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155 Years Ago: Friday, April 12, 1861

155 years ago today – April 12, 1861 – the first shot of the Civil War rang out in Fort Sumter, South Carolina. “The Civil War has now begun in earnest,” Harper’s Weekly would later tell its readers.

This was not a war started in haste. The founding fathers had managed to set aside the issue of slavery in order to create unity between the thirteen colonies. The thought was that it would eventually die a slow death; by 1800 importation of slaves had nearly ceased & the slave population was around 694,000. With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, it allowed Southern farmers to process more cotton; with slave labor, it also allowed them to also make bigger profits. By 1860 there were 3.95 million slaves in the United States, which was 12% of the total population; in the South, slaves accounted for 43% of their population.

When the Battle of Fort Sumter occurred, only seven southern states had seceded from the Union. Later Virginia (including West Virginia, though in 1863 they were admitted as a new state to the Union), Tennessee, Arkansas & North Carolina would also secede and join the Confederate States of America. Three states would maintain neutrality – Maryland, Kentucky & Missouri – though thousands of people served either the northern or southern cause.

While the subject of slavery fueled the flames for war, in the end it came down to State’s rights vs. National government. Ever since the United States was formed, there had been differences in opinion over what type of control national government should have. Initially there was great focus on State and Local governments, with the national government role evolving and expanding with each election. Most disagreements were on things such as tariffs and sectionalism (looking at the nation as sections, with most of the power being held in the North at the time of the war). Slavery played a large role as it was tied into the Southern economy, but it was not the sole reason for secession.

Secession was something many states throughout the United States had explored at various times through its history. Other places around the world had separated from an initial government; a break did not necessarily have to mean war. The Southern states thought that they had every right to break away & form their own union; to them, it was no different than when the 13 colonies sought to break their ties to England. It was the position of the Northern leaders that the South did not have this right. Based on these two very different stances, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and C.S.A. Provisional President Jefferson Davis did what was in the best interest of their countries for the people they represented.

It’s important to keep in mind that in 1861, the country was quite vast, but travel was limited for most people. There was not a large sense of U.S. patriotism or even a strong connection. When people spoke of home, it was often in reference to their state. It is why people like Robert E. Lee would leave the U.S military and his “country” to fight for his home state of Virginia – which will soon become a part of the Confederate States of America.

When the first shot rang out at Fort Sumter, many understood that this meant the start of something. Very few predicted it would be the start of a four year war, with 1,100,000 casualties, 620,000 of them being killed from battle wounds or from illness. Even those in the most powerful of positions, such as U.S. President Lincoln, thought this would be the beginning of a “90 day war,” to be mostly fought by volunteers in an effort to put an end to a small “rebellion.”  A few people, one of them being future U.S. General William T. Sherman, understood that this was more than a rebellion, and would write to his brother, U.S. Senator John Sherman (Ohio): “I still think it is to be a long war – very long – much longer than any Politician thinks.”

U.S. General Robert Anderson and his men manage to survive the first day of Confederate attacks, led by C.S.A. General P.G.T. Beauregard, who years before had been a student of Anderson’s at West Point. The bombardment of the fort will continue throughout the night.

Fort Sumter

Source: Library of Congress

155 Years Ago: Tuesday, February 19, 1861

In Baltimore, Maryland, representatives from each county have gathered for a second day of discussing the possibility of secession. In the end, they fall short of planning any action. The final recommendation is that if Virginia secedes, then Maryland should follow.

Pinkerton detective Harry Davies is officially invited to join his new Southern friend Otis Hillard in the meeting of “Southern patriots,” led by Cypriano Ferrandini. In return, Davies must swear an oath of loyalty, which he agrees to. That evening, Hillard takes Davies to the home of one of the members. They are taken into a large drawing room, where twenty men are waiting. Ferrandini is dressed in black from head to toe, and leads Davies in swearing an oath to the cause of Southern freedom.

As the men discuss plans for Lincoln’s stop in Baltimore, Ferrandini draws a long, curved blade from beneath his coat and brandishes it high above his head. “Gentlemen, this hireling Lincoln shall never, never be President!” The men roar in approval. As the cheers subside, Ferrandini asks his followers: “Who shall assume the task of liberating the nation of the foul presence of the abolitionist leader?”

