Some states were against Abraham Lincoln, and this rejection led to a civil war. Why were these states against him?These states were against him as a president or just as a person? This topic is...

Some states were against Abraham Lincoln, and this rejection led to a civil war. Why were these states against him?

These states were against him as a president or just as a person? This topic is about American civil war.

Asked on by muncan

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vdavenport's profile pic

vdavenport | Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

The states that were opposed to Abraham Lincoln were more opposed to a couple of ideas that led to the civil war: supremacy of federalism (national governments over state governments) and the southern states tying themselves to slavery and its economic impact for them.

The idea of nullification, that states could not follow federal law if the state opposed it or it conflicted with state law, was strong in the southern and mid-Atlantic states at this time.  These states that voted for other candidates for President during the 1860 Presidential Election saw Lincoln forcing the end of the idea of nullification, if necessary, to keep the country united.  This greatly upset those states because that elimination of the doctrine of nullification would be used eliminate the strongest economic source that many of the wealthy and powerful in the south had to rely, Slavery.

Slavery was the great economic tool for the South because it allowed the Southern plantation owners to cut their costs on labor, allowing them to maximize their profits and retain control over their areas of influence in southern politics.  Since only about 5% of the population had this kind of power and control, the "states that opposed Lincoln" were as much about retaining their own power that they believed Lincoln would take from them as any other issue for opposition.

geosc's profile pic

geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

You are speaking of the presidential election that placed A. Lincoln in the White House for the first time.  The short answer to your question is that Lincoln was the representative of the Republican Party, and the Republican Party was very radical for the time.  Belonging to the Republican Party were radical abolitionists, socialists, communists, and athiests.  It was obviously headed toward making a revolution in U.S. society and politics. These were not its only members of course, or it could not have won the states that it did win, but these tendencies were enough to scare away the majority of voters in many states.  Those states were mostly southern and mostly rural in population.  Rural people tend to be more conservative, while urban people, who must devote more activity and time to scampering about for a living, and have less time for thoughtful contemplation, tend to embrace more radical causes.  The Republican Party leaders had nominated Lincoln over better qualified candidates so that their Party would win Illinois and other Midwestern states, which they feared they could not otherwise win.  Also, some powerful politicians in the Republican Party supported industrial interests and opposed agricultural interests.  They wanted to abolish slavery so that the planters would be destroyed as a political influence in the national government. 

Lincoln personally did not advocate abolition of slavery and made no moves to abolish it before 1862, but everyone knew that the radical abolitionists belonged to the Republican Party.  These people wanted slavery ended immediately even if it took war to do it and did not care about the consequent upheavals to society of immediate vs. stepped abolition.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

While the first answer is correct to say that it was a bigger issue than just the South vs. Abraham Lincoln, much of the rest of the answer is not correct.

Most of the North was very much opposed to abolition.  There were instances of anti-abolitionist riots before the war and there were riots against the draft after the Emancipation Proclamation made clear that the war was partly about freeing the slaves.

It is also incorrect to say that secession was in response to Lincoln pushing abolition.  He did not push abolition at first -- not until the start of 1863.  Lincoln in fact did not believe that a president could constitutionally push for abolition.

The Southern states did secede in response to Lincoln's election.  They were not against anything about his personality or anything.  They were against a couple of things:

  1. They thought he was in favor of abolition and they talked about Lincoln forcing racial mixing.  They called his party the "Black Republicans."
  2. He had been elected with no support in the South.  This made them feel that he would not take their needs into account.
  3. It also made them feel as if they were not part of the country since he had been elected without any of them voting for him.
christeach's profile pic

christeach | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

The southren states felt very threatened by Abraham Lincoln being elected president because he was elected without  the support of the southren states.  They felt this started a dangerous precedent;  for if a president could be elected without their support in the current election how much of a voice could they hope to have in Washington to support the way of life that they were used to?  A way of life which was  totally different from the industrial leanings of the North. They also feared the Republican party in general because it was made up of what they felt were radical elements that took an extreme view against slavery.

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