The American Civil War, day by day - Page 9 - Politics | PoFo

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Doug64 wrote:My ancestors sat the war out in Utah. I can't say I'm sorry they missed going through that fratricidal hell, I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but having a personal touch added to my interest in the war would have been nice.

Our ancestors did not live for our benefit, any more than we live for the benefit of our descendants who will only be born a century from now. They lived for themselves, not for us. In their place, I would have done the same thing your ancestors did. And so would you, be honest. Lol. ;)
February 6, Wednesday

The Lincolns hold a farewell reception at their home in Springfield, Illinois, with a large attendance, including politicians from many sections who have been flocking to the Illinois capital.
February 7, Thursday

The Choctaw Amerind nation declares its adherence to the Southern states.

In Montgomery the Committee of Twelve, headed by Christopher Memminger, named to frame a provisional government, reports to the convention of seceded states. The convention, in secret session, immediately takes up a discussion of the report.
February 8, Friday

Late in the evening in the Alabama Capitol at Montgomery the convention of seceded states unanimously adopt the Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States. The Constitution is mainly based on that of the United States with a few significant differences, and a few changes that political scientists now and going forward will discuss. The primary change is that the right to own slaves is spelled out more completely than in the US Constitution. Each state was acting “in its sovereign and independent character,” although no right of secession is stated, just implied. In a modification of the British system, Cabinet officers are to have seats on the floors of both houses in order to discuss measures; duties or taxes on imports to promote or foster industry are prohibited; importation of slaves is prohibited; the President can approve a portion of an appropriation bill or veto an appropriation in the same bill, which prevents riders tacked on to legislation; terms of President and Vice-President are six years and the President is not eligible for reelection. The fugitive slave clause of the United States is slightly strengthened and slavery in any territories of the Confederacy is protected. Thus the Confederacy is an operating country with a Provisional Constitution submitted to the states. The next order of business will be a Provisional President and Vice-President. Thus far harmony, wisdom, and patriotism have prevailed, for there is little of the fire-eater apparent in the deliberations or in the Constitution.

Operating under orders of Governor Henry M. Rector of Arkansas, state troops seize the US Arsenal at Little Rock, the Federal garrison of Captain James Totten evacuating under force.

In Washington President Buchanan approves a loan of $25,000,000 for current expenses and redemption of treasury notes.

President-elect Lincoln is making plans for stops at various cities en route to Washington and moves from his home into a hotel.
Potemkin wrote:Buchanan finally shows some backbone, when it's much too late. His earlier willingness to 'compromise' (which in reality just meant obfuscating things, to the extent that the South's representatives later actually felt misled by him) had simply encouraged the secessionists. Buchanan has finally acknowledged reality.

While Buchanan will never be on my list of outstanding presidents (and then there was that whole Utah War fiasco), I do have to say this day-by-day has improved my opinion of him. I’ve found myself asking what he should have done, and I honestly don’t know. He had a cabinet as divided as the country, serious questions about the legality of suppressing the wave of secessions, an army that was both tiny and scattered, and lame-duck status that essentially reduced him to a caretaker while Lincoln put together a new administration (itself a Herculean task). And then there was his Southern sympathies, that had him known as a doughface, and undoubtedly had led the Deep South to expect him to be on their side. But while Buchanan may not have done much to actively suppress the secessions, he never wavered in his rejection of secession, either. There is a great deal he could have done to hamstring the North, and he didn’t.
Doug64 wrote:While Buchanan will never be on my list of outstanding presidents (and then there was that whole Utah War fiasco), I do have to say this day-by-day has improved my opinion of him. I’ve found myself asking what he should have done, and I honestly don’t know. He had a cabinet as divided as the country, serious questions about the legality of suppressing the wave of secessions, an army that was both tiny and scattered, and lame-duck status that essentially reduced him to a caretaker while Lincoln put together a new administration (itself a Herculean task). And then there was his Southern sympathies, that had him known as a doughface, and undoubtedly had led the Deep South to expect him to be on their side. But while Buchanan may not have done much to actively suppress the secessions, he never wavered in his rejection of secession, either. There is a great deal he could have done to hamstring the North, and he didn’t.

Granted. Buchanan may not have been particularly competent as a President, but he was no traitor.
February 9, Saturday

Who is to be President of the new Confederacy? For several days there has been extensive discussion and private electioneering at Montgomery, Alabama, among the delegates to the secession convention. To avoid a contest on the floor it is thought necessary to agree on the man beforehand. Names considered include Williams Lowndes Yancey, Howell Cobb, Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, Robert Barnwell Rhett, and Jefferson Davis. During the night of the eighth, various state delegations meet. Georgia withdraws her candidate Toombs in the face of the decision of most states for Davis. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, former Secretary of War and US senator, rated as a moderate among secessionists, is unanimously chosen Provisional President of the Confederate States of America, subject to an election. Georgia presents Alexander Stephens, long-time US representative and former Whig leader, for Vice-President. He, too, is chosen unanimously. There are a few doubts about Stephens, for it seems to some he has always been a unionist at heart. The Confederacy now has leaders representing the old Democrats and the old Whigs rather than the more rabid secessionists. Davis and Stephens please many in the mid-South and border states not yet out of the Union. The time is to come when citizens of the South and historians alike will condemn both Davis and Stephens. But at the moment they seem wisely selected.

