More Year-End Cabinet Shuffling and News From Lincoln

Monday, December 31, 1860; New Years Eve

The Ex-Secretary of War John Floyd found himself apologizing to President Buchanan. This apology was ignored, but his resignation was accepted.

Buchanan declined Floyd’s offer to stick around until a successor arrived, noting in his reply to Floyd that Postmaster General Joseph Holt would be taking his seat. Though Holt was from Kentucky, he was a strong pro-Union man and very anti-slavery. This surprised the Cabinet, especially the two remaining Southerners: Thompson and Thomas. Which one would resign? Or perhaps both?1

Elsewhere in Washington, the Senate Committee of Thirteen had finally come to the conclusion that they could not come to a conclusion concerning any sort of compromise to keep the Southern states in the Union. All of their proposed ideas were shot down by other members of the Committee and things were fruitless.


A telegraph to Charleston had warned them that President Buchanan planned to reinforce Anderson by a man-of-war. In light of this news (which, at this point, was untrue or at least unofficial), South Carolina’s Governor Pickens made some plans. He had already occupied Fort Moultrie, but concluded that if Anderson really wanted to, he could blow Moultrie off the map.

As a counter measure, he ordered a battery to be built on the northern tip of Morris Island, which itself was on the southeastern mouth of the harbor. Once accomplished, it would have free range of any ship attempting to reinforce Anderson.2


Things were also coming together in Springfield. For the past couple of days, Pennsylvania Senator Simon Cameron3 had been visiting Lincoln. On this day, Lincoln offered to him a position in his Cabinet, either the Secretary of the Treasury or Secretary of War – he had not yet decided.

Lincoln also wrote to Salmon P. Chase, then-current Governor of Ohio, asking him to visit Springfield.4

And thus, the year ended unlike any other.

  1. From Days of Defiance by Maury Klein. []
  2. Reminisces Of Fort Sumter and Moultrie in 1860-61 By Abner Doubleday, 1876. []
  3. For my Central Pennsylvania readers: The fire company in Lewisburg is named after William Cameron, Simon’s brother. []
  4. From Lincoln; President-Elect by Harold Holzer. []
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More Year-End Cabinet Shuffling and News From Lincoln by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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