacy, unless the rebellious states returned to the Union by January 1 of the following year. The three-month deadline came and went, and slavery ceased to have legal sanction in much of the South. Although complete emancipation did not occur until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, Lincoln's actions earned him the nickname "The Great Emancipator." January 1, 1863 By the President of the United States of America: A Proclamation. Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ...
  • Gettysburg Address

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Gettysburg Address Gettysburg Address 1 Abraham Lincoln From July 1 to 3, 1863, 160,000 men from the Union and Confederate armies met at Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania. It would prove to be the turning point of the war, but with more than 50,000 casualties from both sides it was among the most costly of battles. President Lincoln's speech, delivered four months later, lasted only two minutes. But it said as much or more about the Civil War than any book written since. November 19, 1863 Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or ...
  • Second Inaugural Address

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Second Inaugural Address Second Inaugural Address 1 Abraham Lincoln The South's surrender was a month away when Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural. Lincoln looks back on the war and ahead to the task of rebuilding the nation. A little over a month later, he was assassinated. March 4, 1865 Fellow Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses ...
  • South Carolina Secession Declaration

     |  Secession and Civil War

    South Carolina Secession Declaration South Carolina Secession Declaration 1 In December 1860, South Carolina announced its departure from the United States of America, citing Abraham Lincoln's election as a primary cause. Six states quickly followed South Carolina's lead, and on February 4, 1861, they banded together to form the Confederate States of America. December 24, 1860 Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union The People of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights ...
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