With deliberate and careful proceedings the convention at Montgomery have chosen their leaders under a sense of responsibility instead of the usual raucousness of politics. They were in a hurry through necessity, but not so much that they could not do their job. The provincial-appearing capital of Alabama is crowded with visitors, some of them more openly enthusiastic than the delegates. The leaders, for the most part, want the mildest possible break with the past and the Union, and there is even the feeling that the North, not the South, has actually broken away from the spirit and purpose of the founders of the United States.

In addition to choosing its leaders, the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy declares all laws of the United States in force as long as they are not inconsistent with the Constitution of the Confederacy.

In Tennessee voters reject the proposal to call a convention to consider secession by 68,282 to 59,449.

Off Pensacola, Florida, USS Brooklyn arrives with reinforcements for Fort Pickens, but does not land them because of an agreement with Florida authorities that the military situation will not be altered by either side.
February 10, Sunday

At his plantation home of Brierfield in Warren County, Mississippi, not far from Vicksburg, former US senator Jefferson Davis, now commander of the state forces of Mississippi, is helping his wife Varina prune rosebushes. A messenger arrives from Vicksburg bearing the telegram from Montgomery naming Mr. Davis President of the new nation. Reportedly Davis is stunned by the news. He has not sought nor wanted such a position; his aim has been a high military command in the Confederacy. This evening the message of acceptance is sent to Montgomery and plans are made to leave at once for the capital.
February 11, Monday

From Springfield, Illinois, President-elect Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America departs on a long trip to Washington and inauguration. From Brierfield Plantation on the Mississippi, President-elect Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States of America departs on a long trip to Montgomery, Alabama, and inauguration.

More than a thousand citizens gather in the early morning drizzle at the Great Western Station in Springfield to hear Mr. Lincoln, at times shaken by emotion, surrounded by the party of family, secretaries, dignitaries, and army officers. “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and passed from a young to an old man.... I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you, and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

As the train rolled slowly eastward across Illinois and Indiana, several stops are made for the President-elect to greet enthusiastic crowds. At Indianapolis he is met by Gov. Oliver P. Morton, and a huge procession of some twenty thousand escort Mr. Lincoln to the Bates House. At the hotel he tells the throng, “It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me.” He says he opposes invasion or coercion of a state but that enforcement of the laws and holding of Federal property is not coercion. He speaks of those who in his words believe the Union not a regular marriage “but only a sort of free-love arrangement.”

At Brierfield Plantation Jefferson Davis bids farewell to family and plantation slaves before taking a boat along for Vicksburg and eventually Montgomery, Ala., via Jackson, Mississippi, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. The trip is difficult due to lack of a direct railroad, poor traveling accommodations, and the haste with which the journey is made. In Vicksburg the Confederate President-elect makes the first of many brief speeches declaring he had struggled earnestly to maintain the Union and the “constitutional equality of all the States.” But “our safety and honor required us to dissolve our connection with the United States. I hope that our separation may be peaceful. But whether it be so or not, I am ready, as I always have been, to redeem my pledges to you and the South by shedding every drop of my blood in your cause....”

In a simple, unprepared ceremony at Montgomery, Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia is inaugurated Provisional Vice-President of the Confederate States of America. In its speed to get things moving, the convention or Provisional Congress has decided not to await the arrival of the President-elect. Stephens, a small, sallow, emaciated wisp of a man with chronically poor health, takes the oath upon his own birth date but declines to make any policy statement.

At Austin, Texas, the State Convention votes in favor of formation of a Southern Confederacy and elects seven delegates to Congress.
February 12, Tuesday

Jefferson Davis travels from Vicksburg to Jackson, Mississippi, where he resigns as major general of the Mississippi state forces, and is reported to state that war “could” result from secession. Crowds are reported large and enthusiastic on the route and Mr. Davis makes about twenty-five brief stops in his passage to Montgomery.

President-Elect Lincoln leaves Indianapolis in the morning, headed toward Cincinnati with several stops in between. This is his fifty-second birthday. He calls for the people to be true to themselves and the Constitution. At the Burnet House in Cincinnati and the huge reception for him, he seems to ramble. He does say, “I hope that while these free institutions shall continue to be in the enjoyment of millions of free people of the United States, we will see repeated every four years what we now witness.” He adds, “I hope that our national difficulties will also pass away.” He tells a group of German-Americans he will wait until the last moment before expressing himself on his course of action.

