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News of 150 Years Ago—January/February 1861


January/February 1861

The declared secession of South Carolina in December 1860 included that state’s claim on federal properties within its borders. These included U.S. military forts guarding the harbor of Charleston. The federal government did not recognize these claims, placing the small number of U.S. troops occupying the forts in a difficult situation. Unable to properly defend all of the forts with the forces at hand, Major Robert Anderson, commanding the U.S. Army forces in Charleston, S.C., removed his troops and much of his stores from Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island to Fort Sumter on an island in the middle of the harbor on December 26, 1860. The question of whether South Carolina could or would attempt to take the fort by force and what would be the response of the federal government became the primary issue of the day. The DEMOCRAT printed frequent updates.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, January 4, 1861.




Occupation of Fort Moultrie by South Carolina Troops.

Throughout the city yesterday the greatest excitement prevailed in relation to the news from Forts Moultrie and Sumpter.  As early as eight o’clock in the forenoon the rumors of the destruction of the former of these military posts, and the occupation of the latter by the forces of the United States, were circulated.  It was at first currently reported and believed that Fort Moultrie had been laid in ruins, that the guns were spiked, and the carriages, &c., together with the barracks, burned, and that the post had been entirely abandoned.  The reports spread like wild fire, and soon gained currency in every part of the city.  Crowds of citizens anxiously inquired of each other the latest intelligence in relation to the affair—squads collected on every corner of the streets, and in front of the public resorts, to canvass the subject.

The newspaper offices were besieged, the hotel halls were thronged, and even the grave and serious gentlemen composing the State Convention shared in the general excitement.  On all hands anger and indignation was expressed at the supposed perfidious conduct of the Federal authorities, at whose instance it was at first thought the movement was made….

Click here to read the complete article.


From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, January 4, 1861.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 3—Intelligence was received last night that Fort Sumpter is now besieged; that all Major Anderson’s communications are cut off; that Fort Moultrie has been completely repaired, and the guns remounted, and that everything is in readiness to open fire on Major Anderson. New batteries are being erected around him by the people, and every day the danger and difficulty of reinforcing him are increased. His frequent applications for reinforcements, and even the tears and prayers of his wife having failed to move the President, he has determined again to renew his request, but will perish if he must, in the fort….

Click here to read the complete article.


From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, January 8, 1861.

Is Fort Sumpter Impregnable?—Fortifications and Gunnery.

A correspondent of the Boston Courier argues that Fort Sumpter is not impregnable, “because an impregnable fortification was never yet constructed, and probably never will be.” This proposition the writer proposes to demonstrate. As the seceders may soon attempt to take possession of Fort Sumpter, an intelligent discussion of its competency to resist an attack, becomes interesting….

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At this point in time, between the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861, President Buchanan sent an unarmed supply ship to Charleston to reinforce and provision the isolated fort.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, January 11, 1861.



The Star of the West Fired Upon and Driven Back to Sea.


CHARLESTON, Jan. 9—The steamer Star of the West in endeavoring to enter our harbor about daylight this morning was opened upon by the garrison on Morris Island, and also by Fort Moultrie. The steamer put about and went to sea. I have not been able to learn whether the steamer or any person on board was injured. The belief is that no injury was sustained. Fort Sumpter did not respond.

Lieut. Hall, of Fort Sumpter, came over to the city, about 11 o’clock with a flag of truce. He repaired to the quarters of the Governor, followed by a crowd of citizens. He was in a secret conference with the Governor and council for two hours. At 2 o’clock he was sent in a carriage with the Governor’s aid to the wharf, and returned to Fort Sumpter. The object of his mission is not known. It is not supposed that it relates to the firing on the Star of the West. The people are greatly excited….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, January 11, 1861.

An Incident at Fort Sumpter.

One of the Baltimoreans who recently returned from Fort Sumpter details an impressive incident that took place there on Major Anderson taking possession. It is known that the American flag, brought away from Fort Moultrie, was raised at Sumpter precisely at noon on the 27th ult., but the incidents of that “flag raising” have not been related. It was a scene that will be a memorable reminiscence in the lives of those who witnessed it….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, January 12, 1861.



The Star of the West “Hulled” Four Times.


WASHINGTON, Jan. 11—A dispatch from Keitt, to secessionists, gives details of the firing into the Star of the West, and says that four balls struck the steamer’s hull. A portion of the dispatch was confidential to Southern Senators, but it is understood that it urges them to remain in their seats, to defeat objectionable legislation and the confirmation of McIntyre as Collector of the port of Charleston.

Senator Wigfall publicly declares the Palmetto flag will be able to defend Charleston until every gun of Fort Moultrie is dismounted.

Reliable authority says that the Star of the West will be sent to Charleston, unless the President changes his mind, with ample naval force to engage the several naval batteries while she runs in and lands her men and cargo….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, January 16, 1861.





[From the Charleston Courier, 10th.]

After a night of expectancy and anxiety, yesterday morning was ushered upon us pregnant with events that may in all probability result in either a total cessation of all our troubles, or lead to the disastrous effects of a long, bloody and determined contest. That the spirit of our troops, or our leaders, and indeed our whole population, is thoroughly aroused, all have seen. The promptness and celerity of action on the part of the patriotic military with which we are surrounded, gives a feeling of universal confidence and security, that will result most beneficially in any event. If we are to have war, we are assured of the preservation of honor at least by the valiant hearts and strong arms that fight our battles; and if victory crowns our efforts, we know it will be properly and justly used. The spirit of our troops gives every evidence of this. The seal and alacrity they have shown manifest it. The hardships they have endured, exhibit the interest they have in the State, and the loyalty with which they stand up for the cause of South Carolina….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, January 16, 1861.




The Cost of the War Becoming Onerous.

Unconditional Withdrawal of Troops from Charleston Demanded.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14.—Personal friends of the President say it is absolutely decided not to reinforce Fort Sumpter, because sending more troops there would tend to produce irritation, and reinforcements are unnecessary.

The South Carolina Commissioners now here are exceedingly conciliatory.

A telegraph was received from Gov. Moore by Senators Fitzpatrick and Clay, saying that the ordinance of secession, unconditional and immediate, has passed….

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As tensions rose in Charleston, the fires of secession ignited in other areas of the South as well.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 21, 1861.





United States Gunboat Not Permitted to Enter the Harbor.


NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 19.—The steamer Atlantic, from Pensacola yesterday afternoon, reports the navy yard in possession of 2,000 men, and that troops were arriving from all directions.

The United States steam gunboat Wyandotte was lying at the entrance of the harbor communicating with Fort Pickens, having the families of the officers of the fort on board. She was out of coal and supplies, but was not permitted to enter the harbor. Opinion seemed to be divided as to resisting an attack on the fort by the Florida troops….

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The secession crisis deepened, as all across the South calls arose to join South Carolina in leaving the Union. Attempts were made to reach a compromise, but all failed.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, February 4, 1861.




$350,000 of Coin and Bullion Seized by the Traitors at New Orleans.


The Louisiana Delegation to Withdraw.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2.—Lieut. Hall’s departure for South Carolina with official dispatches, has been postponed for the present. He expected to have gone to-night.

The President to-day sent to the Senate the name of George McHenry, of Pennsylvania, as Consul to Liverpool.

The Assistant Treasurer at New Orleans refuses to give up the coin and bullion in the branch mint, to the amount of $350,000, to the order of Secretary Dix, on the ground that the branch mint has been taken possession of by the State of Louisiana. On the receipt of this news this morning, the President called an extraordinary session of the Cabinet, and the whole subject was considered….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, February 5, 1861.


The Powhattan Ordered to Florida.


Fort Sumter said to be Reinforced.


NEW YORK, Feb. 4.—We have late and important news from the home squadron. On the 19th of January the Commander-in-Chief of the fleet received orders, through Col. Pickens, at Washington, to send immediately to Florida the U. S. steam frigate Powhattan, the Sabine, and the sailing corvette St. Louis. A sham boat battle was soon after improvised off Sacrificios, when the usual routing of action was gone through with.

A critical examination of the condition of the squadron demonstrated the fact that every ship was short of provisions, and that it would be madness to send them, probably on a hostile mission, in such a state….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, February 5, 1861.

Has Fort Sumter been Reinforced?

