John P. Pleasants to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, February 18, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.
In mid-February 1861, the Baltimore mercantile house John P. Pleasants and Sons wrote to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, in Henry County. Apologizing for not promptly answering Gravely's most recent letter, Pleasants wrote, "We delayed replying to it with the hope of being able to say something encouraging to you as to the prospects of trade &c, but we cannot." Recent political events, including the refusal of President-elect Abraham Lincoln to disclose any details about the policies he would pursue after his inauguration of March 4, 1861, had made the firm fear for future business conditions.