The Comet Strikes – April 17, 1861 – The Conclusion by Jim Surkamp

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ACT IV – SCENE III – THE SECESSION CONVENTION GOES INTO THE FIRST DAY OF SWORN-SECRET SESSION, ALLOWING FIERCE AND GUT-WRENCHING DEBATE (CONTINUED)

Early, Cameron, Madison, Wilson, Jackson

April 16 – Tuesday, Richmond, VA: First Day of Secret Session
The Convention goes into secret session. The commissioners report on their conversation with President Lincoln: Mr. Randolph urges immediate defense measures, and secession, while Mr. Stuart advises against secession before Virginia has consulted the border states. The Governor communicates the call of the U. S. Secretary of War for Virginia militia. Mr. Preston submits an ordinance of secession. Mr. Scott speaks in favor of resistance, but proposes a referendum on secession. Members from western Virginia discuss the effect of secession on their section of the state. Other members continue the discussion of secession, with most of those speaking opposed to precipitate action.

{The PRESIDENT—
I beg leave to lay before the Convention the following communication from the Governor of the Commonwealth.

{EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
April 16th, 1861.
Gentlemen of the Convention: In response to your resolution, this day adopted, I communicate herewith a dispatch received last evening. This is the only information I have received on this subject. I expect to hear further by the mails of to-day.
Respectfully,
JOHN LETCHER

The following is the telegraphic dispatch referred to in the communication:

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington, April 15th, 1861.

Call made on you by to-night’s mail for three regiments of militia for immediate service.

Simon Cameron

SIMON CAMERON
Secretary of War

(Shortly thereafter, President Janney resumes the proceedings.)

The PRESIDENT—
I beg leave to submit a communication from the Governor of the Commonwealth for the consideration of the Convention.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, April 16, 1861. Gentlemen of the Convention:
I have received the telegraphic dispatch herewith transmitted, addressed to Mr. Charles Harris, and by him placed in my hands. I understand the person transmitting it is reliable. The delegates from that section, however, know Mr. Hathaway, and can furnish the body with information on this point.
Respectfully,
JOHN LETCHER

NORFOLK, April 16, 1861
To Charles Harris, at one of the Hotels:
Information has been received here that five hundred Federal troops will be here to-morrow morning to defend the Navy Yard. The Merrimac and Cumberland are taking on board everything they can. The Cumberland took all the money out of the Custom House to-day. See Governor Letcher and get him to send an order here by telegraph to obstruct the channel, and plant batteries on the Elizabeth river for our protection. Do it immediately or much will be lost. Wm. H. Parker is now on his way to Richmond to see Gov. Letcher on this subject. Arrangements are nearly all ready, and we only await the authority to act. In haste.
JOHN R. HATHAWAY}

(The Convention resumes.)

Mr. GEORGE BLOW, JR., of Norfolk City—
I will state, sir, for the information of the Convention, that the gentleman whose name is appended to that despatch, is one of the most respectable and respected citizens of Norfolk. (The communication and the accompanying despatch were laid upon the table.)

{THE ORDINANCE OF SECESSION

{Mr. WM. B. PRESTON, of Montgomery—
I arise, with feelings of the deepest pain, to, offer something to the House that is tangible, and to express my opinion in this exigency. I hold in my hand what I am compelled to offer and what, in a measure, circumstances have accidentally made me the origin of.

***It is an ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.

I offer it to the House, and I trust that God shall extend his mercy to me – on this occasion.*** He is my witness that I am devoting every service of my heart to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

That Ordinance has not been offered under the influence of circumstances or telegraphic information. It is offered on the basis of the report we brought here from Washington, and the proclamation of the President.

I cannot, I will not recede now from the grounds I have taken. I feel that I would be unworthy of the position I occupy here, were I to take one step backwards. Those who choose this lead may follow. Those who don’t choose have a right to take whatever course their judgments may dictate. I will not upbraid them if they choose to take a position different from that which I have marked out for myself. I shall go through all these struggles with a consciousness that I have done my duty to my country, and I believe I have done it to God, and I feel that in this contest God himself will be with us. I now submit the Ordinance:}

{AN ORDINANCE to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution. The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States,Now, therefore, we, the

people of Virginia, do declare and ordain, That the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, 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 all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is

hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty, which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. And they do further declare, That said Constitution of the United States of America, is no longer binding

on any of the citizens of this State. This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day, when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon, on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.

Done in Convention in the city of Richmond, on the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia.}

Mr. JOHN J. JACKSON, of Wood—
For more on John J. Jackson, Click Here

I did not suppose that it was the intention of the Convention to bring that matter before the body at this period. I had a desire to say something, and it is the last opportunity I expect to have ever to lift my voice in this or any other deliberative body. I expect, as an old man, to give utterance to the views I have upon this question, with perfect frankness and candor, and in order to give me a fair opportunity to do so, I hope it will be the pleasure of the Convention to adjourn till morning.

Mr. MONTAGUE—
I am very much exhausted, and I would move to adjourn until 4 o’clock, PM. The Convention re-assembled at 4 o’clock.

The PRESIDENT—
I beg leave to present a communication from the Governor of the Commonwealth.

{EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
April 16, 1861.

Gentlemen of the Convention:

By the mail of this evening, I received from Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, the communication and pamphlet herewith transmitted for your consideration.
I communicate also a dispatch from W. B. Cooke, of Norfolk city. To this dispatch I have replied, instructing the pilots not to take out of that port any war vessels.
Respectfully,
JOHN LETCHER}

The following is the communication received from Simon Cameron, referred to above:

{WAR DEPARTMENT,
WASHINGTON, April 15, 1861.

SIR: Under the act of Congress “for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, repel invasions,” etc., approved Feb. 28, 1795, I have the honor to request your Excellency to cause to be immediately detached from the militia of your State the quota designated in the table below, to serve as infantry or riflemen for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged.

Your Excellency will please communicate to me the time at or about which your quota will be expected at its rendezvous, as it will be met as soon as practicable by an officer or officers to muster it into the service and pay of the United States. At the same the oath of fidelity to the United States will be administered to every officer and man.

The mustering officer will be instructed to receive no man under the rank of commissioned officer who is in years apparently over forty-five, or under eighteen, or who is not in physical strength and vigor.

Quota from Virginia: 3 Regiments, to be composed of 3 Colonels, 3 Lieut. Colonels, 3 Majors, 3 Adjutants (Lieutenants), 3 Surgeons, 3 Surgeons’ Mates, 3 Sergeant Majors, 3 Drum Majors, 3 Fife Majors, 30 Captains, 30 Lieutenants, 30 Ensigns, 120 Sergeants, 120 Corporals, 30 Drummers, 30 Fifers, 1,920 privates. Total of officers, 111; do. of men, 2,229. Aggregate 2,340.

The rendezvous for your State will be at Staunton, Wheeling and Gordonsville.
I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, your ob’t serv’t,
SIMON CAMERON,
Secretary of War}

Mr. WISE—
I would call the attention of the Convention to the fact that the Governor does not inform us what his reply is to the requisition made upon him by the President for Virginia’s quota of troops. I think, sir, that before that requisition could be possibly executed, it becomes our duty to order him not to obey it. The matter requires immediate action . . .

Mr. STUART—
I would hope that the Convention would not lay aside the order of business. The course suggested would imply a distrust of the Governor in reference to the discharge of his duty. I think I can say, with confidence, that there is no danger of the Governor’s responding affirmatively to that communication. . .

Mr. WISE—
I do not mean to express any distrust or confidence; but I do mean to say, so far as I am concerned, that I mean to do my duty. We are here representing the sovereignty of the State, and we have a part to act, as well as the Governor.

I hope the Governor will refuse to obey this requisition. I find that he has sent us two communications informing us that the requisition has been made upon him, but has not intimated what his answer might be. . .

Mr. STUART—
Certainly, sir. . .

{Mr. JOHN J. JACKSON, of Wood—
It was not my purpose in rising before the recess to make any extended remarks, nor should I do so now but for some remarks which have fallen from gentlemen on the the other side.

No gentleman upon this floor appreciates this occasion with more solemn feelings than I do. Sir, I feel choaked – I scarcely have utterance to convey to you the estimate I form of the magnitude of the subject which we are now deliberating upon; and, sir, above all things, I am utterly incompetent to portray, even in the feeblest manner, the momentous consequences, which, in my humble judgment, hang upon the present movement. . .In times of revolution to be patriotic is to shout for war. In times of revolution to be a traitor is to counsel peace. I stand, I fear, in that relation upon the present occasion.

An old man, sir, “to the manor born,” never out of Virginia, except in the public service, educated in the Military Academy, I served five years in the public service, and after leaving that service, which I have to recollect with bitterness, because of its consequences to me, I was pursued with a degree of violent hostility by the abolitionists along the Ohio borders, which few men could have withstood. Sir, it was in that very service that I had caused the arrest of several individuals along the Ohio river, who were subsequently brought here and punished in your criminal courts. It was in consequence of that, sir, that I became the object of unceasing attacks through the whole extent of my abolition country. In consequence of my services to the Commonwealth on that occasion, my servants were taken from me. I suppose there is no gentleman within the sound of my voice that has suffered as much as I have in the cause of the Commonwealth. I lost from $15,000 to $20,000 worth of servants, and yet it seems that gentlemen would insinuate doubts as to my integrity on the question of the Commonwealth’s interests.