Paper ballots have been placed into a wooden chest on a table in front of Ferrandini. One ballot is marked in red to designate the assassin. The room is darkened, so that no one except the person who draws the marked ballot knows who the chosen one is. Everyone pledges to secrecy. Ferrandini tells his followers that the identity of the “honored patriot” will be protected until the last possible instant.

When Davies and Hillard leave the meeting, Davies confides in Hillard that his own paper is blank, and he feigns disappointment. Davies expresses concern that whoever did have the marked ballot will lose his nerve. Hillard explains that a safeguard has been put in place: Ferrandini had anticipated this possibility, and had put in not one, but eight, red marked ballots. This way, even if one or two men choose not to act, at least one of the others will be certain to strike the fatal blow.

After parting with Hillard for the evening, Davies immediately goes to detective Allan Pinkerton’s office and gives his account of the evening’s activities. After careful surveillance these past few weeks, Pinkerton declares that “My time for action has now arrived.”

The man Pinkerton is determined to protect, U.S. President-elect Abraham Lincoln, makes his way by train from Albany to New York City, New York. It is another day of multiple train stops, short speeches, greetings, and other events. He and his family will spend the night in the Astor House. It is next door to St. Paul’s Church, where George Washington attended service after he was sworn in as the first President of the United States.

155 Years Ago: Monday, February 18, 1861

As President-elect Abraham Lincoln makes his way from Buffalo to Albany, New York, the city of Baltimore begins a two day convention to determine whether they will secede from the United States and join the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.). Also in Baltimore, Pinkerton detective Harry Davies has dinner with Otis Hillard, a man loyal to the Southern cause. Hillard tells Davies that the group of “Southern patriots” that he is a part of might soon “draw lots to see who will kill Lincoln,” boasting that he would do it willingly if the task fell to him. With only days left before Lincoln arrives in Baltimore, Davies forcefully demands that he wants to be a part of the next meeting of the group, so he can be given the “opportunity to immortalize himself.”Hillard trusts Davies, and will see what he can do about getting him in the group.

Davis Inauguration 1861

Source: Library of Congress

In Montgomery, Alabama in front of the statehouse portico, Jefferson Davis is sworn in as the Provisional President of the C.S.A. He had waited until the last 24 hours to write his inaugural address, and is tired from his week long journey. He unfolds a thin sheaf of paper and reads his address in a strong, clear baritone voice. He is finished in under 15 minutes. Many find disappointment with it, not finding a single memorable idea or phrase. Even Davis’s supporters will rarely quote it. Unlike his farewell speech to the U.S. Senate in January, it contains no call to defend slavery.


Gentlemen of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

Called to the difficult and responsible station of Chief Executive of the Provisional Government which you have instituted, I approach the discharge of the duties assigned to me with an humble distrust of my abilities, but with a sustaining confidence in the wisdom of those who are to guide and to aid me in the administration of public affairs, and an abiding faith in the virtue and patriotism of the people.

Looking forward to the speedy establishment of a permanent government to take the place of this, and which by its greater moral and physical power will be better able to combat with the many difficulties which arise from the conflicting interests of separate nations, I enter upon the duties of the office to which I have been chosen with the hope that the beginning of our career as a Confederacy may not be obstructed by hostile opposition to our enjoyment of the separate existence and independence which we have asserted, and, with the blessing of Providence, intend to maintain. Our present condition, achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations, illustrates the American idea that governments rest upon the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish governments whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established.

The declared purpose of the compact of Union from which we have withdrawn was “to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;” and when, in the judgment of the sovereign States now composing this Confederacy, it had been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and had ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot-box declared that so far as they were concerned, the government created by that compact should cease to exist. In this they merely asserted a right which the Declaration of Independence of 1776 had defined to be inalienable; of the time and occasion for its exercise, they, as sovereigns, were the final judges, each for itself. The impartial and enlightened verdict of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct, and He who knows the hearts of men will judge of the sincerity with which we labored to preserve the Government of our fathers in its spirit. The right solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the States, and which has been affirmed and reaffirmed in the bills of rights of States subsequently admitted into the Union of 1789, undeniably recognize in the people the power to resume the authority delegated for the purposes of government. Thus the sovereign States here represented proceeded to form this Confederacy, and it is by abuse of language that their act has been denominated a revolution. They formed a new alliance, but within each State its government has remained, the rights of person and property have not been disturbed. The agent through whom they communicated with foreign nations is changed, but this does not necessarily interrupt their international relations.

