December 1860

Congress gathered to try to find a compromise that both North and South might accept. Many hoped that President Buchanan’s final message to Congress might contain solutions to the country’s problems. President-elect Lincoln continued working toward forming his administration while trying to keep quiet about what he planned to do once in office. Federal troops isolated in Charleston Harbor called for reinforcements as South Carolina prepared to leave the Union.

Striking While It Is Yet To-Day

The Florida legislature kicks off the month by meeting in special session to consider seceding from the Union. Other states would soon follow.

Fort Sumter is a Tempting Prize

Maj. Robert Anderson begins looking for a more defensible position for his Federal garrison in Charleston Harbor, and South Carolina officials go to Washington to negotiate Anderson’s withdrawal from their state.

President Buchanan’s 1860 Message to Congress

The last annual message of James Buchanan’s presidency acknowledges that North and South are “now arrayed against each other.” He offers suggestions on how to resolve the crisis, but he leaves both sections dissatisfied.

Compromise Efforts: The Argument is Exhausted

The U.S. House of Representatives forms a committee to hammer out a compromise between North and South, but both sides show signs of inflexibility.

The Evil Has Now Passed Beyond Control

Treasury Secretary Howell Cobb became the first member of President James Buchanan’s cabinet to resign over the sectional crisis. He would not be the last.

A Cabinet Appointment: Missouri First on the List

President-elect Abraham Lincoln meets with influential Congressman Francis P. Blair, Jr. and publishes an editorial about possibly bringing a southerner into his cabinet.

Barking Dogs Never Bite

President-elect Abraham Lincoln tries to reach out to influential southerners to find some sort of rapidly vanishing middle ground in the unfolding sectional crisis.

Compromise Efforts: I Am for Fighting Again

Senator John J. Crittenden introduces a complex program designed to end the sectional crisis and preserve the Union.

The South Carolina Secession

Delegates to the Convention of the People of South Carolina unanimously approve an ordinance to secede from the United States and form the Palmetto Republic.

Do You Suppose the House is on Fire?

The quickly spreading news of South Carolina’s exit from the Union shakes America like nothing before in her history.

Gloom and Doom Pervading

Various opinions are offered on secession, while the U.S. military faces the fact that it is completely unprepared for any kind of armed conflict.

A Collision May Occur at Any Moment

Tensions near their breaking point in Charleston, causing Major Robert Anderson to make a fateful decision that threatened to start a war.

To Prevent the Effusion of Blood

Secretary of War John B. Floyd faces charges of corruption and collusion with the South, as Major Robert Anderson moves his Federal garrison from Fort Moultrie to the stronger Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

Are Calamities Never to Come Singly?

The transfer of Major Robert Anderson’s Federal garrison to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor provokes intense reactions in the days that follow.

Giving the Union Men a Rallying Cry

President-elect Abraham Lincoln reacts to the recent events in Charleston Harbor while he continues trying to fill his cabinet.

Inviting a Collision and Possibly Civil War

The adversarial relationship between Secretary of War John B. Floyd and the rest of President James Buchanan’s cabinet worsens when news arrives that Major Robert Anderson had moved his Federal garrison to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

President Buchanan Takes a Stand

South Carolinians complete their seizure of all Federal property in Charleston Harbor except Fort Sumter, while President James Buchanan issues a statement to the South Carolina commissioners and prepares to take action.

Compromise Goes up the Spout

Several proposals to keep the Union intact are proposed, but none seem to be popular enough for both North and South to support.

Last Updated: 1/8/2021

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