When considering the South’s effort to withdraw from the Union prior to the onset of the attack at Fort Sumter in the spring of 1861, the question comes to mind as to whether or not the Southern states possessed the right to secede at all? Did the Southern states have the right to secede from the Union? Because the United States Constitution in no way, shape or form refers to the threat of secession and or whether the states may or may not, the South did possess the power to do so assuming that the Tenth Amendment protected the rights of individual states in dealing with issues not clearly referred to in Article Four (the article designated to listing the powers of each states in the Union) of the Constitution itself.
According to David W. Blight’s book Race and Reunion, Jefferson Davis’ personal memoir stated, “The South’s action was merely to protect its natural rights against the tremendous and sweeping usurpation, the unlimited and despotic power of the federal government.” The South, feeling threatened by the idea that the newly elected Republican President aimed to remove the institution of slavery, threatened secession while relying on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution to justify their actions. Dixie’s Daughters written by Karn Cox states that, “The South fought the war not in order to preserve slavery, but rather to preserve the Constitution, specifically the Tenth Amendment, protecting states’ rights.” However, the specific right the South aimed to protect was in fact the ability to own slaves.
In addition, the Tenth Amendment states, “All powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Again, since the law of the land failed to mention or address the issue of secession, the Tenth Amendment itself was put in place to protect state rights. In doing so, the right to secede was an issue promised to the states. Also, Thomas Jefferson’s famous words near the end of the Declaration of Independence stating that it is the right of the people “in the long of train of abuses and usurpations, it is their right, it is their duty, (the right of the people) to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Being that the South felt oppressed and bullied to conform to the policies of the government they considered out of control, they did possess the necessary rights to withdraw from the Union. That being said, what the South considered to be an abuse of power by the North was an unjust response to a moral issue opposing their own beliefs. In essence, their justification for seceding was a response by an immoral group of individuals to a moral issue in need of correcting.
 David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001), 259.
 Karen L. Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (Florida: University Press of Florida, 1999), 12.
 Solomon M. Skolnick, American History Pop Quiz (New York: MJF Books, 2005), 157.
 Solomon M. Skolnick, American History Pop Quiz (New York: MJF Books, 2005), 128.