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The secession crisis


Abolitionism and Antislavery
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
The Road To War: The 1860 Election

Relevant texts:
Excerpt from "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union"

Relevant interactive tools:
Geography of Slavery
Geography of Slavery

The Civil War
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Resource Type: Primary Source

Who's Who
Resource Type: Primary Source
James Buchanan (1791–1868).

John J. Crittenden (1786-1863)
Resource Type: Primary Source
U.S. senator, U.S. attorney general, and governor of Kentucky. Crittenden was known for his calming and conciliatory demeanor; as senator he attempted to forge a compromise to avert the Civil War. His "Crittenden Compromise," proposed in December 1860, would have prohibited slavery north of the 36 30' line but allowed it to continue south of that, and would have prevented Congress from abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia and from regulating the interstate transportation of slaves. The compromise was rejected in the House and Senate. In July 1861, Crittenden proposed another resolution, which declared that the war would not interfere with the institution of slavery, and this was approved by both houses of Congress.

Crittenden's Proposed Amendment
Resource Type: Primary Source
Abraham Lincoln has been elected President and the threat of secession hangs over the Union. What is Crittenden's plan?

Response to the Crittenden Amendment
Resource Type: Primary Source
This editorial responds to Crittenden's proposal to amend the Constitution.

Mississippi's Declaration of Secession
Resource Type: Primary Source
The first state to secede was South Carolina, doing so on December 20, 1860. Before the end of February, all the states of the Deep South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) had seceded.

Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley
Resource Type: Primary Source
President Abraham Lincoln responds on August 22, 1862, to the publisher Horace Greeley, who three days earlier criticized the government for not making emancipation a key war aim. What Greeley did not know and what Lincoln in his letter does not divulge is that a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was on Lincoln's desk as he wrote this letter to Greeley.

Southern Society: Religion and Slavery
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
Using this DBQ, students will examine the paradoxical role of religion in the lives of slaves in the antebellum South. Different kinds of religion are explored as students confront the ways in which religion served to liberate or to oppress slaves.

Stringfellow's Biblical Justification for Slavery
Resource Type: Primary Source
In his 1860 book, Thornton Stringfellow explains what he sees as the biblical justification for slavery.

The Master-Slave Relationship
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
The recent scholarship on slavery explores the complex relationship between master and slave and re-examines the historical agency of slaves. In reading the slave narratives provided in this DBQ, students can assess how slaves tried to retain their dignity in the worst of circumstances.

Why Did the South (Excluding the Border States) Secede?
Resource Type: Point-Counterpoint
The cause of the Civil War is hotly debated and contested by historians. Some disagree with Eric Foner's thesis and assign to slavery a lesser role in causing the Civil War. Two interpretations that predate Foner are worth mentioning: the economic one, put forth by Charles and Mary Beard; and the political one, proposed by Avery Craven and James G. Randall, which maintains that the war was caused by a "blundering generation" of 1850s leaders, who missed the opportunity to compromise.

General Benjamin Butler to General Winfield Scott
Resource Type: Primary Source
Two Union generals discuss emancipation.

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Historical thinking 

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