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A Southern View of History: The War for Southern Independence




In Part five we briefly examine the politics and election of 1860 and how the results were devastating to Southerners. The election of l860 was going to be decisive for the future of the union. Southerners viewed Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party as intolerable abolitionists who threatened the southern way of life. Taking advantage of the conflicts within the Democratic Party, Abraham Lincoln and the relatively new Republican Party, an amalgam of former Whigs, ex-Democrats, and members of smaller anti-slavery parties, united forces and achieved a majority of electoral votes, despite earning less than a majority of the popular votes. The Republican strategy worked. The split in the Democratic Party assured Lincoln’s victory, prompting seven states to secede by his March inauguration.

Objective: To develop an understanding of how the Southern states viewed the election of Lincoln and how this election was the final blow to the Union of 1860.

A. The Republican Nominee

image002At the Republican convention, front-runner William H. Seward of New York faced insurmountable obstacles: conservatives feared his radical statements about an “irrepressible conflict” over slavery and a “higher law” than the Constitution, and radicals doubted his moral scruples. Hoping to carry moderate states like Illinois and Pennsylvania, the party nominated Abraham Lincoln of Illinois for president and Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for vice president. Lincoln was only the second presidential candidate ever nominated by the Republican Party.

The election campaign of 1860 revealed just how split the country was. Lincoln’s name did not even appear on the ballot in nine southern states. Of all of the candidates, Lincoln was considered to be the relatively unknown. The initial tendency in hostile quarters was to depreciate him but as he attained the Republican nomination positive reviews began to appear in the press and amongst members of the political arena. The Republicans attempted to avoid the explosive issue of slavery by outlining an agenda that would appeal to voters in the North. The Republican platform was divided into four main segments. First, their immovable stand against any extension of slavery into any Territory at any time.

Second, using the Covode Report of which a hundred thousand copies had been printed for distribution and other evidence, they asserted that the Democratic Party which had governed the country for eight years was a corrupt, bickering organization with a record barren of anything but quarrels, bargains and blunders, and that the time had come for a vigorous new administration, animated by constructive ideals.

Third, they greatly stressed their economic planks and attempting to appeal to local and regional interests, they argued persuasively for a protective tariff emphasized in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New England, agricultural colleges, the homestead law emphasized in the Northwest, internal improvements, and the Pacific Railroad emphasized in the Mississippi Valley.

Lastly, they held out to the alien-born assurances that they would permit no unfriendly legislation. Promoting the Republican support of a homestead act, Lincoln ran under the slogan of “Vote Yourself a Farm” and “Free Speech, Free Home, Free Territory.”

References and Details:

“The Causes Of The War 1861-5, And Events Of Its First Year. The Election of Lincoln”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904.
“Papers Of Hon. John A. Campbell–1861-1865, Copied In 1917”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Richmond, Va., Sept., 1917. New Series, Vol. 4, Old Series, Vol. XLII.
Story of the Confederate States” by Joseph T. Derry, Part 2, Chapter 3
The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates” Chapter 4.
Truths of History” by Mildred L. Rutherford Chapter 8 and Chapter 14.
The Story of the Confederacy” by Robert S. Henry Chapter 2.
The History of the Confederacy 1832-1865” by Clifford Dowdey, Chapter 4
The South Under Siege 1830-2000“, by Frank Conner

B. The Democratic Nominees

At the party convention in Charleston, South Carolina, Democrats failed to agree on a nominee or a solid party platform, prompting a walk out by the Southern delegation. Reconvening in Baltimore, Democrats from the North nominated Stephen Douglas who championed the cry of popular sovereignty. Disgruntled Southern Democrats refused to accept Douglas and the party formally split over the election campaign of 1860. In a separate convention, these Southern National Democrats organized with John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky as their nominee. Both the Northern Democratic and Southern Democratic platforms were quite similar. Many good Unionists in the South believed that two Democratic tickets would throw the election of a President into Congress and ultimately into the Senate, where the South could choose a trusted son.