But I can bear this – I can bear anything when I believe it comports with my country’s good. . . . I have done, in short, all that lies in my power in order to effect reconciliation, and restore peace and unity. I have now been conducted by gentlemen upon this floor to the brink of a yawning gulf, and I feel to-day as if I was at a funeral – not the funeral of my friends or relatives, as I have often been-but the funeral of my country; aye, sir, a funeral which must be but the forerunner of many a disaster, and much suffering.

I have no heart; no, no, sir-none whatever. I stand here an old man; I have loved my country; I have served my country; I have served this Commonwealth long, faithfully, earnestly-doubtless, not so well as I might have done -not so well as many others, doubtless, have done; but I served her with my whole heart. I served her thirty-five years ago on this floor; and though not a very old man in the public service of the Commonwealth,***I stand here to-day having taken the oath to support the Constitution of the United States twenty-seven times. Was that an unmeaning ceremony? Was it of no consequence that I called the eternal God to witness that I would be true to the Constitution of Virginia as well as the Constitution of the United States? *** Is it there registered for nothing? (Pointing his finger towards Heaven.) In a few years more I expect to be confronted with Him. My time is nearly ended. I am in the “sear and yellow leaf,” and the question now propounded to me is-twenty times I have taken the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, . . . is it compatible with my obligations, not only to my country, but with my obligations of duty to God, that I shall obliterate this magnificent fabric of self-government, this Constitution of which we are so often reminded . . . I am called upon to obliterate that; to efface it from the memory of man. Will we not have to pause? Will not ordinary spirits fail as they enter upon the unholy task. The man who was cradled under the stars and stripes; who was nurtured and cherished under them; who grew to manhood under their benignity and protection, and who now stands in the enjoyment of every civil right which he needs – I say that a man so blessed should pause and reflect upon these benefits before taking this fatal step. It was a great work to create man, but it was a greater work to keep him from pursuing the path of ruin and degradation. It was in fact the work of a demon to drag him from his high eminence, and pervert him from his noble destiny. It was a great work to create this Government; but it is the work of a Lilliput alone to destroy it. Who is it that purposes to be the architect to reconstruct this Government? Who is it?

. . . simultaneously with the departure of the Commissioners, Fort Sumter was attacked, and the country being thus in a state of revolution, the presumption was that no favorable answer would be given by the President, even though he should otherwise be disposed to show a conciliatory spirit. Just as the Commissioners were appointed, Mr. Pryor started for South Carolina, and there informed the authorities of the appointment of this commission, and of the probability of their receiving a favorable reply unless some step was taken, such as the attack upon Fort Sumter, to convulse the country, and thus put a stop to negotiation. The attack upon the fort soon followed, and we have now the result, at least, so far as relates to the action which Virginia evidently contemplates taking.

. . . The gentleman from Richmond (Mr. RANDOLPH), astounded me beyond measure this morning, when he intimated that it is war to garrison the whole State, but not war to seize upon the public property within the limits of Virginia; and if that be the case,* is it in the power of this Convention to make an act of war which will change the relations of the people of this Commonwealth to the government of the United States? Have they not declared that you can do no act changing the relations of the people of Virginia to the General Government, without submitting it to them? If you seize upon ships-if you seize upon the Armory at Harper’s Ferry-is not that an act of war, changing the relations of the people of Virginia to the General Government? . . . The people of Virginia, if they had been permitted to have done so, would have voted down the Convention altogether. They never dreamed that they were clothing you with the power of war,* and yet the very ordinance which the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON), has proposed, involves an act of war. True, the ordinance will have to be submitted to the people; but a determination will already have been formed by this act of war, to go out. If the people vote down this ordinance, what then? . . .

I do not want to trifle with the people. I do not want to do that which will stultify myself before them. If you mean war, say so truly; throw your scabbard away, and tell the people that you mean to do just what you do.

. . . ***Why, sir, the gentleman from Pittsylvania (Mr. SUTHERLIN), spoke to-day with patriotic warmth. If he was as old as I am, he would not be as warm. There are two sides to this question; and it is the duty of an old man to counsel circumspection, for he brought us to the verge of an opening chasm which I did dread to tumble into.

. . . That God may grant you sufficient light and wisdom to do what is best, is my earnest prayer.***}

{Mr. SCOTT, of Fauquier—
Mr. President: We have met in secret session for the purpose of a free and full comparison of opinions, and I trust the comparison will be made deliberately and calmly.

I propose to avail myself of the occasion to explain some of the views which present themselves to my mind as worthy to be considered by this body.

Mr. President: From my earliest manhood I have cherished strong feelings of nationality, and have habituated myself to regard our Federal Union as a national necessity-a necessity arising from both social and geographical causes, affecting, in equal degree, all parts of the country-and, until a recent time, I have never entertained a doubt of its continuance. But when the people of the country separated into sectional parties, and upon purely sectional issues waged party conflicts for the possession of political power, my confidence in the strength of the Union abated, and my feelings of attachment to it diminished. Nevertheless, for a time I clung to these feelings, and still cherished the hope that our nationality would survive these conflicts, and our Union and Constitution endure.

But, Mr. President, these feelings have gone – this hope has fled.* I no longer believe that the Union of our fathers and the Government founded upon it can be preserved.* I have brought myself to look upon a dissolution as inevitable; nay, more, in the presence of the events that surround us, and spread their baneful influences over the land, I look upon it as a necessity, and as desirable. I can never bring myself to consent that the slaveholding States shall become the subject provinces of the non-slaveholding States, to which condition their continuance in this Union, in my judgment, will reduce them.

I am, therefore, in favor of a dissolution, and make here this deliberate declaration of that opinion. The resolutions adopted by this body in open session commit us all to the same, unless this Republican invasion can be driven back upon its authors.

For one, I shall stand by the resolutions, and will tread no step backwards. In disregard of our formal resolutions, in the face of our solemn, deliberate and recorded opinions, at a time when we were struggling to keep the peace unbroken and save the Union, the party in power has proclaimed a war, and entered upon measures of coercion.

. . . and when I see the people of the non-slaveholding States, of all classes and conditions, of all professions and pursuits, of all political parties, unite in support of them, and, making themselves parties to the war, proclaim that the price of our safety is submission to their rule, I am ready to say that we will not pay the price; and I am, therefore, ready to cut loose from them, and dissolve altogether the connection which subsists between us.

Mr. President, . . . whatever conclusion we come to, must remain unexecuted until it receives the approbation of the people. Our power extends no farther than to recommend what in our judgment the people ought to do; we cannot command, we cannot bind them.

. . . I am for resisting this aggression, and will vote to advise resistance by all. But in what form shall resistance be made and when shall it begin? A proposition is made that we shall recommend to the people the adoption of an ordinance by which, immediately, this State is to be separated from all political connection with the Federal Government, and made to resume the powers of an independent sovereignty.

. . . The diversity in this body, to a great extent, is sectional, and the same will be found to be true outside of it. The State comprises a large area, and, both socially and geographically, is divided into sections, and this fact presents a consideration that ought not to be overlooked in the determination of this question. It would be deplorable indeed if the sectional controversy which is sundering the bonds that have connected the South with the North, should infuse its venom into the domestic relations of our own State, and poison the peace of our own firesides.

. . . When we return to our constituents and tell them that we have adopted an ordinance of secession, they will naturally desire to know what will be the consequences of its ratification. We can tell them it will sever their connection with the Federal Government; but they will need no information on that point. No one will be so ignorant as not to know that such will be its first consequence. They will ask what will be its next. While it changes their political relations with the people of the other States, will it also change their peaceful relations? Will it bring on war? How are we to answer these questions? I appeal to my friend from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON), to my friend from Richmond city (Mr. RANDOLPH), to tell me what answers are to be given.

Mr. RANDOLPH—
I would say to them, no; the war is already brought on, and it is necessary for you to defend yourselves against that war.

Mr. SCOTT-
* It will not do for the gentleman from Richmond city to tell me that war already exists. Whatever of war there is consists merely of hostility about some of the Southern ports, to which, under present circumstances, it must necessarily be confined. Against this war the Southern States are in a condition to make defence; the border States shield them against internal assault. For the present, it seems to me, that this is the best attitude for all parties. The Southern States have preparation to make, and they will thus be best enabled to make it.. . . But when we secede what will be our condition? The enemy will be in possession of Harper’s Ferry, of Fortress Monroe, of Fort Calhoun and of the Gosport Navy Yard; and our harbors will be blockaded. In what manner will we obtain supplies? How will it be with the other border States?. . .Our men are brave and hardy; but neither bravery nor hardihood will suffice to meet the shock of war without arms and equipments.* These have to be obtained. If we secede now they must be obtained after secession, and what I desire to ask is whether it will not be better to make the purchases in advance? Whether preparation for the war had not better precede than follow its declaration? Whether we may not more easily purchase what we want and supply our necessities whilst our commerce is free than after our ports are closed?

My position on the border, possibly, makes me more sensitive on this subject than those whose interior position renders them safe from hostile incursions. . . . If we begin the war before we are prepared for operation, the enemy will be the assailants, and we will feel at our door-sills the shock of battle and the ruin of war; but if we prepare beforehand, this shock and ruin may be driven to the homes of those who provoke them.

Mr. President, it is manifest that this body is greatly divided in opinion on this question, insomuch that at the present moment it is uncertain on which side the majority will be found. . . . If the views of some of our friends on the other side had obtained, and this Convention had, at an earlier day, before the President’s proclamation, adopted an ordinance of secession, in my judgment it would have led to a division of the State, whereby the Blue Ridge of mountains might have become the line of division; and, when this ordinance is adopted, in the present condition of our affairs, the danger of discord is most imminent. For myself, I would avoid discord.

