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

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6608-2
    Published: August 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3378-7
    Published: November 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-3379-4
    Published: October 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5107-9
    Published: October 2017

Civil War America

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Awards & distinctions

2019 Eagleton-Waters Book Award, State Historical Society of Missouri

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.


“Robinson’s study consolidates and greatly improves our understanding of Border South proslavery Unionism and the many factors behind its success during one of the most dangerous times in U.S. History. Highly recommended.”--Civil War Books and Authors

"An excellent political history of the border-state dilemma; students of the Civil War era will read it with interest."--Choice

“A clear and concise introduction to the political machinations within the border states during the secession crisis.”--Missouri Historical Review

“Thoroughly researched and beautifully written ... a must-have for any Civil War scholar’s library.”--The Journal of Southern History

“Displays a great command of the sources . . . [and] presents fascinating character studies.”--Journal of the Civil War Era

“A welcome contribution to the growing scholarship of the border region in the Civil War era.”--Journal of American History