Having been elected President of the Confederacy, in his inaugural speech of 1861, Jefferson Davis proclaimed it was ‘the American idea that governments rest upon the consent of the governed’, and added that it was ‘the right of the people to alter or abolish governments whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established’. Although secession of Southern states from the Union did not necessarily have to lead to armed conflict, President Abraham Lincoln, and the majority of Northerners, felt so strongly that the precedent of states leaving the Union might lead to its ultimate disintegration, they were prepared to fight a war which left well over half a million dead – as many as were lost in all other wars the US has fought added together. By the time the war was over, the fight to preserve the Union had taken on a higher goal, and the victory of the North in 1865 ensured that nearly four million black slaves would be freed.