After the re-election of President Obama, most of the Republican States filed a petition to peacefully grant their State to withdraw from the United States of America in order to create their own government.
“We petition the Obama Administration to peacefully grant the State of Alabama to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government,” reads the Alabama petition. The following text is the same in most of the 20 filed so far:
As the founding fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government…”
Louisiana was the first state to file a petition followed by Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Here are the numbers of petition signers for each of the 20 states (each petition needs 25,000 signatures within 30 days to be considered by the government): Alabama 3,975 Arkansas 350 Colorado 3,055 Florida 4,033 Georgia 1,629 Indiana 3,194
Kentucky 3,229 Louisiana 12,192 Michigan 2,482 Mississippi 3,171 Missouri 2,196 Montana 2,867 New Jersey 2,485 New York 2,847 North Carolina 3,823 North Dakota 2,508 Oregon 2,678 South Carolina 2,632 Tennessee 2,659 Texas 14,883
On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession “legally void”. He had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but that he would use force to maintain possession of federal property. The government would make no move to recover post offices, and if resisted, mail delivery would end at state lines. Where popular conditions did not allow peaceful enforcement of Federal law, U.S. Marshals and Judges would be withdrawn. No mention was made of bullion lost from U.S. mints in Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina. In Lincoln’s Inaugural, U.S. policy would only collect import duties at its ports, there could be no serious injury to justify revolution in the politics of four short years. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union.
Secessionists with and without state forces seized Federal Court Houses, U.S. Treasury mints and post offices. Southern governors ordered militia mobilization, seized most of the federal forts and cannon within their boundaries and U.S. armories of infantry weapons. The governors in big-state Republican strongholds of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania quietly began buying weapons and training militia units themselves. President Buchanan protested seizure of Federal property, but made no military response apart from a failed attempt to resupply Fort Sumter using the ship Star of the West, which was fired upon by South Carolina forces and turned back before it reached the fort.
Lincoln’s victory in the presidential election of 1860 triggered South Carolina’s declaration of secession from the Union in December, and provisional Confederate States of America followed in February. A pre-war February Peace Conference of 1861 met in Washington, Lincoln sneaking into town to stay in the Conference’s hotel its last three days. The attempt failed at resolving the crisis, but the remaining eight slave states rejected pleas to join the Confederacy following a two-to-one no-vote in Virginia’s First Secessionist Convention on April 4, 1861.
The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties and enter into a peace treaty with the United States. Lincoln rejected any negotiations with Confederate agents because he claimed the Confederacy was not a legitimate government, and that making any treaty with it would be tantamount to recognition of it as a sovereign government. Secretary of State William Seward who at that time saw himself as the real governor or “prime minister” behind the throne of the inexperienced Lincoln, engaged in unauthorized and indirect negotiations that failed. President Lincoln was determined to hold all remaining Union-occupied forts in the Confederacy, Fort Monroe in Virginia, in Florida, Fort Pickens, Fort Jefferson, and Fort Taylor, and in the city first passing state Resolves for Secession, Charleston, South Carolina’s Fort Sumter
The American Civil War (1861–1865), in the United States often referred to as simply the Civil War and sometimes called the “War Between the States”, was a civil war fought over the secession of the Confederate States. Eleven southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America (“the Confederacy”); the other 25 states supported the federal government (“the Union”). After four years of warfare, mostly within the Southern states, the Confederacy surrendered and slavery was abolished everywhere in the nation. Issues that led to war were partially resolved in the Reconstruction Era that followed, though others remained unresolved.
Between 1803 and 1854, the United States achieved a vast expansion of territory through purchase, negotiation and conquest. Of the states carved out of these territories by 1845, all had entered the union as slave states: Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida and Texas, as well as the southern portions of Alabama and Mississippi. And with the conquest of northern Mexico, including California, in 1848, slaveholding interests looked forward to the institution flourishing in these lands as well. Southerners also anticipated garnering slaves and slave states in Cuba and Central America. Northern free soil interests vigorously sought to curtail any further expansion of slave soil. It was these territorial disputes that the proslavery and antislavery forces collided over.