. . . Between the two policies, this Convention is divided-some are for instant secession and the adoption of an ordinance, others are opposed to secession, but will acquiesce in the determination of a border State Conference. Now our action in the premises is not to be final. If the ordinance of secession be adopted it must be submitted to the ratification of the popular vote, and then this body must reassemble to carry the mandate of the people into effect.

. . .let us agree to submit both policies to the people in a way that they may select without embarrassment between them. Those who prefer the policy of immediate secession can vote their instruction to the Convention, while those who prefer the policy of consultation and concert of action with the other border States can vote their instruction in like manner. I can see no just objection to this plan; it deals fairly by the people, and presents the question for determination in a manner to be understood by all. If a majority vote for the ordinance of secession, the Convention will reassemble immediately and carry it into effect – or if the majority be for consultation the steps necessary to attain that end can be taken. In no way can anything be lost by it to the cause of secession.

I have prepared a paper containing the scheme to which I have adverted, and propose it as a substitute for the proposition of the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON).

Regretting that I have consumed so much of the time of the Convention, I submit the substitute, and ask that it be read by the Clerk. The Clerk read the substitute as follows:

Whereas, at the election held Pursuant to the act passed the 14th January, 1861, providing for the choice of members of this Convention, it was determined by the people of this Commonwealth that any action of this Convention dissolving the connection of this State with the Federal Union should be submitted to them for ratification or rejection; and, whereas, differences exist as to the action proper to be recommended for the adoption of the people of this State in the present posture of our Federal relations-it being the opinion of some that this State ought, at once, by separate and immediate secession, to revoke the powers granted by her to the Federal Government, and the opinion of others that before any final measure shall be taken in the premises, a consultation for the purpose of concerted action should be had among the eight slaveholding States yet remaining in the Union : and, whereas, certain resolutions adopted by this Convention, among other things, recommend a consultation for that purpose, to be held at Frankfort, in the State of Kentucky, on the last Monday in May next, to which the said State of Kentucky and the said States of Arkansas and Missouri have signified their intention to send delegates: and whereas, it is desirable to ascertain the preferences of the people of this State between the two modes of proceeding: It is, therefore, ordered by this Convention, that at the general election to be held for this Commonwealth, on the 4th Thursday in May next, the commissioners of election, at the several places of voting in their several counties and cities, shall open a separate poll to take the sense of the qualified voters on the question aforesaid.

  1. The poll book shall be headed, “Upon the question of co-operation or separate secession,” and shall contain two columns, one headed “For co-operation among the slaveholding States yet remaining in the Union,” and the other “For separate and immediate secession,” and the names of those who vote for co-operation shall be written under the former heading, and the names of those who vote for separate and immediate secession shall be written under the latter heading.
  2. The said commissioners shall make return of the number of persons voting for each proposition at the time and in the manner provided by law in the case of other elections, and shall forthwith deliver the returns to the clerks of their respective counties and corporations, and it shall be the duty of such clerks respectively to transmit immediately to the Governor of the Commonwealth copies of the said returns so delivered to them respectively.
  3. The Governor shall make proclamation of the result, and if it appear that a majority of all the legal votes cast upon the said question be in favor of separate and immediate secession, it shall be his duty to notify the members of this Convention, within thirty days thereafter, to re-assemble at the Capitol, in the city of Richmond, on a day specified, and such vote shall be taken to be instructions to this Convention to pass an ordinance of immediate secession dissolving the connection existing between the State of Virginia and the Federal Union, known as “the United States of America.”
  4. The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall cause to be sent to the clerks of each county and corporation as many copies of this order as there are precincts therein, using special messengers for that purpose, when necessary; and it shall be the duty of the said clerks to deliver the same to the sheriffs for distribution, whose duty it shall be forthwith to post the said copies at some public places in each election district.
  5. The expenses incurred in providing poll books and in procuring writers to enter the names of the voters therein, shall be defrayed as in the case of election of members of the General Assembly.}

{Mr. GEO. W. RANDOLPH—
I desire to say a few words in regard to the military preparations of the State. I feel it a duty to say something on this subject, inasmuch as I was a member of the commission appointed by the State to purchase arms for her defence.

I am much surprised to hear the gentleman from Fauquier (Mr. SCOTT) say that this State had made no preparations for war and was in no condition to enter upon a campaign.

My own belief is that this State is far better prepared than any Northern State in the Union. She can arm, at least, 25,000 men with arms now in her arsenals and in the hands of her troops, and she has sufficient arms-the worst of them equal to the arms used by the United States army in Mexico-for upwards of 2,000 infantry and not less than 3,000 cavalry. She has powder for at least two campaigns for a train of artillery. Her supply of musket powder is by no means sufficient; but there will be a magazine in this city conducted on private account, which will manufacture a large supply of this kind of powder, and the State can have what she wants. I have been informed by the agent for the Dupont Mills, that at any time powder is needed, they can supply us to an unlimited extent. We would have had a much larger supply on hand were it not for a failure of the appropriation necessary for that and kindred purposes. The arms that our troops have, are precisely the arms that will be brought against us. They were purchased out of the United States Armory, and are not at all inferior to those which the 75,000 men called for by the President will have, if they come here; and, so far as drill is concerned, the State has several thousand men in drill since the Harper’s Ferry affair, who can challenge comparison with any similar number, North or South. I believe there is no State in the country that can bring such an efficiently drilled force in the field to-day as Virginia can.

. . . The gentleman (SCOTT) declares that he is in favor of secession; and how does he propose to get out? By seceding? No; but by getting the States, that everybody knows will not secede, to join with Virginia in a consultation which is destined to end in nothing but mischief, by delaying action and allowing the enemy an opportunity of fastening his fangs tighter upon us . . . . If I stand alone, I mean to record my vote this night, I hope, for immediate secession; and I mean to follow it up with a resolution, calling upon the Governor of this Commonwealth to organize the whole military force of the State, in order to repel invasion, defend our soil, and maintain our honor, until assistance can come from some other quarter.}

Mr. JOHN GOODE, JR., of Bedford—
I do not rise to make a speech. I rise to do what I have never done in a deliberative body before. It seems to me that whatever action is to be taken by this body, ought to be taken now. Argument has been exhausted, and the time has come for action, if action is to be had. I now move the previous question, from a high solemn sense of duty.

The call was sustained.Ten minutes being allowed each speaker under the rule, to show cause why the main question should not be put-

{Mr. WAITMAN T. WILLEY, of Monongalia, said—
Mr. President: I had no expectation, and of course have no right, now to enter upon the discussion of the subject; but I wish to record my protest against the application of this rule at this time. I have seen intimations that were not to be mistaken, as to what was to be the result of our deliberations to-day. I have contemplated, with a melancholy and with a regret, which never pressed my heart before, the attitude in which the proud old Commonwealth of Virginia now stands; and, though these feelings have recurred frequently during the deliberations of this Convention to my mind, they come up with peculiar force this day.

I had, sometimes, in the indulgence of a patriotic hope, wished that I could have lived a century hence, to see the advancement of our civilization, the power and greatness of our country, and the value of a great name. Instead of that, I live to see the hour of the commencement of our disintegration and down fall. I have lived to see the hour when the proud flag, under which we have lived in safety and honor for nearly a century, and which waved victoriously over many a battle field, is to be trailed in the dust, and I have lived to see the hour when Virginia, who gave the first impulse to the ball of the revolution, is about to put her foot on that flag, on the very soil that gave it glorious birth. Sir, I will not be led away by my feelings. I rose, as I have mentioned just now, to protest against this measure, in the name of my constituents; in the name of the people of Virginia; in the name of liberty, and in the name of God. If you were to ordain this day that my constituents and the people of North-western Virginia should be delivered over to death and destruction, in so many words, you could not express the meaning of what will result from this Ordinance of Secession, if it passes.

Sir, I could give what I have – I would willingly give all my little estate-as God is my judge, standing in the capitol of Virginia, I would leave my farm, as a small sacrifice, to save my country, if it was acceptable. But I have a wife and children; I represent a constituency that have wives and children; I represent an old, patriotic father, born amid the thunders of the Revolution, whom I went out of my way to see as I came down here, with the frosts of ninety-five winters gathered upon his revered head; and the last words he told me when he gave me his blessings were: “My son, save this Union, or never let my eyes rest upon you again.”

You cannot make any line through any of your counties throughout Western Virginia, that will more effectually dissever the people of Virginia lying along our North western border from those on the other side of the line, than will this ordinance of secession. These 450 miles of border State line will interpose a barrier between fathers and sons, fathers-in-law and sons-in-law, that no effort of ours can overcome.}

Mr. WISE—
You will all associate as before; there will be nothing to prevent it.

Mr. WILLEY—
No, sir. Secession is war, and the man on this side of the line that does not rally to the call of his State, is a traitor; and if I meet a man from the other side of the line with weapon in hand, and fail to shoot him, in disregard of the order of a superior officer, I will be hung as a traitor. So help me God, I will be hung as a traitor, if this omission will involve such a penalty. I protest against this measure. I do it in the name and for the lives and property of North-western Virginia.

Mr. HALL—
Except Wetzel.

Mr. WILLEY—
Oh, except Wetzel! I don’t mean to doubt the courage of Wetzel.

