Abraham Lincoln Elected President! – Pacific Northwest Finally Gets the News

Thursday, November 22, 1860

It took 16 days and travel by wire, Pony Express and steamer, but the Puget Sound area in Washington Territory finally knew the results of the November 6th election!

The news arrived in Fort Churchill1 , near Carson City, Nevada via the Pony Express from St. Louis. Fort Churchill, was able to send along the news thanks to a series of telegraph wires from the fort to Yreka to Sacramento, and then to Portland who sent it by overland mail to Olympia, home of the Pioneer And Democrat newspaper.2

While dispatches up and down the eastern seaboard could be sent and received almost instantaneously, getting a message to the west coast took a bit more effort, not to mention bravery, especially of the Pony Express riders.

The news would be printed tomorrow in Olympica’s weekly paper, which was published on Fridays.


Papers closer to the action reported news from West Point Military Academy. There were seven Point cadets from South Carolina who held a meeting and decided that if the state secedes from the Union they will “be found fighting under her banner.”

“Though the reception of a diploma here at the National Academy is certainly to be desired by all of us, yet we cannot so stifle our convictions of duty as to serve the remainder of our time here under such a man as Mr. Lincoln as commander-in-chief, and to be subjected at all times to the orders of a government the administration of which must be necessarily unfriendly to the Commonwealth which has, so far, preserved a spotless record, and of which we are justly proud. We hereby swear to be true to her lone star in the present path of rectitude, and if, by chance, she goes astray, we will be with her still. All we desire is a field for making ourselves useful.”3

  1. Fort Churchill is a neat little place that I found completely by accident when I rode across the country on a Vespa Motorscooter. You can read about that part of my trip here. []
  2. From the Olympia Pioneer and Democrat, November 23, 1860. []
  3. The Richmond Daily Dispatch, November 23, 1860. []
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Abraham Lincoln Elected President! – Pacific Northwest Finally Gets the News by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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2 thoughts on “Abraham Lincoln Elected President! – Pacific Northwest Finally Gets the News

  1. The time and effort that communication took is amazing to me. I can’t imagine living in a society like that. With the 24hr news cycle, we hear about everything ad nauseum. I’m a little envious, honestly. If I could get 21st century medicine and hygiene I’d contemplate hanging out in 19th century Washington.

    Oh and if I had a time machine.

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