On February 1, a secession convention in Texas voted to leave the Union. Three weeks later, a popular vote ratified the decision by a three-to-one margin. Texas Governor Sam Houston (1793-1863), who owned a dozen slaves, repudiated secession and refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. As a result, he was forced from office. Houston predicted: "Our people are going to war to perpetuate slavery, and the first gun fired in the war will be the [death] knell of slavery."
Establishing the Confederacy
In early February 1861, the states of the lower South established a new government, the Confederate States of America, in Montgomery, Alabama, and drafted a constitution. Although modeled on the U.S. Constitution, this document specifically referred to slavery, state sovereignty, and God. It explicitly guaranteed slavery in the states and territories, but prohibited the international slave trade. It also limited the President to a single six-year term, gave the President a line-item veto, required a two-thirds vote of Congress to admit new states, and prohibited protective tariffs and government funding of internal improvements.
As President, the Confederates selected former U.S. Senator and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (1808-1889). The Alabama secessionist William L. Yancey (1814-1863) introduced Davis as Confederate President by declaring: "The man and the hour have met. Prosperity, honor, and victory await his administration."
At first glance, Davis seemed much more qualified to be President than Lincoln. Unlike the new Republican President, who had no formal education, Davis was a West Point graduate. And while Lincoln had only two weeks of military experience, as a militia captain, without combat experience in the Black Hawk War, Davis had served as a regimental commander during the Mexican War. In office, however, Davis's rigid, humorless personality; his poor health; his inability to delegate authority; and, above all, his failure to inspire confidence in his people would make him a far less effective chief executive than Lincoln. During the war, a southern critic described Davis as "false and hypocritical...miserable, stupid, one-eyed, dyspeptic, arrogant...cold, haughty, peevish, narrow-minded, pig-headed, [and] malignant."
Following secession, the Confederate states attempted to seize federal property within their boundaries, including forts, customs houses, and arsenals. Several forts, however, remained within Union hands, including Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida, and Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina's harbor.
Last-Ditch Efforts at Compromise
Threats of secession were nothing new. Some Southerners had threatened to leave the Union during a Congressional debate over slavery in 1790, the Missouri Crisis of 1819 and 1820, the Nullification Crisis of 1831 and 1832, and the crisis over California statehood in 1850. In each case, the crisis was resolved by compromise. Many expected the same pattern to prevail in 1861.
Four months separated Lincoln's election to the presidency and his inauguration. During this period, there were two major compromise efforts. John J. Crittenden (1787-1863) of Kentucky, who held Henry Clay's old Senate seat, proposed a series of Constitutional amendments, including one to extend the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific Ocean, in defiance of the Compromise of 1850 and the Dred Scott decision. The amendment would prohibit slavery north of the line but explicitly protect it south of the line. On January 16, 1861, however, the Senate, which was controlled by Democrats, refused to consider the
Crittenden compromise. Every Republican Senator opposed the measure and six Democrats abstained. On March 4, the Senate reconsidered Crittenden's compromise proposal and defeated it by a single vote.
Meanwhile, Virginia had proposed a peace convention to be held in Washington, D.C., February 4, 1861, the very day that the new Confederate government was to be set up in Alabama. Delegates, who represented 21 of the 34 states, voted narrowly to recommend extending the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific. The delegates also would have required a four-fifths vote of the Senate to acquire new territory. The Senate rejected the convention's proposals 28 to 7.
Compromise failed in early 1861 because it would have required the Republican Party to repudiate its guiding principle: no extension of slavery into the western territories. President-elect Lincoln made the point bluntly in a message to a Republican in Congress: "Entertain no proposition for a compromise in regard to the extension of slavery. The instant you do, they have us under again; all our labor is lost, and sooner or later must be done over.... The tug has to come and better now than later."
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Civil War (Občianska vojna v USA) - complete version
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Zdroje: Digital History