By Elaine Grublin
The following excerpt is from the diary of Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch, including Bulfinch’s thoughts on the events of the past year and some comment on the Trent Affair.
Thursday, January 2d
The close of the year 1861 has led back my thoughts over its course. It has been one of sadness to the country, and in some degree of disgrace, from the madness on one side, the imbecility at first on the other, and the unprincipled manner in which people have used the national sufferings to promote their private fortunes. But there is much to thank God for, in the noble resurrection of patriotic feeling. We are just delivered, – we trust, – from the great danger of a war with England, about the capture of Mason & Slidell. Their surrender, consummated yesterday, is in accordance with American views of the rights of neutrals, & will, we hope, remove in some degree the bitter prejudice of our English cousins, – in whom we feel a good deal disappointed.
Monday, January 13th
We have news of a great expedition going down the Mississippi from Cairo, – & of Gen. Burnside’s expedition from Annapolis for parts unknown, – which the army of the Potomac are held in readiness for a speedy advance. God save the United States!
From abroad, we hear of a somewhat better feeling in England towards us, which we hope will be increased when they hear of our acquiescence in their demand for release of our prisoners, Slidell, Mason & etc. There is a good deal of incitation here however, at the cause which England has pursued. Another item of recent news is the death of Prince Albert, who seems to have been universally esteemed & lamented.
Be sure to check back in February to read Bulfinch’s comments on the Burnside Exposition and the Union victories at Forts Henry and Donelson.