{Mr. GEORGE W. BERLIN, of Upshur—
Mr. President, I would be remiss to my duty if I were to remain silent at this time. I am very reluctant, nevertheless, to waste the time of this Convention with any remarks on this subject, although I deem it necessary to discuss it very briefly. I cannot submit, in view of the ruin that is to be drawn down upon us, and the policy that is to be inaugurated, to be forced into silence.

What is our situation? We are situated beyond the mountains, isolated from the rest of the State by these almost impassable mountain barriers-cut off from all connection with our Eastern brethren or the South. The policy of this State always has been to withhold from us all railroad facilities with the Eastern portion of the State, and we are now left with out the means of transporting troops or munitions of war to aid us in the coming struggle. While thus isolated from the rest of the State, we have an exposed border of 450 miles, stretching along the lines of two of the most powerful free States in the Union. In addition to this disadvantage, we are left without the means of defence. We are destitute of arms and munitions of war of every description. There are scarcely half a dozen guns west of the Alleghanies, while we are equally destitute of magazines. We are as perfectly in the power of our enemies, in the event of war, as any people under God’s Heaven ever were; and, in view of this condition, you seem determined to precipitate us into war, which must inevitably result in our ruin, if some timely aid, not now visible, is not afforded us. . . . As it was remarked, the people of Western Virginia are the descendants of those who fought with your ancestors in times past. They are to-day a warlike people, and it is only necessary to say that they are mountaineers, to establish that fact, because no race of mountaineers have ever been conquered or enslaved when they have resisted.

. . . But I cannot discuss this question in the brief space of ten minutes. I can only say, in addition to what I have already stated, that I must, in behalf of my constituents, protest against this ordinance of secession.}

{Mr. FRANKLIN P. TURNER, of Jackson and Roane—
I merely rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of saying that there is at least one portion of North-Western Virginia which do not desire that the protest of the gentleman from Monongalia (Mr. WILLEY) shall apply to. . . . I desire to say that if I had the opportunity, I would find a substitute and record my vote for the proposition of the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON). I desire to make this statement now . . . I repeat again, that the protest of the gentleman from Monongalia (Mr. WILLEY), does not apply to the whole population of the North-West; and that among my constituency there are to be found as true and loyal heroes as any upon the soil of Virginia.}

(NOTE: Here Delegate Baldwin does what President Lincoln suggested: move for an adjournment albeit not sine die, and this motion was very timely in that opposition to the Secession Ordinance was given. But whether the motion to adjourn was an intentional plan by Baldwin to buy time to canvass the western delegates overnight and then adjourn sine die the following day will never be known, because others did not rally behind his motion here to adjourn.-ED)

{Mr. BALDWIN, of Augusta—
I move that this House do adjourn, and upon that I call the yeas and nays.

The motion was subsequently withdrawn.

{Mr. ALGERNON S. GRAY, of Rockingham—
In common with my colleagues from Rockingham (Messrs. COFFMAN and LEWIS), I have cast a silent vote on all occasions, since we came to this Convention. I prefer now to speak in this solemn hour, before this Convention, of my people. On the 25th day of January (June-ED), 1788, our ancestors met here and ratified the Constitution of the United States; and for three-quarters of a century a history has been written of prosperity and glory unparalleled, in grandeur and magnificence, in human history.

This 16th day of April, we, the representatives of the people, meet here again. What shall be the record of this hour, which we shall present to those who are to come after us? It is well for gentlemen all around me that, in their conscience, they can feel that they come to the work of this solemn hour with the same love of country, and the same love of liberty as our fathers. Woe to the man who does not feel it.

Sir, I had desired not to speak now of the subject before us; but of my people and my own duty. Oh! with what earnestness I have wished this day that I was with them face to face, to hear from their own voices what they would have me do in this hour of peril and destiny. I would to God I could draw around me here, in your presence, that loyal, patriotic, just and upright people who sent me here with my colleagues, upon the swelling waves of Union feeling. But the times have changed. We came here under circumstances of excitement; but we have added to it here now, that which convulses our hearts. I am free to confess that my own Virginia heart rises to repel- the invasion that is spoken of in the distance.

Sir, in this hour I think not of my own personal feelings, but look with an earnestness that I never before felt towards the people among whom I was born and where I dwell. I have, in the isolation of my chamber, in the dread hours of the long night, ardently yearned to know what they would have me to do. I have in this isolation reviewed silently their past lives, my conversations with them, their meetings with me at the cross-roads, in the school and on the hustings, and now I feel that their voices come over the mountains to me to-night, to direct, encourage and animate me; as did the voices of their fathers direct Washington at Yorktown.

. . . I believe that a day will yet come when Virginia shall hear the voice of her people deciding what her destiny shall be. There will be no division after that decision shall be made; but, until then, I am slow to believe that anything like unanimity will prevail.

Under all these circumstances I believe that this night, approaching the dreadful hour, it is my duty to cast the vote of my people for the plan by which the greatest hope is left of re-building the Republic that they have loved so well.It may be that it is gone forever. It may be that a new season and a new creation may be opened to them. . . . What then must I do? I believe in my heart, that, standing here to-night and knowing the will of my people, which I trust I do, and feeling all the responsibilities of a representative heavily bearing on my heart, I believe I would not betray them, if I knew their will, to save my life. It is therefore in that spirit and under these circumstances, and looking hopefully to the future, fearing only my God, and deeply sympathizing with the proud and loyal people who I represent, that I shall cast my vote here to-night for the proposition of the gentleman from Fauquier (Mr. SCOTT).

I thank you for the kindness with which I have been listened to in an hour that my heart has been oppressed with sadness.}

{Mr. SAMUEL A. COFFMAN, of Rockingham—
Mr. President, I had supposed that I could have said nothing on this subject. I had trusted that I might remain a mute spectator of the acts that transpired around us; but, sir, circumstances that point directly to myself; the position that my colleague has just taken with regard to the vote that he shall cast for the substitute of the gentleman from Fauquier (Mr. SCOTT), is one that I feel impelled now openly and avowedly, to cast my vote against.

. . . Mr. President, I am not in the habit of addressing public assemblies. I am a plain man; but I think that when a plain proposition is presented to me, I can see it in its proper bearing, and comprehend the nature and character of acts whose responsibility is forced upon us.

I have made up my mind, days ago, that the only salvation for Virginia was secession. I believe, sir, that she can no longer remain in this Union with honor to herself, and I will therefore cast my vote for an ordinance of secession. I have the gratifying intelligence this evening from my own county that a meeting was held in the town of Harrisonburg last Monday at which the expression of the people of the county was overwhelming in favor of immediate secession.}

{Mr. JUBAL A. EARLY, of Franklin—
I hope I may be permitted to say a few words. I have sat in my seat all day, and imagined that I could see a ball of flame hanging over this body. Without meaning to reflect upon the motives and the conduct of gentlemen, I have felt as if a great crime was about being perpetrated against the cause of liberty and civilization.

During the progress of this Convention, we have frequently referred to the example of our fathers in the Revolution. They took no precipitate course of action. They protested and remonstrated for years. They had their armies in the field twelve months before they decided upon the final act of separation from the British Government. ***The State of Virginia herself never adopted the Declaration of Independence until after our armies had been in the field for twelve months. She instructed her representatives to propose in the Congress of the United States a Declaration of Independence. Sir, I see no reason why we should act more precipitately than those men whose true devotion to country, and whose patriotism is a common theme among all of us.

I cannot permit the occasion to pass, when an ordinance of secession has passed this body, without expressing my feelings upon it in addition to casting my vote against it.*** It may be that such a vote, which I feel bound to give, shall draw upon me some censure. I trust I shall have manhood and firmness enough to endure, because the course I propose to pursue I feel to be in the interest of my country, in the interest of my State, and in the interest of the cause of liberty itself. What must be the result, the inevitable result of this proceeding? War, sir-such a war as this country has never seen, or, until recently, has never dreamed of. I should like to know, if we are engaged in war, what are the means of transportation of arms from this portion of the State to North-western Virginia? How will men and arms come from North-Western Virginia to this portion of the Commonwealth? As I understand, there are but two ways of transportation from Eastern to North-western Virginia. One way is through the Federal Capital, and thence by way of the Relay House near Baltimore, over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
. . . I don’t come here to look merely to my own section. There is not a portion of the State, from the Eastern Shore to the Pan Handle, that is not dear to me. I cannot, by my vote, adopt a course of action which will bring upon a part of the State the evils which I believe secession and war in its footsteps will bring upon the Western and North-Western parts of this State.

I trust, therefore, it may not be the decision of this Convention to hurry us into a vote upon this question this evening.}

{Mr. SAMUEL G. STAPLES, of Patrick—
Mr. President, I claim the indulgence of the Convention while I submit a few remarks to its consideration upon the propositions now pending before it.

The gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON) has proposed that a simple ordinance of secession be adopted by the Convention and submitted to the people for ratification or rejection. To this proposition the gentleman from Fauquier (Mr. SCOTT) offers an amendment, by which it is proposed to submit to the decision of the people the question of secession or a conference of the border slave States. I shall vote against the proposition of the gentleman from Fauquier, because I can see no good result to be obtained by a border slave State conference. I am unwilling to submit the destiny of Virginia, in this great contest, to the hands of any body of men but those selected by her to represent her sovereignty in Convention. She alone must be the arbiter of her own destiny. Besides, Mr. President, the rapidly shifting scenes of the day admonish us of the imperious necessity for instant action; and, in my judgment, the time has now arrived when Virginia should resume the sovereign powers she conferred upon the General Government and form such alliances, offensive and defensive, as her honor and her interest may demand. I shall, therefore, vote for the ordinance of secession submitted by the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON).

