The Republic had not even survived a century.
So it was in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. The country founded on the declaration that all men are endowed with “certain unalienable rights” was splintering over a question its forefathers, despite their collective wisdom, had been unable to solve – slavery.
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner and author of the Declaration of Independence, who personified the contradiction at America’s heart.
Compromises in 1820 and 1850 avoided fracturing the nation. But the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act and a slave case out of Missouri during the period undid those compromises and put slavery on a course that would have it expand, not contract, as its opponents hoped.
Deciding the fate of a slave named Dred Scott, the U.S. Supreme Court declared blacks “had no rights which a white man was bound to respect.”
It had become impossible for the nation to live any longer with this Jeffersonian contradiction.
Lincoln told the nation it must answer the question of “whether the Negro is not or is a man ...”
“If he is not a man ... he who is a man may, as a matter of self-government, do just as he pleases with him,” Lincoln argued in Peoria, Ill., in 1857. “... But if the Negro is a man ... why then, my ancient faith teaches me that ‘all men are created equal,’ and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man making a slave of another." In February 1861, following Lincoln’s election, delegates from seven Southern states made good on their threats of secession. More states would follow.
Lincoln made his case in his inaugural address the following month, as war loomed: “Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy.”
Yet even then he referred to secessionists as “countrymen” and appealed to their shared memories and experiences, which he said stretched from every patriot grave to every living heart.
“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war ... You have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.”
His vow of protection would extend to an island in the mouth of Charleston, S.C., harbor, where stood a masonry fort with a name honoring one of those patriot heroes: Thomas Sumter. Quick Fact: Becoming Their Enemy
South Carolina’s “Declaration of Secession” cited Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 and noted: “The slaveholding states will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the federal government will have become their enemy.” Photos
HYPERLINK "http://static.cnhi.zope.net/cnhins/flashpromo/CivilWar/CivilWarPhhttp://static.cnhi.zope.net/cnhins/flashpromo/CivilWar/CivilWarPhotos/(2)LincolnFirstInauguration.jpgotos/(2)LincolnFirstInauguration.jpg" http://static.cnhi.zope.net/cnhins/flashpromo/CivilWar/CivilWarPhotos/(2)LincolnFirstInauguration.jpg Lincoln’s first inauguration (Library of Congress)
HYPERLINK "http://static.cnhi.zope.net/cnhins/flashpromo/CivilWar/CivilWarPhotos/(2)LincolnPortrait.jpg" http://static.cnhi.zope.net/cnhins/flashpromo/CivilWar/CivilWarPhotos/(2)LincolnPortrait.jpg
Abraham Lincoln (Library of Congress)
The Republic had not even survived a century.
- Civil War 150th
Living history events will commemorate 1862 Newtonia battle
One of the oldest and most historic homes in Southwest Missouri — the two-story brick mansion built by Matthew Ritchey about 160 years ago — will be the centerpiece for the 150th anniversary of the first Civil War battle at Newtonia.
More Civil War events scheduled for this fall
The 150th anniversary of the 1862 battle at Newtonia isn’t the only Civil War event slated for the region this fall. A site dedication and sesquicentennial celebration will take place in late October at the Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site near Butler.
Confederate Gen. Price led 1864 campaign into Missouri to liberate state, disrupt election
When former Missouri governor and Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price led an invasion of the state in 1864, he hoped to liberate Missouri from what he believed was Union occupation that had been in place since the first year of the war.
'Angel of death'
Maj. Henry Frisbie of the 37th Illinois — a Union veteran of the campaign that culminated near here in December 1862 — wondered after the Civil War why events in the East so often overshadowed events in the West.
Civil War: Order No. 11 reduced border to a wasteland
Solomon Young epitomized everything Americans admire in one of their own: self-made, a restless, westering soul hewing a life out of the wilderness with nothing but “a gun and an ax and two babies and a blanket,” according to family tradition.
William Quantrill’s legacy remains mixed 150 years after Civil War
In the spring of 1881 — the American Civil War had been over for 16 years — a newspaper editor from Dover, Ohio, wrote an open letter to Joplin residents, asking them to tell their stories about William Clarke Quantrill.
Battle of Wilson’s Creek played key role in Civil War
The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, 150 years ago this week, was a victory for the Confederates. It also resulted in the first death of a Union commander, Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon.
Battle of Island Mound marked first time blacks fought in Civil War combat
In October 1862, Rufus Vann’s journey brought him to the farm of imprisoned bushwhacker John Toothman in Bates County.
Part 8. King Cotton
Slavery arrived in the New World before the Pilgrims, and it might not have survived to see Southern secession had it not been for Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.
Part 7. ‘Pavement of Dead Men’
Having captured Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862, Ulysses Grant and his Army of the Tennessee pushed up the river of the same name as spring came.
- More Civil War 150th Headlines
- Living history events will commemorate 1862 Newtonia battle