Yancey, William Lowndes

Yancey, William Lowndes,

1814–63, American leader of secessionsecession,
in political science, formal withdrawal from an association by a group discontented with the actions or decisions of that association. The term is generally used to refer to withdrawal from a political entity; such withdrawal usually occurs when a territory or state
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, b. Warren co., Ga. Admitted (1834) to the bar in Greenville, S.C., he soon moved to Alabama. There he became an outstanding lawyer, was elected to the state house of representatives (1841) and the state senate (1843), and served in Congress (1844–46). In response to the Wilmot ProvisoWilmot Proviso,
1846, amendment to a bill put before the U.S. House of Representatives during the Mexican War; it provided an appropriation of $2 million to enable President Polk to negotiate a territorial settlement with Mexico.
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, Yancey wrote (1848) the Alabama Platform, which demanded of Congress the positive protection of slavery in the territories. Yancey's doctrine was adopted by several Southern states under his militant leadership and soon became the creed of the whole South. As extreme a "fire-eater" as William Lloyd GarrisonGarrison, William Lloyd,
1805–79, American abolitionist, b. Newburyport, Mass. He supplemented his limited schooling with newspaper work and in 1829 went to Baltimore to aid Benjamin Lundy in publishing the Genius of Universal Emancipation.
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 was an abolitionist, he even advocated the reopening of the African slave trade. After the Compromise of 1850Compromise of 1850.
The annexation of Texas to the United States and the gain of new territory by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the close of the Mexican War (1848) aggravated the hostility between North and South concerning the question of the extension of slavery into the
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 he retired into the background, but the events of 1860 once more brought him to the fore. At the national convention of the Democratic party in Charleston, he expressed the Southern demands in one of his greatest speeches, and when the Northern delegates, led by Stephen A. DouglasDouglas, Stephen Arnold,
1813–61, American statesman, b. Brandon, Vt. Senatorial Career

He was admitted to the bar at Jacksonville, Ill., in 1834. After holding various state and local offices he became a U.S.
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, refused to accept the "Yancey platform," practically all his Southern colleagues followed him out of the convention. Yancey wrote the Alabama ordinance of secession. After the organization of the Confederacy, Jefferson DavisDavis, Jefferson,
1808–89, American statesman, President of the Southern Confederacy, b. Fairview, near Elkton, Ky. His birthday was June 3. Early Life

Davis's parents moved to Mississippi when he was a boy.
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, then only provisional president, sent Yancey, a potential rival for the permanent office, to Europe as a Confederate commissioner. Failing to secure recognition from England and France, he returned in 1862, was elected to the Confederate senate, and served there until his death.


See biography by J. W. DuBose (1892).

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Yancey, William Lowndes

(1814–63) U.S. representative, diplomat; born in Ogeechee, Ga. He was a leading Alabama lawyer who resigned after an unsatisfying congressional term (Dem., 1844–46) to promote his unyielding views on states' rights and secession across the South; he is largely credited with shaping southern public opinion to favor secession. He died in office as a Confederate senator (1862–63).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.