Saturday, February 9, 1861
Names of potential candidates had been tossed around for days now. Since the Provisional Congress had began its meetings, people like Robert and Howell Cobb, Robert Barnwell Rhett and William Yancey were on the minds of the delegates. However, there was very little effort to put forth any man.
Each state wished for their own man to be President, of course, but practicality prevailed. Only seven of the fifteen slave states had seceded and the border states needed a President who was more conservative than fanatical.
It was Howell Cobb who suggested Jefferson Davis, former Senator from Mississippi. When all six votes (one for each state in attendance – Texas was still absent) were taken, Davis was unanimously voted in as President. Alexander Stephens was unanimously voted Vice-President. According to the Provisional Constitution, they would hold those posts for one year or until a permanent government could be established.
While Stephens was there and suspected the results, Davis was at Briarfield, his plantation in Mississippi. Three delegates were appointed to make the journey to tell him the news.
Each member of the Provisional Congress was sworn in under the new Constitution and quickly returned to business. They agreed to work in committees to establish a permanent (as opposed to provisional) government and Constitution. It was also agreed that all United States laws which didn’t go against the Confederate Constitution would be upheld and enforced. After all, these laws, aside from the whittling away of the rights to own slaves, were working.1
Tennessee, a border state, was nearly split on whether or not to secede. She had sent delegates to the Peace Conference in Washington, but had not sent representatives to Montgomery. On this date, the people voted to call for a Secession Convention (or not). Prior to the vote, both Union and Secessionist meetings sprouted up all over the state, each trying to sway the thin margin of undecided votes to their party.
For the time being, however, Tennessee would remain in the Union. The idea for the Secession Convention was voted down 68,282 to 59,449. Those in western Tennessee mostly voted for the convention (and thus secession). Those in the east voted against it. The middle part of the state was divided.2
Ships were now gathering around Fort Pickens near Pensacola, Florida. The Sabine had arrived a few days prior, but on this date, the Macedonian, St. Louis and Brooklyn had arrived. The Brooklyn was the ship that had attempted to aide the Star of the West in reinforcing Fort Sumter. She carried nearly 100 men to reinforce Fort Pickens, should it come under attack.
Fort Pickens, though it was garrisoned with only 100 soldiers, could withstand almost any attack and hold out for six months otherwise. The ships now in the harbor would make this defense even more likely of success.3