It is quite obvious to all of us that the necessity for debate has passed, and that the time for action has arrived. We are now in the midst of revolution, and the appalling circumstances under which we are surrounded admonish us of the necessity of firmness, promptness and decision. Ten days ago, I was known as a Union man-attached to the Union of these States by the hallowed memories of the past, and by the glorious hopes of a brilliant future, in which its unexampled career warranted us in indulging. I was elected under a pledge to resort to all honorable, constitutional means to preserve it in its integrity and purity just as our fathers formed it. . . . All we asked of the Federal authorities at Washington was, a pacific, a conciliatory policy . . . but we simply declared that we could not consent that the Federal power, which was in part our power, should be exerted for the purpose of subjugating the people of any of the States to the Federal authority.. . . They declared in the Declaration of Independence that, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security.”

The Parliament of Great Britain asserted the right to tax the Colonies in all cases whatsoever, and it was precisely on this question they made the revolution turn. The amount of taxation was trifling, but the claim itself was inconsistent with liberty, and that was in their eyes enough. . . .
It is, Mr. President, this principle, held sacred in the bosoms of all true Virginians, that has aroused the people of Virginia to arms, to resist the usurpation of Abraham Lincoln, and the dangerous doctrines contained in his proclamation of war against the seceded States. They see in it “a seminal principle of mischief-the germ of unjust power” which, if assented to by them, will result in the overthrow of the Constitution, the destruction of the liberties they now enjoy, and will bind them hand and foot to the car of Federal power, and they are rising in their majesty and strength to vindicate, by an appeal to arms, their rights and their honor. . . . The framers of the Federal Constitution never dreamed of incorporating into that instrument a provision authorizing the Federal Government to exert force against a seceded State; for in a discussion of a resolution offered by Mr. Randolph in the Convention of 1787, “authorizing an exertion of the force of

the whole against a delinquent State,” Mr. Madison observed “that the more he reflected on the use of force, the more he doubted the practicability, the justice and the efficacy of it, when applied to a people collectively, and not individually. . . . In the 43d number of “The Federalist,” Mr. Madison, in discussing “what relation is to subsist between the nine or more States ratifying the Constitution, and the remaining four who do not become parties to it,” observed: “It is one of those cases that must be left to provide for itself. In general, although no political relation can subsist between the assenting and dissenting States, yet the moral relations will remain uncancelled. The claims of justice, both on one side and on the other, will be in force and must be fulfilled; the rights of humanity must in all cases be duly and mutually respected; whilst considerations of a common interest, and, above all, the remembrance of endearing scenes which are past, and the anticipations of a speedy triumph over the obstacles to remain, will, it is hoped, not urge in vain moderation on one side and prudence on the other.”

The Convention, under this resolution, elected Messrs. Preston, Randolph and Stuart, who immediately proceeded to Washington on their mission of peace. Before they reached that city, the country was startled by the intelligence that Mr. Lincoln had, in violation of his well understood pledge, sent a messenger to the city of Charleston and informed Governor Pickens that he intended to reinforce Fort Sumter, peaceably, if he could, forcibly, if he must. No one could for a moment suppose that the Confederate States would passively permit troops and provisions to be thrown in Fort Sumter, to overawe and control the people of the South; and such an act being regarded by them as a virtual declaration of war, an attack on the Fort was immediately commenced, but not, however, until an effort had been made by the authorities of the Confederate States to prevent a hostile collision.

. . . Before the bombardment of the Fort commenced, and after a demand for its surrender had been made, the Secretary of War informed General Beauregard that they did not desire to bombard Fort Sumter if Major Anderson would state the time at which, as intimated by him, he would evacuate. This Major Anderson declined doing, and, as I have remarked, the bombardment began. This was followed by a proclamation of war by the President of the United States, and a requisition upon Virginia for 3,500 troops to aid in the subjugation of her sister Southern States. Now let it be borne in mind that this Convention had, by a very large majority resolved that they never would consent that the Federal power, which is in part their power, should be exerted for the purpose of subjugating the people of such States (the Confederate States), to the Federal authority; and this resolution was advocated and adopted upon the ground that inasmuch as our institutions were based upon the principle that government was founded upon the consent of the governed, and that all power vests in and emanates from the people, the people of Virginia could never consent to take part in a contest against their Southern brethren, who had done nothing more than change their form of government to suit themselves. The question is now narrowed down to this : Shall Virginia unite her fortunes with the Northern people, and take part in this war of subjugation and conquest, or shall she resume the powers she conferred upon the Federal Government, and form such alliances with the Confederate States as her honor and interest demand? . . . Mr. President, this Union, as our fathers formed it, has been dissolved; the fairest political fabric the world ever saw has been undermined by corruption, and has toppled to its foundation. It is now a question of the restoration of the Union. It cannot be done. That has passed away. The bloody proclamation of the petty tyrant who now disgraces the chair which Washington once filled, has dissipated the last ray of hope that lingered in the bosom of the most hopeful. If there were Union men in Virginia once, there are no Union men here now. We are for resistance to the death. . . . Our whole civilization is at stake, and the liberty or bondage of millions yet unborn depend upon the result of this contest. In the folly and madness that rules the hour, an attempt has been made to coerce the Southern States; but it will not succeed. I shall cheerfully vote for and subscribe my name to this ordinance of secession, regarding it as the proudest act of my life; one from which this proud Commonwealth will receive no detriment; by which the liberties under which we were born will be kept entire, and transmitted unimpaired to our posterity; and the heritage of our children will be one of honor, and not of shame-of freedom, and not of slavery.}

{Mr. JOHN B. BALDWIN, of Augusta—
I desire to say a few words. I must acknowledge that I am surprised and disturbed to see the course pursued here upon this floor by men who, like myself, were elected as Union men, representing Union constituencies, and men who have, from the commencement of the session of this body, concurred with me in opinion and co-operated with me in action in shaping the policy that was to be pursued by this Convention. They have seen occasion to change their views in regard to a matter of policy. . . . What I do complain of is this, that these gentlemen, who have thus changed their views and policy, without conference at all with those who have concurred with them during the session; without opportunities of exchanging views, come here into this body, and, uniting with those whom we have been opposed to during the entire session, determine to prevent me and all the rest of their associates in opinion and action from having any opportunity whatever to debate this now most important feature of the business of this body.

. . . When I ask them to submit to us one of the alternatives proposed to the people of Virginia, and leave the people to decide which is right, they refuse even to allow their constituents, who have directed them in their course of co-operation, up to within two or three days past – their associates upon this floor who have laboriously united with them in seeking to carry out this policy – they utterly refuse us any part in submitting this policy for the approval of the people, and refuse to let the people themselves have an opportunity of determining their policy. . . . I regard this as an exceedingly dark hour in the history of this State; and one of the worst symptoms I see in regard to it is, that so soon as gentlemen who have been cautious, deliberate, prudent in counsel and action, consent to go for secession, they seem to change the whole character of their motives and disposition; and from having before insisted constantly upon deliberation and investigation at every point, they stand firm around their guns with the most rabid of all the precipitators. These gentlemen have suddenly become the most rabid of all, sir. There seems to be something in the hour; there seems to be something in the fever with which our people have been seized; there seems to be something in the excitement which pervades the community, which renders me hopeless of being able to see anything that can put a stop or check to the war, which I think promises nothing but calamity and mischief. . . . But, sir, it seems that we are to be pressed to a vote upon this proposition to-night. It seems to be determined that this act is to be performed to-night sir. All I can say is, that while I shall earnestly battle against it, while I shall earnestly deprecate it, I shall offer no factious opposition to it.I can only say that, so far as I am concerned, in view of the responsibility that I owe to God and man, I cannot concur in the act which is about to be done.}

{Mr. BENJAMIN WILSON, of Harrison—
I beg pardon of this Convention while I assign the reason that induced me to vote for the proposition of the gentleman from Fauquier (Mr. SCOTT). We all admit that war is now imminent, nay, inevitable. It cannot be denied but that it is necessary for Virginia to take some action . . . The only question about which we differ, as I understand, is as to the manner in which she should protect herself. It is very important, and very desirable in this crisis that we should have the unanimous concurrence and co-operation of our people. . . . There is no use in endeavoring to disguise the fact that the institution of slavery is one of the acting causes that brought about this calamity. . . I understand that this Ordinance cannot be operative until the people pass upon it; and whilst we are in the embarrassing predicament of having passed the Ordinance of Secession, our enemies will go on preparing, and we will be liable to attack upon any of our borders without the means of defence . . . I think it is better for us to call to our aid the border slave States, whose co-operation in the coming struggle is essential to our success.I think it is an act of unnecessary precipitancy for us to pass this Ordinance of Secession to-night. I regard it as precipitate to pass it at all now, without first taking counsel with our sister border States of Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. After that, we will be better prepared to take action; and we go into the conflict with the additional prestige, which the approval and co-operation of these States would confer. Run your eyes around your borders, and you will find that there are three sides of Virginia exposed to the enemy. Let us preserve our present position, at least for a while, and we can repel the assaults of the General Government as well in the Union as out of it. We can call to our aid men and munitions of war in the Union as well as out; and, in view of these circumstances, I think it better we should wait for a conference of these States.}

{Mr. CARTER, of Loudoun—
I have not troubled this Convention for a moment since we have been in session. I don’t want to trouble them now; but I want to make an appeal to those gentlemen with whom I have been co-operating up to the present, or, at any rate, until within a few days, and to ask them to aid me in carrying the question that this Convention now adjourn.

