Timeline
 
 

1861-1868: Retirement at Wheatland

 
1861 Mar. 2 - Congress establishes the Nevada and Dakota Territories.
Mar. 4 - The Confederate flag is adopted in Montgomery, Alabama.
Mar. 4 - Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated President of the US.
    Mar. 5 - James Buchanan and his cabinet meet for the last time.  
    Mar. 5 - James Buchanan travels from Washington, DC to Baltimore on a special train provided by the B&O Railroad.  
    Mar. 6 - James Buchanan leaves Baltimore for Lancaster, PA in the same railroad car in which he rode to his inauguration.  
    Mar. 6 - James Buchanan retires to Wheatland, his Lancaster, PA estate.  
Mar. 11 - The Confederate Constitution, declaring sovereignty of states and allowing slavery, passes the Confederate Congress.
    Mar. 30 - James Buchanan is criticized by Col. David E. Twiggs for dismissing Twiggs from the army as a traitor.  
Mar. 31 - Texas troops seize Fort Bliss, a Union military outpost.
    Apr. 10 - James Buchanan is accused by Secretary of State William Seward of forming “vague and mysterious armistices” during the secession crisis.  
Apr. 11 - Union Major Robert Anderson refuses a Confederate demand to surrender his garrison at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor.
Apr. 12 - The first shots of the Civil War are fired when Confederate shore batteries open fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
Apr. 13 - The Union Garrison at Fort Sumter, commanded by Major Robert Anderson, surrenders to the Confederates.
Apr. 15 - Declaring a state of “insurrection,” President Lincoln issues a call for 75,000 volunteers for three month's service.
Apr. 17 - Virginia secedes from the Union.
Apr. 20 - Union forces evacuate the Norfolk Navy Yard after its destruction by the Confederates.
Apr. 22 - North Carolina state troops seize the Federal Arsenal at Fayetteville, Arkansas.
    James Buchanan is offered the protection of members of the Masons Lodge #43 in Lancaster, PA, after receiving threats following the outbreak of the Civil War.  
    Apr. 23 - James Buchanan celebrates his 71st birthday; he has a severe bilious seizure, an illness suffered most of his life.  
Apr. 29 - The Maryland Legislature votes to remain in the Union.
    May - James Buchanan prints a public letter in the National Intelligencer, criticizing military officers who side with the Confederacy and predicting that the war will not be short.  
May 3 - President Lincoln calls for 42,000 Army volunteers and 18,000 sailors.
May 6 - Arkansas secedes from the Union.
May 13 - England declares its neutrality in the American Civil War.
May 16 - The Kentucky Legislature declares its intentions to remain neutral in the Civil War.
May 20 - North Carolina secedes from the Union.
May 21 - Richmond , Virginia becomes the capital of the Confederate States of America.
June 8 - Tennesseans vote in favor of secession by a large majority−104,913 to 47,238.
July 2 - President Lincoln authorizes the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in cases of national security.
    July 4 - James Buchanan's administration is charged, in a speech by Abraham Lincoln, with responsibility for the weakness of the federal forces to withstand the initial assault from the South.  
July 21 - Union and Confederate troops clash outside Manassas, Virginia in the first major engagement of the Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run.
Aug. 5 - Congress enacts the first income tax as a measure to help finance the Civil War.
Aug. 30 - Union General John C. Fremont declares martial law in Missouri and frees the slaves, against instructions from President Lincoln.
    Sep. 28 - James Buchanan declines an invitation to speak before the Committee of the Citizens of Chester and Lancaster Counties in PA due to his age and poor health; he urges committee members to support the Union war effort and to volunteer for military service.  
Oct. 24 - The first transcontinental telegraph message is sent from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.
Oct. 31 - Union General Winfield Scott, hero of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, retires as commander in chief of the US Army.
Nov. 1 - President Lincoln names General George B. McClellan commander in chief of the US Army.
Nov. 6 - Jefferson Davis is elected President of the “permanent” Government of the Confederacy, running unopposed.
    Nov. 12 - James Buchanan argues that exchanging prisoners with the Confederacy does not assume recognition of their government.  
Nov. 26 - A convention in Wheeling in western Virginia votes to secede from Virginia and create a new state called West Virginia.
    Dec. 19 - James Buchanan denies accusations that he removed federal property from the White House when he finished his term in office.  
       