Sustained by the consciousness that the transition from the former Union to the present Confederacy has not proceeded from a disregard on our part of just obligations, or any failure to perform every constitutional duty, moved by no interest or passion to invade the rights of others, anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all nations, if we may not hope to avoid war, we may at least expect that posterity will acquit us of having needlessly engaged in it. Doubly justified by the absence of wrong on our part, and by wanton aggression on the part of others, there can be no cause to doubt that the courage and patriotism of the people of the Confederate States will be found equal to any measures of defense which honor and security may require.

An agricultural people, whose chief interest is the export of a commodity required in every manufacturing country, our true policy is peace, and the freest trade which our necessities will permit. It is alike our interest, and that of all those to whom we would sell and from whom we would buy, that there should be the fewest practicable restrictions upon the interchange of commodities. There can be but little rivalry between ours and any manufacturing or navigating community, such as the Northeastern States of the American Union. It must follow, therefore, that a mutual interest would invite good will and kind offices. If, however, passion or the lust of dominion should cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, we must prepare to meet the emergency and to maintain, by the final arbitrament of the sword, the position which we have assumed among the nations of the earth. We have entered upon the career of independence, and it must be inflexibly pursued. Through many years of controversy with our late associates, the Northern States, we have vainly endeavored to secure tranquility, and to obtain respect for the rights to which we were entitled. As a necessity, not a choice, we have resorted to the remedy of separation; and henceforth our energies must be directed to the conduct of our own affairs, and the perpetuity of the Confederacy which we have formed. If a just perception of mutual interest shall permit us peaceably to pursue our separate political career, my most earnest desire will have been fulfilled. But, if this be denied to us, and the integrity of our territory and jurisdiction be assailed, it will but remain for us, with firm resolve, to appeal to arms and invoke the blessings of Providence on a just cause.

As a consequence of our new condition and with a view to meet anticipated wants, it will be necessary to provide for the speedy and efficient organization of branches of the executive department, having special charge of foreign intercourse, finance, military affairs, and the postal service.

For purposes of defense, the Confederate States may, under ordinary circumstances, rely mainly upon their militia, but it is deemed advisable, in the present condition of affairs, that there should be a well-instructed and disciplined army, more numerous than would usually be required on a peace establishment. I also suggest that for the protection of our harbors and commerce on the high seas a navy adapted to those objects will be required. These necessities have doubtless engaged the attention of Congress.

With a Constitution differing only from that of our fathers in so far as it is explanatory of their well-known intent, freed from the sectional conflicts which have interfered with the pursuit of the general welfare, it is not unreasonable to expect that States from which we have recently parted may seek to unite their fortunes with ours under the government which we have instituted. For this your Constitution makes adequate provision; but beyond this, if I mistake not the judgment and will of the people, a reunion with the States from which we have separated is neither practicable nor desirable. To increase the power, develop the resources, and promote the happiness of a confederacy, it is requisite that there should be so much of homogeneity that the welfare of every portion shall be the aim of the whole. Where this does not exist, antagonisms are engendered which must and should result in separation.

Actuated solely by the desire to preserve our own rights and promote our own welfare, the separation of the Confederate States has been marked by no aggression upon others and followed by no domestic convulsion. Our industrial pursuits have received no check. The cultivation of our fields has progressed as heretofore, and even should we be involved in war there would be no considerable diminution in the production of the staples which have constituted our exports and in which the commercial world has an interest scarcely less than our own. This common interest of the producer and consumer can only be interrupted by an exterior force which should obstruct its transmission to foreign markets–a course of conduct which would be as unjust toward us as it would be detrimental to manufacturing and commercial interests abroad. Should reason guide the action of the Government from which we have separated, a policy so detrimental to the civilized world, the Northern States included, could not be dictated by even the strongest desire to inflict injury upon us; but otherwise a terrible responsibility will rest upon it, and the suffering of millions will bear testimony to the folly and wickedness of our aggressors. In the meantime there will remain to us, besides the ordinary means before suggested, the well-known resources for retaliation upon the commerce of an enemy.

Experience in public stations, of subordinate grade to this which your kindness has conferred, has taught me that care and toil and disappointment are the price of official elevation. You will see many errors to forgive, many deficiencies to tolerate, but you shall not find in me either a want of zeal or fidelity to the cause that is to me highest in hope and of most enduring affection. Your generosity has bestowed upon me an undeserved distinction, one which I neither sought nor desired. Upon the continuance of that sentiment and upon your wisdom and patriotism I rely to direct and support me in the performance of the duty required at my hands.

