A Union Indivisible

Secession and the Politics of Slavery in the Border South

By Michael D. Robinson

312 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 halftones, 1 map, 19 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3378-7
    Published: November 2017
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3379-4
    Published: October 2017

Civil War America

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Many accounts of the secession crisis overlook the sharp political conflict that took place in the Border South states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. Michael D. Robinson expands the scope of this crisis to show how the fate of the Border South, and with it the Union, desperately hung in the balance during the fateful months surrounding the clash at Fort Sumter. During this period, Border South politicians revealed the region’s deep commitment to slavery, disputed whether or not to leave the Union, and schemed to win enough support to carry the day. Although these border states contained fewer enslaved people than the eleven states that seceded, white border Southerners chose to remain in the Union because they felt the decision best protected their peculiar institution.

Robinson reveals anew how the choice for union was fraught with anguish and uncertainty, dividing families and producing years of bitter internecine violence. Letters, diaries, newspapers, and quantitative evidence illuminate how, in the absence of a compromise settlement, proslavery Unionists managed to defeat secession in the Border South.

About the Author

Michael D. Robinson is assistant professor of history at the University of Mobile.
For more information about Michael D. Robinson, visit the Author Page.


"A Union Indivisible enhances our understanding of the complicated politics--and the even more complicated issues of secession and union--in the fragile slave states later known as the 'Border South.' This book offers illuminating insights into individuals' and states' complex political beliefs and behaviors during the turbulence of the Civil War’s onset."--Christopher Phillips, University of Cincinnati

"Everyone interested in the origins of the American Civil War should read this book. Michael Robinson deftly explains how proslavery Unionists in the border South enlisted to restore 'the old Union as it was' without foreseeing the subsequent enlargement of Union war aims to include emancipation."--Daniel Crofts, author of Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery