The Civil War 150 Years Ago: February 1861

150 years ago

February 1861

  • Lincoln’s inauguration is a month away as President Buchannan struggles to contain secession.  Lincoln refuses to make a public speech on the question maintaining his position is clear.
  • February starts badly, when Texas becomes the seventh state to secede on the first.
  • Two days later, the Louisiana senators leave for home.
  • As a peace convention assembles in Washington under former President Tyler, Representatives of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina assemble in Montgomery to form the provisional Congress of the CSA.  None of these states sent anyone to Washington.
  • On the seventh, the Choctaw Nation declares allegiance to the CSA.
  • Over the next two days, the Montgomery Congress approves a provisional constitution and elects Jefferson Davis President.  By the eighth, the Confederate States of America is a political entity with a constitution, congress and president.
  • The same day, state troops acting under orders from the governor, seize the US Arsenal in Little Rock.  Over the next couple of weeks, states seize US facilities in San Antonio, Napoleon and General David E. Twiggs surrenders all US Army installations in Texas.  Louisiana appropriates The US Paymaster’s office in New Orleans.
  • On the eleventh, Abraham Lincoln leaves Springfield.  He is on a speaking tour that will reach Washington on the 23rd.  The same day, Jefferson Davis leaves for Montgomery to become President of the CSA.  On the 18th, Davis is inaugurated along with Alexander H. Stevens as Vice-president.
  • On the 13th, the Electoral College officially declares Abraham Lincoln the winner of the 1860 Presidential election.
  • On the 20th, the CSA Congress declares the Mississippi River open to commerce.
  • In Baltimore, on the 22nd, Lincoln is warned of an attempt on his life and slips through the city providing a source of political comment lasting for weeks.
  • Tyler’s Peace convention suggests no less than six constitutional amendments; Thomas Corwin introduces an amendment to protect slavery in the House of Representatives.  Jefferson Davis appoints a commission for possible peace negotiations with Washington.
  • As February ends, Texas has left the Union; seven states have formed the CSA.  Voters in Tennessee and North Carolina defeated secession.  Both governments are looking for a peaceful settlement to the crisis.  Lincoln believes an anti-secession majority exists in the CSA and is trying to encourage them.   Many in the North think the nation should allow the slave states to become a new nation.
  • Forts Sumter and Pickens are part of a small number of installations that remain under USA control in Southern states.






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