image003John C. Breckenridge represented the pro-Southern Democratic faction with Joseph Lane from Oregon as his running mate. Breckenridge had virtually no support in the northern states. Breckenridge was not yet forty but was well known. He hailed from a noted family. His grandfather had been Attorney-General under Thomas Jefferson. His father was a promising leader whose career came to a premature end by death at the age of thirty-four. During the Mexican War Breckinridge served as a major with the Kentucky volunteers. Breckenridge had reached Congress in 1851 from Henry Clay’s district. He played a key role in adding the repeal of the Missouri Compromise ban on slavery to Stephen Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act and in securing House approval for the final bill. In 1856 delegates to the Democratic National Convention selected him as James Buchanan’s vice-presidential running-mate. Inaugurated when only 36 years old, he was the youngest vice president in American history. Buchanan did not include him in policy-making, so the vice president eagerly awaited returning to the U.S. Senate upon John Crittenden’s retirement in 1861. The Breckenridge platform stressed “the duty of the federal government to protect property in the territories,” a reference to slave-owners’ rights.

Concerned that a divided party would allow the Republicans to triumph, he offered to decline the Southern Democratic nomination if Douglas would reject his nomination by the Northern Democrats. Douglas declined, and both men remained in the race. Although Breckinridge supported the constitutional protection of slavery and the right of secession, he was not one of the radicals. He captured all the states in the Deep South.

During the interval period, Breckinridge worked for a compromise and supported the attempt by Kentucky’s government to remain neutral. When Kentucky formally sided with the Union in September 1861 and state officials tried to arrest him, he joined the Confederate army as a brigadier general. He accumulated a notable military record, fighting at Bowling Green, Shiloh, Baton Rouge, Stones River, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge. He rose to the rank of major general, then served as the Confederacy’s last secretary of war during what would be the closing months of the war.

Stephen A. Douglas was a U.S. Senator, a leading advocate of “popular sovereignty,” the drafter of the controversial and consequential Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and the presidential nominee of the Northern wing of the Democratic party in 1860. Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia was selected as his Vice Presidential mate.

Only Douglas campaigned in both the North and the South. Douglas was seen as being iron willed, sleeplessly active and holding a constructive vision of the nation’s future. He held great intellectual power and force of character. Douglas Democrats wrote songs pledging the “Little Giant,” as “the light of liberty” and a “hero of the mind.” Douglas opposed any federal interference in a territory’s decision to legalize or ban slavery. He promoted himself as the only national candidate.

image005Douglas was born in Brandon, Vermont. His father died when he was an infant, and his mother moved the family in with her father and bachelor brother. In his youth, Douglas worked as an apprentice cabinetmaker. He was politically inspired by the presidential campaign of General Andrew Jackson in 1828 and became a life-long Democrat. In 1830 his family moved to Canandaigua in upstate New York, where he studied at the town’s academy. Three years later Douglas began to study law under a local lawyer, but after six months and moved to the west to Illinois where training and qualification for the bar were less stringent.

Douglas quite a statesman was a pioneer of the Jacksonian party system with its committees, conventions and partisanship. He became a leader in the state Democratic party, and was elected state’s attorney before he turned 22. In 1836 he was elected to the state house of representatives. He later served as secretary of state, was appointed the following year to the state supreme court, the youngest justice ever to serve in that body. He served Illinois in the House and Senate. In the Senate, Douglas became a leader of the northern Democrats and played a pivotal role in the major issues of the time. Nicknamed “the Little Giant,” the diminutive Senator was a scrappy fighter and a tireless worker, whose powerful orations on the Senate floor drew capacity crowds to the galleries. He was both an advocate of states’ rights and an avid Unionist. Douglas was also a promoter of America’s territorial expansion to fulfill its “manifest destiny,” as the catch phrase of the time put it, to become a continental republic supporting the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Territory, backed the expansionist war against Mexico, proposed homestead legislation and pushed Congress to subsidize a transcontinental railroad.

