Saturday, November 10, 1860
South Carolina’s junior US senator, James Chesnut (husband of now-famous diarist, Mary Chesnut)1 , had long been a Unionist. On this date, however, he resigned his seat. Chesnut’s favor had changed to that of leaving the Union with the election of Lincoln (actually a bit before). The state’s senior senator, James Hammond, a long-time secessionist in favor of an organized and well thought out withdrawal, remained the state’s only senator in Washington DC (much to his embarrassment and surprise).
Governor, William Gist, also of South Carolina, called a special session of the legislature to decide what the state should do now that Lincoln was elected. They immediately decided that there should be a state convention to officially consider seceding from the Union. Every member of both houses voted for the convention. Delegates for the convention were to be elected on December 6. The convention itself would be held on December 17.2
Southern Unionists had been hoping for a word from Lincoln on the slavery issue that would perhaps quell the growing storm. Lincoln wrote to the editor of the Missouri Republican, “I could say nothing which I have not already said, and which is in print and accessible to the public….. If I thought a repetition would do any good, I would make it.”3
By now, newspapers throughout the major cities of the north and south called for peace, called for secession and called for blood.