Following the election of Abraham Lincoln as the president of the United States of America in 1860, A South Carolina secession convection issued an ordinance of succession declaring their immediate withdrawal from the United States (Lillian Goldman Library, “Yale School of Law”). South Carolina had several reasons for secession from the union. The main justification South Carolina gave for seceding was the failure of the parties in the union to uphold their obligations ordained by the constitution. The South Carolina secession convection did not offer clear reasons as to why they were seceding. However, they gave statements that the states had the right and obligation to govern themselves and the people could abolish a government that is termed as destructive to the its main purpose of creation.
In my opinion the given reasons were not the complete reasons for secession. This is because the convention was against the possible outlawing of slavery. There were also fears related to the change in the US constitution that gave the rise to the Federal government. According to South Carolina, the new policy was hostile to the South and had detrimental effects on its beliefs and safety. Jefferson Davis in his inaugural address denounced the lawless invasion of states. He added that for a balance of power to exists, the maintenance of the inviolate rights of the states was paramount; especially the right of each state to “order and control” its institutions according to its own judgement.
South Carolina was not justified in seceding because other approaches could be used to solve the power and policy dispute. Despite having specific reasons for secession, it was also driven by fear of a Republican administration. Abraham Lincoln in his inaugural address (1861) stated that there was no need for fear since he had no intention of doing so (Peters and Wolley, “The American Presidency Project”). This shows that South Carolina was not justified in seceding from the US since some of its reasons were based on abstract issues that had not yet manifested.
- Yale School of Law, Lillian Goldman Law Library, July 2008.
- Wolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, 2017.