1862   James Buchanan Lane (nephew of James Buchanan) dies.  
Jan. 1 - President Lincoln appoints Edwin M. Stanton Secretary of War.
Jan. 18 - John Tyler, tenth President of the US, dies in Richmond, Virginia.
Feb. 2 - Julia Ward Howe's poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic" is published in Atlantic Monthly.
    Feb. 10 - James Buchanan denies accusations that he overcharged the goverment $8,000 when furnishing the White House during his presidency.  
Mar. 9 - In a naval battle between two ironclad warships, the Confederate Virginia and the Union Monitor fight to a standoff at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Mar. 10 - The US issues its first paper currency, "greenbacks," in denominations from $5 to $1000.
    Mar. 29 - James Buchanan is sent a portrait of the Prince of Wales and a letter of thanks for hosting the Prince during his earlier visit to the White House.  
Apr. 16 - President Lincoln signs an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.
May 1 - Union forces commanded by Captain David Farragut capture New Orleans.
May 15 - The Department of Agriculture is created by act of Congress.
May 20 - President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act.
June 1 - Robert E. Lee is appointed commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
June 2 - Congress passes an act forbidding slavery in all Union territories.
July 1 - The public debt exceeds $500 million for the first time.
    July 2 - James Buchanan makes a donation of $100 to the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ Relief Association fund.  
    July - James Buchanan is accused by an abolitionist newspaper of attempting to persuade foreign governments to recognize the Confederacy.  
    July - James Buchanan completes the draft of his book, Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion.  
July 5 - Union General David Hunter organizes the First Carolina Regiment, the first African-American military unit in the US.
July 12 - Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor to be awarded for battlefield bravery.
July 17 - President Lincoln signs the Second Confiscation Act, providing for the freedom of all slaves coming into Union lines.
July 24 - Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the US, dies in Kinderhook, New York.
Aug. 18 - Chief Little Crow leads a Sioux uprising in Minnesota.
Aug. 30 - Union troops are routed at the Second Battle of Bull Run by Confederate forces.
Sep. 17 - Confederate and Union troops fight the Battle of Antietam.
Sep. 22 - President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
    Oct. - James Buchanan and General Winfield Scott begin a newspaper debate regarding events at the end of Buchanan’s administration.  
Oct. 11 - The Confederate Congress passes a law making anyone owning more than 20 slaves exempt from military service.
    Oct. 25 - James Buchanan learns that a “Buchanan Reading Club” has been established in Cincinnati, Ohio in his honor.  
    Oct. 28 - James Buchanan prints a letter in the National Intelligencer, refuting claims that he did not garrison southern forts in 1860 due to the influence of his secretary of war.  
Nov. 4 - Richard J. Gatling is awarded a patent for the Gatling Gun, a rapid fire weapon.
    Nov. 7 - James Buchanan writes to the National Intelligencer, stating that the southern states received less than their quota of arms in 1860.  
    Dec. 15 - James Buchanan is accused by Senator Garrett Davis of sympathizing with the secessionists.  
Dec. 26 - 38 Santee Sioux Indians are hanged after a six-week rampage in Minnesota that resulted in the deaths of 400 settlers.
       
1863   James Buchanan urges PA Democrats to support the Conscription Act.  
Jan. 1 - President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
Jan. 4 - General Grant’s controversial Order No. 11, expelling Jews from his department, is revoked by President Lincoln.
Jan. 13 - The US authorizes the raising of African-American troops for the South Carolina Volunteer Infantry.
Jan. 27 - A. D. Boileau, the owner of the Philadelphia Journal, is arrested by Federal authorities for printing anti-Northern articles.
Feb. 24 - Arizona, formerly part of the Territory of New Mexico, is organized as a separate territory.
Feb. 25 - Congress passes the National Banking Act, setting up a system of national banks.
Feb. 26 - In support of the Union, the Cherokee Indian National Council repeals its ordinance of secession.
Mar. 3 - Congress establishes the Idaho Territory.
Mar. 25 - The first Medal of Honor is awarded.
Apr. 1 - Conscription goes into effect in the US.
Apr. 14 - William Bullock of Pittsburgh is awarded a patent for his continuous roll printing press.
June 20 - West Virginia becomes the 35th state in the Union.
June 20 - The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, crosses the Potomac River to invade Pennsylvania .
    June 28 - James Buchanan remains at Wheatland during a skirmish between a Confederate advance guard and local militia at Wrightsville, PA, several miles west of his home.  
    July - James Buchanan learns that his franking privileges have been revoked by Congress.  
July 1 - The Battle of Gettysburg begins.
July 13 - Anti-draft riots break out in New York, finally quelled by Union troops after over 1000 civilian casualties.
    Sep. 5 - James Buchanan cautions Democrats against making the unconstitutionality of the Conscription Act a central part of their platform in New York.  
Nov. 19 - President Abraham Lincoln delivers a short speech at the close of ceremonies dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
    Dec. 5 - James Buchanan expresses concern about the effects that paper currency will have on the national economy.  
Dec. 8 - President Lincoln issues a proclamation of amnesty and reconstruction, offering to pardon anyone taking part in the rebellion who will take a loyalty oath.
    Dec. 31 - James Buchanan expresses concern that the US has created a large standing army.  
       
