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CW 150: Secession, Timing, and Purpose

Flag of Virginia

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During the time following the attack on Ft. Sumter but before the Battle of Bull Run, the country held its breath and began to find out what secession really means. No one was truly surprised when Firebrands in GA and SC began to push the slave holding aristocracy towards secession in the Deep South. Lincoln could see that the regional disillusionment of the Union was just that, regional. However his next move would be the tipping point between a wider more consuming war or simply a militia driven attack on the aristocrats.

Lincoln’s action of calling for militias to give their allegiance to the Federal government and then march through other states to attack major cities in the South, Charleston, Atlanta, and Birmingham, was a radical idea but not unheard-of. Additionally, the comments of Alexnder Stephens explaining GA secession as, “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition,” show that for many the war was about SlaveryAristocracy, and maybe State’s Rights. Thus, the actions of border states in April and May of 1861 appear just as radical as Lincoln asking the common man to fight the Slave holding Aristocracy of the the Deep South. If I were a Virginian at this moment in history, I would have been terrified knowing that the armies of the Federal Government, amassing within the federal district, would be marching through my towns and down my roads to attack “The South.”

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