Only three days earlier, South Carolina had declared itself independent from the American Union. One could find federal property throughout and around the city (forts, treasuries, armories, etc.), and Doubleday wondered what the hapless Pennsylvania Democrat and dough face occupying the White House might do about it.
The declaration of independence and secession was clear enough.
AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled "The Constitution of the United States of America." We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the "United States of America," is hereby dissolved. Done at Charleston the twentieth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
Simple enough to state; extremely difficult to make real.
As Doubleday recorded in his memoirs, writing as a Unionist and self-proclaimed "Black Republican," in the heart of secession, “This dallying with treason in the Cabinet was one of the most discouraging signs of the times. . . . It was plain enough, from demonstrations already made, that . . . the rebels would seize the fort, and turn its powerful armament upon us. There was no one there to resist them.” [D-day, Reminiscences, 57]