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


How long did Lincoln have to celebrate?

About three days. When he first learned of his election, Lincoln went into the first state of relaxation he had felt in months. An enormous obstacle had been faced and crossed, and all seemed well till the first news of South Carolina arrived in the North.

South Carolina had long been the most obstreperous of all the thirty-three states. As early as 1832, she had nullified one federal law and practically threatened to depart the federal union. South Carolina, the Palmetto State, did not have popular vote results for 1860 because both the presidential electors and the governor were chosen by the state legislature. But the sentiment of white South Carolinians was soon demonstrated. Two days after Lincoln’s election, a new flag appeared on the battlements of Charleston, the Palmetto flag, with a single star. The action was not completely unanticipated, but it still came as a jolt to many Northerners to learn that even one state was truly leaning toward secession.


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