Saturday, December 26, 2009

Excerpts From the Journal of Horace Purdy, Danbury, February 13th - March 5th, 1861

These excerpts from the journal of Horace Purdy (Wooster Guards/1st Conn. Vols.) deal with the final determination of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, and some of the rumors involving him inauguration. Also included here are some more interesting occurrences in the town of Danbury. Fires and deaths (mainly from the Smallpox) are common throughout the diary and remind us how much times have changed with childhood vaccines, modern elctricity and firefighting equipment, and instantaneous news sources.

Wednesday February 13th 1861 Danbury

“Abraham Lincoln has undoubtedly been declared the President of these United States in the halls of Congress at Washington.”

[Although Lincoln won the popular vote with 39.7% on November 6, 1860, the electoral college did not make the win official until February 13th, 1861.]

Friday February 15th 1861 Danbury

“I went to drill in the eve, while there an alarm of fire was raised. It soon became quiet again and we supposed it was a false alarm, but on my way home from drill I found out that it was a reality. It was McDonald Ford’s dry goods store. It was soon extinguished but not before it had done a great deal of damage.”

Friday February 22nd 1861 Danbury

“The anniversary of Washington’s birthday. The Wooster Guards assembled (or a portion of them voluntarily) to fire a national salute. At the second volley a horse becamed frightened, threw the driver out, and broke the wagon at which we stopped and closed the windows to the hall (for we were firing from the windows.) I attended drill in the eve.”

Saturday February 23rd 1861 Danbury

“The news tonight by the N. York Evening Post is that Abraham Lincoln, the president elect, was to be assassinated at Baltimore on his way to Washington and that he escaped by disguising himself. He intended to arrive there today and undoubtedly did.”

[Read more about the 'Baltimore Plot' here.]

Saturday March 2nd 1861 Danbury

“I waited on Fred Starr to see if he would take the command of the Wooster Guards, he consented on certain conditions.”

Monday March 4th 1861 Danbury

“Abraham Lincoln, commonly called Honest Old Abe, has undoubtedly today been inaugurated President of the United States, if the southerners have not murdered him as some have believed they would.”

Tuesday March 5th 1861 Danbury

“Today’s papers gives us an account of the inauguration at Washington which was peaceable and without disturbance.”

[Read his inauguration address (from March 4th 1861) here. See a photo of the event here]

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