We have changed the constituent parts, but not the system of our Government. The Constitution formed by our fathers is that of these Confederate States, in their exposition of it, and in the judicial construction it has received, we have a light which reveals its true meaning.

Thus instructed as to the just interpretation of the instrument, and ever remembering that all offices are but trusts held for the people, and that delegated powers are to be strictly construed, I will hope, by due diligence in the performance of my duties, though I may disappoint your expectations, yet to retain, when retiring, something of the good will and confidence which welcome my entrance into office.

It is joyous, in the midst of perilous times, to look around upon a people united in heart, where one purpose of high resolve animates and actuates the whole–where the sacrifices to be made are not weighed in the balance against honor and right and liberty and equality. Obstacles may retard, they cannot long prevent the progress of a movement sanctified by its justice, and sustained by a virtuous people. Reverently let us invoke the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which, by his blessing, they were able to vindicate, establish and transmit to their posterity, and with a continuance of His favor, ever gratefully acknowledged, we may hopefully look forward to success, to peace, and to prosperity.

155 Years Ago: Sunday, February 17, 1861

1855 to 1865 Source: Library of Congress

1855 to 1865
Source: Library of Congress

In Montgomery, Alabama, the Provisional President-elect arrives at the new capital of the Confederacy by train. Jefferson Davis had been appointed into the position by the Confederate Congress, and has an impressive resume: A West Point graduate, a veteran of the Black Hawk and Mexican-American Wars, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, former U.S. Secretary of War, and a former U.S. Senator from Mississippi. He will be sworn in tomorrow.

In Baltimore, detective Allan Pinkerton is finally seeing the pieces coming together. The city, with it’s population over more than 200,000, is the country’s fourth largest city and a major port. Maryland has a large amount of anti-Northern sentiment; the Maryland legislature is still debating whether to join the Confederacy.

Pinkerton, a Scottish immigrant who had been the first official detective for the city of Chicago, had started his own detective agency in Chicago. At the request of Samuel Morse Felton, president of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, Pinkerton had come to Baltimore the first week of February to uncover any potential threats against U.S. President-elect Abraham Lincoln, who is to arrive in the city on February 23. He and his operatives take rooms at a boarding house near the Camden Street train station. Pinkerton creates a cover identify: John H. Hutchinson, a Southern stockbroker who is new to town. He even secures offices in a large building at 44 South Street, where he befriends businessman James Luckett. During a discussion about Lincoln’s journey, Luckett states that “He may pass through quietly, but I doubt it.” Taking advantage of the opportunity, Pinkerton pulls out his wallet and gives him $25 towards the “patriotic cause.” He also warns Luckett to “be cautious in talking with outsiders.”

Pinkerton’s ploy worked, and Luckett soon tells him about a handful of “Southern patriots,” led by Captain Cypriano Ferrandini. Ferrandini is an immigrant from Corsica, and is a barber whose shop is is the basement of Barnum’s Hotel. Luckett informs him that Ferrandini has a plan: That he will see to it that Lincoln never reaches Washington, and never becomes President. “Every Southern Rights man has confidence in Ferrandini,” he told a stunned Pinkerton.

Pinkerton has been working to piece together reports and rumors. So far, he has determined that a vast crowd will meet Lincoln at the Calvert Street depot. Only a small force of police will be stationed, and when the President-elect arrives someone will create a disturbance; while the police are dealing with that, it will be an easy task for someone to shoot the President and even escape. There is a man by the name of Otis Hillard, who is one of Ferrandini’s followers. Pinkerton believes that Hillard knows the key details that he is missing. It is Pinkerton’s good fortune that one of his detectives, Harry Davies, has already become good friends with Hillard during their short time in the city. It is time for Davies to take his friendship even further with Hillard, and attempt to join Ferrandini’s group.

In Buffalo, New York, it is a day of rest for Lincoln. He attends a local Unitarian church with former (13th) President Millard Fillmore. After going back to the American Hotel for Mrs. Lincoln, Fillmore takes them to his home to dine. That afternoon, Lincoln returns and receives friends; he does not give any speeches. After supper with his family, he attends a service by an Indian preacher, Father John Beason.

