The Civil War, Day by Day

Gen. William Barksdale

Mississippi Secedes

The convention in Jackson voted 84 to 15 for secession, prompting New York’s Senator William Seward to sadly comment, “I do not know what the Union would be worth if saved by the use of the sword.”

The state had considered leaving the Union since the fall of 1860, when secession rallies reverberated in the streets of Jackson. Then on December 20 - the same day South Carolina voted to sever ties with the Union - the people of Mississippi elected delegates to a secession convention. A month later, Jacob Thompson resigned his position as Secretary of the Interior in support of his home state of Mississippi. Four days later, the state’s Congressmen left the House of Representatives.

Although most of the state’s residents favored secession, Mississippi was atypical of the Southern states in that its largest slaveholders were the least anxious for secession. They were among the “cooperationists” who believed in granting the Federal Government more time to compromise on the slavery issue, as opposed to the “secessionists” who favored immediate action.

In other Southern states, according to political analyst Ralph Wooster, “the secessionists were slightly wealthier and younger and held more slaves than their combined opponents.” Despite the influence of Mississippi’s most prosperous plantation owners, they were overruled by the vast majority who were caught up in the spirit of secession.

Mort Künstler painted this portrait of Barksdale, a well known Mississippi General, 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.