American south, south, history, historical, ante bellum, antebellum, slavery, political, social, cultural, secession
This thesis examines why the south seceded in 1860 as opposed to any other time in the 19th century and what changed the mentalité of the people in the period 1857-1860. The underlying issue in southern politics and the issue of secession was clearly slavery and slavery rested on the economics of cotton. Yet slavery and cotton do not explain why the South seceded in 1860 and not at other times in the preceding seventy years. 1807 saw the outlawing of the international slave trade and 1819 saw Congress pass the Slave Trade Act interdicting the ships involved. In 1828 and 1832 the bitter tariff disputes between northern industrial and southern agricultural interests led to the South Carolina doctrine of “Nullification” but no secession. Neither the 1846 proposed Wilmot Proviso restricting slavery in the new territories nor the immediate post Mexican War disputes over the territorial expansion of slavery caused secession and in every case the South was willing to compromise. The methodology of this work is based on the assumption that words and thoughts are intimately linked and that by measuring changes in frequency of word use, changes in thought can be detected and measured. Evidence for the changing use word frequency was provided by an etymological and article content study of selected daily editions of six newspapers in the three cities. The thesis put forward to explain the change in political attitude is that for the southern cities of Richmond, Charleston and New Orleans, political power and political issues were the most important factors. The rise of the sectional northern Republican Party and fear of its abolitionist principles weighed more heavily than any other factors in altering the psychology of the South. This raised the political dispute over slavery to an issue of secession and potential military conflict.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Boyden, Julian, "Vox Populi-vox Belli: A Historical Study Of Southern Ante Bellum Public Attitudes And Motivations Toward Secession" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2100.