After Abraham Lincoln became president-elect in November 1860, Southern states, economically dependent on slavery, worried that the balance of power in the Union would soon tip irrevocably in favor of the industrial North. To avoid suffering the consequences of such a political shift, Southern states, began to secede, with South Carolina leading the way on December 20, 1860. By February 1, 1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had also severed their ties to the United States.
On February 11, 1861, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln each embarked on a journey that would end in a presidential inauguration. Davis, a West Point graduate and a former U.S. secretary of war and senator, recognized the challenges confronting the government he would lead. The newly formed Confederate States of America (C.S.A.) would need the strength and resources of the eight remaining Southern and border states if it was to succeed as a separate political entity.
Lincoln firmly believed that the Union was fixed and permanent, and it would be his principal duty as president to ensure its preservation. In his inaugural address, delivered on March 4, 1861, he went straight to the heart of the nation’s sectional conflict: “One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.”
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