The existence of slavery in the southern states was far less politically polarizing than the explosive question of the territorial expansion of the institution westward. Moreover, Americans were informed by two well-established readings of the Constitution regarding human bondage: first, that the slave states had complete autonomy over the institution within their boundaries, and second, that the domestic slave trade – trade among the states – was immune to federal interference. The only feasible strategy available to attack slavery was to restrict its expansion into the new territories. Slaveholding interests fully grasped the danger that this strategy posed to them. Both the South and the North drew the same conclusion: “The power to decide the question of slavery for the territories was the power to determine the future of slavery itself
The election of Lincoln in November 1860 was the final trigger for secession. Efforts at compromise, including the “Corwin Amendment” and the “Crittenden Compromise”, failed. Southern leaders feared that Lincoln would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course toward extinction. The slave states, which had already become a minority in the House of Representatives, were now facing a future as a perpetual minority in the Senate and Electoral College against an increasingly powerful North. Before Lincoln took office in March 1861, seven slave states had declared their secession and joined to form the Confederacy. They established a Southern government, the Confederate States of America on February 4, 1861. They took control of federal forts and other properties within their boundaries with little resistance from outgoing President James Buchanan, whose term ended on March 4, 1861. Buchanan said that the Dred Scott decision was proof that the South had no reason for secession, and that the Union “was intended to be perpetual”, but that “the power by force of arms to compel a State to remain in the Union” was not among the “enumerated powers granted to Congress”. One quarter of the U.S. Army—the entire garrison in Texas—was surrendered in February 1861 to state forces by its commanding general, David E. Twiggs, who then joined the Confederacy.
As Southerners resigned their seats in the Senate and the House, Republicans were able to pass bills for projects that had been blocked by Southern Senators before the war, including the Morrill Tariff, land grant colleges (the Morill Act), a Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad (the Pacific Railway Acts), the National Banking Act and the authorization of United States Notes by the Legal Tender Act of 1862. The Revenue Act of 1861 introduced the income tax to help finance the war.
South Carolina did more to advance nullification and secession than any other Southern state. South Carolina adopted the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union” on December 24, 1860. It argued for states’ rights for slave owners in the South, but contained a complaint about states’ rights in the North in the form of opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, claiming that Northern states were not fulfilling their federal obligations under the Constitution. All the alleged violations of the rights of Southern states were related to slavery.
The Confederacy passed a draft law in April 1862 for young men aged 18 to 35; overseers of slaves, government officials, and clergymen were exempt. The U.S. Congress followed in July, authorizing a militia draft within a state when it could not meet its quota with volunteers. European immigrants joined the Union Army in large numbers, including 177,000 born in Germany and 144,000 born in Ireland.
When the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in January 1863, ex-slaves were energetically recruited by the states, and used to meet the state quotas. States and local communities offered higher and higher cash bonuses for white volunteers. Congress tightened the law in March 1863. Men selected in the draft could provide substitutes or, until mid-1864, pay commutation money. Many eligibles pooled their money to cover the cost of anyone drafted. Families used the substitute provision to select which man should go into the army and which should stay home. There was much evasion and overt resistance to the draft, especially in Catholic areas. The great draft riot in New York City in July 1863 involved Irish immigrants who had been signed up as citizens to swell the machine vote, not realizing it made them liable for the draft. Of the 168,649 men procured for the Union through the draft, 117,986 were substitutes, leaving only 50,663 who had their personal services conscripted.
