The South and Secession: 150 years later

In April 2011 we will be 150 years from the secession of Virginia and the upper South from the United States to join the just formed Confederate States of America. Led by South Carolina in December 1860, seven “deep South” or “cotton” states formally withdrew from the Union in the winter of 1860-1861. But when the upper South states left in April 1861, the Civil War followed quickly as both the U.S. and the Confederate States battled over national supremacy. As we mark the anniversaries of these key events, secession and civil war, we should look more than ever at what the participants said and wrote.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show on The South’s Secession Commemoration on Thursday of this week does just that in a satirical review of whether slavery had anything to do with secession.

Slavery was at the core of secession, of course–see also the Making of Modern America blog post on Why Did Virginia Secede? which takes up this question.

About William Thomas

William G. Thomas III is a professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities. He teaches digital humanities and digital history, 19th century U.S. history, the Civil War, and the history of slavery.
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