Secession Crisis

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The Secession Crisis in U.S. history started with the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860. With the certification of the election by the Electoral College in December 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana followed in early 1861. These seven states established the Confederate States of America with its capital at Montgomery, Alabama and proclaimed their independence from the United States. They removed their congressional delegations from Congress.

President James Buchanan did little to resolve the crisis or to persuade the southern states to discuss their issues. Congress attempted to resolve the crisis with the Crittenden Compromise, the Corwin Amendment, and the Peace Conference of 1861. All were unsuccessful.

Upon the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in March of 1861, the crisis further devolved. South Carolina, wishing to assert its rights of sovereignty over its territory, demanded the removal of what it considered to be a foreign military power from its soil: the U.S. forces at Fort Sumter. Lincoln refused and on April 12, 1861, South Carolina attacked the United States at Fort Sumter. Four days later, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to man an army to defend the United States against further attacks and to restore the secessionist states to the Union.

As a result of Lincoln's war message, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina seceded from the United States and joined the Confederacy. The Confederacy moved its capital to Richmond, Virginia. The American Civil War had begun.