North and South, the draft laws were highly unpopular. An estimated 120,000 men evaded conscription in the North, many of them fleeing to Canada, and another 280,000 Northern soldiers deserted during the war, along with at least 100,000 Southerners, or about 10% all together. However, desertion was a very common event in the 19th century; in the peacetime Army about 15% of the soldiers deserted every year.In the South, many men deserted temporarily to take care of their families, then returned to their units. In the North, “bounty jumpers” enlisted to get the generous bonus, deserted, then went back to a second recruiting station under a different name to sign up again for a second bonus; 141 were caught and executed.
By 1865 the soldiers of the Union and Confederacy had grown to be the “largest and most efficient armies in the world”. European observers dismissed them as amateur and unprofessional, but a modern military historian’s assessment is that each outmatched the French, Prussian and Russian armies of the time, and but for the Atlantic, would have threatened any of them with defeat.
Jefferson Davis, President of Confederacy (1861–1865)
Seven Deep South cotton states seceded by February 1861, starting with South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These seven states formed the Confederate States of America (February 4, 1861), with Jefferson Davis as president, and a governmental structure closely modeled on the U.S. Constitution.
Following the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for a volunteer army from each state. Within two months, an additional four Southern slave states declared their secession and joined the Confederacy: Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. The northwestern portion of Virginia subsequently seceded from Virginia, joining the Union as the new state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. By the end of 1861, Missouri and Kentucky were effectively under Union control, with Confederate state governments in exile.
Twenty-three states remained loyal to the Union: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. During the war, Nevada and West Virginia joined as new states of the Union. Tennessee and Louisiana were returned to Union military control early in the war.
The territories of Colorado, Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington fought on the Union side. Several slave-holding Native American tribes supported the Confederacy, giving the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) a small, bloody civil war.
The border states in the Union were West Virginia (which separated from Virginia and became a new state), and four of the five northernmost slave states (Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky).
Maryland had numerous pro-Confederate officials who tolerated anti-Union rioting in Baltimore and the burning of bridges. Lincoln responded with martial law and sent in militia units from the North. Before the Confederate government realized what was happening, Lincoln had seized firm control of Maryland and the District of Columbia, by arresting all the prominent secessionists and holding them without trial (they were later released).
In Missouri, an elected convention on secession voted decisively to remain within the Union. When pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne F. Jackson called out the state militia, it was attacked by federal forces under General Nathaniel Lyon, who chased the governor and the rest of the State Guard to the southwestern corner of the state. In the resulting vacuum, the convention on secession reconvened and took power as the Unionist provisional government of Missouri.
Kentucky did not secede; for a time, it declared itself neutral. When Confederate forces entered the state in September 1861, neutrality ended and the state reaffirmed its Union status, while trying to maintain slavery. During a brief invasion by Confederate forces, Confederate sympathizers organized a secession convention, inaugurated a governor, and gained recognition from the Confederacy. The rebel government soon went into exile and never controlled Kentucky.
After Virginia’s secession, a Unionist government in Wheeling asked 48 counties to vote on an ordinance to create a new state on October 24, 1861. A voter turnout of 34% approved the statehood bill (96% approving). The inclusion of 24 secessionist counties in the state and the ensuing guerrilla war engaged about 40,000 Federal troops for much of the war. Congress admitted West Virginia to the Union on June 20, 1863. West Virginia provided about 20,000–22,000 soldiers to both the Confederacy and the Union.
A Unionist secession attempt occurred in East Tennessee, but was suppressed by the Confederacy, which arrested over 3000 men suspected of being loyal to the Union. They were held without trial.
Among the ordinances of secession passed by the individual states, those of three – Texas, Alabama, and Virginia – specifically mentioned the plight of the ‘slaveholding states’ at the hands of northern abolitionists. The rest make no mention of the slavery issue, and are often brief announcements of the dissolution of ties by the legislatures, however at least four states – South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas – also passed lengthy and detailed explanations of their causes for secession, all of which laid the blame squarely on the influence over the northern states of the movement to abolish slavery, something regarded as a Constitutional right by the slaveholding states
The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The practices of total war, developed by Sherman in Georgia, and the mobilization of civilian labor and finances all foreshadowed World War I in Europe. It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. Historian John Huddleston estimates the death toll at ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40. Victory for the North meant the end of the Confederacy and of slavery in the United States, and strengthened the role of the federal government. How the Union tried to secure that victory in the eleven ex-Confederate states is the theme of the Reconstruction Era in the United States that lasted to 1877.
