How will secession work?

Col. Laurence M. Keitt Laurence M. Keitt

An editorial in the New York Times of August 23, 1860 analyzes the different views of how South Carolina should secede if Lincoln is elected.

We have already published several letters from gentlemen in South Carolina, urging secession in the event of LINCOLN’s election. But these eminent persons do not fully concur in the means of arriving at this result. Col. KEITT is for disunion Pure and simple, — and does not bother his chivalric head about details, whether one State secedes, or ten, — whether anybody dissolves beside himself, is to him a matter of supreme indifference. Col. ORR, a cooler politician, who has the sagacity to perceive that talk alone will not accomplish the results at which they aim, is in favor of secession, but only in case several other States will unite with South Carolina in such a movement. And Mr. BOYCE would have South Carolina leave the Union, even if she leaves it “solitary and alone.”

The editorial quotes from Boyce’s letter advocating secession, and goes on to speculate about how the process of secession might occur. The editorialist envisions that by the time a convention could be called and delegates selected, “by that time the discovery will have been made that President LINCOLN, after all, is doing the South no harm, and that their crops need attention at home.”

This might have been the case, except that in 1860 the time between the election of a president and the beginning of his administration was 120 days — plenty of time for a convention to decide on secession before Lincoln would even have a chance to show whether he was a threat to the South or not.

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2 Responses to How will secession work?

  1. Barnyay says:

    I am seriously inspired by the facial hair options available to the 1860’s man. Mr. Wise’s neckbeard was fearsome, but Mr. Keitt’s dashing coif is a show-stopper.

    Col. Orr makes a deft case. “Well, I guess our state will leave the union, but only if the neighbors go too. Those cats in South Carolina are cra-zy!”

    Also I should apologize. While I enjoy Civil War history, unfortunately I’m still at the mercy of the CliffsNotes version of public school, so my comments won’t be nearly as profound as, say, Chris Moore’s. I’m soaking in a lot here.

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