Secession Date and Slave Population (1860)
|S % of Total Pop.||Slave-
Occasionally, a set of statistics appears that is particularly interesting. David C. Hanson of Virginia Western Community College, has compiled just such a statistical table comparing the percentage of slaves and slaveholders in the southern states in the 186o Census and the order of secession in 1860-61. It makes a strong connection between a relatively high percentage of slaves and slaveholders in a state’s population and early secession. For example, the states of the Lower South tended to have a higher percentage of slaves and slaveholders in their populations, which made the planter elite more powerful in politics than the Upper South where slaves and slaveholders were a smaller percentage of the population and were forced to a greater degree to accommodate the interests of non-slaveholders. Hence, the Lower South, where slavery and slaveholders were more concentrated, left the Union in the first wave of the secession winter of 1860-61. In the Upper South, it took Lincoln’s call for troops in April 1861 to convince enough non-slaveholders, who were more prominent in the population and politics than further south, to go along with slaveholders for secession to occur in the Upper South.
Hanson also states, “the percentage of slaves and slaveholders generally correlates with the sequence of secession.” So South Carolina, with both the highest percentage of slaves and slaveholders in the state’s population, was not surprisingly the first state to secede. Tennessee, with the smallest percentage of slaves and slaveholders of the seceded states was the last to go. It is also significant that the slave states with the weakest concentration of slaves and slaveholders (Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri–plus Delaware that for some reason Hanson leaves off his table) did not secede at all.
So in short, with this nifty table David C. Hanson makes a definite connection between the concentration of slaves and slaveholders in a particular southern states and when it seceded from the Union in 1860-61, and whether it seceded at all. Certainly, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence connecting slavery and Civil War causation, but this table also makes a compelling statistical case.