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American Civil War - 1860

Celebrate the Civil War: 150 Year Anniversary

Trivia powered by Prof. WalterU.S. slave population in the 1860 United States Census: 3,954,174. The United States Census of 1860 concludes the U.S. population is 31,443,321, which is an increase of 35.4 percent over the 23,191,875 persons enumerated during the 1850 Census.

The 1860 Census shows 26 percent of all Northerners but only 10 percent of Southerners live in towns or cities. The census also shows that 80 per cent of the Southern workforce but only 40 per cent of the Northern work force works in agriculture.

Southern opposition kills the Pacific Railway Bill of 1860. President Buchanan vetoes a homestead act.


  • January 10: The Pemberton Mill collapses in Lawrence, Massachusetts, killing 145 workers.


  • February 26: 1860 Wiyot Massacre: 80 to 250 Wiyot people were killed on Indian Island, near Eureka, California.

  • February 27: Abraham Lincoln gives his Cooper Union speech.



  • April 3: The Pony Express begins its first run from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.


  • May 1: A Chondrite type meteorite falls to earth in Muskingum County, Ohio near the town of New Concord.

  • May 6: The Paiute War begins as Northern Paiutes raided Williams Station in Utah Territory.

  • May 9: The U.S. Constitutional Union Party holds its convention and nominates John Bell for President of the United States.

  • May 12: Paiute War First Battle of Pyramid Lake: American vigilantes seek out the Paiutes and are soundly defeated. Disorganized and outnumbered, nearly all of the vigilantes are killed or wounded.

  • May 18: Abraham Lincoln is selected as the U.S. presidential candidate for the Republican Party.


  • June 2 - 4: Paiute War Second Battle of Pyramid Lake: A well-organized force of militia and U.S. Army soldiers seek out the Paiutes and defeat them in the final battle of the war.



  • August: The Paiute War ends with an informal ceasefire.


  • September 7: The Lady Elgin is accidentally rammed and sunk in Lake Michigan; more than 400 drown.



  • November 6: U.S. presidential election: Abraham Lincoln beats John C. Breckinridge, Stephen A. Douglas, and John Bell and is elected as the 16th President of the United States, the first Republican to hold that office. Lincoln wins all of the electoral votes in all of the free states except New Jersey where he wins 4 votes and Douglas wins 3.

  • November 7: Charleston, South Carolina authorities arrest a Federal officer. The officer attempted to move supplies to Fort Moultrie from Charleston Arsenal.

  • November 9: the Palmetto Flag of South Carolina is raised over the Charleston harbor batteries.

  • November 10:

    • The South Carolina legislature calls a convention to consider whether the State should secede from the Union for December 17.

    • U.S. Senators James Chesnut, Jr. and James Henry Hammond of South Carolina resign from the U.S. Senate.

  • November 14: Congressman Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, later Vice President of the Confederate States of America, speaks to the Georgia legislature in opposition to secession.

  • November 15:

    • Major Robert Anderson of the First United States Artillery, a 55-year old career army officer from Kentucky, was ordered to take command of Fort Moultrie and the defenses in Charleston Harbor, including Fort Sumter.

    • United States Navy Lieutenant Tunis Craven informs authorities in Washington, D.C. that he is proceeding to take moves to protect Fort Taylor at Key West, Florida and Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas, Florida. Craven rightly suspects Southern States will try to seize federal property and military supplies.

  • November 20: Lincoln says that his administration will permit states to control their own internal affairs.

  • November 23: Major Anderson requests reinforcements for his small force at Charleston.


  • December 10: South Carolina delegates meet with Buchanan and believe he agrees not to change military situation at Charleston.

  • December 11: Major Don Carlos Buell delivers a message to Major Anderson from Secretary of War Floyd. Anderson is authorized to put his command in any of the forts at Charleston to resist their seizure. Later in the month Floyd says Anderson violated the President's pledge to keep the status quo pending further discussions and the garrison should be removed from Charleston.

  • December 12: Secretary of State Lewis Cass of Michigan resigns. He believes President Buchanan should reinforce the Charleston forts and is unhappy about Buchanan's lack of action.

  • December 17: The South Carolina Secession Convention begins.

  • December 18:

    • Senator John J. Crittenden proposes the so-called Crittenden Compromise hoping to resolve the U.S. secession crisis.

    • Texas Rangers defeat a band of Comanches at the Battle of Pease River; Cynthia Ann Parker is recaptured and returned to her family after 24 years.

  • December 20:

    • South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the United States. Secession begins when the convention declares "that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states under the name of the 'United States of America' is hereby dissolved." The convention published a Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union in explanation and support of their position. The document cites "encroachments on the reserved rights of the states" and "an increasing hostility of the non-slaveholding states to the institution of slavery" and "the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery" as among the causes.

    • Vice President John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky, unsuccessful candidate of the Southern Democrats for President and later Confederate general and Secretary of War, appoints a Committee of Thirteen U.S. Senators of differing views, including Jefferson Davis, Robert Toombs, William Seward and Stephen A. Douglas, to consider the state of the nation and to propose solutions to the crisis.

  • December 21: The four United States Congressmen from South Carolina withdraw from the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • December 23: President Buchanan asks for the resignation of Secretary of War John B. Floyd, a former governor of Virginia, whose actions appear to favor the Southern secessionists. He arranged to shift weapons from Pittsburgh and other locations to the South. The War Department stops the transfer of weapons from Pittsburgh on January 3.

  • December 24:

    • South Carolina Governor Francis Wilkinson Pickens declares the act of secession in effect.

    • The House refuses their resignations.

  • December 26: Under cover of darkness, Major Anderson moves the Federal garrison at Charleston, South Carolina from Fort Moultrie, which is indefensible from the landward side, to the unfinished Fort Sumter, which is located on an island in Charleston harbor. He spikes the guns of Fort Moultrie. Secessionists react angrily and feel betrayed because they thought President Buchanan would maintain the status quo.

  • December 27: South Carolina troops occupy the abandoned Fort Moultrie and another fortification, Castle Pinckney, which had been occupied only by an ordnance sergeant.

  • December 29: Secretary of War John B. Floyd resigns.

  • December 28: Buchanan meets with South Carolina commissioners as "private gentlemen." They demand removal of federal troops from Charleston. Buchanan states he needs more time to consider the situation.

  • December 30:

    • South Carolina troops seize the Charleston Arsenal.

    • Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, general-in-chief of the U.S. Army, asks permission from President Buchanan to reinforce and resupply Fort Sumter but receives no reply.

  • December 31:

    • The Committee reports they are unable to agree on a compromise proposal.

    • Buchanan says Congress must define the relations between the Federal government and South Carolina and that he will not withdraw the troops from Charleston.


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