Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Civil War Secession Maps

As the current electoral season has me a bit underwhelmed, I'm going to dig back into history a bit. Every once in a while I get a Civil War bug that sends me to the book store for a few weeks or months of exploration. In my mind it's without a doubt the most important period of our history. Most of the unresolved issues of our early history came to a head then; so much of our history since then can trace its legacy to this time. A lot of posts on this site have dealt with the legacy of the Civil War, especially as they relate to the role of race in our politics and elections.

I'm currently in the midst of Shelby Foote's magisterial three volume history of the Civil War. This is a project that will probably be completed in fits and starts over the months ahead, especially as other things capture my attention. Anyhow, an interesting electoral story is that of the secession votes held across the south in the wake of Lincoln's election and the subsequent firing on Ft. Sumter in early 1861. The first wave of states to secede were South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas. The second wave (following Ft. Sumter) comprised the states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas. I found this interesting map to give a sense of secession sympathy in these states:

What the history of this period tells us is that support for secession was by no means universal. Many of these deep south states had pockets of people loyal to the union (or at least not enthusiastic about secession). A classic example of this is Tennessee, which to this day has strongly Republican leaning counties in the eastern part of the state that never became part of the Solid South for Democrats. Also of note is the part of Virginia that would ultimately break off to form the new state of West Virginia.


The most common explanation for this diversity of opinion regarding secession in these states relates to the presence or reliance upon slave labor. In Alabama, for example, the northern most counties tended to have very little slaveholding. With a geography and topography that wasn't conducive to cotton or other labor intensive crops, secessionist feelings were less intense than in places like South Carolina or the Mississippi Delta. Consider these maps of slavery's pervasiveness in the region with the above to get a sense of these very interesting dynamics.

If you're interested in the Civil War and have some time on your hands, I'd highly recommend Yale historian David Blight's course on the period. Its absolutely amazing and worth the time it takes to get through all of the lectures.

6 comments:

吳婷婷 said...
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佳皓佳皓 said...
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士凱士凱 said...

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芳瑜芳瑜 said...

IT IS A VERY NICE SUGGESTION, THANK YOU LOTS!............................................................

陳璇竹陳璇竹 said...

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吳承虹 said...

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