Over at Civil War Emancipation, Donald R. Shaffer highlights a table by David C. Hanson of Virginia Western Community College, that compares slaveholding states’ date of secession with their populations of slaves and slaveholders as recorded in the 1860 U.S. Census. Shaffer notes that “David C. Hanson makes a definite connection between the concentration of slaves and slaveholders in a particular southern states and when it seceded from the Union in 1860-61, and whether it seceded at all. Certainly, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence connecting slavery and Civil War causation, but this table also makes a compelling statistical case.”
No shit. It turns out that for the eleven states that actually seceded, the proportion of free persons owning slaves was an excellent predictor of the order in which they seceded, beginning with South Carolina. I plugged the numbers into Excel and found that the percentage of slaves as part of the state’s overall population was equally reliable as a predictor. Assigning each state a number corresponding to its order of secession (South Carolina = 1, Mississippi = 2, etc.), the correlation coefficient for both the percentage of slaveholders among the free population, and for the proportion of slave among the overall population, was in both cases beyond -0.9. In short, each percentage is a nearly perfect predictor of where each state falls in the order of secession. The states with the largest proportions of slaves and slave-holders seceded earliest.