• 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 ...
  • Reply in the Senate to Stephen Douglas

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Reply in the Senate to Stephen Douglas Reply in the Senate to Stephen Douglas 1 Jefferson Davis A month before this speech, the Democratic National Convention had convened in Charleston, South Carolina. When the delegates failed to adopt an explicitly pro-slavery platform, the Convention dissolved. Rival Southern and Northern Conventions reconvened in June 1860, each nominating their own presidential candidate: Stephen Douglas for the North and John Breckinridge for the South. With the Democratic vote thus divided, the Republican candidate was widely expected to win the 1860 election. Here Davis laments the Kansas-Nebraska solution, explaining how Douglas, once a Southern hero, had become a villain. May 17, 1860 ...It is this confusion of ideas ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • Cornerstone Speech

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Cornerstone Speech Cornerstone Speech 1 Alexander Stephens (1812-1883) Former Senator Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederate government, while former Georgia Congressman Alexander Stephens became vice president. Three weeks after Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, Stephens delivered this speech in Savannah, identifying the cornerstone of the Confederacy as an idea opposite to the equality principle of the American founding. March 21, 1861 At half past seven o'clock on Thursday evening, the largest audience ever assembled at the Athenaeum was in the house, waiting most impatiently for the appearance of the orator of the evening, Honorable A. H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States of America. The committee, with invited ...
  • 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 ...
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