States’ Rights, Southern Hypocrisy, and the Crisis of the Union

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Akron Law Review, Vol: 45, Page: 449-478

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Finkelman, Paul
States' rights (American politics); Confederate States of America; Slavery--United States; Race relations; Secession; United States--History--Civil War 1861-1865; slavery, Civil War, Confederacy, secession, race relations, states' rights
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article description
This article explores the arguments used by southern secessionists to explain why they left the Union. The article demonstrates that support for "states' rights" was not the main reason for secession, and that on the contrary, most of the slave states left the Union because the free states were exercising their states' rights in opposing slavery. The main reason for secession, as this essay shows, was the desire to protect slavery and to create a new nation, self-consciously based on slavery and white supremacy. This article began as part of an AALS legal history section program in 2010 and is part of a symposium based on the papers given at that session.