by William D. Welge, Research Division Director
With the election of Abraham Lincoln in November, 1860, a chain of events that had been brewing since the Missouri Compromise was passed by Congress in 1820 began. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. This unorthodox and unprecedented action could have been halted by lame duck President James Buchanan. However, Buchanan chose to do nothing which ultimately led other Cotton Belt states to follow suit early in 1861.