When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, Thomas Cobb realized that the South had suffered a major loss in power. Since the Republican party controlled the executive, there was no way the South could have any say in the government. All their opinions could be easily disregarded by the North; their neglect of the Fugitive Slave Law was a perfect example of this. Cobb also understood that the Northerner?s sudden patriotism for the Union was quite out of place. Only fifty-four years earlier, the New England states had threatened to secede from the Union if powers limiting the control of the government were not added to the Constitution.
Sensing their loss of control in the government, Cobb felt the only option was to secede. Although this meant a loss of financial aid that comes with being part of a blossoming new nation, the economic repercussions of not seceding would be much worse. Slavery was an important industry in the South. Southerners used slaves to pick their cotton which was their main source of agricultural income. With the new Republican president, they became fearful that slavery would be abolished.
Cobb also believed that ?the right to decide [about secession] is one of the ?reserved rights? of the states. He deemed that the sovereign states had the right to decide of federal laws were constitutional and that they had the right to secede from the Union. This, he felt, was implied in Amendments Ten and Twelve. This belief probably stemmed from the fear of tyranny that U.S. citizens felt after their liberation from England. Therefore, Cobb would support decentralization in the government. He also based this idea on the concept of nullification, which said that the states had the final decision on the constitutionality of laws.
Cobb viewed the South as a minority who was being taken advantage of by the North. This angered him because he didn?t believe the government was protecting the rights of the states. Instead, they were caving into the extreme ideas of the abolitionists. As he was quoted in Freeling?s Secession Debated: Georgia?s Showdown in 1860: …?while the constitution is full of checks and balances to protect the minority from the sudden and excited power of a majority, no provision was suggested for the protection of the majority from the despotic rule of infuriated, fanatical, sectional minority.? Cobb supported a system that would put checks and balances on the minority.
In keeping with the spirit of the Constitution, Cobb argued that a state as large as Georgia, with more slaves, more people and more voters and more slave holders should receive more respect and have a greater say in the government. Otherwise, Georgia?s rights were not being protected and the concept of democratic America went down the drain. This was as good a reason as any to secede. Cobb asked, why should the South be bound to a Union that didn?t even uphold their right to liberty? By staying in the Union, Georgia would be letting itself be taken advantage of by a sectional minority. Therefore, the only option was to secede and preserve the state?s right to sovereignty.