In 1860, at precisely 1.15pm on this day the ill-fated Republic of South Carolina seceded from the Union following the passage of a vote in the Special Convention in Charleston which had been summoned solely for that purpose by the State Legislature on December 6th.
Our Weaker Brethren"We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the other nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do".
The declaration was a result for State Governor William H. Gist who had been absolutely determined to force secession. He upheld the view that South Carolina, having joined a compact of states of its own free will in 1788 had the right to leave when it chose. Which was right now that Abraham Lincoln had been elected, or so he told Governor Pettus of Mississippi, because he did not mean to let the other Southern Governors - who he labelled as "our weaker brethren" - dodge the issue of abolition which he believe the incoming President would enact.
Ever the masterful politician, Lincoln used the period of transition to reach out to southern unionists and dismiss the prospect of the sudden liberation of four million African Americans. And so the scenes of marching bands, fireworks and flag-waving rallies of citizens were confined to Charleston. At least for the time being. Because Gist had anticipated this lack of support, and now set about firing up Southron indignation by provoking a confrontation over the disputed ownership of a Federal Asset, the Union's Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.