He was instrumental in the passage of the Compromise of 1850, which allowed the Utah and New Mexico territories to be organized on the basis of popular sovereignty, while permitting California to enter as a free state. Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 repealed the Missouri Compromise. Passage of the bill ignited a political firestorm that caused the collapse of the Whig party, the birth of the Republican Party, and the widening of a fissure between the northern and southern wings of the Democratic Party. Henceforth in the 1850s sectional politics because more volatile and violent. Douglas had been a losing candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1852 and 1856, but was in a position to take the prize in 1860. It was customary at that time that presidential candidates did not campaign actively for the office. Douglas broke with tradition to undertake a speaking tour where his opposition was strongest, New England and the South.

References and Details:

Story of the Confederate States” by Joseph T. Derry, Part 2, Chapter 3.
The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates” Chapter 4.
The History of the Confederacy 1832-1865” by Clifford Dowdey, Chapter 4
“The Causes Of The War 1861-5, And Events Of Its First Year. The Election of Lincoln”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904.
“Papers Of Hon. John A. Campbell–1861-1865, Copied In 1917”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Richmond, Va., Sept., 1917. New Series, Vol. 4, Old Series, Vol. XLII.
The South Under Siege 1830-2000“, by Frank Conner

C. The Constitutional Union Party Nominee

The newly formed Constitutional Union Party drew from Old Whigs and remnants of the Know Nothing Party. Starting in the spring of 1860 members began to call for the nomination of either Millard Fillmore or Sam Houston for president. Houston had much more appeal to the Democratic strain of the party than the former Whig president, but neither candidate had much support outside of the lower South. At the Baltimore convention the Texas delegation worked for the nomination of Houston, but John Bell, an ex-Whig from Tennessee, received the nomination, defeating Houston on the second ballot by a vote of 125 to 68. Edward Everett of Massachusetts was selected for vice president.

image007John Bell was born in Mill Creek, Tennessee. In 1827 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he would serve seven consecutive terms. Bell was several times a losing candidate for speaker of the house, developing a rivalry with fellow Tennessean James K. Polk. In the late-1830s Bell began affiliating with the Whig party. In 1841 he was appointed by the first Whig president, William Henry Harrison, to be secretary of war, but served only a few months. Upon Harrison’s sudden death, the new president, John Tyler, sided with the states’ rights Democrats, provoking Bell and other cabinet members to resign in September 1841. In 1847 Bell was again elected to the state legislature, whose Whig majority promptly promoted him to the first of two terms in the U.S. Senate. He reluctantly supported the Compromise of 1850. Although initially vacillating on the issue, Bell cast the only Southern vote in the Senate against the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Democrats took over the Tennessee legislature and denied Bell a third term, ending his Senate career in March 1859.

The Constitutional Union Party promoted themselves as an anti-extremist party whose purpose was to block the Republicans. The Constitutional Unionists denounced the sectionalism of the other parties. Under the candidacy of Bell they sought to “maintain, protect, and defend the Constitution of our Fathers.” They pledged “reconciliation, fraternity and forbearance” by supporting the Union, the Constitution and the Enforcement of the Laws. They hoped to rally conservatives in both South and North around a vague platform that supported the Constitution and one Union. The party also sought to appeal to the border states. Their strategy was to win enough electoral votes to send the election into the House of Representatives, which, with four parties competing for the presidency, was a distinct possibility. In the final tally, though, Bell carried only three states: Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia.

References and Details:

Story of the Confederate States” by Joseph T. Derry, Part 2, Chapter 3.
The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates” Chapter 4.
The Impending Crisis“, by David M. Potter
“The Causes Of The War 1861-5, And Events Of Its First Year. The Election of Lincoln”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904.
“Papers Of Hon. John A. Campbell–1861-1865, Copied In 1917”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Richmond, Va., Sept., 1917. New Series, Vol. 4, Old Series, Vol. XLII.

