Why did some Southern states secede immediately after Lincoln’s election in 1860?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The election of 1860 was a pivotal year in our history. Seven southern states seceded from the Union immediately after the election of Abraham Lincoln.

The South was convinced that President Lincoln was going to end slavery. While President Lincoln was against slavery and thought it was morally wrong, he never said he would end slavery. He made it very clear that he didn’t want slavery to spread and would work to see that slavery didn’t spread. President Lincoln said if he could save the Union by keeping slavery where it already existed, he would do that. Saving the Union was his top priority.

However, the South didn’t trust President Lincoln to keep his word. They were convinced he would end slavery. The South was also concerned about what would happen to slavery and the rights of slave-owners if more and more free states entered the union. They were concerned that the voices in support of slavery would become a minority voice. The South was also concerned how their way of life would be altered if Lincoln ended slavery. They couldn't imagine a society without slavery. Thus, when Lincoln won the election, seven southern states seceded from the Union. Eventually, four other southern states also left the Union. The election of 1860 was a critical election in our history.

estoverl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Within five months of Lincoln's election, the United States was divided and embattled in a horrendous Civil War. Many southern states had seceded from the United States and formed the Confederacy within weeks of Lincoln's election. 

Lincoln won the election with no southern support because of his stance on slavery. For years the north and south had disagreed over the issue of the right to own slaves. With a new president so strongly opposed to slavery, the South believed that their way of life was in immediate danger of being terminated. With no slaves to work the massive plantations and nowhere near the technology and factories of the north, the south, they feared, was doomed. They dissolved their union with the United States through a voting process that approved secession one by one. This protected their right to have the slaves who maintained the plantations on which their economy depended. 

South Carolina was the first to secede. Within three months of Lincoln's election, seven states in all had followed suit and seceded. The Confederacy formed and began to create an armed force. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some Southern states seceded right after Lincoln was elected because they felt that his election showed that they and their way of life were doomed.  

Lincoln had been elected even though he had not even been on the ballot in most Southern states.  The fact that he could get elected with no Southern support scared the Southern states.  When his election was made official, they felt that it was simply a prelude to the North trying to abolish slavery everywhere in the United States.  

Southern states seceded after Lincoln's election, then, because they felt that his election showed they had no power in the USA and that the North would soon destroy their way of life that centered around slavery.