A picture of Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860 on a platform of maintaining the Union of the states. Upon his election, seven states seceded, forming the Confederacy, later joined by four more, starting the Civil War. Although slavery was the issue that galvanized the hostilities, the overarching principle was the same as the debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists regarding the relationship between the states and the federal government.