The telegraphic item in this morning’s paper, in reference to the secret reinforcement of Fort Sumter, has doubtless struck many of our readers as a very improbable piece of news. A little reflection, however, assisted by the following collation of facts from the Cincinnati Commercial, will impart a very truthful coloring to the important telegram:

THE REINFORFCEMENT OF MAJOR ANDERSON.—A fortnight since we expressed apprehensions of an act of treachery on the part of the administration—an act of treachery and ingratitude to South Carolina and the newspapers—in reinforcing Major Anderson without informing Gov. Pickens, or the Washington writers of the telegraphic correspondence of enterprising journals. We expect the act has been accomplished….

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The human aspect of the crisis was also covered.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, February 11, 1861.


Return of Women and Children—Condition of the Fort—Preparations for Defense—A Supply of Provisions—Details from Charleston, &c.

The steamer Marion, Capt. Adams, arrived at New York on Wednesday, from Charleston, with the women and children from Fort Sumter. She brought sixty passengers in all, and of these twenty-five are children. On their arrival at New York they were taken to Fort Hamilton, where they will remain for the present….

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The legalities of secession, both national and international, were a heated topic of debate.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, February 1, 1861.

The Secession Question to be Tested—A Novel Legal Case in St. Louis.

We have been furnished with an extract from an answer about to be filed in the Circuit Court of this county, in the suite of a well-known New Orleans bank against a prominent city banker to recover a large sum.

“The defendants further state that the plaintiffs, whether chartered by law or no, are an associations of persons citizens of the State of Louisiana, domiciled and doing business therein, and acknowledging thereto, and have abjured all allegiance to the United States of America; that said State of Louisiana has seceded from and revolted against the United States of America, and is at war with the same; that the plaintiffs, and all other persons who are citizens of said State and domiciled therein and acknowledging allegiance thereto, are alien enemies of the United States of America and of the State of Missouri, and have no right to maintain any suit in the courts of the State of Missouri….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 28, 1861.

Does not Victoria own South Carolina.

The Toronto Daily Globe raises a new issue in the discussion of the locus standi of the seceding State of South Carolina:

Suppose that this (a dissolution of the Union) is consummated, some curious question will arise with regard to the national standing of the seceding States. Great Britain has recognized the national independence of the United States. But does that necessarily involve the recognition of the nationality of South Carolina, for example, when she ceased to form a part of the Union? Her colonial relations to Great Britain only ceased by virtue of her being merged in the United States, whose independent nationality was recognized by the mother country. When she ceased, then, to form part of that nationality, does she not, by the law of nations, revert to her former position of colonial dependence on Great Britain?…

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In Missouri, the secession of South Carolina provoked a great deal of discussion on the question of whether Missouri should or would follow South Carolina out of the Union, and what that would mean for the state.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, January 8, 1861.

How Would Secession Affect St. Louis and Missouri?

ST. LOUIS, January 5, 1861.

Editors of the Missouri Democrat:

DEAR SIRS: As I am a laboring man, “as all my fathers were,” and have earn my daily bread by my daily toil, I have not the time to investigate, even if I had the requisite means for information at my command, and, therefore, hope that you will at your earliest convenience, and through the columns of your excellent paper, for the benefit of the Union-loving and laboring portion of the citizens of this city, give me an answer to the following interrogatories:

1st. Has either of the States that already have seceded or intend to secede from the Federal Union, through their representatives in their Legislatures assembled, or in any other official manner, “declared the cause which impelled them to the separation?”

2d. Does the Constitution of the United States guarantee to the citizens of each State the right of petition to the general government for the redress of their grievances, and if so, have either of the seceding States been denied this right or petitioned the government in vain for the redress of any actual or imaginary grievance?…

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The discussions ranged not just about the legalities, but the practicalities surrounding Missouri’s potential secession. This contributor opined that the South would not and could not defend Missouri as part of a Southern Confederacy.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, January 12, 1861.

Position of Missouri.

The question is continually asked where will Missouri go in case of a dissolution of the Union? The questioner seems generally to suppose that Missouri may do just as she pleases, and unite herself to the North or South as a matter of choice. The best reflection I can give to the subject, is, that she will have scarcely any choice at all. I do not mean to diminish the position of the State. She is a noble commonwealth, great in her area of surface, great in her rich lands, great in agricultural, mineral, and commercial resources, great in her already developed and accumulated wealth, great in her people, numerically, intellectually and morally. Honor to our proud and powerful young commonwealth, say I—and no man shall or can say more in her favor than I will. But is one omnipotent? No, she is not. She is only one of a number of great and growing States like herself. Any two or three of them united against her would overpower and control her. Any policy she might adopt would have to meet with approbation and support outside of herself, or she would never maintain it….

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While tensions rose in Charleston, South Carolina, Missouri inaugurated Claiborne Fox Jackson as Governor on January 3, 1861. Although he ran as an anti-secession Douglas Democrat, Gov. Jackson’s inaugural speech called on the legislature to authorize a state convention to consider Missouri’s future in the Union, as well as a number of other measures seeming to prepare for secession. The DEMOCRAT was indignant in its denunciation of the new Governor’s apparent treachery.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 7, 1861.

The Disunion Conspiracy in Missouri.

The drama which was introduced at the capital by Gov. Jackson’s treasonable, incendiary message as a prologue, is unfolding itself with startling rapidity. The General Assembly is hardly organized when it is called upon to enact revolutionary measures. War projects are already the order of the day. Bills for metamorphosing the Governor into a Military Dictator; for arming the State; calling a Secession Convention, have been flung down like gauntlets on the table of the Senate. The Disunionists seem to have adopted Danton’s motto—“Audacity, Audacity, Audacity!” The first step, it appears, is to rob all the local authorities of the powers which they have ever exercised, and centralize these powers in the Governor. Mayors, Sheriffs, Judges, &c., are to be deprived of all power to preserve the peace. An Autocrat, sojourning occasionally in Jefferson City, and residing amid the classic shades of Saline county, is to be substituted for the various municipal magistrates and local conservators of the peace. The solitary throne of the despot is to be erected on the ruins of self government….

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The following contributor also called out the Governor for his deceitful campaign in light of his apparent change of position.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, January 9, 1861.


DEAR GOVERNOR: I had heard a bad account of your inaugural; that you had turned traitor and come out against your country. I have made it a point for a long time now to judge for myself, as far as possible, and I waited to read the document. This I have done. And, dear Governor, the first thought that came into my mind, on laying it down, was, why did you not proclaim, when you were a candidate, that it was your purpose to betray and deceive me and all the honest men in the State who voted for you? For you know, dear Governor, that thousands and thousands of the loyal people of Missouri, who voted for you, would have seen you at the devil long before they would have made you Governor, with
the knowledge of your motives….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, January 10, 1861.


MY DEAR GOVERNOR: I did not, in one letter, finish up the inaugural. Most patriotic Governor! why are you opposed to the slave trade? Do you dislike slavery? Do you wish to check its progress? If you do not, noble Governor, then you are right in opposing the slave trade! But oh, thou rational, and not insane functionary, if you would promote the spread and prosperity of slavery, thou should’st not, and would’st not, oppose the slave trade. Most intelligent Governor! you tell us, in the inaugural which you delivered immediately after taking the oath to support the Constitution—alluding to the fire eaters—that “with them the alternative is the maintenance of that institution which the crown of Great Britain forced upon their ancestors, or the conversion of their homes into desert wastes.” Dearly beloved, do you mean to say that these ancestors were opposed to divine institutions; that they thought slavery an injury to them? Yes, Claiborne Fox, that is what you mean!…

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Even as the Missouri legislature began to consider the Governor’s proposals, steps began to be taken to protect federal property in the state.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, January 12, 1861.

EXCITEMENT AT THE CUSTOM HOUSE.—A wholly unnecessary excitement was yesterday morning occasioned by the appearance of some forty U. S. soldiers at the Custom House. On Thursday we published that a detachment had arrived from Newport Barracks, Kentucky, and had proceeded to quarters at Jefferson Barracks. It since appears that Lieutenant-General Scott had issued orders to insure the security of the United States property in various States, but without special reference to St. Louis. The troops who appeared at the Custom House arrived from the Barracks at 8 A. M., having marched the entire distance….

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Amid the tensions, many citizens in St. Louis expressed their support for the Union and against secession by gathering for a meeting.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 14, 1861.



