Buchanan Calls a Meeting; 800 South Carolina Minute Men

Friday, November 9, 1860

In Washington DC, President Buchanan called a cabinet meeting about the threat of secession and to discuss his upcoming State of the Union address. He was against secession and wanted to hold a convention between all of the states to see if they couldn’t round up some sort of compromise.

His cabinet, however, was divided on the matter. Those members from the north were also against secession and thus for the proposed convention, with a Pennsylvanian member suggesting that troops be sent to Charleston. Southern cabinet members were generally in favor of the right to secede, pointing out that any show of force may make other states leave the Union.

Winfield Scott, head of the United States army (which then only numbered 16,000 – nearly all of them out west), who thought secession legal and coercion to remain in the Union immoral, suggested to Buchanan that the US be divided into four separate nations.1

In Springfield, Lincoln is read a telegram informing him of the previous night’s hanging in effigy in Pensacola, Florida.

Nov 8th
Pensacola Fla

You were last night hung in effigy in this city–

A Citizen

A New York Tribune reporter asked him what he thought of the stunt. Lincoln replied that he “considers the feeling at the South to be limited to a very small number,” adding, “though very intense.”2


Columbia, South Carolina reported that 800 minute men were now assembled and drilling in the city.3

  1. This may have happened earlier and may have been a warning rather than a suggestion. I can’t seem to find much on it. However, most of this info is from Days of Defiance; Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War by Maury Klein, Vintage Press, 1999. []
  2. New York Tribune November 10, 1860. []
  3. Richmond Daily Dispatch, November 12, 1860. []
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Buchanan Calls a Meeting; 800 South Carolina Minute Men by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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