January 1861

President Buchanan sent a naval convoy to resupply the Federals at Fort Sumter. State militia began mobilizing in Charleston as more southern states seceded. Congress scrambled to devise yet another compromise to preserve the Union. New York City threatened to secede, while “Bleeding” Kansas finally gained statehood. Most northerners still believed that the southern states would eventually return to the Union without bloodshed.

A Gloomy Foreboding of Impending Disaster

The new year opens with South Carolina commissioners responding to President James Buchanan’s refusal to withdraw the Federal troops from Fort Sumter.

A Want of Personal and Political Integrity

President-elect Abraham Lincoln reconsiders a cabinet appointment, but lobbyists urge him to reconsider again.

A Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer

Americans observe a day of reflection in hopes that it may inspire stronger efforts at compromise between North and South.

The Republicans are in Ecstasies

Abraham Lincoln meets with a prominent Republican and receives a recommendation about another regarding cabinet appointments.

The Star of the West Under Fire

The merchant vessel Star of the West arrives at Charleston Harbor to relieve the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter. But the South Carolinians have other ideas.

The Mississippi Secession

Delegates to the Mississippi State Convention vote 84 to 15 in favor of seceding from the Union.

The Florida Secession

The Florida State Convention considers secession at Tallahassee while Federal troops struggle to maintain a foothold in Pensacola Harbor.

The Alabama Secession

Alabama troops seize key Federal installations in the state before the convention to consider secession even gets under way.

The General Tendency is to Hostile Measures

South Carolinians and the Federal garrison in Charleston Harbor settle into an uneasy truce; for how long, nobody knows.

The Alarm is Appalling

Congress has just one last compromise proposal to consider, as more and more people are becoming convinced that disunion is inevitable.

Adjusting the Present Unhappy Controversies

A former U.S. president persuades Virginians to invite all states to a conference to settle their differences.

Make Yourself That Rallying Point

An officer is assigned to protect Washington from secessionists, and a controversial letter from Winfield Scott becomes public.

The Georgia Secession

Delegates to the Georgia State Convention at Milledgeville vote 208 to 89 in favor of seceding from the Union.

I Will Suffer Death Before I Consent

President-elect Abraham Lincoln disregards rumors of assassination and continues to reject any compromise proposals that might expand slavery.

Bidding a Final Adieu in the Senate

Jefferson Davis and four southern senators deliver emotional farewell speeches before following their home states out of the Union.

The Course That Texas Shall Pursue

Texas Governor Sam Houston opposes secession but cannot stop the state convention from proceeding. The Federal military commander in the state asks again for instructions.

The Louisiana Secession

Delegates to the Louisiana State Convention at Baton Rouge vote 113 to 17 to become the sixth state to secede from the Union.

We Have Had Enough Controversies About Kansas

President James Buchanan signs a bill into law making “Bleeding Kansas” the 34th state of the Union.

Lincoln Briefly Sidesteps Business

President-elect Abraham Lincoln leaves Springfield for a quick visit with his stepmother and family in Coles County, Illinois.

Eyes Turn to the Upper South

The states of the upper South and the border with the North continue to contemplate joining the Deep South in seceding.

Last Updated: 2/16/2021

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