Why Did North Carolina Secede?

Why Did North Carolina Secede? Al Mackey asks this question in his blog post at https://studycivilwar.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/why-did-north-carolina-secede/

Of course anyone who knows Mackey, knows what the answer will be — SLAVERY What else????

I do admit Mackey lays out his case well using facts and figures to support his argument, but these are just cherry picked figures. In Reality North Carolina did not even mention slavery in their secession document. They do mention maintaining their sovereignty

AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of North Carolina and the other States united with her, under the compact of government entitled “The Constitution of the United States.”

We, the people of the State of North Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded, and abrogated.

We do further declare and ordain, That the union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States, under the title of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

Done in convention at the city of Raleigh, this the 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of said State.

Now more to the point of secession let’s just take a couple of sources into consideration related to the act of secession–

Unionism and Secession in the South:

One further caveat in thinking about Southern Unionism. Virtually all historians, including this one, are agreed today on the centrality of slavery in explaining the road to secession. Yet if we would understand the nature of Southern Unionism we cannot stop there in accounting for
the abandonment of Unionist by sufficient Southerners to create the Confederacy. Human motivation and loyalties are more complex than that. A concern about the future of slavery was more often in the background than in the forefront of Southerners’ thinking about the Union.

Certainly it is difficult to show a clear causal line between direct involvement with slavery and attitudes toward secession. For one thing, too many unconditional Unionists….were slaveholders. For such persons the ownership of slaves was not sufficient reason for supporting
secession. For another, most of the Southerners who made up the Confederacy were not directly connected with slavery at all. The majority of white Southerners, after all, did not own a single slave. Their concern for the institution of slavery could at best have been
only an indirect motive for supporting secession and later the Confederacy.

It makes much more sense to see slavery as a shaper of Southern civilization and values than as an interest. The anxiety about the future of slavery was there because the future of the South was intimately tied up with the institution. But the role of slavery in moving individual Southerners from Unionism to secession was neither simple nor obvious. Precisely at what point an individual Southerner decided that he or she could no longer support the Union when it came
into conflict with region depended upon many things, not only upon his or her immediate relationship to slavery.”

(The Other South, Southern Dissenters in the Nineteenth Century, Carl N.
Degler, Harper & Row, 1974, page 122)


Self-Preservation Compelled Secession:

“What mighty force lay back of this Southern movement, which by the beginning of February, 1861, had swept seven States out of the Union? An explanation early accepted and long held by the North made it simply the South’s desire to protect slavery. Forty years of wrangling over this subject, fortified by many statements Southerners had made about it….[and] South Carolina in her secession declaration had made the North’s interference with slavery her greatest grievance, and the subject appeared equally large in other seceding States.

Yet simple answers are never very satisfying, and in this case it was too simple to say that Southerners seceded and fought a four-year war for the surface reason of merely protecting their property in slaves. Had not the South spurned the Corwin Amendment, which guaranteed slavery in the States against all interference by Congress? And what happened to the subject of slavery in the territories, which had loomed so big in the 1850’s? Now it was forgotten by both the North and the South.

Slavery was undoubtedly a potent cause; but more powerful than slavery was the Negro himself. It was the fear of what would ultimately happen to the South if the Negro should be freed by the North, as the abolitionists seemed so intent on doing – and Southerners considered Republicans and abolitionists the same. This fear had worried Calhoun when he wrote in 1849 “The Address of Southern Delegates in Congress to their Constituents.” It was not the loss of property in slaves that the South feared so much as the danger of the South becoming another Santo Domingo, should a Republican regime free the slaves. And it is no argument to say that Lincoln would never have tried to do this. The South believed his party would force him to it if he did not do so of his own volition. If he were not himself an abolitionist, he had got his position by abolition votes. A friend of Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, told him that the South’s knowledge of what happened in Santo Domingo and “Self-preservation had compelled secession.”

(A History of the South, Volume VII, The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1950, pp. 8-10)

Last One

A New Yorker on Southern Secession:

“Congressman Daniel Sickles, a Democrat from New York City, delivered a speech in the House of Representatives on December 10, 1860 on the question of secession. He opposed the use of force to retain States in the Union, making it clear that :

“When the call for force comes—let it come whence it may—no man will ever pass the boundaries of the city of New York for the purpose of waging war against any State of this Union…the Union can be made perpetual by justice; but it cannot be maintained an instant by force. (Sickles recognized the right of secession)…as the last dread alternative of a free State when it has to choose between liberty and justice. In our Federal system the recognized right of secession is a conservative safeguard. It is the highest constitutional and moral guarantee against injustice; and therefore if it had been always and universally acknowledged as a rightful remedy, it would have contributed more than all else to perpetuate the Union, by compelling the observance of all their obligations on the part of all the States. The opposite dogma, which is so extensively believed at the North, that no matter what wrongs a State may have to endure, it may and ought to be compelled by force to remain in the Union, even as a conquered dependency, is a most dangerous error in our system of government, and has contributed largely to the existing anarchy.”

(The Secession Movement in the Middle Atlantic States, William C. Wright, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1973, pp. 189-190)

Mackey in his infinite wisdom flat out makes the statement that North Carolina left the Union for no other reason but to protect slavery. Here we see three different reason why North Carolina or the cotton states left the Union. I have recorded way too many reason and sources on secession to post here, and I know long pots get boring, but if you have an interest you may go to Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education http://southernheritageadvancementpreservationeducation.com/page.php?4 and read as many entries and you want on the subject. You will see how slanted Mackey’s version of history really is.


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