D. The Election Outcome

image008In mid-October, 1859, Jefferson Davis was returning from a trip to Maine. On his way Southward, he stopped in New York to speak at Palace Garden. At this gathering he spoke of the current crisis as a contest over state rights and local home rule. Appealing to the Irish and Germans, he declared that federal encroachments were equally a menace to slaveholders in the South and the alien-born in the North. He was cheered as he threatened secession. If one section of the union gained such a predominance that it could override the Constitution and legislate for the other sections, he said, the subjugated population would be placed in a colonial position and the would merely show the spirit of their sires if they struck down this tyranny by revolution.

Some New York Democrats gave Davis assurance that if there were a Northern army assembled to march for the conquest of the South, it would have to fight a battle at home before it reached the border. On November 16, 1859, Davis addressed the Mississippi legislature. He declared that if a Republican were elected President in 1860 that disunion would be a necessity and he would tear Mississippi’s star from the American flag. Veteran Mississippi unionist Henry S. Foote agreed that secession was certain if Lincoln won. Even moderates thought this to be so. Alexander H. Stephens, who initially opposed secession, predicted that South Carolina would secede, that the Gulf states would follow and that after some hesitation by the border region, war would begin.

image010On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the election of President of the United States by collecting only 39 percent of the popular vote and carried every northern state except New Jersey. The Federal Record notes 81.2% of eligible voters participated in this election. Six out of ten of the American people had not voted for him and did not like him. Almost nobody in the southern states voted for Lincoln and he was not even on the ballot in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee or Texas. In these states most of the people voted for Breckenridge who swept the deep South. Although Douglas finished last in the electoral college, he received more popular votes than anyone except Lincoln. Lincoln was the first President to be elected by a purely sectional party, with its strength entirely in the North. To Southerners the future was particularly alarming. A man had been elected President who was not even on the ballot in ten states of the South. The North had simply outvoted them. Lincoln did appear on the ballot in some Southern states but faired poorly. For instance, in Maryland it was Breckenridge who took 45.8% of the vote. Bell took 45.2%, Douglas 6.5%, and Lincoln had 2.5%.

One astonishing fact of the election was that Douglas, despite his lion-hearted fight, had won only twelve electors, nine in Missouri and three in New Jersey. If the popular vote for Breckenridge had been added to Douglas’s, the total would have exceeded that cast for Lincoln by 350,000. As it was, Breckenridge obtained the seventy-two electoral votes of eleven Southern states, and Bell the thirty-nine electors in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Since the South now had only one third of the total white male population of the U. S., many Southerners concluded that the only way they could continue to play a role in any national government was to secede and form a government of their own. Women nor slaves were allowed to vote in any state during the election of 1860. Free blacks, which accounted for 1 percent of the northern population, were allowed to vote in only Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

image012When the election of Lincoln was certain, much of the Lower South gave way to a frenzy of secession. In South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi the demand for action was so instant and aggressive that it took the North aback. South Carolina was like a smoldering bed of charcoal catching afire. The States Rights flag, a red star against a white background, was hung at public buildings. In Charleston, South Carolina, people crowded the streets, raising the palmetto flag at the office of the Mercury newspaper, amid wild cheering.
image014Secession fever seemed to rage less violently in Alabama and Mississippi, while in lowland Georgia it was intense. The night after the election, the largest mass meeting that Savannah, Georgia, had ever witnessed called for a State convention and rapid defensive measures. The colonial flag of Georgia was raised at various points and Georgia citizens gathered at many county seats to organize minutemen. All of the prominent officers of Alabama – the governor, both Senators, all Representatives but one, and the Supreme Court judges were in favor of drastic action following Lincoln’s election.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, an overwhelming demand had arisen for a special session of the legislature to discuss secession. Lincoln’s election was followed by a sharp business panic. The stock market staggered uncertainly, the banks contracted their credit, and borrowers fell into distress. The South was just completing its cotton harvest, for the growing of which it had incurred the usual debts at the North. Now, in view of possible departure from the Union, it tended to hold on to the crop, meanwhile letting obligations to Northern merchants and jobbers become delinquent. It also moved to withdraw its balances from Northern banks. By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration in March, seven states South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas had seceded from the Union.

