Tuesday, January 1, 1861 – New Years Day
Though the weather was pleasant and sunny, a gray cloud of troubles-to-come hung over Washington. The formal gatherings and celebrations may have given a satin tint to things, but very close to the surface, everything was falling apart.
President Buchanan played his role in the White House festivities, greeting detractors and supporters alike. A few Cabinet members made a showing, as did a few military officers. Many Southerners were bold enough to drop by the White House wearing the blue cockades of Secession in support of South Carolina. Some were even bold enough to be outright rude to the President.
Word had clearly gotten around that the President had wavered more towards the Northern end of things than the Southern. After all, even though he was a Democrat, he was a Pennsylvania man.
Congress, for their part, mostly kept to themselves, attending private parties and saying what very well may have been their last good-byes to comrades.
Today was a holiday. No Cabinet meetings, no sessions of Congress, nothing official occurred.
And speaking of nothing official, the Commissioners from South Carolina, who were now officially made unofficial by President Buchanan’s letter referring to them as “private gentlemen of the highest character” rather than official representatives from the independent State of South Carolina, were busily composing their letter of reply to the President.
This would make its way to Buchanan the next day.1
- From Days of Defiance by Maury Klein as well as Allegiance by David Detzer – my go-to books. [↩]