Send an E-Postcard of:
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
Contact us for information about using this image.
The election of Abraham Lincoln as president set off a chain of events that would end badly. Almost immediately agitators in the south began speaking of secession and in December, 1860, South Carolina had voted to secede from the Union. By February seven southern states had left and on February 4, 1861 voted to form the Confederate States of America. But four crucial states - Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina - still had not left the union, along with the slaveholding states bordering the north, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. Without them the new Confederate republic would not have been viable. Abraham Lincoln directed his First Inaugural Address to them in particular: "We must not be enemies," he said, the "passion" felt during the election "must not break our bonds of affection." Look, he appealed, to the "better angels of our nature" to resolve the crisis.
<BR>The question of the Supreme Court addressed here had to do with several rulings it made in the 1850s, particularly that on the Dred Scott Case (1857). In this ruling Chief Justice Roger Taney, a slaveholder from Maryland, argued that "Negroes of African descent," regardless of whether they were slaves or not, could not be citizens of the United States; further, they "had no rights the white man should respect." This ruling was widely ignored but its tone and argument turned northern public opinion against the court.
top of page