An Immense Multitude at the Court House.




For weeks past there had been a wide spread desire of people of all classes, pursuits and professions in St. Louis for a genuine, earnest and pure Union meeting. In such a meeting, men of every party aside from the distinctively secession faction, could most cordially participate. Such a meeting would unquestionably have exerted an immense influence for unalloyed good in this and other States. A meeting of the character described was called, and the hearts of all the people, the treason cockade faction alone excepted, warmly responded to the call. The appropriate and carefully worded call was for a meeting “of all citizens who believe that the rights and prosperity of all sections of the country can be better protected within the American Union than by destroying the Government.”

This emphatic and patriotic call, prominently and for several days advertised, involved all citizens thus unqualifiedly in favor of the Union, to convene in mass meeting at the Court House at two o’clock, P. M., of Saturday, the 12th inst….

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In his inaugural address, Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson called for the legislature to authorize a state convention to consider Missouri’s future in the Union. On January 18, the Missouri House passed the convention bill.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, January 19, 1861.


JEFFERSON CITY, Jan, 18, 1861.

The House having passed the State Convention bill yesterday afternoon, the long agony may be said to be over, as the Senate will doubtless pass it this morning, and it will immediately become a law. The time allowed for the day of election is so short that the Governor’s proclamation will scarcely have more than time to reach all portions of the State before the appointed time. The opponents of the bill have, by deferring its passage by the prolonging of debate, forced its friends to submit the reference of any acts passed by the convention, affecting the relations of the State with the Federal Government, to the vote of the people. A great point has been gained, as now the convention cannot force the people into association without their consent. Some doubts exist as to the legality of Mr. Lacey’s amendment, whether it will bind the convention, but the best legal authorities decide that it will….

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The DEMOCRAT quickly weighed in on the convention issue, calling for the election of pro-Union, anti-secession candidates in the February 18 election for convention delegates.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 21, 1861.

The State Convention—The Basis on which Union Tickets should be Formed.

The election on the 18th of February, will be the most important that has ever taken place in Missouri. On that day the people will either declare for plunging the State into anarchy and civil war, or for holding fast to the Constitution and the Union. An unknown and fearfully perilous future is to be braved, or the cause of a noble conservatism placed on a securer basis. There is but one thing to be decided by the election, and that is the Federal relations of the State. The question is Union or Disunion; Union first, last and all the time, or Disunion in the guise of Union with conditions annexed. It will be for the citizens of Missouri to choose between the two….

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In December 1860, the DEMOCRAT had warned of the militarization of political clubs, especially the pro-secession Minute Men, whose headquarters were in a house on Broadway in downtown St. Louis. When a rumor circulated that the Governor had ordered the seizure by the state of the U.S. Arsenal in St. Louis, the DEMOCRAT charged that the Minute Men were to be the instrument of the threatened action. Somewhat disingenuously, the DEMOCRAT noted that the Republican Wide Awake clubs had disbanded to avoid provocation, while the publisher himself was part of a secret pro-Union committee organizing clandestine military drills for pro-Union men in the city.

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, January 24, 1861.

Reported Seizure of the Arsenal—Danger of Armed Political Societies.

An evening or two ago, a rumor that Gov. Jackson had given orders for the seizure of the Arsenal ran like wildfire through the city.  We have reason to think that Major Bell, the officer in command of the Arsenal, did not utterly disbelieve it.  In fact, he took measures to resist the anticipated onset.  The story, like so many others of the same kind which the public have heard of late, was doubtless untrue, but can we wonder that it should have obtained extensive circulation and no inconsiderable credence, when it is notorious that a treasonable society is daily and nightly enlisting members, and drilling and arming?  This treasonable society, known as the “Minute Men,” ostentatiously displays its proceedings.  Its publicly avowed purpose is to make war on the United States whenever invited to do so by the Governor of the State….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, February 2, 1861.


Some Account of its Atrocious Provisions.


Editors Missouri Democrat:

You have already been advised of the nature of the military bill which will, I am afraid, pass the Legislature. I regard it as the most wicked attempt at legislative despotism ever before known in this State. The bill is forty pages long, and is a bold, defiant, reckless scheme to place the State under an absolute military despotism.

