When Lincoln was elected, the South felt they'd been pinned into a
corner. To their way of thinking, their rights were being trampled on,
and the only way they knew to re-assert those rights was to secede.
However, it wasn't merely Lincoln's election that caused the South to
secede; the roots of the problem went all the way back to the early
part of the 19th century.
When the Tariff of Abominations began (taxing imports from foreign
countries), this greatly hurt the South. Many Southern goods were sold
to and purchased from Europe, because it was a less expensive source.
Suddenly, the Southern way of live was threatened and the cost of
doing business livelihoods went up dramatically.
The import of new slaves was also made illegal. As "A Declaration of
the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the
State of Mississippi from the Federal Union" stated: ?Our...products
are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an
imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to
the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world,
and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.?
(American Civil War Portal:
Over the years, it had also become more and more difficult to legally
chase after run-away slaves. Quite literally, the South believed that
limiting slavery severely damaged their ability to maintain the
economy and feed their families.
Lincoln?s election was the straw that broke the camel?s back. Knowing
Lincoln?s platform, the South felt their views no longer mattered to
the Federal government. Lincoln threatened slavery, which if ended,
Southerners felt, would put most of the South out of work.
The South now saw the Federal government as their enemy. They felt it
no longer protected their security, but threatened it. Southerners
felt the Federal government was intent on destroying the agricultural
South and it?s ability to life and liberty.
What was the South to do? Watch their lives go down the drain? Or was
their another choice? There was: to secede. The Constitution did not
prohibit this, and the Declaration of Independence clearly states:
?Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it
is the right of the own people to alter or abolish it.? This is
exactly what the South felt they were doing. For them, the Federal
government had become an entity that hurt the people. It was their
right, then, to rid themselves of it.
For more on this subject, I recommend the following sources:
?Causes of the Civil War? http://www.ngeorgia.com/history/why.html
? Secession of the Southern States?
?The Tariff of Abominations?