Events Leading up to the American Civil War for Kids and Teachers - 11 Southern States Secede from the Union Illustration

American Civil War - 11 Southern States Secede

From December 1860 through April 1961, seven states seceded from the Union. They formed their own country, the Confederate States of America. Abraham Lincoln had just been elected president of the United States (the Union) in November 1860. His first speech, a few months after his election, invited the Southern states who had seceded - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas - to rejoin the Union, calling their decision a mistake.

South Carolina was the first state to secede a month after Lincoln was elected. Fort Sumter was a small fort, located in South Carolina, overlooking Charleston's harbor. In April 1861, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army troops stationed at Fort Sumter withdraw from the fort and go home. They were trespassing. Their presence was no longer welcome in South Carolina, a state in the newly formed country of the Confederate States of America. The Union refused.

As a result, a small band of Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter. Lincoln sent 75,000 troops to put down what he called a rebellion. Between April and June, 1861, thanks in part to Lincoln's actions at Fort Sumter, four other Southern states did secede - the states of Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. That brought the total to 11 states who had seceded from the Union, and were now part of a new country, the Confederate States of America.

No one handled themselves well over the situation at Fort Sumter, not the South, not the North. But the result was that the shots fired at Fort Sumter signaled the beginning of the Civil War. No one expected the war to last long, 60 days maybe, 90 days at the outside. But the Civil War dragged on for four years. It was a terrible time.

Secession, a legal option

Events Leading Up to the Civil War, Causes

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