Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Keywords

slavery, Civil War, Confederacy, secession, race relations, states' rights

Subject Category

Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Law

Abstract

This article explores the arguments used by southern secessionists to explain why they left the Union. The article demonstrates that support for "states' rights" was not the main reason for secession, and that on the contrary, most of the slave states left the Union because the free states were exercising their states' rights in opposing slavery. The main reason for secession, as this essay shows, was the desire to protect slavery and to create a new nation, self-consciously based on slavery and white supremacy. This article began as part of an AALS legal history section program in 2010 and is part of a symposium based on the papers given at that session.