“True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students at the University of North Carolina” is an interesting online exhibit from Documenting the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill. The site breaks down this period (1795-1869) into six chapters and each one has essays on key topics and relevant primary sources.
One particularly interesting letter from 1856 shows what can happen to southerners who publicly supported the Republican party. UNC professor Benjamin Hedrick told Hinton Rowan Helper (The Impending Crisis of the South) that “all the means of the worst politicians were at once brought to bear against me,” including “efforts…to excite the students to mob me.” Eventually the UNC Board of Trustees forced him out of the university. As the “trustees [were] nearly all politicians,” Hedrick concluded “they were very willing to sacrifice me to the popular clamor.” (House Divided also has an editorial about this event.) Check out DocSouth’s other digital collections here.