This is a pewter copy of the Great Seal of the Confederacy, the official stamp of the young Confederate government.
AN IMPORTANT HEADLINE This headline from the Charleston Mercury is one of the most famous in U.S. history. It was issued as a one-sheet "extra" on December 20,
1860. The paper informed the people of Charleston of the vote for secession even before word of the event reached Washington, D.C.
Pro-slavery southerners were angry at the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860. Radicals among them believed they would no longer have a voice in American government. In South Carolina, where slaves outnumbered the white population, voters called for the state's secession from the Union. In December, 1860, a secession convention in the city of Charleston declared South Carolina's independence from the United States. Militiamen and citizens there seized U.S. government property. Major Robert Anderson took a small force into Fort Sumter, a brick fortification on a small island in the middle of Charleston Harbor. Anderson was determined to protect this bit of U.S. property from seizure. South Carolinians were equally determined to take the fort. Through January, February, and March, 1861, they surrounded the harbor with heavy cannons. Their guns prevented ships from bringing supplies to the fort. During this time, other states seceded. In March, in Montgomery, Alabama, these seceded states formed a new government, which was called the Confederate States of America. On April 11, Confederate cannons opened fire on Fort Sumter. These shots began the Civil War. Anderson's men fired back at the Charleston guns, but were forced to give in on April 12 when Confederate shells set their fort's interior on fire.
ALEXANDER STEPHENS, THE CONFEDERACY'S VICE PRESIDENT
The forgotten vice president of the Confederate States of America was Alexander Stephens of Georgia. Stephens was very thin, small, and sickly. He came to be known to the Confederate voters as Little Aleck.
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