It divides the State into nine military districts, the officers of which are to be appointed by the Governor. All citizens between eighteen and forty-five years are to be put upon the military roll, each to pay 50 cents annually to the military fund. Whenever the Governor may think it necessary he may order a draft. Every person drafted for twelve months must serve or pay $150. If for a shorter or longer time the proportion will be preserved. If he serves, he must swear to support and defend Missouri against all enemies, and to obey all orders of the Commander-in-chief (the Governor,) and his
subordinate officers….

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On February 18, 1861, Missourians went to the polls to elect delegates to the state convention to consider secession. The DEMOCRAT urged calm and a “scrupulous propriety of deportment” among the opponents of secession.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, February 16, 1861.

The Election on Monday.

Notwithstanding the desperate efforts of the Republican to precipitate an armed collision on Monday, between the Union men and the Disunionists, there is every reason to conclude that a riotous attempt, should it be made, will be speedily and effectually suppressed by the city authorities. We learn that Mayor Filley has taken such measures as will ensure a legal and orderly election. We therefore call on our citizens to dismiss from their minds the apprehensions which the incendiary articles of the Republican may have created. There is even less reason to anticipate a riot Monday next, than there was on the first Tuesday in November or the first Monday in August. Were it all necessary, we would advise the Union men of all parties to observe a scrupulous propriety of deportment on that day. They are the party of law and order, and the opponents of revolution and civil war….

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Prominent persons on both sides of the issue made their positions known in the pages of the DEMOCRAT, among them James B. Eads, a self-educated engineer and inventor who had made a fortune salvaging steamboat wrecks. During the war, he built ironclad river gunboats for the Union. His most notable accomplishment is the iron arch bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis that still bears his name.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, February 6, 1861.

THE following is a portion of the remarks made by Mr. Jas. B. Eads, at the Union meeting on Monday evening at the Soulard market house:

The danger which threatens our existence as a nation imperatively demands the cordial and earnest co-operation of every patriot in the land, in a vigorous effort to defeat the enemies of the republic. It is not only our duty to preserve and transmit unimpaired to our children, the priceless charter of our liberties, bequeathed us by our fathers, but also to preserve, as the common heritage of the whole nation, every acre of soil that has been won by the valor or our countrymen…

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Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas was the 1860 Presidential candidate of the Northern wing of the Democratic Party. As the proponent of “Popular Sovereignty” in the 1850s, he had worked for compromises over the issue of the extension of slavery into the territories. At this point in 1861, he was opposing secession but still hoping for peaceful compromise with the South. Once actual hostilities began, he strongly supported the Union and his former political opponent Lincoln.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, February 8, 1861.


The following letter has been addressed by Judge Douglas to the editors of the Memphis Appeal:

WASHINGTON CITY, February 3, 1861.

MESSRS. EDITORS: I have this moment read with amazement an editorial in your paper of the 30th ult., in which you assume that I am favoring the immediate withdrawal of the remaining States from the Confederacy [In this context, before the official creation of the Confederate States of America on February 8, 1861, Douglas means the Union.], as a peace measure, to avert the horrors of civil war, and with the view of reconstruction on a constitutional basis.

I implore you, by all those kind relations which have so long existed between us, and which I still cherish with so much pleasure and gratitude, to do me the justice promptly to correct the unaccountable error into which you have been led in regard to secession, whether viewed as a governmental theory or as a matter of political expediency, I have never had but one opinion nor uttered but one language, that of unqualified opposition….

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Even as more Southern states passed ordinances of secession, members of the U.S. Congress struggled to build compromises to bring a peaceable end to the crisis before it erupted into outright war. The Crittenden Compromise had already been proposed by one group. A Congressional committee made an alternate proposal, named for the Committee chairman Ohio Congressman Thomas Corwin.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, January 23, 1861.

The Corwin Compromise.

We give on the outside the majority report of the Crisis Committee of the House of Representatives, of which Mr. Corwin, of Ohio, is Chairman.  We invite thinking men of all parties to give it careful perusal, for it is a document of great intrinsic as well as extrinsic importance.  The difficulties of the time are examined in it with a serene intelligence which clears them of all misapprehension, while the remedies prescribed are, in our humble opinion, equally simple and potential.  We venture to predict that no compromise or peaceable readjustment is possible if this of Corwin’s shall prove to be unacceptable….

