Turns out, the publisher and I should have titled it "A Civil War Christmas Carol" because nobody seems to know exactly what the heck a secessionist is. Did nobody pay attention when the Civil War was being taught in school? Is the war still being taught in school? Can no one look the word up in a dictionary or Google it? Apparently not. So, here's what the word means: It is an individual who advocates withdrawal from a political association. In the 1860s it was someone who was all for leaving the United States and forming a Confederacy. An extremist. Someone who was for separating, not necessarily war. However, when South Carolina left, and other states followed, war was precipitated.
The book is a look at "what if" the states had remained in the Union and the war had not been fought. How much different, and perhaps better, would this country be today. It's not just a dry telling of a bunch of boring facts. The facts are accurate, but the narrative is flowing. I've been reviewed as "making learning history fun". There's the key. Learning should be fun.
Now, don't ask me what palmetto, sovereign and precipitated means. Ask Google and learn. Have fun!