With the nation facing the potential threat of disunion over the passage of the Compromise of 1850, Georgia,
There were many southerners in the decades before the Civil War (1861-65) who preferred disunion to any concessions
The November elections for the special convention to be held in December 1850 demonstrated an overwhelming support for the pro-Union position in Georgia. Of the 264 delegates to the convention, 240 were Unionists. In a five-day session the convention drafted an official response to the tensions threatening the Union. Only 19 delegates voted against the Georgia Platform. The genius of the document lay in its balance of Southern rights and a devotion to the Union.
The platform established Georgia's conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.
This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union. Nevertheless, the conditions upon which the Georgia Platform rested would fail the tests of time, bringing in the next decade a replay of events with different results—secession and war.
Anthony Gene Carey, Parties, Slavery, and the Union in Antebellum Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997).
Donald A. DeBats, Elites and Masses: Political Structure, Communication and Behavior in Antebellum Georgia (New York: Garland, 1990).
Michael P. Johnson, Toward a Patriarchal Republic: The Secession of Georgia (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977).
Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Georgia and State Rights: A Study of the Political History of Georgia from the Revolution to the Civil War, with Particular Regard to Federal Relations (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1902).
Richard Harrison Shryock, Georgia and the Union in 1850 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1926; reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1968).
George Justice, University of Georgia
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