Why Did The South Secede?

Have you ever sat and wondered,

“Just why did the South secede from the Union?”

This site attempts to answer that very question using both the voice of the South itself in the form of primary sources, and the voice of the people of today who are forced to live with that decision made so many years ago in the form of annotations that anyone can add throughout this site.

Hopefully you find what you’re looking for and at the very least leave with a more informed opinion and understanding of this subject.


Primary Sources

Annotated Documents:

Each of these documents was annotated by students looking for instances where the authors made the following arguments for secession:

  1. Federal government failed to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law
  2. Northern personal liberty laws
  3. Defense of slavery as an economic institution
  4. Defense of slavery as a cultural and social institution
  5. Inability to expand slavery in the West
  6. Tariffs
  7. Fear of slave rebellion
  8. John Brown’s attempt to incite rebellion
  9. Religious differences
  10. Because the other states seceded
  11. Fear of racial equality
  12. Protection of enslaved Americans who would be hurt by freedom
  13. Emancipation would mean race war
  14. The Republican Party is the party of abolition
  15. All northerners are abolitionists
  16. The election of 1860 was not valid
  17. Fear of Indian attack
  18. Lingering anger related to the Mexican-American War
  19. Federal subsidies benefit the North (ex. Fisheries)
  20. Other 


Speech of John W. A. Sanford of Georgia to the Texas Secession Convention

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention. The State of Georgia specially deputed me to announce to your honorable body that she has in the exercise of her sovereignty formally and solemnly abrogated and annulled the ordinance by which she became a member of the Federal Union. In making this announcement I deem it unnecessary …

Speech of John McQueen of South Carolina to the Texas Secession Convention

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention, I have been honored with a commission by the Convention of the State of South Carolina to repair to your State and lay before your Convention an ordinance of the State of South Carolina, by which she seceded from the confederacy and dissolved all connection with the federal …


High School Secession Documents Quiz

For this quiz students need to the read the various documents found on this cite to fill in the blanks.

Secession Documents Quiz High School

Secession Documents Quiz answer key


Work Sheets for 5th-8th Graders

This multiple choice quiz covers general knowledge of the Civil War.

The Civil War

The Civil War Answer Key


For this quiz students will fill in dates along the timeline from the list of important events provided.


Timeline Answer Key


This worksheet involves students coloring in the states based on how they were classified in the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

Missouri Compromise of 1820 worksheet


This Crossword has students finding important names and words of the Civil War.

Civil War Crossword

Civil War Crossword Key


This Coloring page has students color in two Union and Confederate soldiers.

Civil War Coloring page