155 Years Ago: Saturday, February 16, 1861


The Surrender, Source: Library of Congress

U.S. Brigadier General David E. Twiggs wakes up to the screams of slaves who are coming home from market. “We’re all going to be killed!”, they scream. It is 4am in San Antonio, Texas. Texas Rangers appear, two by two, on muleback and horseback, mounted and on foot, carrying the Lone Star flag. By daylight, more than a 1,000 Rangers move into San Antonio. There is much enthusiasm from fellow Texans; even two women dressed in male attire, with pistols in their belts, mount their horses to meet up with their friends.

Twiggs eventually rides down to the main plaza, where he is instantly surrounded by secessionists demanding U.S. government property. He refuses their requests.

While many in the town are surprised by this development, Twiggs is not. While Twiggs wears a U.S. military uniform, his loyalties are not with the Union. As he wrote U.S. General Winfield Scott in December of last year, his home is Georgia. If Georgia seceded, he would follow her. Georgia had seceded on January 19. He had met with the Confederate commissioners on February 7, and had told them he would surrender. But first, there was a “show” to put on for the U.S. federal troops.

Twiggs pretends he is surprised. He meets with the leader of the Rangers, Ben McCulloch, and is given six hours to “reconsider” his public declaration that he would not hand over U.S. government property. By noon, Twiggs surrenders all of the U.S. posts and stores in Texas to the Confederacy. This includes 20 military installations, 44 cannons, 400 pistols, 1,900 muskets, 500 wagons, and 950 horses, valued at a total of $1.6 million. He insists that all U.S. troops retain personal arms and sidearms, along with all artillery, flags, etc.

Orders are sent to all of the Texas outposts to turn over the military property to the State. The officers and men are widely scattered, and many of them are taken completely by surprise. The Federal troops in town give their parole “not to take up arms” against the Confederacy, and are ordered to leave the post in the afternoon. Twiggs will leave for New Orleans, where he will be received with Confederate public honors. The Federal troops are filled with indignation.

Around 2pm, U.S. Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived from Fort Mason, Texas, on his way to Washington City. He approaches a woman, Caroline Baldwin Darrow, who is the wife of a clerk with the U.S. forces. Lee looks at the Rangers and asks “Who are those men?” Caroline answers that “They are McCulloch’s. General Twiggs surrendered everything to the State this morning, and we are all prisoners of war.”

Caroline would write in her diary about Lee’s response:

I shall never forget his look of astonishment, as with his lips trembling and his eyes full of tears, he exclaimed, “Has it come so soon as this?” In a short time I saw him crossing the plaza on his way to headquarters, and noticed particularly that he was in citizen’s dress. He returned at night and shut himself in his room, which was over mine, and I heard his footsteps through the night, and sometimes the murmur of his voice, as if he were praying.

In Ohio, U.S. President-elect Abraham Lincoln makes his way by train from Cleveland, Ohio to Buffalo, New York. He is still hoarse and fatigued, and keeps his remarks to the crowds very brief. In Ashtabula, Ohio, the crowd calls for Mrs. Lincoln. Her husband remarks that “I should hardly hope to induce her to appear, as I had always found it very difficult to make her do what she did not want to.” In the village of Conneaut, someone shouts to Lincoln “Don’t give up the ship!”. Lincoln replies “With your aid I never will as long as life lasts.”

Source: Library of Congress

Source: Library of Congress

In Westfield, New York, Lincoln asks the crowd if Grace Bedell might be present. The 12-year old girl had written him a letter in October 1860, suggesting that he grow a beard because his face was so thin. Also, because “All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husband’s to vote for you and then you would be President.” Lincoln had written her back at the time, stating:

I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters. I have three sons — one seventeen, one nine, and one seven, years of age. They, with their mother, constitute my whole family.

As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now? Your very sincere well-wisher, A. Lincoln

Now with a full beard, Lincoln leaves the train car and makes his way through the crowd, who is pointing out a young girl with black hair and black eyes. When he reaches her, he gives her several kisses on her cheek. The young girl blushes.

Upon his arrival in Buffalo, Lincoln is heartily greeted by former (13th) President Millard Fillmore. The crowds are once again very large, but they are more forceful than the previous stops. At one point the crowd makes a rush, overpowering Lincoln’s guard. There is wild confusion and cries of distress from all sides of the crowd. Lincoln, due to the desperate efforts of those immediately around him, gets out of the chaos, while his family & the rest of their party fights to get to the awaiting carriages to take them to the hotel.

