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Secession (Murrin, 1999)

Textbook

John M. Murrin, et al., eds., Liberty Equality Power: A History of the American People, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1999), 508.

Lincoln's victory provided the shock that Southern fire-eaters had craved. The tension that had been building for years suddenly exploded like a string of firecrackers, as seven states seceded one after another. According to the theory of secession, when each state ratified the Constitution and joined the Union, it authorized the national government to act as its agent in the exercise of certain functions of sovereignty - but the states had never given away their fundamental underlying sovereignty itself. Any state, then, by the act of its own convention, could withdraw from its "compact" with the other states and reassert its individual sovereignty. Therefore, the South Carolina legislature called for such a convention and ordered an election of delegates to consider withdrawing form the United States. And, on December 20, 1860, that is what the South Carolina convention did, by a vote of 169 to 0.

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How to Cite This Page: "Secession (Murrin, 1999)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/16884.