At Montgomery the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy provides for a Peace Commission to the United States and also assumes authority to deal with questions of the forts in dispute.

Acting Postmaster General Horatio King, named by President Buchanan in January, becomes Postmaster General for the last month of the old administration.

Arkansas state forces seize the US ordnance stores at Napoleon, Arkansas.
February 13, Wednesday

While in Washington the official count of presidential electoral votes make the election of Lincoln official, the President-elect is addressing the Ohio state legislature in Columbus. In one of his most puzzling speeches, Mr. Lincoln says, “I have not maintained silence from any want of real anxiety. It is a good thing that there is no more than anxiety, for there is nothing going wrong. It is a consoling circumstance that when we look out there is nothing that really hurts anybody. We entertain different views upon political questions, but nobody is suffering anything.”

In Richmond the Virginia State Convention assembles to consider the question of secession. A majority of delegates are believed to be unionists, at least at this time.
February 14, Thursday

In the morning Lincoln leaves Columbus for Pittsburgh, making brief speeches at several points en route.
February 15, Friday

The President-elect of the new Confederacy draws nearer to his new capital of Montgomery. President-elect Lincoln, pursued by rain on his own trip, speaks at length at Pittsburgh, continuing as he had at Columbus: “there is really no crisis except an artificial one! ... If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end, ...” He arrives in Cleveland during a snowstorm. The roar of artillery and the crowd greet him. Again he says, “I think that there is no occasion for any excitement. The crisis, as it is called, is altogether an artificial crisis....”

The Peace Conference at Washington has been droning on, but this day a committee presents its resolutions. The Conference at large begins lengthy discussions of these proposals.

Various officers of the Army and Navy are beginning to decide their allegiance, and Raphael Semmes, outstanding naval officer, resigns to join the Navy of the new Confederacy.
February 16, Saturday

A deeply tired and concerned Jefferson Davis arrives in Montgomery, Alabama, to accept the post of Provisional President of the new Confederacy. Upon arrival he tells his greeters, “The time for compromise has now passed, and the South is determined to maintain her position, and make all who oppose her smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel if coercion is persisted in.... We ask nothing, we want nothing; we have no complications.”

This evening at the Exchange Hotel William Lowndes Yancey, a stirring orator, proclaims in memorable words that the country has found the statesman, the soldier, and the patriot to lead them: “The man and the hour have met.” Mr. Davis says, “It may be that our career will be ushered in in the midst of a storm; it may be that, as this morning opened with clouds, rain, and mist, we shall have to encounter inconveniences at the beginning; but, as the sun rose and lifted the mist, it dispersed the clouds and left us the pure sunshine of heaven. So will progress the Southern Confederacy, and carry us safe into the harbor of constitutional liberty and political equality....”

Mr. Lincoln continues his triumphal and slow way east from Cleveland into New York State. The jam of people is denser than ever. In his remarks the President-elect says, “you, as a portion of the great American people, need only to maintain your composure.”

At San Antonio, Texas, the US Arsenal and Barracks is seized by state troops.
Doug64 wrote:At San Antonio, Texas, the US Arsenal and Barracks is seized by state troops.

Then-Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee was in Texas at this time, the second-in-command of the Texas military district. In one of the more interesting “what ifs” I’ve read, a short story by Harry Turtledove called “Lee at the Alamo,” Lee’s immediate superior became ill before he was able to assume command, leaving Lee in charge when the Texas state militia demanded his surrender.
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February 18, Monday

It is a balmy and sunny day and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi rides in a carriage up the hill to the state Capitol at Montgomery, tall, slight, but straight, with his sharply defined features set in deep thought as he receives the cheers of the throng and hears the bands play “Dixie.” In front of the capitol, Davis is inaugurated Provisional President of the Confederate States of America. To the enthusiastic throng he speaks encouragement. To the crowd, he says, “Our present political position has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established.” The original purpose of the Union has been perverted, Mr. Davis says. The South has labored to preserve the government of their fathers and has no “interest or passion to invade the rights of others, ...” He hopes to avoid war but if the “lust of dominion should cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, we must prepare to meet the emergency and maintain, by the final arbitrament of the sword, the position which we have assumed among the nations of the earth.” Reunion is neither practicable nor desirable. However, the Confederate government is the same as that of the Constitution in principle. “Obstacles may retard, but they cannot long prevent, the progress of a movement sanctified by its justice and sustained by a virtuous people.” To his wife he writes, “The audience was large and brilliant. Upon my weary heart was showered smiles, plaudits, and flowers; but beyond them, I saw troubles and thorns innumerable. We are without machinery, without means, and threatened by a powerful opposition; but I do not despond, and will not shrink from the task imposed upon me.”

