January 1861

Anxiety was spreading throughout North and South. South Carolina had already seceded from the Union, and although President James Buchanan opposed the action, he declared that he had no right under the Constitution to stop it. In South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor, the Federal garrison had been forced to abandon Fort Moultrie, withdrawing to the more secure Fort Sumter.

The Star of the West Mission

2 Jan – President James Buchanan decided to resupply Major Robert Anderson’s Federal troops at Charleston, South Carolina.

The Failed Crittenden Compromise

3 Jan – Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky took the unprecedented step of urging his colleagues to submit his comprehensive plan to preserve the Union to a popular vote.

The Florida Secession

8 Jan – While the Florida State Convention considered secession at Tallahassee, Federal troops garrisoning Fort Barrancas at Pensacola fired on and repelled potential secessionists approaching them.

The Mississippi Secession

9 Jan – Delegates to the Mississippi State Convention at Jackson voted 84 to 15 to secede from the United States.

Compromise Failures Make Disunion Imminent

10 Jan – Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi warned his colleagues to take action before the country drifted toward war.

The Alabama Secession

11 Jan – Delegates to the Alabama State Convention at Montgomery voted 61 to 39 to secede from the United States.

The Fort Sumter Dispute

18 Jan – South Carolina authorities issued a third demand for Major Robert Anderson to surrender his Federal garrison at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

The Georgia Secession

19 Jan – Delegates to the Georgia State Convention at Milledgeville voted 208 to 89 to secede from the United States.

Southern Senators’ Farewell

21 Jan – Five U.S. senators from three southern states resigned their seats after delivering emotional farewell speeches on the Senate floor.

The Louisiana Secession

26 Jan – Delegates to the Louisiana State Convention at Baton Rouge voted 113 to 17 to secede from the United States.

Lincoln and Conciliation Efforts

27 Jan – Secretary of State-designate William H. Seward wrote to President-elect Abraham Lincoln about conciliation efforts toward the southern states.

Statehood for Bleeding Kansas

29 Jan – President James Buchanan signed the Kansas Statehood Act into law, admitting Kansas into the Union as the 34th state.

Other Secession Considerations

31 Jan – By the end of January, all 15 slaveholding states had either seceded or contemplated secession. Some continued debating whether to secede into February.


Last Updated: 2/4/2017


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