Rumors and Mail for Sumter; Lincoln Nudges Cameron

Sunday, January 13, 1861

Charleston itself had calmed down since the Star of the West incident. Rumors, of course, flew around rampantly. Occasionally small boats carrying South Carolina or Federal officials would come and go, sparking more speculation. It was also said that Major Anderson had killed two mutineers last week. More men were supposedly in chains and one had escaped to Charleston. None of this was true, but that rarely stops folks from talking.

It was reported that the USS Brooklyn, sent to assist in reinforcing Sumter, was off of Cape Roman [Romain], 30 miles up the coast from Charleston.1

Governor Pickens had agreed to allow the mail to begin flowing in and out of Fort Sumter. The arrangement was that the mail from Charleston was to be delivered to Fort Johnson (now in South Carolina’s hands) at 12 noon every day. A boat from Sumter was to pick it up there once a day. This was to “avoid all chances for rencounters and bloodshed between our [Sumter’s] boats crews and riotous persons on the wharves in the city.”2


The two representatives from the Fort Sumter/Charleston affair had reached Washington towards evening. South Carolina’s Attorney General Isaac Hayne and Major Anderson’s Lt. Norman Hall would both be able to meet with President Buchanan the next day.3


Lincoln, not having heard a reply from Pennsylvania’s Simon Cameron, wrote him again. On December 31st, Lincoln had offered Cameron a position on his Cabinet. However, after discovering a few unsavory facts about the Pennsylvanian, on January 3rd, Lincoln took it back in a cold letter that asked Cameron for a response. The response did not come.

Lincoln had learned that Cameron was hurt by the “terms” of the original letter dropping him. “I wrote that letter under great anxiety, and perhaps I was not as guarded in it’s terms as I should have been; but I beg you to be assured, I intended no offence.” wrote Lincoln, requesting that Cameron destroy the offending letter.

Then Lincoln played a bit of the middle ground, telling Cameron, “If I should make a cabinet appointment for Penn. before I reach Washington, I will not do so without consulting you, and giving all the weight to your views and wishes which I consistently can.”4

Simon Cameron was certainly not back in, but he wasn’t quite as out as he had been before.

  1. Richmond Daily Dispatch, January 14, 1861. []
  2. Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 1, p 138. []
  3. Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion by James Buchanan, D. Appleton and Company, 1866. — This book, written by President Buchanan after the war, is probably not the best source for a lot of things, but for this, the arrival of Hayne and Hall on the 13th, I’ll use it. []
  4. Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Simon Cameron, January 13, 1861. []
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Rumors and Mail for Sumter; Lincoln Nudges Cameron by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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