I make that motion.

Mr. WISE—
I ask the yeas and nays upon the motion.

The call was sustained, and the question being taken, resulted-yeas 76, nays 66-as follows:The Journal adds Lawson to the negative votes listed here, to make a total of 65.

YEAS-Messrs. Armstrong, Aston, Baldwin, Baylor, Berlin, Blow, Boggess, Boyd, Branch, Brent, Brown, Burdett, Burley, Byrne, Campbell, Caperton, Carter, Coffman, C. B. Conrad, R. Y. Conrad, Couch, Critcher, Custis, Dent, Deskins, Dorman, Dulany, Early, Echols, French, Fugate, Gillespie, Gravely, Gray, Ephraim B. Hall, Hammond, Haymond, Hoge, Holladay, Hubbard, Hughes, Hull, Jackson, Marmaduke Johnson, Peter C. Johnston, Lewis, McComas, McGrew, Macfarland, Marshall, Marye, Masters, Moore, Nelson, Osburn, Patrick, Pendleton, Porter, Price, Pugh, Rives, R. E. Scott, Wm. C. Scott, Sharp, Sitlington, Spurlock, A. H. H. Stuart, Chapman J. Stuart, Summers, Tarr, White, Whitfield, Wickham, Willey, Wilson, Mr. PRESIDENT-76.

NAYS-Messrs. Ambler, A. M. Barbour, James Barbour, Blakey, Boisseau, Borst, Bouldin, Bruce, Cabell, Cecil, Chambliss, Chapman, Clemens, Conn, J. H. Cox, R. H. Cox, Fisher, Flournoy, Forbes, Garland, Graham, Gregory, Goggin, John Goode, Jr., Thos. F. Goode, Hale, L. S. Hall, Harvie, Holcombe, Hunton, Isbell, Kent, Kindred, Leake, C. K. Mallory, J. B. Mallory, Miller, Moffett, Montague, Morris, Morton, Orrick, Parks, Preston, Randolph, Richardson, Seawell, Sheffey, Slaughter, Southall, Speed, Staples, Strange, Sutherlin, Tayloe, Thornton, Tredway, R. H. Turner, Tyler, Waller, Williams, Wise, Woods, Wysor-64.

Mr. TURNER, of Jackson, stated that if he had not paired off with an absent member, he would have voted “no.”

The Convention then adjourned until 10 o’clock, A.M., to-morrow.}

ACT V – THE WISE-IMBODEN COUP

Ashby, Wise, Lt. Jones, J. Jones, Imboden, Strother

ACT V – SCENE I – SECESSION FEVER CONSUMES RICHMOND

April 16 – Tuesday, Metropolitan Hall (near the Convention at the Capitol), Richmond, VA:

Wise’s clerk, John R. Jones wrote:
{This day the Spontaneous People’s Convention met and organized in Metropolitan Hall. The door-keeper stood with a drawn sword in his hand. But the scene was orderly. The assembly was full, nearly every county being represented, and the members were the representatives of the most ancient and respectable families in the State. David Chalmers, of Halifax County, I believe, was the President, and Willoughby Newton, a life-long Whig, among the Vice-Presidents. P. H. Aylett, a grandson of Patrick Henry, was the first speaker. And his eloquence indicated that the spirit of his ancestor survived in him. But he was for moderation and delay, still hoping that the other Convention would yield to the pressure of public sentiment, and place the State in the attitude now manifestly desired by an overwhelming majority of the people. He was answered by the gallant Capt. Wise, who thrilled every breast with his intrepid bearing and electric bursts of oratory. He advocated action, without reference to the other Convention, as the best means of bringing the Unionists to their senses. And the so-called Demosthenean Seddon, and G. W. Randolph (grandson of Thomas Jefferson), Lieut.-Gov. Montague, James Lyons, Judge Robertson, etc., were there.

Never, never did I hear more exalted and effective bursts of oratory. And it was apparent that messages were constantly received from the other Convention. What they were, I did not learn at the moment; but it was evident that the Unionists were shaking in their shoes, and they certainly begged one – just one – -day’s delay, which was accorded them. The People’s Convention agreed to adjourn till 10 o’clock A.M. the next day. But before we separated a commotion was observed on the stage, and the next moment a Mr. P., from Gov. Wise’s old district, rushed forward and announced that he had just arrived from Norfolk, where, under instructions, and with the acquiescence of Gov. Letcher, he had succeeded in blocking the channel of the river; and this would either secure to us, or render useless to the United States, certain ships of the navy, stores, armament, etc., of the value of millions of dollars. This announcement was received with the wildest shouts of joy. Young men threw up their hats, and old men buttoned their coats and clapped their hands most vigorously. It was next hinted by some one who seemed to know something of the matter, that before another day elapsed, Harper’s Ferry would fall into the hands of the secessionists.

At night the enthusiasm increases in intensity, and no further opposition is to be apprehended from the influence of Tim Rives, Baldwin, Clemens, etc. etc. It was quite apparent, indeed, that if an ordinance of secession were passed by the new Convention, its validity would be recognized and acted upon by the majority of the people. But this would be a complication of the civil war, now the decree of fate. (Jones, pp. 13-30)}

ACT V – SCENE II – A CHANCE ENCOUNTER ON BANK STREET. WISE AND IMBODEN HATCH THE PLAN

April 16 (evening) – Tuesday, Bank and 10th Street, Richmond VA:

{After many weeks of very trying debate, principally participated in by Robert E. Scott and John B. Baldwin on the one side, and Henry A. Wise on the other; and after the committee, by a vote of 13 to 8, had rejected the proposition of Mr. Wise to take a stand of armed neutrality between the Federal powers of Washington City and the Confederate powers at Montgomery, and to fight in the Union against the invasion of either by the other, and to prevent the troops of either from crossing the territory of Virginia; and when it had become manifest that the people in the State were becoming impatient at the inaction of the Convention, Wise, worn down by overwork and anxiety and despairing of any fair adjustment or prompt action, was walking from the committee, the sittings of which were held in the Mechanics Hall, on Bank Street, and met Captain J. D. Imboden on the pavement, near Tenth, next the Capitol Square. After a pleasant salutation. Wise spoke to Imboden

of his impatience at the delay of the Convention, and of the dark prospect of events, and said, “Do you remember, sir, what passed between you and me, when I was governor, at the moment when you thanked me for the order permitting you to have two brass field-pieces for your company of artillery at Staunton?” Captain Imboden replied, “Yes, I do, sir,” and repeated that he was bound to obey the call of Wise for those guns whenever made. Wise then said: ‘What was a joke then, is earnest now. I want those guns with which to aid in the immediate capture of the United States Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry; can they be had with all the men you can raise?” Captain Imboden replied, “They can, and if you say so, the men shall be raised and the arsenal shall be taken.” Wise then inquired, “What boys, reliable and brave, are in town?” Imboden named several and promised to look immediately for others, and Wise told him to notify as many such as he could find in the city, to meet him at the Exchange Hotel at about seven o’clock p.m. At the hour named Captain Imboden had assembled, in a room on the first floor of the hotel passage to the left of the entrance as you go in, Oliver Funsten, Richard Ashby, Turner Ashby, John S. Harbour, Alfred Barbour, John A. Harman, and John Imboden, who were joined by Wise. Wise stated to them the object of calling them together. Turner Ashby asked what was proposed. ***Wise replied that the first thing required was some official, or semblance of official authority, to make the movement, and proposed the appointment of a committee of three to wait on (Governor Letcher and to ascertain whether he would support or countenance, at least, an attempt to secure the arms and munitions of war at Harper’s Ferry. The proposition was at once adopted; and J. D. Imboden, Oliver Funsten, and Alfred Barbour were appointed the committee, and the meeting waited for their report about an hour, when they returned and reported briefly that

Governor Letcher declined to entertain or consider the matter, as he was under some informal pledge not to do so or promote any hostile action against the United States, without first apprising the Convention and conferring with it. Wise then said, “Well, gentlemen, you have heard the report; are you willing and ready to act on your own responsibility?” The meeting unanimously voted to act without official authority, and Turner Ashby, addressing Wise, said, “You have been governor of Virginia, and we will take orders from you, sir, as if you were now governor; please draw your orders.” Wise immediately drew, in writing, a brief plan of action and the orders conformable thereto.*** Mr. Alfred Barbour was then superintendent of the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry; he was directed to repair to the arsenal at once and to prepare the operations there. Turner Ashby was despatched at once to Fauquier to rouse the Black-Horse Cavalry there. Captain Imboden was instructed to move his company of artillery at once, and John A. Harman was sent to Staunton to rally all the volunteers he could to move with Imboden’s artillery. At this moment Milton Cary came into the meeting and was requested to see to railroad transportation; went out and brought in Colonel Edmund Fontaine, the president of the Central Railroad, and transportation was arranged. Whilst the meeting was in session. Wise received a telegram saying that Federal troops were on their way to Harper’s Ferry, which was read. All were ordered to report promptly to Wise and to move at once, — that night, — and the meeting adjourned sine die. The whole time of the meeting for report and all did not occupy more than three hours, and it adjourned about eleven p.m. (Barton Wise, pp. 275-280)}

John Imboden’s later account adds:
{The movement, it was agreed, should commence the next day, the 17th, as soon as the convention voted to secede, provided we could get railway transportation and the concurrence of Governor Letcher. Colonel Edmund Fontaine, president of the Virginia Central railroad, and John S. Barbour, president of the Orange and Alexandria and Manassas Gap railroads, were sent for, and joined us at the hotel near midnight. They agreed to put the necessary trains in readiness next day to obey any request of Governor Letcher for the movement of troops.

