John Preston Smith and Abraham Lincoln Perspectives on Southern States Secession

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  705 Words
Date:  2022-08-15

John Preston Smith Perspective

From the speech, Preston outlines that Southern states secession was legal and constitutional. "In performing this duty, I desire to announce to you that it is no part of my purpose, nor is it the wish of my Government, that I should make an argument before you in proof of the right of secession." Although the speech was not aimed to defend the rights of the Southern secession, it was outlining the reasons that made South Carolina secede from the Union. From the various reasons that Preston narrated, it was evident that the Northern States played a significant role in driving the Southern States to break from the Union. Among the major reasons that made the Southern Carolina secede from the union was that the non-slaveholding states had begun to criticizing and attacking the African slavery. "For nearly thirty years, the people of the non-slaveholding States have assailed the institution of African slavery."

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The Southern Carolina felt that they could not be part of this union as they valued slavery being a significant source of labour for the Southern States residents. The Northern States were part of the non-slaveholding states that highly attacked slavery in the United States. The non-slaveholding states had strived to not only fail to follow the constitutional laws allowing the execution of slavery by also administered strict rules that prevented the execution of African slavery in the country. More importantly, Preston points out that the participants in the Federal Legislature had an idea to shape the Government legislature by depriving the slave states of the political equality. It meant that slave states would no longer be allowed to join the Union. Also, Preston argues that while African slavery is not bound to exist within the Northern States, the Southern states cannot exist without African slavery; hence these two states cannot be united. Since the Northern States believe that human slavery that exists in the Southern is a sin to God, then, continued cooperation between these states creates a risk to the social institutions in the Northern States. As a result, it drives the Southern to secede from the Union.

Abraham Lincoln Perspective

Contrary to Preston views, Lincoln suggested that secession from the union was a violation of the law. According to Lincoln, although he did not like slavery, he promised that he could not interfere with the states where slavery already existed. "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." In the speech, Lincoln stressed that states were not bound to secede from the union legally. It was because the constitution was made so that states could work together. Before states had tried to operate separately, but it did not end up well, and it was to this effect the constitution was developed. Therefore, when a sate breaks from the Union, it is considered to be unlawful and unconstitutional. "No State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances." Lincoln further suggests that a when a state signs the constitution is like signing a 'contract' and therefore unless all the states involved chose not to abide by the contract law, then, it is illegal for one state to break from the 'contract'.

As a President of the United States, Lincoln had the duty to persuade the states not to break from the Union and reassure them that once they continue staying within the union, they would not be deprived of the political equality and they would have their peace. Lincoln also had the duty to strive and fight for the best among the Americans. Lincoln stressed that t disagreements between the Northern states and the southern states could be solved efficiently within the Union but not separately by seceding from the Union. While ending the speech, Lincoln hoped that the Union would rebuild and restore to one united nation.

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John Preston Smith and Abraham Lincoln Perspectives on Southern States Secession. (2022, Aug 15). Retrieved from

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