After the inauguration a levee, more bands, fireworks, banners, and a salute of a hundred guns. All people seem to join in, Blacks included. Eyes are wet when the new President bows his head in tears after solemnly, earnestly intoning “So help me God,” hand on the Bible. It is a time of high resolve, of great hopes, of emotional outpouring, and of challenge and wonder as well. Many, including the new President, have their grave doubts but, on this day at least, events have culminated and a new nation is fully on its way.

Mr. Lincoln proceeds through New York State from Buffalo to Albany with the same cheering throngs as before. Politicians join the train to speak with the President-elect. The cars halt often but the speeches are brief. To a joint session of the New York legislature he says, “It is true that while I hold myself without mock modesty, the humblest of all individuals that have ever been elevated to the Presidency, I have a more difficult task to perform than any one of them.”

At San Antonio, Texas, Brevet General David E. Twiggs surrenders US military posts in the Department of Texas to the state. He says he did it in the face of the threat of force, but in Washington his move will be regarded as treason.
February 19, Tuesday

In Montgomery President Davis goes to work to form his cabinet. It takes some days but the final results are: Secretary of State, Robert Toombs of Georgia; Secretary of Treasury, Christopher G. Memminger of South Carolina; Secretary of War, LeRoy Pope Walker of Alabama; Secretary of the Navy, S.R. Mallory of Florida; Attorney General, Judah P. Benjamin of Louisiana; and Postmaster General, J.H. Reagan of Texas. (There is no Interior Department as in the United States.) Only Mallory and Reagan will remain in their posts until the end, although Benjamin will stay on in several jobs. The Cabinet will be highly criticized by some, but others will point out that, considering the circumstances and difficulty of their tasks, most of these men are highly qualified and will strive mightily to reap what they can for the embryonic nation.

The Lincolns leave Albany for New York City escorted by dignitaries. Again, brief stops and brief speeches. It is estimated that a quarter of a million people greet him in New York as Mr. Lincoln rides to the Astor House. To a crowd he admits that he has been avoiding a position on the issues in speaking or writing. He says he believes this a proper policy until the time should come when he has to speak officially.

The US paymaster’s office at New Orleans is seized by Louisiana troops.

Colonel Carlos A. Waite at Camp Verde, Texas, takes over nominal command of US posts in the state, even though they had been surrendered the day before by General Twiggs. But the damage has been done; post after post will soon fall or be abandoned.
February 20, Wednesday

The press of public life crowds in on both Mr. Davis and Mr. Lincoln. At Montgomery President Davis has hardly a moment even to write to his wife. In New York City President-elect Lincoln confers with individuals and groups, meets Mayor Fernando Wood. Replying to the mayor, he says, “There is nothing that can ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of this Union, ... So long, then, as it is possible that the prosperity and the liberties of the people can be preserved in the Union, it shall be my purpose at all times to preserve it.”

Vice-President-elect Hannibal Hamlin of Maine arrives in New York and dines with the Lincolns. Later Mr. Lincoln attends the new opera by Verdi, Un Ballo in Maschera.

The Provisional Congress of the Confederacy authorizes the President to make contracts in order to buy and manufacture materiel of war. The Confederate Navy Department is officially established.
February 21, Thursday

In Texas the US Property at Brazos Santiago is seized and Federals abandon Camp Cooper.

The Confederate Congress declares navigation of the Mississippi River free and open, and officially declares established the departments of the government. President Davis names Stephen R. Mallory of Florida Secretary of State.

The Lincoln party leaves New York for Philadelphia in the morning. At almost every depot there is a brief halt. Included in the appearances are short talks to the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly at Trenton. The group arrives in Philadelphia late in the afternoon for the usual tumultuous reception.

At the end of the evening’s festivities Mr. Lincoln is warned of a reported plot to assassinate him when he passes through Baltimore. The city hasn’t sent him a welcome message, as all the others have done, and apparently have made no official plans for receiving him or even observing his presence when he passes through. Unofficially, however, according to reports, there awaits him a reception very different from any he has received so far—bands of toughs, called Blood Tubs, roam the streets, plotting his abduction or assassination. He would be stabbed or shot, or both; or he would be hustled aboard a boat and taken South, the ransom being Southern independence. At the moment he refuses to change plans, but agrees that, after he has spoken at Philadelphia in the morning and at Harrisburg in the afternoon, if no Baltimore delegation has arrived to welcome him to that city, he will bypass it or pass through unobserved.

In reply to the mayor of Philadelphia, Mr. Lincoln does say, “I do not mean to say that this artificial panic has not done harm. That it has done much harm, I do not deny,” but he hopes to be able to restore peace and harmony.
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