Title Reviewed:
And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860-1861

Author Reviewed:
Kenneth M. Stampp

Henry T. Shanks


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 93-94

Article Type:
Book Review

Download Source:

And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860-1861. By Kenneth M. Stampp. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1950, pp. xi, 331. Illustrations, bibliography, and index. $4.50.)

In this provocative analysis of the crystalization of Northern sentiment during the period after Lincoln's election and prior to the firing on Sumter, the author attempts to show why the North did not permit the South "to go in peace." He holds that although there was little unity at the time of Lincoln's election the North became one in sentiment by the time of Sumter. In analyzing this change of sentiment he reviews briefly the events which tended to unite the free states and emphasizes the Northern leaders' arguments which made the cause a crusade.

Upon Lincoln's election most business leaders and Douglas Democrats, as Professor Stampp shows, favored concessions to the South as a means of preserving the Union. Republicans, on the other hand, advocated calm and inactivity until Southern unionists had regained control and put down secession. Later, after the Republicans realized that the Southern unionists would not get control and that secession was a reality, they began debating methods of preserving the Union. They insisted that secession was illegal and that Southern action was revolutionary. Therefore, they were justified in using force. But what kind of force? They made much of the fact that they favored the enforcement of laws rather than "coercion." If violence came, it must come from the South.

The author reviews Buchanan's policy and the North's reaction to his timidity. The removal of troops from Moultrie to Sumter, the firing on the "Star of the West," and the formation of the Confederacy all, according to the author, increased Northern unity. The conflicts in Congress and the failures to make any progress toward compromise increased this unanimity of sentiment. But even more effective, according to Mr. Stampp, were the cogent arguments presented to convince the people that disunion would bring permanent injury to them. The danger of cutting off the Northern navigation of the Mississippi, the loss of the Southern markets, the difficulty of enforcing the tariff because of the long Southern free trade border, and the danger of repudiation of Northern debts in the South were emphasized. Added to these economic arguments, he reveals, many insisted that secession would destroy the subsequent effectiveness of the Union of Northern states, destroy the growing nationalism, and admit to the rest of the world that the American experiment in democracy was a failure. Some hoped to win and remake the South so that it would be more like the North. In short, they had become crusaders who in fighting a holy cause for the North, the South, and the world were also helping themselves materially.

Mr. Stampp shows that compromise was never a real possibility because the North, including Democrats, was never willing to make any significant concessions; and the South was unwilling to remain in the Union unless the North acquiesced in slavery expansion and in the elimination of economic inequalities.

This is a revealing study of this controversial period which in recent years has been treated by many scholars. Although he covers familiar ground and adds little that is entirely new (most of the last two chapters were previously published in the Journal of Southern History), he makes clearer through his exhaustive study of Northern public opinion why secession was resisted. His is a sound and objective study which is based on exhaustive and careful research.

Birmingham-Southern College, Henry T. Shanks

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.