The scene at The American Hotel is no better. The party of men accompanying Lincoln insist that he decline all further public receptions, as they can’t guarantee his protection. He does eventually make a few remarks outside of his hotel once the crowds calm down, once again giving similar remarks to those given in previous cities. In the crowd is a 23-year old lawyer, Stephen Grover Cleveland. This young man will eventually become the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.

155 Years Ago: Friday, February 15, 1861

Source: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Lincoln’s Hotel Room Preserved, Source: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

It is the fifth day of the President-elect’s inaugural train trip to from Springfield, Illinois to Washington City. President-elect Abraham Lincoln starts his morning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Monongahela House, the most luxurious hotel in the city, with it’s carpeting, fine paneling, and gold mirrors. He spends the night in their best room: The Prince of Wales room, named after the future King Edward VII who had stayed here a year earlier. From his room, Lincoln can view the iron and steel mills, as well as The Point, where where the Monongahela met the Allegheny and formed the Ohio River.

From the balcony in his room, he addresses the people of Pittsburgh, giving much of the same speech he did two days ago in Columbus. “There is no crisis, excepting such a one as may be gotten up at anytime by turbulent men, aided by designing politicians.” He also spends a considerable amount of time talking about the issue of a protective tariff, which many thought would help U.S. manufacturers and workers. The press will later express disappointment that such a long speech didn’t offer more substance when it comes to the most pressing issues of secession.

After his speech, Lincoln passes through crowds that are “almost impenetrable,” which displays enthusiasm that “exceeded anything ever before witnessed,” the local papers would report. He boards the train with the rest of his party, and they travel back west into Ohio.

In Montgomery, Alabama, the provisional Confederate government, has assumed responsibility for questions concerning forts, arsenals, and other federal property within the states of the Confederacy. Today they resolve that “Immediate steps should be taken to obtain possession of forts Sumter (South Carolina) and Pickens (Florida), either by negotiations or force.” They authorize Confederate President-elect Jefferson Davis to carry the resolution into effect.

Throughout northeast Ohio, Lincoln’s train makes a few stops in smaller cities along their route. Lincoln keeps his words to the waiting crowds very brief, explaining that he is hoarse. As they stop for a meal in Alliance, Ohio, an energetic gun salute goes off near where the Lincoln family is eating. The explosion shatters windows, and even covers Mary Lincoln’s face in pieces of glass. Mary, not always known to be calm, handles the situation gracefully. The party continues on, and reaches Cleveland, Ohio in the late afternoon, where they arrive in the midst of a rain and snow storm.

The local paper (and anti-Lincoln, Democrat newspaper), the Cleveland Plain Dealer, gives their readers a small glimpse into the scene, including some comments made by an unnamed prominent Republican politician:

Mr. Lincoln in Cleveland.

The trains yesterday brought multitudes of people to the city, and in addition the country round about poured in its crowds in wagons, on horseback and on foot, drawn by curiosity to see the “Rail Splitter.” By three o’clock in the afternoon, Euclid street was alive with teams and people, moving toward the Euclid street depot. The mud was terrible, and during a portion of the afternoon it alternately rained and snowed. A great many residences on Euclid street were handsomely decorated with flags and various devices. While riding to the depot we were generally amused by the comments of a prominent Republican politician, as his eye caught sight of the various flags. A number of aspirants for offices in the gift of the President reside on Euclid street. The comments of the Republican ran about as follows: “That big flag means something. It must be a bid for U. S. Attorneyship. Pretty well for you, old fellow. Such a long pole as that ought to knock the persimons [sic]. Just see the flags on Mr. —‘s house. That means nothing less than a Marshalship. Don’t you wish you may get it.—That’s right. Hang your banners on the outer walls. If LINCOLN can’t read ‘post-office’ there he must b [sic] eblind [sic] as a bat. There is a modest little flag. Guess that man doesn’t want anything, or perhaps he would be satisfied with a small Consulship. Band of music! A whole string of flags ! Wonder what he is after,” etc.

Source: Library of Congress

Lincoln Addresses the crowd from his balcony at The Widdell House, Source: Library of Congress

The trip from the train depot to the hotel is two miles, mostly along Euclid street (now Avenue). Thousands of people line the path to see a glimpse of the President-elect. When Lincoln arrives at his hotel, The Weddell House, he delivers a speech to approximately 10,000 people. This time, he focuses his words on the national crisis: “I think that there is no occasion for any excitement. The crisis, as it is called, is altogether an artificial crisis.”