No presidential election in American history had more serious consequences. Lincoln’s election provoked secession of the Southern states, which triggered an Northern War of Aggression towards the South with over 600,000 Americans killed, more Americans than in all other wars America fought in put together.


Election of 1860 President Vice President Party Electoral Vote Popular Vote Per Cent
Abraham Lincoln (Illinois) Hannibal Hamlin(Maine) Republicans 180 1,865,593 39.78
Stephen A. Douglas (Illinois) Herschel V. Johnson (Georgia) Northern Democrats 12 1,382,713 29.48
John C. Breckinridge (Kentucky) Joseph Lane(Oregon) Southern Independent Democrats 72 848,356 18.09
John Bell (Tennessee) Edward Everett (Massachusetts) Constitutional Union 39 592,906 12.64


State A. Lincoln %   S. Douglas % J. Breckinridge % J. Bell %
Alabama   0 13,618 15.1 48,669 54 27,835 30.9
Arkansas 0 5,357 9.9 28,732 53.1 20,063 37
California 38,733 32.3 37,999 31.7 33,969 28.3 9,111 7.6
Connecticut 43,488 58.1 15,431 20.6 14,372 19.2 1,528 2
Delaware 3,822 23.7 1,066 6.6 7,339 45.5 3,888 24.1
Florida 0 223 1.7 8,277 62.2 4,801 36.1
Georgia 0 11,581 10.9 52,176 48.9 42,960 40.3
Illinois 172,171 50.7 160,215 47.2 2,331 0.7 4,914 1.4
Indiana 139,033 51.1 115,509 42.4 12,295 4.5 5,306 1.9
Iowa 70,302 54.6 55,639 43.2 1,035 0.8 1,763 1.4
Kentucky 1,364 0.9 25,651 17.5 53,143 36.3 66,058 45.2
Louisiana 0 7,625 15.1 22,681 44.9 20,204 40
Maine 62,811 62.2 29,693 29.4 6,368 6.3 2,046 2
Maryland 2,294 2.5 5,966 6.4 42,482 45.9 41,760 45.1
Massachusetts 106,684 62.8 34,370 20.2 6,163 3.6 22,331 13.1
Michigan 88,481 57.2 65,057 42 805 0.5 415 0.3
Minnesota 22,069 63.4 11,920 34.2 748 2.1 50 0.1
Mississippi 0 3,282 4.7 40,768 59 25,045 36.2
Missouri 17,028 10.3 58,801 35.5 31,362 18.9 58,372 35.3
New Hampshire 37,519 56.9 25,887 39.3 2,125 3.2 412 0.6
New Jersey 58,346 48.1 62,869 51.9 0  
New York 362,646 53.7 312,510 46.3 0  
North Carolina 0 2,737 2.8 48,846 50.5 45,129 46.7
Ohio 231,709 52.3 187,421 42.3 11,406 2.6 12,194 2.8
Oregon 5,329 36.1 4,136 28 5,075 34.4 218 1.5
Pennsylvania 268,030 56.3 16,765 3.5 178,871 37.5 12,776 2.7
Rhode Island 12,244 61.4 7,707 38.6 0  
South Carolina X
Tennessee 0 11,281 7.7 65,097 44.6 69,728 47.7
Texas 0 18 0 47,454 75.5 15,383 24.5
Vermont 33,808 75.7 8,649 19.4 218 0.5 1,969 4.4
Virginia 1,887 1.1 16,198 9.7 74,325 44.5 74,481 44.6
Wisconsin 86,110 56.6 65,021 42.7 887 0.6 161 0.1

Source: Congressional Quarterly Guide to U.S. Elections, 3rd Edition.

