Edentonian on Charleston: ‘Everybody is drunk or crazy’

“Forty-five days had passed since Charleston received the news of Lincoln’s election — forty-five days of a sustained, wild excitement….

“With secession accomplished, there could be no more anxiety that [South Carolina’s ] leaders would fail at this task. Whether other states would follow, and when, was a worry for another moment — and no matter if some thought, as a North Carolina planter wrote a friend in the city, that in Charleston, ‘everybody is drunk or crazy.’ ”

— From “Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War” by Paul Starobin (2017)

The blunt-spoken planter was James Cathcart Johnston of Edenton. Though Johnston owned 550 slaves, he was an unwavering Unionist and referred to secessionists as “wicked.”