Worried President Tyler Writes President Buchanan

Friday, January 25, 1861

The USS Brooklyn, a sloop-of-war, had set off from near Norfolk, Virginia on the 22nd. While it was rumored that she had left, her destination was unknown.

Former President John Tyler had just arrived in Washington DC in order to attend (and chair) the Peace Conference that was scheduled to begin on February 4th.

When he got word that the Brooklyn was no longer where it was supposed to be and that it had set sail with troops for a Southern fort, he became alarmed and wrote a note to President Buchanan, asking him directly:

“May I be permitted to hope that it is based on an unfounded report. If not, will you do me the favor to inform me on what day the Brooklyn sailed, and whether she has recruits for any Southern fort, and if so, which?”

Buchanan immediately replied: “The orders were given to the Brooklyn, I believe, on Monday or Tuesday last—certainly before your arrival in this city. She goes on an errand of mercy and relief. If she had not been sent, it would have been an abandonment of our highest duty.”

Though Tyler did not specifically ask, all minds were on Charleston. Buchanan assumed this was what Tyler was getting at and closed by assuring him, “Her movements are in no way connected with South Carolina.”1

This seemed to be enough to pacify the former President as he would not make anything more of the event. The news was disseminated through Southern newspapers who also gathered information from the Northern Press who divulged on this date:

“She [The Brooklyn] is ordered to intercept Government vessels heretofore authorized to go into Pensacola and prevent their doing so, in order to obviate trouble–first, by the attempt which the Floridians might make to seize and hold them; and secondly, as consequent upon this State action bloodshed and other serious losses.”2



  1. Life of James Buchanan: Fifteenth President of the United States, Volume 2 by George Ticknor Curtis, Harper & Brothers, 1883. []
  2. Portsmouth Transcript, January 25, 1861. []
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Worried President Tyler Writes President Buchanan by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International

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