. . . A committee, of which I was chairman, waited on Governor Letcher after midnight, and, arousing him from his bed, laid the scheme before him. He stated that he would take no step till officially informed that the ordinance of secession was passed by the convention. He was then asked if contingent upon the event he would next day order the movement by telegraph. He consented. . . . On returning to the hotel and reporting Governor Letcher’s promise, it was decided to telegraph the captains of companies along the railroads mentioned to be ready next day for orders from the governor. In that way I ordered the Staunton Artillery, which I commanded, to assemble at their armory by 4 PM on the 17th to receive orders from the governor to aid in the capture of the Portsmouth Navy Yard. This destination had been indicated in all our dispatches, to deceive the Government at Washington in case there should be a “leak” in the telegraph offices. Early in the evening a message had been received by ex-Governor Wise from his son-in-law Doctor Garnett of Washington, to the effect that a Massachusetts regiment, one thousand strong, had been ordered to Harper’s Ferry. Without this reinforcement we knew the guard there consisted of only forty-five men, who could be captured or driven away, perhaps without firing a shot, if we could reach the place secretly. The Ashbys, Funsten, Harman, and I remained up the entire night. (Imboden, John D. (1888). “Jackson at Harpers Ferry in 1861.” Battles and Leaders. Vol. 1. Robert Underwood Johnson, Clarence Clough Buel (Ed.). New York, NY: Century Co. pp. 111-125)}

ACT V – SCENE III – WISE DISCLOSES HIS ACTIONS TO A SURPRISED CONVENTION IN SECRET SESSION

April 17 – Wednesday, Richmond, VA: Second Day of Secret Session
{The Governor transmits his refusal to supply troops to the U. S. Secretary of War, and also communicates the Adjutant General’s report on Virginia’s volunteer force and armaments. A large number of delegates comment on Mr. Preston’s proposal of secession and Mr. Scott’s substitute, and vote down the latter. Delegates debate the ordinance of secession, and adopt it by a vote of 88 to 55. Mr. Randolph proposes that the Governor be authorized to call up troops and borrow money for defense. Mr. Scott proposes a Committee on Military Affairs. The Convention adopts Mr. Randolph’s resolutions on defense, and Wise’s proposal to inform the President of the Confederate States that Virginia has seceded.}

{JOHN F. LEWIS recounted: Next morning (Wednesday, April 17), I took Colonel Baldwin to the house of Mr. (John Minor) Botts, who told him he was informed such an interview had taken place (with President Lincoln). Colonel Baldwin did not deny it. In answer to Mr. Botts’ question, how in the name of God

he could take the responsibility of withholding the knowledge of such an interview from the Convention. The only answer Mr. Baldwin made was by taking out his watch and saying: “It only wants twenty minutes of the hour of meeting of the Convention, when a most important vote is to be taken” . . .(Hall, p. 175)}

(Well into the proceeding-ED)

{. . . THE PRESIDENT [Mr. JOHN JANNEY]—
Shall the main question be now put-which is on the substitute offered by the gentleman from Fauquier [Mr. SCOTT].

The vote having been put on ordering the main question to be put, was decided in the affirmative.

Mr. PRICE, of Greenbrier—
I call for the yeas and nays on the substitute.

The call was sustained, and the roll having been called, resulted-yeas 64, nays 77, as follows:The Journal adds Armstrong and White to the affirmative votes listed here. The Journal adds Ambler, Addison Hall, and Leake to negative votes listed here, to arrive at a total of 79; however, apparently only Ambler should be added, since Leake and Hall were paired.

YEAS-Messrs. Janney [President], Aston, Baldwin, Baylor, Berlin, Boggess, Brent, Brown, Burdett, Burley, Byrne, Campbell, Carter, Clemens, C. B. Conrad, R. Y. Conrad, Couch, Critcher, Custis, Dent, Dulany, Early, French, Fugate, Gillespie, Gravely, Gray, Ephraim B. Hall, Hammond, Haymond, Hoge, Holladay, Hubbard, Hull, Jackson, Peter C. Johnston, Lewis, McComas, McGrew, J. Marshall, Masters, Moore, Nelson, Osburn, Patrick, Pendleton, Porter, Price, Pugh, Robert E. Scott, William C. Scott, Sharp, Sitlington, Spurlock, Alexander H. H. Stuart, Chapman J. Stuart, Summers, Tarr, Whitfield, Wickham, Willey, Wilson-64.

NAYS-Messrs. James Barbour, Blakey, Blow, Jr., Boisseau, Borst, Bouldin, Boyd, Branch, Bruce, Cabell, Caperton, Cecil, Chambliss, Chapman, Coffman, Conn, James H. Cox, Richard H. Cox, Deskins, Dorman, Echols, Fisher, Flournoy, Forbes, Garland, Graham, Gregory, Jr., Goggin, John Goode, Jr., Thomas F. Goode, Hale, Cyrus Hall, L. S. Hall, Harvie, Holcombe, Hughes, Hunton, Isbell, Marmaduke Johnson, Kent, Kindred, Lawson, Macfarland, Chas. K. Mallory, James B. Mallory, Marye, Sr., Miller, Moffett, Montague, Morris, Morton, Neblett, Orrick, Parks, Preston, Randolph, Richardson, Rives, Seawell, Sheffey, Slaughter, Southall, Speed, Staples, Strange, Sutherlin, Tayloe, Thornton, Tredway, Robert H. Turner, Tyler, Waller, Williams, Wise, Woods, Wysor -77.

(NOTE: Because Alfred Barbour was en route to Harper’s Ferry, he did not vote on April 17th.-ED}

{. . . Mr. WISE—

(displaying and placing on the table a long-barreled horse pistol for effect) I know the fact, as well as I can know it without being present at either the time or place, that ***there is a probability that blood will be flowing at Harper’s Ferry before night. I know the fact that the harbor of Norfolk has been obstructed last night by the sinking of vessels. I know the fact that at this moment a force is on its way to Harper’s Ferry to prevent the reinforcement of the Federal troops at that point. I am told it is already being reinforced by 1,000 men from the Black Republican ranks. I know the fact that your Governor has ordered reinforcements there to back our own citizens and to protect our lives and our arms. In the midst of a scene like this, when an attempt is made by our troops to capture the navy yard, and seize the Armory at Harper’s Ferry, we are here indulging in foolish debates, the only result of which must be delay, and, perhaps, ruin.

I move the previous question.***}

The call was sustained. Ten minutes was allowed under the rule for each man to show why the main question should not be put.

{. . . Mr. JOHN B. BALDWIN, of Augusta—
We have been appealed to, Mr. President, to take upon ourselves a portion of the responsibility of the passage of the ordinance of secession. If an ordinance of secession becomes the act of Virginia, we will have to share in the responsibility that is to attach to it-that is, all of us that intend to share the fortunes of the State. I am one of those who intend to share the fortunes of the State, come weal, come woe; and I shall take and bear my full share of the responsibility of the act of the State. But, sir, we are now in council as to what should be the act of the State; and I cannot see how any gentleman who does not think the act a wise act for the State, can share the responsibility of making it the act of the State.

I am one of those, sir, who believe that this act is an exceedingly unwise one, to be done now and under the circumstances by which we are surrounded. I have indicated that opinion by the vote which I gave for the proposition of the gentleman from Fauquier. I shall indicate that opinion again by the vote I shall give against the ordinance of secession. I claim the right as a representative upon this floor; as the representative of a free people living under a constitutional form of government; I claim the right, while a matter is in council, to give my vote according to my opinion. When I am overruled, and the act of the State is determined, then comes the time for united action upon the results of the council of the States, and then I shall be found sharing the fortunes of Virginia.

Sir, the gentleman from Princess Anne [Mr. WISE] says that we are already in the midst of war. The Governor of this State at his instance and the instance of others, has already directed assaults to be made upon Harper’s Ferry and Gosport Navy Yard.}

Mr. WISE—
I did not say that.

Mr. BALDWIN—
I understood him to say that the Governor, at his instance, had directed steps to be taken with a view of taking Harper’s Ferry and Gosport Navy Yard. If that is the case, I feel it to be my duty to tell my people not to march under an order that the Governor had no right to give.

{Mr. WISE—
I will state to the gentleman that it is to protect his people from being cut to pieces by the Wide Awakes-his people, who have marched to Harper’s Ferry, I hope, in time to prevent the Wide-Awakes from getting the 20,000 arms at that place-that he has ordered out reinforcements. This has been done at the instance of a gentleman from this city. It is now too late to recall these people, if the gentleman could, and I hope he never would recall them, if he could. The Augusta troop are acting nobly in this matter, and I only wish my people had the honor of taking that stronghold.}

{Mr. BALDWIN—
I have no doubt that my people will be found ready, at all times and under all circumstances, to uphold the honor of their country. They have never been found wanting on that point.

