March 31 - April 6, 1861
As for Fort Pickens, which was more accessible and politically less controversial, Lincoln had ordered it to be held and reinforced at the outset of his administration. However, no word had yet reached Washington that his orders had been successfully carried out. Instead, rumors were rampant that federal troops had never landed. At the suggestion of Secretary of State Seward, Lincoln, therefore, initiated conversations with Captain Montgomery C. Meigs to consider plans for another relief expedition to Florida.
In this delicate and potentially explosive situation, Lincoln may well have wondered at times whether it would have been better had the Buchanan administration abandoned Sumter and Pickens. By retaining the forts, President Buchanan had, in effect, left him with a highly visible, emotional, symbolic point of contention with the Confederacy. But the problem was now his, and with it, the responsibility of decision making. As the month of March came to a close, Lincoln stood poised to make a final decision concerning Sumter and Pickens.
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