Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861


How did the Palmetto State depart the federal union?

On December 16, 1860, 150-plus delegates from the towns and counties assembled at Columbia to discuss and debate the idea of secession. Not only were the quarters cramped, but there was an outbreak of smallpox in the vicinity: these two circumstances persuaded the delegated to adjourn and to reconvene in Charleston a few days later. On December 20, 1860, 167 delegates to the special state convention signed the Ordinance of Secession, which declared that South Carolina now resumed her position as one of the free and independent nations of the world. All connections with the association known as the United States of America were dissolved.

The final vote, which was unanimous, was taken around 1 P.M., and less than one hour later a special was issued by the Charleston Mercury announcing that the federal union was dissolved. The real shock would, of course, take some time to sink in.


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