Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861


How did 1861 begin?

President Buchanan held his annual afternoon reception at the White House, but newsmen and correspondents thought it a rather sad affair. The president seemed preoccupied, and almost everyone present was more interested in scanning the headlines of the major newspapers than listening to the pious requests for God’s protection of the nation.

Suddenly there were thirty-two states and several territories instead of thirty-three. The very idea required considerable adjustment. It was around this time that men and women of the North and the West began speaking of the Union in new, almost sacred, terms. The expression had been around for some time, of course, but people had previously used lowercase letters to begin the two words federal union. Sometime in 1861, people in the North and the West began to drop the word federal and simply say “Union.”


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