1864   James Buchanan urges Democrats not to run on a peace platform during the 1864 election campaign.  
Feb. 09 - President Lincoln sits for the photograph which will be used for his image on the five dollar bill.
Feb. 17 - The Confederate vessel Hunley makes the first successful submarine attack, sinking the Federal sloop Housatonic.
Apr. 8 - The Senate passes the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery in the US.
Apr. 17 - General Ulysses S. Grant discontinues the exchanging of prisoners of war.
Apr. 22 - The phrase “In God We Trust” begins to be incorporated on US currency.
May 13 - A Confederate prisoner of war becomes the first to be buried on the grounds of Arlington House, now Arlington National Cemetery.
June 7 - President Lincoln is nominated for a second term at the Republican National Convention in Baltimore.
June 14 - Union engineers construct the James River Bridge, the longest pontoon bridge to be used in warfare.
June 30 - Congress establishes Yosemite Valley Park as the first state park in the US.
    Aug. 25 - James Buchanan urges Democrats to adopt a platform supporting negotiations with the South in order to restore the Union; he does not believe in the recognition of the independence of the southern states.  
Aug. 29 - Former Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army, George B. McClellan, is nominated for President at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
    Oct. 5 - James Buchanan declares that he will support General George McClellan for president.  
Oct. 13 - Maryland adopts a new state constitution banning slavery.
Oct. 20 - President Lincoln issues a proclamation making the last Thursday in November a day of Thanksgiving.
Oct. 31 - Nevada becomes the 36th state in the Union.
  Nov. 16 - The Union Army, commanded by General William T. Sherman, begins a “march to the sea” from Atlanta in order to cut the Confederacy in two.
Nov. 25 - Confederate raiders attempt to burn New York, unsuccessfully.
Dec. 6 - Abraham Lincoln appoints Salmon P. Chase Chief Justice of the US.
       

1865

Jan. 4 - The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) opens its first permanent headquarters at 10-12 Broad, near Wall Street, in New York City.
Jan. 15 - The last Confederate fort is closed as Union forces take Fort Fisher, North Carolina.
Feb. 1 - Illinois becomes the first state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery in the US.
Feb. 3 - President Lincoln meets with Confederate peace commissioners aboard the River Queen, in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Feb. 6 - General Robert E. Lee becomes the commander of all Confederate armies.
Mar. 13 - Confederate President Jefferson Davis signs a bill making slaves subject to military service.
Apr. 9 - The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, surrenders to Union forces, commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War.
Apr. 14 - Shortly after 10 P.M. actor John Wilkes Booth enters the presidential box at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. and fatally shoots President Abraham Lincoln.
Apr. 15 - Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the US, dies of a gunshot wound inflicted by assassin John Wilkes Booth in Washington D.C.
Apr. 26 - John Wilkes Booth is shot to death by Union soldiers in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia.
    Apr. 27 - James Buchanan denies charges that he refused to offer J. W. Wall the mission to Rome because of doubts about Wall's loyalty to the Democratic party.  
    May 2 - James Buchanan declines a request to endow a professorship at Dickinson College.  
May 2 -The first professional fire department in the US is established in New York.
May 2 - President Johnson offers a $100,000 reward for the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
May 5 - First ever US train holdup near North Bend, Ohio.
May 10 - Union troops capture Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Irwinville, Georgia.
    May 11 - James Buchanan denies claims that he received the Democratic nomination in 1856 on the grounds that he would let the southern states secede if a Republican president succeeded him.  
July 5 - Revivalist preacher William Booth establishes the Christian Mission, later renamed the Salvation Army, in the East End of London.
July 7 - Four alleged conspirators in the assassination of President Lincoln are hanged at the Old Penitentiary in Washington, D.C.
    Sep. 23 - James Buchanan is admitted to communion in the Presbyterian Church.  
Oct. 9 - The first underground oil pipeline in the US is completed, between Oil Creek and Pithole, Pennsylvania.
    Nov. 4 - James Buchanan accepts an invitation to become an honorary member of the Manhattan Club.  
Nov. 10 - Henry Wirz, former commander of the infamous Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia, is hanged in Washington, D.C.
Nov. 11 - Mary E. Walker, the first woman surgeon in the US Army, becomes the first woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Nov. 24 - Mississippi establishes the Black Codes, a series of discriminatory measures against the newly freed African-Americans.
Dec. 4 - Congress establishes a Joint Committee on Reconstruction, with Senator Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania as chairman.
Dec. 5 - Sir Henry Bessemer is awarded a patent for a method of converting iron into steel.
Dec. 24 - The Ku Klux Klan is founded in Pulaski, Tennessee.
Dec. 25 - The Union Stockyards open in Chicago, making that city the center of transcontinental commerce.
Dec. 26 - James Mason of Franklin, Massachusetts, invents the first percolator for brewing coffee.
       
