Wednesday, February 13, 1861 – Ash Wednesday
The House of Delegates in Richmond, Virginia was packed with officials attending the state’s Secession Convention and spectators filling the galleries to watch the event. It was largely believed that most convention delegates were pro-Union and would remain so unless the Federal government turned to violence against the South.
Offices and positions for the meeting were voted upon and it was agreed that the convention should adjourn until the next day, meeting in the larger Mechanics Hall.
With that, Virginia’s fate (for now) was about to be decided.1
Outpacing Virginia, the Congress of the Confederate States was presented with several ideas for national flags. The ladies of Charleston had made a flag composed of a blue cross with seven white stars (one for each seceded state) on a field of red. Some men of Charleston proposed having fifteen stars (one for each slave state).
A committee of six was then formed made up of one delegate from each state – Texas had not yet arrived. The Mississippi delegate wished for the national flag of the Confederacy to look exactly like the United States flag, only with less stars. He gave such a stirring eulogy to that old standard that it caused other committee members to accuse him of treason to the Confederacy. The Mississippian withdrew the suggestion.
The flag question would be solved soon enough.2
Lincoln traveled by train from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio – a trip of only five hours. A huge crowd of 60,000 greeted him in the state capitol, which only had a population of 20,000. Lincoln was beginning to become travel-weary and was possibly even catching a cold.
Perhaps it was because of this that he made a rather strange speech that made very little sense to anyone. He defended his silence since being elected and boasted, “there has fallen upon me a task such as did not rest even upon the Father of this country.”
That task, however, was then trivialized when he added, “It is a good thing that there is no more than anxiety, for there is nothing going wrong. It is a consoling circumstance that when we look out there is nothing that really hurts anybody. We entertain different views upon political questions, but nobody is suffering anything.”3