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A Union Indivisible

Secession and the Politics of Slavery in the Border South

Michael D. Robinson

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Sachbuch / 20. Jahrhundert (bis 1945)


Many accounts of the secession crisis overlook the sharp political conflict that took place in the Border South states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. Michael D. Robinson expands the scope of this crisis to show how the fate of the Border South, and with it the Union, desperately hung in the balance during the fateful months surrounding the clash at Fort Sumter. During this period, Border South politicians revealed the region's deep commitment to slavery, disputed whether or not to leave the Union, and schemed to win enough support to carry the day. Although these border states contained fewer enslaved people than the eleven states that seceded, white border Southerners chose to remain in the Union because they felt the decision best protected their peculiar institution.

Robinson reveals anew how the choice for union was fraught with anguish and uncertainty, dividing families and producing years of bitter internecine violence. Letters, diaries, newspapers, and quantitative evidence illuminate how, in the absence of a compromise settlement, proslavery Unionists managed to defeat secession in the Border South.



Frémont Proclamation, Missouri, Douglas Democrats, Civil War, Republican Party, Delaware, Slavery in the Border South, John Jordan Crittenden, Border South, Alexander William Doniphan, Fort Sumter, Proslavery Unionism, St. Louis Riot, Crittenden Compromise, Neutrality during the Civil War, Election of 1860, Henry Clay, John C. Frémont, Franklin Buchanan, James Asheton Bayard, Moderate politics, First Confiscation Act, Compromise efforts during the secession winter, Kentucky, Maryland, Secession crisis, Severn Teackle Wallis, Harpers Ferry Raid, The political middle ground, Thirty-sixth Congress, Edward Bates, John Pendleton Kennedy, Politics of slavery, Henry Winter Davis, Abraham Lincoln, Constitutional Union Party, Conservative politics, Washington Peace Conference, Pratt Street Riot, Baltimore Riot