Fort Sumter Really Not For Sale

Wednesday, February 6, 1861

Governor Pickens of South Carolina had offered to purchase Fort Sumter from the United States. A representative, Isaac Hayne, had delivered a letter to that effect to President Buchanan nearly a week ago. Buchanan was now ready with his reply.

After talking it over with Secretary of War Holt, Buchanan thought it best that Holt respond to the request. It would be taken as a bit of a snub.

Holt asserted that buying a fort, particularly this one, was unusual. What South Carolina was really claiming was eminent domain over Sumter. This, said Holt, was not any more possible than Maryland claiming eminent domain over Washington DC. Both were Federal property.

So, no, the fort was not for sale and attacking it would bring about Civil War with the blood being on the hands of South Carolina.1


While the Peace Conference was churning away in Washington, the Provisional Congress welcomed representatives from North Carolina. Three commissioners were officially appointed by the state to “visit” Montgomery in an unofficial capacity. They would not be representing the state, which was still true to the Union, but merely observing. North Carolina, hedging its bets, also sent representatives to the Peace Conference.2


The Lincolns’ Farewell Soiree

Abraham and Mary Lincoln had cordially invited their “friends in this city” of Springfield to attend their “farewell soiree.” Hundreds of friends and well-wishers gathered in and around the Lincoln house to say good-bye to the soon-to-be first couple.

Mr. Lincoln welcomed the guests as they entered the front door. Mary, in turn, received them in the parlor. Soon, every room on both floors of the house was “densely packed with a fashionable multitude.”

Mary was decked out in white moire antique silk with a French lace collar. She had recently returned from a shopping spree in New York City.

The mood was festive and jovial. At one point, the oldest Lincoln son, 18 year old Robert, crashed the receiving line to jokingly shake hands with his father. “Good evening, Mr. Lincoln!” cracked Robert. To this, Lincoln gave the boy a gentle slap on the face.

The ball lasted well past midnight with the Lincolns shaking the hands of nearly everybody in town.3

  1. The Works of James Buchanan, Vol. 11 []
  2. Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, Volume 1 []
  3. Lincoln President-Elect by Harold Holzer. []
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Fort Sumter Really Not For Sale by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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