Georgia’s decision in 1861 to leave the United States had far-reaching and unintended consequences for all Georgians...and indeed all Southerners.
Secession began after President Lincoln’s election in the belief that his Republican Party was aggressively anti-slavery. As the largest and most populous Deep South state, Georgia was crucial to the success of the secessionist movement.
Georgia’s Secession Convention was almost evenly divided between immediate secessionists and those opposed, who thought Lincoln hadn’t done anything provocative except win an election. Heated debate led to an overwhelming pro-secession vote.
Georgia's declaration of causes made it clear: the defense of slavery was the primary cause for dissolving the Union. Future Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens warned the decision would lead to war.
Secession did bring war, and ultimately, the end of slavery, ironically making Georgia’s secessionists the most practical abolitionists of all.
Revolution can lead to unexpected places, as Georgia found out after the events set in motion on January 19, 1861, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.