Wednesday, November 21, 1860
At eleven in the morning, Abraham Lincoln, his wife and a small traveling party boarded a train in Springfield to travel north to Chicago. Lincoln was to meet Vice President Elect Hannibal Hamlin for the first time. There, they would discuss who would be who in their cabinet.
The ride was in a “crowded and inconvenient car” with “neither the company nor conductor showing him any courtesy whatever,” remarked a reporter traveling with the Lincolns. To make things a bit more interesting, a local sheriff carted two prisoners (one a convicted murder) onto the same car, seating them between the Lincolns and their guests.
As the train chuffed its way to Chicago, stopping in one small Illinois town after another, Lincoln was often greeted with fanfare and even gave a few impromptu speeches. His folksy stories, however, were perhaps a bit lost on a public not yet accustomed to Lincoln, the public speaker.
Abraham and Mary Lincoln were booked in the Tremont House, a very posh hotel where Wide Awakes (fiery Lincoln supports) sang patriot songs to welcome their new leader to their city.
Finally that evening the President Elect met the Vice President Elect. Their first conversation was informal, each admitting that they had never met the other, but that both had remembered the others’ speeches from congress.
Together they toured the Chicago Wigwam (where the Republican Convention was held), the courthouse, the new post office and the Custom House.
The two leaders then retired to the hotel to discuss the important details of the day.1
Both farther to the north and father to the south, news of an alarming, capitalistic nature was bubbling up, basically unnoticed.
The Richmond Daily Dispatch noted that on this date, the New York Journal of Commerce reported that a steamer from Connecticut, bound for Georgia by order of the state’s governor, was carrying arms and ammunition for 1,800 men. The same Connecticut company had also received an order from Alabama to arm 1,000.
A New York company stated that they have done business with not only Georgia and Alabama, but South Carolina and all of the other principle southern states as well. Most of the sales were for small arms (rifles, flint locks and navy pistols), but have recently sent 25 gun [cannon] carriages to Georgia.
Two other arms dealers in the city reported much the same business – mostly with states who were seriously considering secession.
“The only people gathering any advantage from the present crisis are the manufacturers and sellers of arms.”2
Also in Charleston, it was on this day that Major Robert Anderson arrived to take control of the three forts: Moultrie, Castle Pinckney and the nearly-finished Sumter. He replaced the aging Colonel John L. Gardner, a veteran of the War of 1812 (he would be sent to Texas to await further orders). Over the next couple of days, Anderson was to assay the defenses and report back to Washington.3
This was also deemed as South Carolina’s day of fasting and prayer. Some churches in Charleston urged their flock to pray “in order for the people and their leaders to realize how long the Northern government had tried to undermine slavery.” Another “man of the cloth” preached that he saw the end of civilization and that a new slave culture was to be born. Some claimed that the institution of slavery, which was ordained by The Bible, was being taken away because of some “national sin.”4
- Lincoln; President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 by Harold Holzer, Simon & Shuster, 2008. [↩]
- Richmond Daily Dispatch, November 23, 1860. [↩]
- Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 1: From Moultrie to Sumter by Abner Doubleday, Brevet Major-General, USA, Retired, The Century Co., 1887. [↩]
- Southern Pamphlets on Secession, November 1860 – April 1861 By Jon L. Wakelyn, University of North Carolina Press, 1996. [↩]