In the months following Abraham Lincoln’s election as President, North Carolinians debated whether their state should follow other southern states out of the Union. Some saw secession as a matter of honor; some saw it as dangerous; others believed the South was “committing suicide” but saw no other choice once the war began. In this chapter, we’ll examine the debates over secession, the first shots of the war, and the reasons for North Carolina’s eventual secession in May 1861.

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