The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch Diary, Post 4

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

Tuesday, 16 April 1861

Our country is engaged in civil war. I have made no entry for three months past; but during that time the evil has been growing to a head. By the criminal neglect of the late administration, the secessionists have been encouraged, and the government handed over to the present ruler in an almost powerless condition. It is but justice however to exempt from this blame, Secretaries Holt and Dix, and to say that Mr. Buchanan seems at last to have tried to do something like his duty.

Mr. Lincoln’s prudence and conciliatory demeanor, - his unexpected passage through Baltimore, disappointing those who were preparing insults if not assassination, - his inauguration, with his excellent address, - the formation meantime of a provisional gov’t at the South, - the much talk & little done in the ‘Peace Convention’ and various other conventions, - the many rumors about Fort Sumter, - the desertion of Gen. Twiggs & other officers, - are now all matters of history. Last week brought on the crisis. On Saturday, Fort Sumter surrendered to the overwhelming force of the Southerners, - its battered ruins alone left; and Yesterday morning appeared President Lincoln’s proclamation, calling on the states for their quotas of troops, to the number of 75000 men, and convening Congress on the 4th of July next. The country is already responding nobly to the call. New York passed the necessary bill the same day; & two regiments, it is stated, of Mass. militia leave Boston for Washington to-day. Pennsylvania troops are probably already there, or on their way. The Democratic and ‘Bell & Everett’ papers are falling in with the national feeling.

I understand that I displeased some friends by a sermon Sunday before last, being the Sunday after the state fast. I regret their displeasure, but do not feel that I did wrong. The main sentiment for us all to feel now is to stand by the flag and the government of our country. God defend the right!


Next week look for SGB's 8 May 1861 entry.  He discusses Massachuetts' quick response to Lincoln's call for troops, the attack on the Sixth Massachusetts in Baltimore, Maryland, and the organization of companies of soldiers from Dorchester.

permalink | Published: Friday, 9 September, 2011, 8:00 AM