The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch Diary, Post 2

The following excerpt is from the diary of Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch.

Monday, 31 December 1860

I have much to record at the close of the year; and my record must be a sad one, in regard to public and private affairs alike, though hope looks through where faith points.

First of public affairs. South Carolina precipitately declared herself independent. The President, weakly listening to a cabinet whom charity can hardly acquit of treachery, refused to reinforce the week garrison, (less than 10 men) of Fort Moultrie, and pledged himself not to do so, on certain promises from the secessionists not to attack the fort. Gen. Cass, Sec. of State resigned in disgust at such conduct. Mr. Cobb, Sec. of Treasury resigned, leaving the Treasury empty, and went South to preach secession. Major Anderson, the Commander at Fort Moultrie, bravely took the responsibility of evacuating it, to place himself in the stronger Fort Sumter. S. C. demands that he be censured for this. I hear today that the President, after hesitation, has refused to obey this order, that three members of the Cabinet have resigned in consequence, a good riddance, and that Carolina which had already occupied Forts Moultrie and Pickney, has taken a revenue cutter of the U.S. If so, the new year must begin with a Civil War; an awful necessity, but ‘from this nettle, danger, we must pluck this flower, safety.’ God defend the right!

Meantime in Congress a conciliatory proposition has been made by Mr. Charles Francis Adams, and seems likely to be accepted generally. I hope, more than I did yesterday, for our greatest danger seemed to me to be from imbecility if not treachery at Washington, which would encourage state after state to commit itself to extreme measures. Yesterday, I kept by anticipation, in my afternoon services, the fast which the president had appointed for Friday next.

Be sure to check back next week for SGB's next post, dated 14 January 1861, in which he corrects facts mistated in this post and reflects on the growing seccession crises.

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