1866   Jan. - James Buchanan’s book, Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion, is printed by John Appleton.  
    Jan. 11 - Harriet Lane (niece of James Buchanan) marries Henry Johnston at Wheatland.  
Feb. 19 - Congress passes the New Freedmen’s Bureau bill, providing for military trials for people accused of depriving African-Americans of their civil rights.
Apr. 1 - Western Union becomes the first monopoly by absorbing U.S. Telegraph.
Apr. 2 - President Johnson declares the state of insurrection officially over in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Apr. 9 - Congress passes a Civil Rights Act over President Johnson’s veto, granting citizenship to all people born in the US, except Indians.
Apr. 10 - The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is founded.
May 16 - Congress authorizes the issuance of the nickel.
July 16 - Sioux Indians drive off horses belonging to Colonel Henry Carrington’s army regiment in Montana, beginning the First Sioux War.
July 24 - Tennessee is readmitted to the Union.
July 27 - The laying of an Atlantic cable between England and the US is completed.
    Aug. 10 - James Buchanan advises Democrats at the National Convention “to confine themselves pretty much to the question of reconstruction, and to the admission of Senators and Representatives from the Southern States.”  
    James Buchanan declines an offer to make a formal visit to Mercersburg, PA, where residents have purchased the log cabin in which he was born.  
Aug. 20 - The newly organized National Labor Union calls on Congress to mandate an eight-hour workday.
Sep. 12 - The Black Crook opens at Niblo’s Garden in New York, becoming the first long-running musical on Broadway.
Nov. 20 - Ten members of the First Congregational Society of Washington, D.C. gather in the home of Deacon Henry Brewster for a missionary meeting and resolve to establish a seminary for the training of African-American preachers.
       
1867   James Buchanan declines an invitation to an honorary dinner in Philadelphia; he sends a message advocating States’ rights, especially in regard to black suffrage.  
Jan. 8 - Congress passes a bill giving suffrage to African-Americans in Washington , D.C. , over President Johnson’s veto.
Mar. 1 - Nebraska becomes the 37 th state in the Union.
Mar. 2 - Congress passes the first Reconstruction Act over President Johnson’s veto, imposing martial law on the Southern States.
Mar. 23 - Congress passes the second Reconstruction Act over President Johnson’s veto, providing for registration of voters readmitted to the Union.
Mar. 30 - Secretary of State William H. Seward agrees to purchase Alaska for seven million dollars.
June 19 - Ruthless wins the first Belmont Stakes, in Jerome Park, New York.
June 25 - Lucien B. Smith of Kent, Ohio is awarded a patent for barbed wire.
July 18 - Congress passes the third Reconstruction Act over President Johnson’s veto, calling for the Southern States to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment before readmittance to the Union.
Aug. 28 - The Midway Islands in the Pacific Ocean are annexed by the US.
Oct. 21 - Leaders of the Southern Plains tribes sign a peace treaty with a Congressional Commission at Medicine Lodge Creek in southwestern Kansas, ending the First Sioux War.
Oct. 25 - Maimonides College in Philadelphia becomes the first rabbinical school in the US.
       
1868   May - James Buchanan becomes seriously ill with a cold and other complications of old age.  
Jan. 16 - William Davis of Detroit, Michigan is granted a patent for his refrigerator car.
Feb. 24 - The House of Representatives votes to impeach President Johnson.
Mar. 21 - Sorosis, in New York , becomes the first professional club in the US for women.
May 26 - The impeachment trial of President Johnson ends; the Senate fails to convict by only one vote.
May 30 - Decoration Day is celebrated for the first time in the US.
    June 1 - James Buchanan dies at half-past eight on Monday morning.  
June 1 - James Buchanan, 15th President of the US, dies in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
    June 2 - James Buchanan is honored by a public meeting held by the residents of Lancaster, PA.  
    June 4 - James Buchanan is buried in Lancaster, PA.  
June 22 - Arkansas is readmitted to the Union.
July 25 - Congress establishes the Wyoming Territory.
July 28 - The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified.
Sep. 9 - The first professional baseball team and first baseball uniforms appear−the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
Nov. 11 - The New York Athletic Club holds the first indoor track meet in the US, at the Empire Skating Rink in New York.
Nov. 27 - The Seventh Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, attacks a Cheyenne Indian village on the Upper Washita River, killing Chief Black Kettle.
Dec. 3 - The treason trial of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis begins in Richmond, Virginia.
Dec. 25 - President Johnson grants unqualified amnesty to all those who participated in the “rebellion.”