Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wilmington, NC, salutes SC's secession

Wilmington, NC (by William G. Muller)
Upon the secession of South Carolina, the Cape Fear Minute Men fired a one-hundred gun salute in Wilmington, NC, as the streets became crowded with anxious citizens. The schooner "Marine" at rest in the Cape Fear River let loose an equal salute, and Wilmington shipbuilder Benjamin Beery "added another salvo."

The issue of Lincoln's election and State secession had been discussed at a November 19, 1860, meeting in the New Hanover County (NC) courthouse, and newspaper opinion was divided along political party lines. The Democratic "Daily Journal" was an advocate of departure from union with the North; the Whig "Daily Herald" thought it better to hold a moderate course and remain within the federal union. The Unionist elements in the city saw serious economic problems with secession as much of Wilmington's trade was with the North, especially New York.

Although many conservative North Carolinians denounced their neighbor's precipitous action, Tarheels were united in opposing any use of force to coerce South Carolina back into the voluntary union. One conservative citizen stated, "I am a Union man, but when they send men South it will change my notions. I can do nothing against my own people."
Mrs. Parsley, postwar President of the Daughters of the Confederacy recalled: "In 1860, when, amid great popular excitement and enthusiasm, South Carolina seceded from the Union of States, the people of Wilmington were deeply stirred by conflicting emotions. Meetings were held at various local points, and speakers for and against secession swayed the multitudes which attended them. At a town meeting, an address by Dr. James H. Dickson, urging moderation and advising against hasty action as to secession.His speech was followed by one from Mr. O.P. Meares, afterwards a colonel in the Confederate Army and later a judge"

Source:  Bernhard Thuersam, Director, Cape Fear Historical Institute, www.cfhi.net 

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