Public Opinion Begins to Change
December 2, 1861. President Lincoln delivered his first annual message to Congress. His message was optimistic; it accented the positive and emphasized how much had been accomplished. Congress was less optimistic than the President’s message, and less patient, too. Many wanted to see a more
aggressive stance on the battlefield and a more assertive tact with regard to ending slavery. Seldom does a leader seeking to strike a middle path get praised in more than moderation — and often with less; Lincoln was no exception.
Whether it be the Civil War era or the present day, the public’s attitudes and individuals’ positions are not immutable; opinions and emotions both change, sometimes due simply to the passage of time or the accretion of many little things, and other times in response to specific events. Even at this early date, the North’s political will was beginning to turn more toward embracing the cause of ending slavery.
A Child Born During War
December 6, 1861. “[Jefferson Davis‘s wife,] Varina, had few illusions about the peril facing the South now that war had begun. She knew that the youthful enthusiasm of Confederate troops could not protect them from an enemy that was better armed and more numerous. ‘Their hordes,’ she had written soon after she arrived in Richmond, ‘are very near & their bitterness is very great.’ But as winter approached, her own thoughts had turned inward, for despite the certainty of bloodshed and death, the creation of new life was also a reality. On December 6, 1861, her fifth child, William Howell Davis, was born.”
Civil War Wives, Carol Berkin, p. 163