Letter from A.G. Magrath to J.W. Hayne regarding Fort Sumter, 12 January 1861

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In January of 1861, South Carolina Governor Francis W. Pickens sent a special envoy, J.W. Hayne, to Washington D.C. to meet with President Buchanan to discuss ongoing issue over control of Fort Sumter.  This letter from Andrew G. Magrath provided instructions for Hayne's meeting with the president. By the time of this letter, 12 January 1861, South Carolinians had repelled the Star of the West with cannon fire, and Hayne was instructed to ask Buchanan "whether it was by his Order that the troops of the United States were sent into the harbor of Charleston to reinforce Fort Sumter."

Because of the incident with the Star of the West, Magrath instructed Hayne to make clear to the president that "possession [of Fort Sumter] cannot become now a matter of discussion or negotiation." Hayne now required from the president "a positive and distinct answer" regarding "the delivery of the Fort." Otherwise, he would be responsible for a “bloody issue.” 


A.G. Magrath to J.W. Hayne, 12 January 1861.  S511001.  Letters, Telegrams, and Proclamations. Governor Francis W. Pickens papers.  South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction, and South Carolina’s role in these events.

Indicator 3-4.3 Explain the reasons for South Carolina’s secession from the Union, including the abolitionist movement, states’ rights, and the desire to defend South Carolina’s way of life.

Standard 4-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the Civil War and its impact on America.

Indicator 4-6.3 Explain how specific events and issues led to the Civil War, including the sectionalism fueled by issues of slavery in the territories, states’ rights, the election of 1860, and secession.

Indicator 4-6.4 Summarize significant key battles, strategies, and turning points of the Civil War—including the battles of Fort Sumter and Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation, the significance of the Gettysburg Address, and the surrender at Appomattox—and the role of African Americans in the War.

Standard 8-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Civil War—its causes and effects and the major events that occurred during that time.

Indicator 8-3.4 Compare the attitudes of the unionists, cooperationists, and secessionists in South Carolina and summarize the reasons that the members of the South Carolina secession convention in 1860 voted unanimously to secede from the Union, including concerns about states’ rights and fears about abolition.

Indicator 8-3.5 Compare the military strategies of the North and South with regard to specific events and geographic locations in South Carolina, including the capture of Port Royal, the Union blockade of Charleston, and Sherman’s march through the state.

Standard USHC-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the causes and the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction in America.

Indicator USHC-4.2 Explain how the political events and issues that divided the nation led to civil war, including the compromises reached to maintain the balance of free and slave states, the successes and failures of the abolitionist movement, the conflicting views on states’ rights and federal authority, the emergence of the Republican Party and its win in 1860, and the formation of the Confederate States of America.

Additional Flash Versions:

Magrath-Hayne Letter pg 1 Magrath-Hayne Letter pg 2 Magrath-Hayne Letter pg 3 Magrath-Hayne Letter pg 4Magrath-Hayne Letter pg 5  


Related Documents:

Pickens Proclamation

Governor Pickens Letter to President Jefferson Davis as to R.E. Lee

Letters between Governor Francis W. Pickens and President James Buchanan

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