What was the fundamental importance of Lincoln's election on the psyche of the South?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most intense impact of Lincoln's election on the psyche of the South was to convince them that they were not going to have a real say in the government of the United States.  Valid or not, Southerners believed themselves to be "on the outside looking in" when it came to their own role in the government.  They believed that the government fundamentally possessed a bias towards the abolition of slavery and thus against the South.  This was confirmed by the election of Lincoln, something that the Southerners saw as a referendum about their own participation in the country.  With Lincoln's election being so reflective of the North, as Lincoln's name did not appear on many Southern state ballots, the Southern psyche became convinced that with the election of Lincoln, secession was the only plausible solution to ensuring that their own interests would be heard and understood by governmental apparatus.  This becomes the fundamental importance behind Lincoln's election.  In many ways, it became the critical dividing point where the South would not willingly adhere to remaining in the Union and thus, sets up the basic premise behind the Civil War.  Lincoln's election confirmed the very worst and most base of fears that Southerners held, helping to instigate the move away from the Union with his ascendancy into the position of President.

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