South Carolina Declaration of Causes of Secession

(1860)

The Declaration of Causes of Secession, adopted on December 24, 1860, represented South Carolina's statement to the South, the nation, and the world that it was compelled to secede from the United States In a detailed explanation, South Carolina presented the southern theory of the Union and the nature of the U.S. Constitution, aired its grievances against the North, and justified its decision to secede. The Declaration of Causes of Secession left no doubt that the precipitating factor behind South Carolina's withdrawal from the Union was the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency.

South Carolina's decision to secede encouraged secessionists elsewhere to intensify their opposition to the Union and, in rapid fashion, to persuade their states to follow suit. The justifications for secession were grounded in the compact theory of the Constitution, the view that sovereign states had created the Union and, therefore, in the exercise of their sovereignty, could withdraw...

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Engraving from 1860 showing a mass meeting organized to support the call for secession (Library of Congress)

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