The war produced about 1,030,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease, and 50,000 civilians. Binghamton University historian J. David Hacker believes the number of soldier deaths was approximately 750,000, 20% higher than traditionally estimated, and possibly as high as 850,000. The war accounted for roughly as many American deaths as all American deaths in other U.S. wars combined.
The causes of the war, the reasons for its outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of lingering contention today. Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% in the North and 18% in the South. About 56,000 soldiers died in prisons during the Civil War. An estimated 60,000 men lost limbs in the war.
One reason for the high number of battle deaths during the war was the use of Napoleonic tactics, such as charging. With the advent of more accurate rifled barrels, Minié balls and (near the end of the war for the Union army) repeating firearms such as the Spencer Repeating Rifle and the Henry Repeating Rifle, soldiers were mowed down when standing in lines in the open. This led to the adoption of trench warfare, a style of fighting that defined the better part of World War I.
The wealth amassed in slaves and slavery for the Confederacy’s 3.5 million blacks effectively ended when Union armies arrived; they were nearly all freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves in the border states and those located in some former Confederate territory occupied prior to the Emancipation Proclamation were freed by state action or (on December 18, 1865) by the Thirteenth Amendment.
The war destroyed much of the wealth that had existed in the South. All accumulated investment in Confederate bonds was forfeit. Income per person in the South dropped to less than 40% than that of the North, a condition which lasted until well into the 20th century. Southern influence in the US federal government, previously considerable, was greatly diminished until the latter half of the 20th century. The full restoration of the Union was the work of a highly contentious postwar era known as Reconstruction.
On July 17, 1862, Congress passed two acts allowing the enlistment of African Americans, but official enrollment occurred only after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863. However, state and local militia units had already begun enlisting blacks, including the Black Brigade of Cincinnati, raised in September to help provide manpower to thwart a feared Confederate raid on Cincinnati.
African-American troops bury the dead at Fredericksburg, Virginia.
In actual numbers, African American soldiers comprised 10% of the entire Union Army. Losses among African Americans were high, and from all reported casualties, approximately 20% of all African Americans enrolled in the military lost their lives during the Civil War Notably, their mortality rate was significantly higher than white soldiers;
In general, white soldiers and officers believed that black men lacked the ability to fight and fight well. In October 1862, African American soldiers of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers silenced their critics by repulsing attacking Confederate guerrillas at the Skirmish at Island Mound, Missouri in October 1862. By August, 1863, 14 Negro Regiments were in the field and ready for service. At the Battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana, May 27, 1863, the African American soldiers bravely advanced over open ground in the face of deadly artillery fire. Although the attack failed, the black soldiers proved their capability to withstand the heat of battle, with General Banks recording in the his official report; “Whatever doubt may have existed heretofore as to the efficiency of organizations of this character, the history of this days proves…in this class of troops effective supporters and defenders
[We] find, according to the revised official data, that of the slightly over two millions troops in the United States Volunteers, over 316,000 died (from all causes), or 15.2%. Of the 67,000 Regular Army (white) troops, 8.6%, or not quite 6,000, died. Of the approximately 180,000 United States Colored Troops, however, over 36,000 died, or 20.5%. In other words, the mortality rate amongst the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War was thirty-five percent greater than that among other troops, notwithstanding the fact that the former were not enrolled until some eighteen months after the fighting began.
The most widely known battle fought by African Americans was the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry on July 18, 1863. The 54th volunteered to lead the assault on the strongly fortified Confederate positions. The soldiers of the 54th scaled the fort’s parapet, and were only driven back after brutal hand-to-hand combat. Despite the defeat, the unit was hailed for its valor which spurred further African-American recruitment, giving the Union a numerical military advantage from a population the Confederacy did not attempt to exploit until the closing days of the war.
