Why was President Lincoln unpopular in the South?

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President Lincoln was unpopular in the South primarily due to the perception that he intended to abolish slavery, a move that would destabilize the Southern economy which was heavily reliant on it. While Lincoln's actual stance was to prevent the spread of slavery into new territories, Southern voters viewed him and the Republican Party as hostile to the institution. His unpopularity was so extreme that he was not on the ballot in nine Southern states.

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The main reason for the South's dislike of Lincoln was the widespread belief that he planned to abolish slavery. Ironically, Lincoln planned nothing of the kind; he simply wanted to prevent the extension of slavery into new territories such as Kansas. Indeed, the Republican Party platform on which he ran...

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in the 1860 election was pretty explicit on this point.

As far as Southern opinion was concerned, this made no difference whatsoever. Southern voters knew that Lincoln and the Republican Party were hostile to slavery and would do everything they could to prevent it from spreading. The general fear in the South was that if Lincoln were elected, he'd go one step further and abolish the "peculiar institution" altogether. As the entire Southern economy was based on slavery, the general consensus held that abolition would bring disaster.

It was no surprise, then, that Lincoln became the first victorious presidential candidate in American history not to win a plurality of votes in a single Southern state. Lincoln's name wasn't even on the ballot in nine Southern states, which indicates the deep levels of distrust towards him south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

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The South did not like Lincoln or the Republican Party in general in 1860--in fact, in many cases Lincoln was not even on presidential ballots south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Lincoln was a moderate Republican who viewed the abolitionists as warmongers.  He was in favor of allowing slavery to exist where it was already established, but he did not approve of its expansion into Western territories.  Many Southerners claimed that all Republicans were alike and did not see this difference between Lincoln and the rest of the party.  Also, Southern congressmen believed that eventually free states would outnumber slave states and this would allow them to vote to end slavery.  

During the war, Southerners also did not approve of Lincoln not allowing the Confederacy to leave the nation peacefully.  Southerners in the border state of Maryland did not approve of him instituting martial law and calling in troops in order to keep that state in the Union.  Southern sympathizers in the North did not approve of Lincoln suspending the writ of habeas corpus which allowed him to imprison people for hindering the Northern war effort.  

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