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Check out this new series analyzing why the South seceded from the Union, in their own words, by examining the secession documents issued by each state.
Central to the concept of total war is the full mobilization of resources and a more intense experience of warfare. While the technologies and material goods of warfare have changed drastically over time, the most basic resource of warfare has changed very little—the men (and now women) who fight. As a battle of minds, warfare is constantly requiring full mobilization of a soldier’s own personal resources, thus reflecting elements of total war within the singular unit of the soldier.
Kentucky and Missouri were divided border states. Pro-Confederate governments within both states declared secession and issued formal documents, but neither state officially left the Union and remained with the United States during the war. The divided nature of the border states caused conflict within their borders and men from Kentucky and Missouri fought for both sides of the Civil War.
Five of the Confederate states did not write elaborate explanations of secession, issuing only the legal documents dissolving their connection to the United States.
Arkansas was the ninth state to secede on May 6, 1861, part of the second wave of secession after Fort Sumter.
Texas was the seventh state to secede on February 1, 1861, the last of the first phase of secession and the final of the seven states to formally declare the Confederacy on February 8, 1861.
Georgia was the fifth state to secede on January 19, 1861. It was one of the original seven states to declare the Confederate States of America on February 8, 1861. Georgia gives one of the longest explanations for its secession from the Union.
Alabama was the fourth state to secede from the Union on January 11, 1861. It was one of the original seven states to form the Confederacy on February 8, 1861.
Mississippi was the second state to secede from the United States on January 9, 1861 and one of the states to declare the formation of the Confederacy on February 8, 1861. The state's declaration of secession provides one of the clearest connections between secession and slavery.
South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860. Because they were the first to leave they needed to explain to the rest of the states and the world why they were dissolving the Union and defend the legality of secession. South Carolina's declaration of secession includes a defense of states’ rights as the foundation of the legality of secession as well as the grievances with the North that sparked that action.
While secession and the lead up to the Civil War were very complex, conflict over slavery was certainly central to the South’s decision to leave the Union. This is evident from the Southern states’ own words as they issued the ordinances of secession and documents of explanation as they each left the United States to form the Confederacy.