The War at Home A Divided Community

The War at Home: Exploring Winston and Salem during the Civil War

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The two local newspapers argued passionately over secession.

The two local newspapers argued passionately over secession.

A Public Meeting was held to discuss secession

A Public Meeting was held to discuss secession

Forsyth County Courthouse

Forsyth County Courthouse

 

 Images courtesy Forsyth County Public Library Photography Collection

 

Key Details:

  • After South Carolina’s secession, a public meeting was held at the County Courthouse to determine what message Forsyth County would send to North Carolina’s State Legislature. Over 800 people attended the meeting on Dec. 29, 1860 and strong opinions were expressed for secession by John W. Alspaugh, with Constantine Banner anchoring the side against. The result of the meeting was a set of resolutions that rejected secession.
    • It is worth noting that much of Western North Carolina was against secession. With a low slave population relative to the eastern part of the state, those in the West were less swayed by the desire to protect property rights. In 1860, the slave population of Forsyth County made up about 14% of the total population.
  • Winston’s Western Sentinel and Salem’s People’s Press waged a rhetorical press war over secession. The Salem paper advocated staying in the Union, while the Sentinel promoted secession. When NC seceded from the Union in May 1861, the two papers both turned to support the local troops and the cause, though they continued to disagree over political issues.
  • There was also division within the Moravian Church, largely caused by wealthy individuals gaining power that rivaled the church Theocracy, as well as internal divisions over the church’s traditional pacifism, connections with Pennsylvania, and the education of enslaved Moravians.
    • For decades prior to the War, Francis Fries had been a bit of trouble for the church due to his political and industrial pursuits. The power struggle within Salem coincided with the coming of the War and helped to expose rifts within the community.

 

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