The papers are full of the Mason and Slidell affair. England is rampant; threatens to fight, says Mason and Slidell must be returned. Many northern papers advocate fighting England sooner than surrender the traitors.
Sister Sarah, Marion Robertson and Miss Mary C. Nye came on the evening train to spend Christmas with us.
Mason and Slidell were Confederate envoys who had been captured aboard a British vessel. The British were threatening war unless they were released. Lincoln was endeavoring to find a solution to the problem which would not bring on war with Britain. For more about the so-called Trent Affair (Trent was the name of the ship), read a description here.
Sarah Cutler Dawes was Julia's sister, Marion Robertson and Mary Nye were friends.