MurphyENG 10014 Sept. 2004″Why Did the Lower South Secede?”: A Summary of Marc Engal’s “Rethinking the Secession of the Lower South: The Clash of Two Groups”Historians believe that the South seceded because of one of thefollowing five reasons. The first reason is psychological; Steven Channingargues that “the South seceded because of a “crisis of fear”, fed byanxieties about abolitionists and the large slave population” (qtd. inEgnal 261).
Another reason is rationality; According to William Barney,”the desperate need of the planters for fresh soils, which the newlyelected Republican Party now denied them” (qtd. in Egnal 261). A thirdreason was ideological. Lacy K. Ford says “South Carolinians werededicated to republican values and preferred secession to abandoning theirprinciples” (qtd.
in Egnal 261-2). Internal discord was another reason. Michael P. Johnson felt that “the tensions between wealthy slave holdersand poorer whites lay at the heart of the story in Georgia” (qtd. in Egnal262). The plantation owners started the secession and created a”patriarchal republic” because of concerns that Republican patronage mightdis-a-line class conflict.
The final reason is the “traditional wisdomthat the defense of slavery drove the confederates” to start the secession(qtd. in Egnal 262). “Whether rational or irrational, whether focused onslavery or republicanism,” or in reference to “single ideology or mindset”there were serious problems confronted (Egnal 262). I always believed thatthe last reason, slavery, was why we had the Civil War.
This essay suggests a new approach to secession by saying that thebattle in the “Lower South” was the true struggle between the two groups(Egnal 263). The first one with strong ties to the Union and the othermaking its way without the help from the North. Egnal first looks at thedivision: its sources and the differing views of the two groups. Then, helooks at the importance of the two groups in every “Deep South” state bythe 1850’s (263). Finally, it examines what part the two groups had in thesecession.
“Two factors in particular shaped the clashing societies of thecotton states-the origins of the settlers and the patterns of the regionaleconomy” (Egnal 263). I didn’t think that these factors would really haveanything to do with why the south seceded. I guess I was wrong. This alsogave rise to the different views that led the conduct of the two groups. The two sides shared several values, including slavery and racism.
Only 50to 60 % of voters approved action toward the secession. Many of the migrants came from the “Upper South,” and could tracetheir heritage to Northern Ireland and Europe (Egnal 264). The other setmigrants came from a different “hearth”: the tidewater region of SouthCarolina and Georgia. Many of these “Lower South” residents had “ancestorswho hailed from Southern England” (Egnal 264).
Most importantly was theseparation of states into northern and southern regions. The migrants haddifferent views, family history, and even different ways that they builttheir homes as well as how thy talked to their neighbors and friends. “Economic activities constituted a second set of factors that dividedthe citizenry of the “Lower South”, reinforcing the divisions establishedby the pattern of settlements. Wheat cultivation, garden crops, and homemanufactures gave the northern reaches of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama,Mississippi, and Texas an economic unity that mirrored the settlers’ sharedorigins. Wheat was a common note throughout much of this region. Althoughthe quanities raised were far below the levels of the North, wheat growthwas an important facet of the regional culture.
The crop fostered asociety of independent farmers, small milling centers, skilledcraftspeople, and vigorous local exchanges” (Egnal 267). I do understandwhy this is. The types of transportation did more to divide the “Lower South” thanto unify it (Egnal 268). Most of the rivers in these states ran into theoceans making transportation to that part of the state easy to get to. Mostof the people that did this did not transport to all of the other countiesother than the ones on the river. Railroads were unable to make travelfrom the coast to the northern part of the “Lower South” convenient (Egnal269).
“The result of these links between the “Upper South” and theNorthern part of the cotton states was an overland trade that expandedmarkedly in the years before secession” (Egnal 269). I think that theyshould have made the transportation better for the “Lower South”, thenmaybe we