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

John Brown’s Failure

What was the response to Harpers Ferry in Washington, D.C.?

Thanks to the train conductor’s swift telegraph message, the top officials in Washington, D.C., knew about the raid on Harpers Ferry by 9 A.M. Secretary of War John Floyd hurried to the White House for a discussion with President Buchanan; together, they decided that their action needed to be swift and furious. The only troops on hand, however, were a few companies of U.S. Marines. Then, too, they needed a leader.

Robert E. Lee was one of the most admired of all Southern gentlemen when, in 1859, he was asked to quell the revolt at Harpers Ferry.


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