Saturday, December 24, 2011

Prelude to Civil War

One hundred and eighty-five years ago today, sometime after 10 pm on the Christmas Eve 1826, a group of nine cadets began drinking whiskey-laced eggnog in room 28 of the West Point United States Military Academy’s North Barracks. Before long the party expanded to room 5, and the two gallons of whiskey smuggled into the Academy were gone. Some of the cadets immediately left to procure more whiskey; a trip which would prove successful.

Dozens of drunken cadets on a campus where possession of alcohol could lead to expulsion eventually drew attention; even on Christmas Eve. At around 3am Christmas morning the superintendent of the North Barracks interrupted at least eight cadets in room 5 loudly singing, and very drunk. One of them was named Jefferson Davis.

Attempts to silence the Christmas party eventually sparked a small riot, which was fueled by the timely arrival of the third gallon of whiskey. Twenty people would be court-marshaled, but Jefferson Davis was not amongst them.

Thirty four years and a few months after the eggnog riots Davis would come to the forefront of another uprising against the US. On February 1st 1861 Jefferson Davis would be named president of the then month-old Confederate States of America.

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