Term Paper: Old South and Secession

Pages: 4 (1430 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Everyone assumed that these states would rally to the Confederacy. They did not. Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee held most of the white population in the South as well as the manufacturing base. These states were crucial to the Confederacy's survival. Another challenge was resistance by the federal government, which refused to give up Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens in Florida. The Confederate government needed to be resolute in the face of this challenge or risk the breakup of the infant nation. Since most of the political leaders were radicals, they took strong action which resulted in war. The third challenge was to avoid war, which they failed to do because of their response to the second challenge. The forth challenge was to gain legitimacy. They did this when Virginia joined the Confederacy and Richmond was made the new capital. The Northern states respected Virginia for its history, the number of presidents it produced, and as the home of men like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison (Catton, 1961; Davis 1982).

V. Relationship of the Deep South and the Upper South

The people of the Upper South were shocked by the behavior and attitudes of the people in the Deep South. The people of the Deep South (the cotton belt states) were equally puzzled by the attitudes of people in the Upper South. The states of the Upper South had strong Unionist sentiments, espoused primarily by former Whigs, now called the Opposition. The Uppers South States, led by Virginia's governor, John Letcher proposed a compromise to the crisis, and called for a convention of states to settle Northern and Southern differences, but their efforts failed. Sentiment was strong for the federal government and Virginia and North Carolina voters turned down a referendum to succeed in plebiscites. After Fort Sumter, however, four of these states did succeed. The Upper South had much of the manufacturing capability of the Confederacy and a significant portion of the white population. As noted above, Virginia was particularly important because of its history and connection to the Founding Fathers. The Upper South provided much of the industrial base for the Confederacy during the war and many its best soldiers and leaders. Thus, the Upper South was essential to the Confederacy (Catton, 1961; Crofts, 1989).

VI. The South's Motivations and Its Ultimate Doom

The Confederacy doomed the Old South. The only way to have prevented this would have been to have avoided the Civil War, because the South, realistically, had little hope of winning a war with the North if the North made a determined effort to preserve the Union. The loss of the war, the destruction it wrought, and the end of slavery ensured the end of the Old South and the way of life that characterized it. But, even without the Civil War, this way of life would have been doomed by increasing industrialization, improved communications, and intercontinental rail transportation, as well as growing foreign opposition to slavery (Crofts, 1989; Davis, 1982).

VII. Why Did Southerners Risk Everything?

Southerners risked everything for several reasons. First, they thought that if they did not make a stand after the election of 1860, they would lose their way of life anyway. Second, they were confident of victory if it came to war. Radicals had convinced them that one Southerner could handle three Yankees (or five, or ten). Southerners also felt that Britain and France would assist them to protect their own economic interests if the South needed help. Furthermore, it was inconceivable to Southerners that the North could conquer so large an area. All they had to do was stay on the defensive. Third, this was an age in which war was glorified, especially in the South. War was about honor and glory and not something to be avoided. Finally, most Southerners loved their way of life, even those who were not part of the planter class. They saw war as a way to preserve their culture. Many of the lower class, far from resenting the planters, hoped to become planters themselves some day (Catton, 1961; Woodworth, 2000).


Catton, Bruce. The Coming Fury. London: Phoenix Press, 1961.

Crofts, Daniel W. Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis.

Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

Davis, William C.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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