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In early February 1861, delegates from the seven states that had declared themselves seceded from the Union met in Montgomery, Alabama, to form their own national government.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, February 11, 1861.




Proceedings of the Cotton Congress.

Cotton is King, and Jeff. Davis is President.

MONTGOMERY, ALA., Feb. 9.—Uuusual [sic] interest was manifested in the proceedings of the Southern Congress to-day. The hall of the convention and the gallery was crowded. Mr. Meminger presented a beautiful model flag made by the ladies of South Carolina. This flag has a blue cross on a red field. Seven stars are on the flag. It was highly admired. He also presented another model flag by a gentleman of Charleston. It has a cross and fifteen stars on a field of stripes. A committee was appointed to report on a flag, a seal, and a coat of arms, and a motto of the Southern Confederacy. The President was directed to appoint committees on foreign affairs, on finance, on military and naval affairs, on commerce and on patents….

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While momentous events transpired threatening the destruction of the Union, Congress admitted another state to the Union. This did not lead to the peace for which the editorial writers expressed hope.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, January 22, 1861.

Admission of Kansas.

The weary apprenticeship of Kansas is at last, it would seem, about to close.  The bill, admitting her to the Union, passed the Senate yesterday by the decisive vote of 36 to 16.  An amendment having been added to the bill in that body, it goes back to the House, where it will be acted upon without much delay, we presume.  The President cannot withhold his approval, and thus we shall have a new star added to the galaxy before many days.  The close of the territorial history of Kansas, we feel prompted to say, will close a whole political circle, and usher in a new one.  Our national troubles commenced with the opening of the Kansas drama—let us hope that they will end with its termination, and that our era of peace and good feeling will succeed.  All hail to Kansas!


On February 11, 1861, Abraham Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois, for Washington, D.C., beginning a long journey by train through the North. The DEMOCRAT daily printed stories reporting on his progress and the speeches that he gave at various stops along the way.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, February 12, 1861.

Mr. Lincoln’s Departure.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Feb. 11.—Mr. Lincoln, with his lady, and a large crowd, left the hotel at 7:30 A. M., for the G. W. Railroad depot, where, perhaps, a thousand people were assembled to bid him farewell. After very many had taken him by the hand, and he had parted with Mrs. Lincoln, he took his stand on the platform of his car, where he made a short and affecting speech. The emotions of the assembly were very deep; when he concluded, three cheers were given. There was no parade of any kind. Mr. Lincoln spoke as follows:

My Friends: No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am….

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Scientific advances, especially in weaponry, were frequent subjects for articles in the DEMOCRAT.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, February 2, 1861.


It may seem strange to many persons that the name of the present Emperor of France should have been so often mentioned in articles which have appeared in our columns on implements of war.  The reason of this will be told in a few words.  Napoleon III is the ruling spirit who has effected the entire revolution that has recently taken place in the equipment of soldiers in all armies, with the rifle instead of the musket; and he has given more attention to this subject, perhaps, than any other person living.  About six years ago he published a treatise on the “Past and Future of Artillery,” and laid down as a fundamental guide to all these who sought improvements in gunnery that “such implements, to be really serviceable, must be simple.”  “Whatever is complicated,” he said, “will fail in producing conclusive results in warfare.”…

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The woman known as Lola Montez was as much a notorious and scandalous celebrity in the mid-19th century as any performer of the present day. Born Eliza Rosanna Gilbert in Ireland, she adopted the stage name Lola Montez in 1843 in London where she performed on stage as a dancer. In 1846, she went to Munich where she became the “favorite” of King Ludwig and the power behind the throne of Bavaria until the 1848 revolutions caused her to flee. From 1851 to 1855, she toured the United States, including a stop in St. Louis, where Thomas Easterly took her photograph in 1853. She continued to travel, touring Australia before returning to the United States. Her death in January 1861 prompted a lengthy obituary in the DEMOCRAT, which reprinted information from other papers. For a more complete and accurate account of her life, see the Wikipedia article.

Lola Montez, profile with black veil. Daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly, 1853. Missouri History Museum Photograph and Prints collection. Easterly Daguerreotype Collection. n17377.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, January 25, 1861.



