Resolution to Call the Election of Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President a Hostile Act, 9 November 1860


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It is well known that Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 led to secession and eventual war. Predating South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession, this General Assembly resolution may be the state's first official response to Lincoln's victory. South Carolina's actions during the winter of 1860-61 led to the most profound constitutional crisis in our nation's history. 

Written by John Winsmith of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly, this resolution was introduced before the House on November 9th, 1860.  It directly addressed the concerns and fears of South Carolinians about the election of Abraham Lincoln.  The resolution sought to declare the election of Lincoln a hostile act.  Moreover, it expressed the sentiment within South Carolina to secede from the United States of America. 

Immediately after Winsmith’s resolution, George A. Trenholm introduced a resolution regarding the election of a “Black Republican President.” His resolution outlined how Lincoln’s victory was a detriment to South Carolina and other slaveholding states.  Additionally, South Carolina ought to preserve her sovereign rights by raising supplies and preparing a plan to arm the state.  Due to the similarities of these two resolutions, Winsmith’s resolution was added as an amendment to the Trenholm resolution.  On November 10th, 1860, the resolution was discharged as a Special Order.  This resolution served as a harbinger of what ultimately came to pass on the evening of December 20, 1860, at the Institute Hall in Charleston, the Ordinance of Secession.


Resolution to Call the Election of Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President a Hostile Act and to Communicate to Other Southern States South Carolina’s Desire to Secede from the Union. 9 November 1860. Resolutions of the General Assembly, 1779-1879. S165018. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, S.C.


That this General Assembly is satisfied that Abram Lincoln has already been elected President of the United States, and that said election has been based upon principles of open and avowed hostility to the social organization and peculiar interests of the slave holding states of this Confederacy.

Resolved, that it is the sense of this General Assembly that South Carolina is now ready to dissolve her connection with the government of the United States, and earnestly desires and hereby solicits the cooperation of her sister slave-holding states in such movement.

Resolved, that the Governor be requested forth with to forward a copy of the foregoing resolutions to the Governor of each of the slave-holding states of this confederacy, with the request that it may be submitted to their respective Legislatures.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction, and South Carolina’s role in these events.

Indicator 3.4-4 Outline the course of the Civil War and South Carolina’s role in significant events, including the Secession Convention, the firing on Fort Sumter, the Union blockade of Charleston, and Sherman’s march through South Carolina.

Standard 4-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the Civil War and its impact on America.

Indicator 4-6.3 Explain how specific events and issues led to the Civil War, including the sectionalism fueled by issues of slavery in the territories, state’s rights, the election of 1860, and secession.

Standard 8-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Civil War—its causes and effects and the major events that occurred during that time.

Indicator 8-3.4 Compare the attitudes of the unionists, cooperationists, and secessionists in South Carolina and summarize the reasons that the members of the South Carolina secession convention in 1860 voted unanimously to secede from the Union, including concerns about states’ rights and fears about abolition.

Standard USHC-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the causes and the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction in America.

Indicator USHC-4.2 Explain how the political events and issues that divided the nation led to civil war, including the compromises reached to maintain the balance of free and slave states, the successes and failures of the abolitionist movement, the conflicting views on states’ rights and federal authority, the emergence of the Republican Party and its win in 1860, and the formation of the Confederate States of America.

Related Documents:

South Carolina Ordinance of Secession

Declaration of Immediate Causes



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