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History's Happenings for December 20

South Carolina Secedes From Union
1860

Confederate battle flag

During a bitter 1860 election in which the institution of slavery was a major divisive factor, South Carolina announced that it would secede from the Union were Lincoln to gain the presidency. Governor William Gist canvassed the other cotton-growing states to determine whether she would be acting alone or in concert. Evidently the response was positive.

When it had become clear that Lincoln won the election, the South Carolina legislature met in special session to vote on secession. Three days later, on December 20, 1860, a Declaration of Secession was approved, and South Carolina became the first state to leave the Union on the eve of the Civil War.

Over the course of the next few months, she was followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, all of whom except Mississippi sent delegates to the Confederate constitutional convention that spring.

War broke out on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces bombarded Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston (SC) harbor. Told by President Lincoln to send their militias to suppress the rebellion, the states of the Upper South -- Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee -- instead joined the Confederacy.

The border states of Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas, though of varying sympathy for the Southern cause, remained loyal or neutral. Western Virginia, expressing a desire to return to the Union, was carved out of Virginia in 1863 as a new state.

First Successful U.S. Cotton Mill
1790

(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
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Louisiana Purchase Concluded
1803

President Thomas Jefferson

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Sherman Pushes Rebs Out of Savannah
1864

General William T. Sherman, having turned up the coast on his March to the Sea

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U.S. Attacks Panama in "Operation Just Cause"
1989

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