McMahon, Joel C. (Georgia State University)
Georgia State University, Doctor of Philosophy, History Dissertations, Paper 15 (2010)
Since the Civil War, historians have tried to understand why eleven southern states seceded from the Union to form a new nation, the Confederate States of America. What compelled the South to favor disunion over union? While enduring stereotypes perpetuated by the Myth of the Lost Cause cast most southerners of the antebellum era as ardent secessionists, not all southerners favored disunion. In addition, not all states were enthusiastic about the prospects of leaving one Union
only to join another. Secession and disunion have helped shape the identity of the imagined South, but many Georgians opposed secession. This dissertation examines the life of U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Moore Wayne (1790-1867), a staunch Unionist from Savannah, Georgia. Wayne remained on the U.S. Supreme Court during the American Civil War, and this study explores why he remained loyal to the Union when his home state joined the Confederacy. Examining the nature of Wayne’s Unionism opens many avenues of inquiry into the nature of Georgia’s attitudes toward union and disunion in the antebellum era. By exploring the political, economic and social dimensions of Georgia Unionism and long opposition to secession, this work will add to the growing list of studies of southern Unionists.