Note: The “-” in the Popular Vote section indicates that a candidate was not on the ballot in a given state and thus received no votes.
There was no popular election in South Carolina, as electors were chosen by the state legislature. and their 8 electoral votes went to Breckenridge.

References and Details:

“The Peace Commissioners–Their Conference with Lincoln”, Southern Historical Society Papers 1959. New Series, Vol. 14, Old Series, Vol. LII. 2d Confederate Congress–(2d Session)–Monday, February 6, 1865
Story of the Confederate States” by Joseph T. Derry, Part 2, Chapter 3.
The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates” Chapter 4. “Truths of History” by Mildred L. Rutherford Chapter 8 and Chapter 14.
The Story of the Confederacy” by Robert S. Henry Chapter 2.
The South Under Siege 1830-2000“, by Frank Conner

E. The Morrill Tariff Is Passed

image015High protective tariffs were always the policy of the old Whig Party and had become the policy of the new Republican Party that replaced it. A recession beginning around 1857 gave the cause of protectionism an additional political boost in the Northern industrial state. Lincoln had been elected on a pledge to increase the economic prosperity of the country and his proposal involved tariffs. Soon after he took office, the Morrill Tariff was passed. The original Morrill Tariff law passed and was signed into law by lame duck President Buchanan the Pennsylvania protectionist, on 2 March 1861, just before the Sumter incident, and was cheered in parts of the Northeast, and particularly in Pennsylvania for economic protection. Half of the iron of the country was made in Pennsylvania. United States federal tariff revenues had fell disproportionately on the South, which paid for 87% of the total collected. While the tariff protected Northern industrial interests, it raised the cost of living and commerce in the South substantially. It also reduced the trade value of their agricultural exports to Europe. These combined to place a severe economic hardship on many Southern states. Even more galling was that 80% or more of these tax revenues were expended on Northern public works and industrial subsidies, thus further enriching the North at the expense of the South. While attempting to protect domestic industry from foreign imports, the unanticipated effect was to reduce the nation’s exports and thereby help increase unemployment to the devastating figure of 25%. Lincoln had indicated that he would sign the Morrill Tariff bill should it not be passed before his inauguration on 4 March 1861. (Basler – Collected Works of Lincoln vol. 4, pg. 213).
image017The act sponsored by Justin S. Morrill and Thaddeus Stevens raised the average tariff from about 15% to 37% with increases to 47% within three years. This was reminiscent and even higher than the Tariffs of Abomination of 1828 and 1832, which had led to a constitutional crisis and threats of secession. The protectionists pointed out that only two Republicans in both houses had been against the tariff bill and one of these was an Ohioan. Out of 40 Southern Congressmen only one Tennessee Congressman voted for it. To the South it was viewed as a mortal threat, for Dixie exported three-fourths of all she produced and imported much of her manufactured goods, in spite of the enormous import tariffs that were already in existence. With Lincoln’s Morrill Tariff, the South would be forced to pay even higher prices for imports or find northern replacements, which would then help pay for the northern industrial revolution. Either way, southern wealth would be siphoned off into the pockets of northern industrialists or President Lincoln’s federal government. Francis Lieber wrote his friend Charles Sumner declaring that such enactments fed the very real hatred with other sections felt for New England. The rates were gradually increased during and after the conflict, bringing in revenue to help pay for the war.

