BORDER STATES. The (IN U.S. HISTORY), the tier of slave states, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, lying nearest the free states. North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas were sometimes included among the border states as distinguished from the gulf or cotton states, but the name was usually given to the states first named. The rise of a distinct border state interest first becomes evident about 1820-30 (see SLAVERY), when the development of the cotton culture in the extreme south had begun to create a demand for slaves there, which could be filled only by the inter-state slave trade, since the African slave trade had been abolished. (See ABOLITION, I.) From that time until 1860 the border states, except Missouri, became a breeding ground for slaves to be sold in the gulf state markets when mature Even in 1832 it was admitted on all hands in the Virginia convention of that year that Virginia's exportation of slaves was more profitable than any of her domestic industries. The border states therefore suffered most from the operations of the underground railroad (see ABOLITION, II.), and were loudest in their complaints of the non-execution of the fugitive slave law. In 1860 this feeling caused the introduction, by a Missouri senator, of a proposition to maintain an armed national police force along the line between the border and free states, to prevent the escape of slaves.
—During the political excitement of the period, 1850-60, the position of the border states was one of peculiar difficulty, owing to the acceptance in the north and south of the slavery question as an issue in American politics. In this acceptance the border states never concurred; to them it meant only present trouble and confusion, and a threat of future armed conflict of which they should be the principal theatre. They were therefore only anxious to keep the slavery question out of sight. In this section the American party, or know nothings, first took rank as a national party; in 1856 it carried Maryland, and polled a strong vote in the other border states. Here again, in 1860, the constitutional union party, based also on the desire to ignore the slavery question, found its strongest anchorage: all the electoral votes given to its candidates were those of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, and the plurality against it in the other border states was exceedingly small. When Lincoln's election had brought the rebellion into plain view, the border states were still anxious for compromise and peace. They originated the peace conference of 1861 (see CONFERENCE, PEACE), and the Crittenden compromise (see COMPROMISES, VI.), and labored with little prospect of success to secure the adoption of either of them as a basis of settlement.
—At the outbreak of the rebellion the border states were emphatic in demanding that neither the federal government nor the seceded states should do anything "calculated to provoke a collision of arms between the states and the government of the United States." (See STATE SOVEREIGNTY, SECESSION.) When president Lincoln's call for troops in April, 1861, showed that the federal government meant to fight for its existence, Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas seceded: the other border states refused to do so, though some of their ancient politicians wished to maintain an attitude of "neutrality." Governor Beriah Magoffin, of Kentucky, by proclamation, even warned "all other states, separate or united, especially the united and confederate states," that he forbade any occupation of Kentucky without consent of its legislature and governor; but the people of Kentucky, and of the other border states, except Tennessee, which was divided, and the three seceded states, generally supported the government. (See the states in detail.)
—Throughout the war against the rebellion the border states continued to urge, but without success, their project for "reconstruction," which, in its original sense, meant the settlement of all existing difficulties by a convention of all the states, including those that had seceded. (See RECONSTRUCTION.) Delegates from all the border states, even from those which had not seceded, except Delaware and Maryland, held seats in the congress of the confederate states, but these were chosen by soldiers of regiments in the rebel armies, or by those districts temporarily under rebel control, and in no sense represented the people of the state. (See DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, SECESSION, REBELLION, UNITED STATES, and authorities cited there and under articles above referred to.)