James L. Roark et al., eds., The American Promise: A History of the United States, 2nd ed. (2 vols., Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002), 1: 484-485.
The debate about what to do was briefest in South Carolina. It seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. By February 1861, the six other Deep South states marched in South Carolina’s footsteps. Only South Carolinians voted overwhelmingly from secession, however; elsewhere, the vote was close. In general, the nonslaveholding inhabitants of the pine barrens and mountain counties displayed the greatest attachment to the Union. Slaveholders spearheaded secession. On February 4, representatives from South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas met in Montgomery, Alabama, where three days later they celebrated the birth of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis became president and Alexander Stephens, who had spoken so eloquently about the dangers of revolution, became vice president.
Lincoln’s election had split the Union. Now secession split the South. Seven slave states seceded during the winter, but eight did not. Citizens of the Upper South debated just as furiously whether the South could defend itself better inside or outside the Union, but they came down opposite the Lower South, at least for the moment. Whites in the Upper South had fewer fears that Republican ascendancy meant economic catastrophe, racial war, and social chaos. Lincoln would need to do more than just be elected to provoke them into secession.