-- Background --

Secession in the Deep South

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Despite the somewhat ambiguous results of the election, Lincoln's victory began a rapid movement of deep South states to leave the Union. Starting with South Carolina in December, and ending with Texas in February, within some forty days, a total of seven deep South states severed their connections with the Union. In early February 1861, they launched a new government, the Confederate States of America, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. They drafted a constitution and elected a provisional President and vice president. All of this took place in the interim between Lincoln's election in November 1860, and his inauguration as President in early March 1861. President James Buchanan remained as a "lame duck" President during this period.

As the deep South states seceded, the interaction between the federal government and the now "independent" states came into prominence. On the one hand, federal mail service temporarily remained in operation. Mails were transported and southern postmasters sold United States postage stamps. On the other hand, most federal forts, arsenals, and other property were quickly taken over by state forces, sometimes even before the state officially seceded. The states justified their actions by claiming that ultimate sovereignty of these lands remained in the states and that upon secession, control reverted back to the states. Just compensation would be paid for the exchange.

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