African American soldiers participated in every major campaign of 1864–65 except Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign in Georgia. The year 1864 was especially eventful for African American troops. On April 12, 1864, at Battle of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest led his 2,500 men against the Union-held fortification, occupied by 292 black and 285 white soldiers. After driving in the Union pickets and giving the garrison an opportunity to surrender, Forrest’s men swarmed into the fort with little difficulty and drove the Federals down the river’s bluff into a deadly crossfire. Casualties were high and only sixty-two of the U.S. Colored Troops survived the fight. Many accused the Confederates of perpetrating a massacre of black troops, and the controversy continues today. The battle cry for the Negro soldier east of the Mississippi River became “Remember Fort Pillow!”
The Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia became one of the most heroic engagements involving African Americans. On September 29, 1864, the African American division of the Eighteenth Corps, after being pinned down by Confederate artillery fire for about 30 minutes, charged the earthworks and rushed up the slopes of the heights. During the hour-long engagement the division suffered tremendous casualties. Of the twenty-five African Americans who were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, fourteen received the honor as a result of their actions at Chaffin’s Farm.
African-American federal troops participating in the march at Lincoln’s second inauguration.
Although black soldiers proved themselves as reputable soldiers, discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, soldiers of African descent were to receive $10.00 a month, with an optional deduction for clothing at $3.00. In contrast, white privates received sixteen dollars per month plus a clothing allowance of $3.50. Many regiments struggled for equal pay, some refusing any money until June 15, 1864, when Congress granted equal pay for all black soldiers, Besides discrimination in pay, colored units were often disproportionately assigned laborer work. 198 General Daniel Ullman, commander of the Corps d’Afrique, remarked “I fear that many high officials outside of Washington have no other intention than that these men shall be used as diggers and drudges.
Blacks, both slave and free, were also heavily involved in assisting the Union in matters of intelligence, and their contributions were labeled Black Dispatches. One of these spies was Mary Bowser. Harriett Tubman was also a spy, a nurse, and a cook whose efforts were key to Union victories and survival.
United States colored troops as prisoners of war Prisoner exchanges between the Union and Confederacy were suspended when the Confederacy refused to return black soldiers captured in uniform. In October 1862, the Confederate Congress issued a resolution declaring all Negroes, free and slave, that they should be delivered to their respective states “to be dealt with according to the present and future laws of such State or States”. In a letter to General Beauregard on this issue, Secretary Seddon pointed out that “Slaves in flagrant rebellion are subject to death by the laws of every slave-holding State” but that “to guard, however, against possible abuse…the order of execution should be reposed in the general commanding the special locality of the capture.
However, Seddon, concerned about the “embarrassments attending this question”, urged that former slaves be sent back to their owners. As for freemen, they would be handed over to Confederates for confinement and put to hard labor. Some have claimed that the experience of colored troops and their white officers in prison life was not significantly different than members of white units. However, African American prisoners of war were forced to construct entrenchments around Richmond in 1864. There are no reports of white prisoners doing such forced labor under fire.
When Ulysses S. Grant became Commander of the Union Army, all exchanges were ceased. Union General Benjamin Butler later stated that: “He (Grant) said that I would agree with him that by the exchange of prisoners we get no men fit to go into our army, and every soldier we gave the Confederates went immediately into theirs, so that the exchange was virtually so much aid to them and none to us.
The American Civil War was a contest marked by the ferocity and frequency of battle. Over four years, 237 named battles were fought, and many more minor actions and skirmishes. In the scales of world military history, both sides fighting were characterized by their bitter intensity and high casualties. “The American Civil War was to prove one of the most ferocious wars ever fought”. Without geographic objectives, the only target for each side was the enemy’s soldier.