Abraham Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union. He made that very clear on his campaign trail. Though he despised slavery, he was willing on compromising over it if it meant keeping the Union intact. Southern states disagreed, thinking Lincoln would destroy the institution of slavery the second he came into office. The south also felt powerless. During the election, not a single southern state voted for Lincoln, though he still won the presidency. This made them feel powerless. They used this as an excuse to secede from the Union, Starting with South Carolina. This would be the final straw leading into the civil war.
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