Abraham and his wife Mary are thrown separate, grand receptions that evening, and return to their rooms at 10pm.



155 Years Ago: Thursday, February 14, 1861

The Provisional Confederate Congress meets again today in their capital of Montgomery, Alabama. Today they address the issue of U.S. employed customs officials at customs houses that are now in Confederate territory due to secession. Customs is crucial in both the North and South; international trade brings much needed supplies, as well as money through customs collection of duties, fees and penalties on the imported goods. The South needs to set up their own customs houses, as goods and money will be needed in order for their newly formed government to survive.  They pass a bill which will now employ these once-U.S. custom officials as part of the Confederate Department of Treasury.

Source: Library of Congress

Source: Library of Congress

President-Elect Abraham Lincoln and his family leave Columbus, Ohio at 8am by train; it is Day 4 of their journey. A pelting rainstorm lingers the entire day, but it doesn’t have much affect as large crowds continue to await him at every stop. Lincoln gives mostly short speeches at the various stops, as his voice continues to grow more hoarse. Throughout the day, members of the party break into song to kill time. It is a long journey of twelve hours, four hours which are spent delayed on the tracks due to a freight train which had broken down. By the time they arrive at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, everyone is cold and tired. Lincoln makes only a few remarks at the Monongahela House, where he is spending the night. He tells the crowds that he will give a longer, better speech tomorrow.

As Lincoln slowly makes his way to Washington, the current President occupying the White House, James Buchanan, is not doing anything when it comes to the secession and the newly formed Confederate States of America. He insists that he lacks power to do anything, but many question whether this is a tactic to simply help the South. President Buchanan’s inaction has been extremely useful to the Confederacy, who are use this time to get things in place when it comes to their government and military. Today in the Chicago Tribune newspaper, there appears a scathing column that likely echoes the sentiments of many in the North:

James Buchanan

Eighteen mortal days remain to be darkened in history by the Administration of James Buchanan. As we look in vain for his parallel in past ages, so let us trust we may wait in vain for his similitude in the future. There have been as bad men in high places before, and there may have been as weak ones whom the destinies of nations have been committed. But there have been none in whom depravity has so struggled with indecision, whose imbecility has so striven with ingrained wickedness, whose cowardice has so thwarted the courage of his ministers, whose better instincts have so stumbled over bad passions, and whose bad passions have been so stultified by gibbering irresolution. Charles I. was a bad prince, but has was a man of energy in the council, and bravery in the field. He lied and fought and hewed his way to the felon’s block with much admirable spirit, and while we agree that his doom was just, we wish in the same breath that his coolness and force of character had found some other channel. Our Mr. Oldbuck is as bad as Charles, but he has no wits. James II (of England), it is true, was distinguished for both depravity and indecision, but through his dreary career of sin and blunders, all readers and all historians agree that there was one thing to which he remained faithful. Whether in power or in banishment, in his Cabinet or among his paramours, on the eve of battle of in the fight which he preferred to any battle – he was a zealous Catholic, and he did all things in his feeble way for the glory of the Pope. Our Public Functionary has been faithful to nothing since he arrived at the age of puberty. Gaston, Duke of Orleans, has been aptly characterized as one who “waged war in spite of Mars and negotiated in spite of Minerva.” During the wars of the Fronde he was noted for going to bed on the eve of every important action and for rushing to the arms at the heels of every important treaty. But Gaston, Duke of Orleans, had a good heart in his coward’s breast, under his fool’s cap. Our J.B. has no heart at all. In the catalogue of Caesars who played such pranks in Rome after the mightiest Julius fell, there was hardly a single scoundrel of them who had not the courage to commit suicide. Our President is only deterred, this day, from surrendering the government to traitors and the desperadoes by the fear of death!

It is whispered at Washington by the knowing ones, how Cabinet Ministers who love their country are obliged to sleep in the White House, to keep out villains steeped in treason – villains who undo in half an hour the patriotic labors of a week. It is whispered how, when the arguments of common patriotism and common decency fail, the argument of the gallows alone constrains the aged infidel to his duty. Oh, what a spectacle for the sun of this century to shine upon!

Original article:

Daily Civil War Calendar

November 2020

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