United States History

The Secession Debate


•     It’s December 1860, and you are a representative in the South Carolina secession convention.  Now that Abraham Lincoln has been elected to the presidency, you must decide if the state of South Carolina should secede from the tyrannical Federal government that aims to take away your state rights and possibly destroy your economy and social hierarchy, or remain true to the Union and work for compromise with the newly elected president.


     1.      You will be divided into sides of those who favor secession from the

               Union (“Secessionists”), and those who oppose secession (“Southern


     2.      Divide into smaller groups of 2-3

     3.      Begin reading the sources listed below.

     4.      Answer the summary questions listed on the worksheet (Linked below)

     5.      Prepare a speech (to be read before the convention) that states your

               opinions about secession and justifies your arguments with evidence.  BE


Web Materials:

     •      Civil War Balance of Force.pdf

     •      Speeches and Letters of James Louis Petigru

       •  Southern Secession - 1860

       •  Causes of the War Between the States - A Southern Perspective

       •  Southern Unionist Perspective on Secession

Click here to download the worksheet