The Civil War, Day by Day

Gen. John Brown Gordon

Georgia Secedes

This landmark decision pleasantly surprised the other Southern states, for Georgia had been seriously divided between those who favored immediate secession, and other statesmen who urged negotiation and less radical measures.

Ironically, Alexander Stephens, who would soon become Vice President of the Confederacy under Jefferson Davis, was among the moderate statesmen who recommended “sober deliberation” rather than war. Governor Joseph Brown was more inclined to secede, but recognizing the division within his state, decided to “wait until an overt act” from the North precipitated it. When that act ultimately occurred in November of 1860 with the election of antislavery candidate Abraham Lincoln to the US Presidency, Brown immediately recommended a secession convention and ordered a vigorous military building in preparation for war.

However, one prominent Georgian was steadfast in his disapproval of his state’s secession. Herschel Johnson denounced his fellow anti-Union statesmen as “impatient, overbearing, dictatorial and intolerant.” When the secession ordinance was signed, Johnson wrote, “and so the Rubicon was crossed....Georgia was launched upon a dark, uncertain and dangerous sea. Peals of cannons announced the fact, in token of exultation.” Then Johnson added on a personal note, “I never felt so sad before.”

Mort Künstler painted this portrait of John Brown Gordon, a Georgian brigadier, with the state flag behind him.

February's Archived Features:

Wednesday February 1, 2023
Thursday February 2, 2023
Friday February 3, 2023
Saturday February 4, 2023
Sunday February 5, 2023
Monday February 6, 2023



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.