Lola Montes, one of the most remarkable and versatile women of the present age—whose life is a romance—whose career presents the various phases of a countess and a public lecturer, of a king’s favorite and a dancer in a second-class theater, died in New York a few days ago. The Post furnishes the following sketch of her singular career:

The real name of Lola Montes was Maria Dolores Lorrissey Montes. Was she born in Seville in 1818, in Montrose in 1820, or in Limerick in 1824? Was her father a Spaniard or a creole? No one knows. It has been ascertained that her mother was a creole, and that she was brought up in England. She visited Paris for the first time in 1840, giving herself out for the wife of an officer in the British army, whom she married, and quitted in India. She obtained an engagement as a danseuse at the theater of the Porte St. Martin, and lost this situation through an eccentricity of deportment that was voted intolerable even in that region.

Lola Montes soon obtained admittance to the stage of the French opera, but was hissed on her appearance. In a fit of contemptuous fury at this disgrace, she kicked one of her buskins into the parterre, creating an uproar in that aristocratic house “more easily imagined than described.” She was, of course, prohibited from appearing again upon that stage….

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News of another “Strong-Minded Woman” came from Paris.

BURLESQUING THE STRONG MINDED WOMEN.—The Paris correspondent of the New York Commercial Advertiser writes as follows:

The French stage has just produced an Americanism of the strongest marked type, in the shape of a comedy at the Vaudeville Theatre, entitled “Des Femmes Fortes”—the Strong Woman, or rather the Strong Minded Woman, for this is the idea the author intended to convey.  In the piece a “Brother Jonathan” is made to carry a six shooter, a revolving rifle, a bowie knife, and a pocket full of honey dew for ruminating purposes; he swears in English at the end of every sentence, sits (with his hat on) in presence of the ladies, astraddle of a chair, interlarding his speeches, amatory or declamatory, with profane ejaculation, and terminates the sitting by whittling away the whole back of the gilded chair.  The femme forte of the piece is an American governess named Dorothy, who takes infinite pains, not without success, to exaggerate all the exaggerations of that well known class in America called strong minded women.  The piece is very well written, and will probably have a successful run.


Don’t ask, don’t tell?

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 14, 1861.

A DUBLIN journal observes that a handbill announcement of a political meeting in that city, states, with boundless liberality, that “the ladies, without distinction of sex, are cordially invited to attend.


The more conventional ladies would have found this endorsement of interest. Godey’s was essential reading for those ladies with an interest in the latest fashions.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 14, 1861.

GODEY’S LADY’S BOOK.—The February number of this popular periodical has come to hand and given evidence that it has begun the New Year with renewed purpose to make it the very best periodical of the kind in the country. It is certainly an invaluable book to the ladies. Its beautiful steel and wood engravings, its mammoth fashion plates and its list of talented contributors, all combine to make it indispensable to the family circle. Subscribe for it by all means.


One popular fashion accessory in the South was highlighted in this article.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 14, 1861.

WHERE SECESSION COCKADES ARE MADE.—The Boston Journal says the secession cockades which are worn at the South are generally of Yankee manufacture. We have one before us, the button in the center of which has on the face the Palmetto and a secession motto, while the back has the imprint of the “Scoville Manufacturing Co.,” a Connecticut concern. It is thus the Secessionists prove their dependence on the North, even when asserting their independence.


From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, February 8, 1861.

Some international news was reported, especially if it concerned the European nations, and if a source (usually a foreign newspaper) was available. On the other side of the world, military actions involving a general named Grant were garnering attention.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, January 1, 1861.

The Capture of Pekin.

Our foreign files contain some interesting details of the recent warlike events in China.  From the North China (Shanghai) Herald of Oct 20th, we take the following account of the Emperor’s palace and its pillage:

“On the following day, no signs of the French being visible, the English fired twenty-one guns to attract attention, and later in the morning the commander in chief learned where they were.  Lord Elgin, Mr. Wade, Sir H. Grant, Sir R. Napier and their respective staffs, proceeded to the palace, and found the French had been comfortably established there, and that a great portion of the more valuable movables had been already taken away, leaving the heavy but valuable articles for the English; or, at least, what things the French could not carry they left for us….

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