North Carolina's Unionist Newspapers and their Fight Against Secession
While some scholars place great emphasis on the effects of southern newspapers in shaping public opinion in favor of secession by either softening their views or implicitly espousing a secessionist message, this exhibit studies three Unionist newspapers from the important swing area of central North Carolina and their struggle to keep the state in the Union. The Raleigh Weekly Standard, the Salisbury Carolina Watchman, and the Fayetteville Observer all argued that the election of Abraham Lincoln did not constitute a just cause for secession. From the date of the election until the shelling of Fort Sumter and Lincoln's subsequent proclamation calling for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion, these newspapers argued steadfastly for the Union. This exhibit tracks newspaper reporting and editorials centering around key events that occured during the six-month secession crisis. Although all three newspapers would eventually support North Carolina's secession from the Union, all three fought against it until the events of May 1861 proved to them that there was no chance of continued peaceful coexistance with the North.