Beauregard officially became superintendent of West Point on January 23, 1861. The position of superintendent was a prestigious one. After all, West Point had provided almost all of the nation's leading military figures with their educations, and the cadets who welcomed Beauregard to the academy were regarded as America's military leaders of the future. As it turned out, however, Beauregard held the position for only five days before being fired.
By the time that Beauregard took over at West Point, long-standing disagreements between America's Northern and Southern regions threatened to spill over into violence at any time. The two sides had become angry with one another over a wide range of issues, from the balance of Federal and state authority to the economy. But the issue that most divided the two sides was slavery. Many Northerners believed slavery was wrong and wanted to abolish (put an end to) it. But the economy and culture of the South were closely linked to slavery, and Southerners resented Northern efforts to end the practice.
When Beauregard arrived at West Point, several Southern states had already announced their intention to secede from (leave) the United States and form their own country that allowed slavery, called the Confederate States of America. Beauregard announced his support for the secessionist cause. He also let it be known that if Louisiana seceded from the Union, he would immediately return to his native state and defend it against Federal troops. Beauregard's remarks infuriated his superiors, and on January 28 he was dismissed from his post at West Point.
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