A majority, such as held with Northern interest and their industrial allies can easily exploit a regional or economic minority such as the south unmercifully unless they have strong constitutional guarantees that can be enforced. That was the push behind the Southern states demand for reaffirmation of States Rights and the declaration of nullification. The need to limit central government power to counter this natural greed in men was recognized by the founding fathers. They knew the tendencies controlling government to succumb to the temptations of greed, self-interest, and the lust for power. The Constitution built provisions such as the separation of powers and provisions delegating certain functions and powers to the federal government and retaining others at the state level. Specifically the 10th Amendment which was largely ignored by all three branches of the Federal Government as 1861 arrived. The Tariff question and the States Rights question were therefore strongly linked as is the question of secession as an alternative to the South being exploited and turned into a “tax slaves” or a ” colony ” of the Northern Industrials.

image019The necessity of financing war, a war against the region that provided most of the taxes to run the Federal Government and to support the New England industrialist caused Lincoln to once again promote a rise in import duties as a source of revenue. In a message to Congress shortly after the firing on Fort Sumter, he pointed to the reports of the Secretaries of the Treasury, War, and Navy, as giving the information necessary for action. Treasury Secretary, Salmon P. Chase, reluctantly recommended a rise in import duties as part of his program to finance the war. Congress accordingly passed the Tariff Act of August 5, 1861, which raised the Morrill levels. The Morrill’s tariff legislation of March 2 and August 5, 1861, nearly doubled the rates of import duties that were exacted by the tariff of 1857.

Under the stress of war, high tariffs were easily passed by successive Republican majorities in Congress and approved by Lincoln. The Lincoln’s call on July 1 for three hundred thousand additional troops was a foretelling of the increased demands which would be made upon the Treasury. The Pacific Railway Act, authorized Federal land grants and loans to aid construction of a railroad line between the Missouri River and California, and the Agricultural College Act further burdened the Federal Treasury. Ostensibly to meet some of these additional needs, the Tariff Act of July 14, 1862, was passed. Designed to increase duties to offset the previously enacted internal taxes, the measure aided the home manufacturer primarily in the Northeast again. Customs duties were raised to an average of 37% and the tax free list established by the 1861 legislation was cut nearly in half. These upward changes became the basis for the even higher duties of the 1864 tariff. Western Democrats in Congress protested that the high duties, made still higher by the fact that they had to be paid in gold, laid an unjust burden on Western agriculture for the benefit of Eastern industry. With the South no longer contributing to the Federal Treasury, the West now became the new “colony region” to exploit. Lincoln let this process go on a few years effectively transferring the wealth of the West into the pockets of New England monopolists and capitalists.

image021The Morrill Tariff should not be confused with the Morrill Act, also known as the Land-Grant College Act. This legislation, named in honor of Justin S. Morrill, was passed on June 10, 1862. This act provided for every participating state to receive 30,000 acres of land for each senator and representative it sent to Congress. The same terms were extended to Southern states, after being readmitted to the union.

References and Details:

The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates” , by Edmond A Pollard Chapter 4.
The South Was Right” by James R. Kennedy and Walter D. Kennedy Chapter 13.
For Good and Evil“, by Charles Adams
“Abraham Lincoln and the Tariff”, by Reinhard H. Luthin

Part 5 Questions:

In short essay format give and support an opinion for at least six of these questions:

1. Why was the election of Abraham Lincoln such a defining moment for Southern politicians?
2. What were some of the fears and concerns faced by the average Southerner regarding the election of Lincoln as President?
3. What would your feelings be if a man, who was not even on your states ballot was elected President of the United States in 1860?
4. How did the Republican, Northern Democrats, Southern Independent Democrats and Constitutional Union parties differ in platforms?
5. Compare and contrast the image each of the candidates, Lincoln, Breckenridge, Stevens, and Bell portrayed to the Southern voter.
6. How did the election of 1860 further sectionalize America?
7. How did the South view the Morrill Tariff Act?
8. Compare and contrast the legislation and treatment towards first the South, then after secession, the West by the Federal government.
9. If you were living in the Western Territories, how would the tariffs of 1862 and beyond be seen as a burden?
10. Why was Lincoln so willing to use the tariffs as a fundraising measures for federal projects and expenditures? Did all regions pay equally and did all regions benefit equitably?

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