But, sir, I am speaking here as the representative of the people in a constitutional government, in regard to an act which the people themselves, by a majority of 60,000, directed should not be consummated without their voice at the polls; and I say that to consummate this act in defiance of the solemn action of the sovereign people of Virginia, I care not how patriotic the impulse which actuated such a course, is in derogation of the sovereign rights of the people of Virginia, who have appointed to settle it at the polls. I do not undertake to discuss, because I do not know the fact, that any portion of the people of Virginia have undertaken to assume the responsibility of making war, or opening hostilities; but, sir, I do undertake to say that it is a fearful responsibility that any one undertakes who plunges this State into civil war, unprepared as she is.

Sir, the Governor is said to have sent men for the protection of my fellow citizens who are gone on this mission. I have no doubt that the Governor, in whatever he has done and will do, will be actuated by a high patriotism. I have high confidence in his patriotic purposes and his pure and sincere devotion to the interests of the State, as well as his capacity to preside over her destinies; but I feel it to be due to myself to say, that in recording my vote here, I cannot record my vote as one of the counsellors of the State of Virginia for a measure which my judgment does not approve. I repeat, sir, that when it shall become the act of the State, when my opinions shall be overruled it is a matter to be taken home to the hearts of the whole State, and to be sustained by the hands of the whole State. God forbid that I should be the one to make the slightest objection to carrying into action, aye, into determined action whatever the people of Virginia, in their sovereign capacity, solemnly determine shall be done.

Sir, I regard this as the most solemn hour of my life, and I would be wanting in that candor which belongs to the position I occupy, and to the friends by whom I am surrounded here, if I had withheld this declaration of my position. I wish I could look upon this matter as other gentlemen here seem to look upon it. I wish I could participate in the feelings which seem to light up the countenances of friends whose opinions and patriotism I respect. But, sir, to me the future looks dark-dark and dreary; and while I trust I shall have a stout heart and strong arm to carry me through this as through any other duty to which my country may call me, while it is yet to be determined upon, my voice is against it.}

ACT V – SCENE IV – AN AGONIZED CHASM OF DIFFERENCE IN FINAL SECRET SESSION

Row 1 (l-r): LEWIS, HALL, RIVES, JANNEY, MCPORTER, CRITCHER, OSBURN

Row 2 (l-r): CAPERTON, EARLY, TYLER, BALDWIN, BURDETT, WISE, FISHER

{. . . Mr. LOGAN OSBURN, of Jefferson—
Mr. President, I have no disposition to detain the Convention further than to remark that I voted for the proposition of the gentleman from Fauquier with great cordiality and much pleasure, because its plan of co-operation with the border slave States seemed to me to embrace the great want which, it is to be feared, will prove detrimental to us when it will be too late to remedy it. We need, moreover, considerable preparation, and this we would have an opportunity of making if the proposition of the gentleman from Fauquier was carried. I have received letters from my constituents since I came here, and they all sustained me in the position which I have taken here. I received a letter last night which takes this position. All in fact are utterly opposed in sentiment to the adoption of an ordinance of secession, and, convinced, that this is the general sentiment of my people, I feel bound to vote against it. While doing so, I am not disposed by any vote I shall cast here to prevent entire unanimity in the action of this body. I hope that no emergency will prevent gentlemen here from submitting their action to the people. If they adopt an ordinance of secession, I shall most cheerfully acquiesce. . . }

{. . . Mr. JOHN JANNEY, of Loudoun (Lieutenant Governor ROBERT L. MONTAGUE, of Mathews and Middlesex, in the Chair) —
I beg the indulgence of the Convention while I depart from a resolution I formed the moment you elected me to that chair-to take no part in your deliberations. But the moment has come when I feel myself impelled, by a sense of duty, to state, with all the brevity I can, the reason why I cannot vote for this ordinance of secession. I always feel the force of every appeal that is made to me by my friend from Fauquier (Mr. SCOTT), and when he invited us all to come up and present a united front in favor of this ordinance, I felt as if I would have done it, if I could, without violating my own sense of duty.I know not what course I may pursue when I go home, although I am determined now to vote against this ordinance of secession. But if I had resolved, from the moment my foot touched the soil of the county in which I live, to urge the people there to vote for the ordinance of secession, I would, as a matter of policy, vote against it; and I appeal to all gentlemen, who have been representing Union constituencies like myself, to say, if, by carrying out the will of their constituencies here in the vote they are about to give, they could not return home and operate with more power, and more influence upon them, than if they vote here to violate the will of those constituents who sent them.

Sir, I know what is before me;I know that an Ordinance of Secession is war, a cruel, bloody, civil war. The gentleman from Augusta (Mr. STUART), who spoke yesterday, alluded to my county and its position. Sir, it is true as he has intimated, there is a large revolutionary highway over which the armies of the country marched North and South, during the whole of that war; which I cross every day that I put my foot outside of my office. There is the old highway over which Braddock’s army was marched to Saratoga; and there is that old highway now leading into the heart of the most populous and powerful portion of the great State of Pennsylvania, with its three million of inhabitants, and we within three miles of that State, separated from it only by a river that is fordable for six months in the year.I desire to know of gentlemen here to day if any power that ever governed any civilized nation upon the face of the earth, ever plunged their country into a war with such fearful odds against them, without having a single battalion of regular soldiers, with a beggarly account of empty armories and magazines, with a frontier of more than 1,200 miles without a fort or fortification upon any one of its headlands.

. . . Gentlemen must have read history in vain if they can point out to me any boundary between two nations in any civilized continent on the globe where the same result has not been produced. Aye, gentlemen, your wives and children in the county of Montgomery, up in the mountains, the wives and children of the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON) and the gentleman from Bedford (Mr. GOGGIN) will all be asleep peacefully at midnight, when others will be fleeing with their children in their arms, by the light of their burning dwellings.

What I demand of you is this: will you make a declaration of war-for that is what this ordinance of secession will amount to-without preparing to defend our people who live upon the frontier, who are exposed to the assaults of the enemy, and upon whom they will come thick and heavy? I see before me now my venerable friend from Charles City (Ex-President TYLER). I demand to know of him, if he were President of the United States, whether he would ever have recommended to Congress to declare a war under such circumstances as now press upon us, with a force against him of eighteen to one, with a powerful navy upon the other side, and he without a gun boat; with armies drilled and disciplined, and with a command of 800,000 militia, would he have recommended to Congress to pass a declaration of war without waiting sixty days to make some preparation for it? I imagine not, sir.

We have been told here that the power of these Confederate States once organized into a regular government, with a regular army, would be sufficient to meet the emergency of a war such as is now threatened. Gentlemen, that is a tried failure. I tell you that the Confederate army never will and never can march to our assistance. Not that they are not as brave and gallant men as any in the world; but they will use all their means and power to protect themselves at home.

The proposition of my friend from Fauquier (Mr. SCOTT), was a favorite proposition of mine, and I think ought to have been adopted, because it would have given us time, at least, to have expended this million appropriated by the Legislature before the shock of arms should come upon us.
. . . This ordinance of secession was brought before this body yesterday. The previous question was moved upon it and the ten minutes rule adopted, and now we are called upon to give a vote that, in my judgment, is pregnant with the issue of human freedom all over the globe. I believe that if this experiment fails there is no hope left for representative government and liberty regulated by law.*** I believe that the dark night of universal despotism will settle down over the whole globe, upon the failure of this great experiment of ours. This is not the only proposition before us. Not at all. We have other propositions before us. We have a proposition in the resolutions and in the amendments to the Constitution which are laying over. These contain a plan of conference and co-operation with those border sister States of ours. I thank the Convention, not only for the kindness and indulgence that they have extended to me now, but for that which I have received in my entire sphere of action during the whole session of this body. I have felt it due to my constituents to enter this, their protest, in view of the peculiar circumstances in which they are placed, against this act dissolving the Union. . .}

{Mr. MIERS W. FISHER, of Northampton—
. . . ***The gentleman says that there will be a declaration of war as soon as the ordinance of secession is passed. Has he forgotten that a declaration of war is already made by Abraham Lincoln? ***Has he forgotten that Abraham Lincoln, as President of the United States, has called upon Virginia to furnish her quota of troops, not only to suppress the insurrection or the rebellion, as he chooses to call it, in the Confederate States, but even in our own Commonwealth? If this ordinance be adopted, and the gentleman from Loudoun (Mr. JANNEY) believes afterwards that Abraham Lincoln can exercise any restraint upon him, I hope it will be a constitutional restraint; and that if, as the gentleman apprehends, war should be declared, which I maintain is already declared, it will be a declaration in keeping with the forms presented by the Constitution, and not an act of usurpation, such as he seems thus disposed to perpetrate. If Congress shall declare war, I accept the issue. I never mean to be deferred from declaring my rights because I apprehend that some stronger men than myself will try to wrest it from me.}

. . . Mr. WISE—
I ask for the yeas and nays upon the adoption of the ordinance.

The call was sustained.

Mr. WM. B. PRESTON—
I would ask that the vote be first taken on the ordinance itself, and that the preamble be acted upon afterwards.

It was so ordered.

The question was then taken on the adoption of the ordinance.
When the name of Mr. TIMOTHY RIVES, of Prince George and Surry, was called, he said: The Government being already overthrown by revolution, I vote “aye.”

Mr. A.T. CAPERTON, of Monroe, before the vote was announced, said: I have no doubt there are many gentlemen who, upon a night’s reflection, would be disposed to record their votes in favor of this ordinance of secession; and, with a view to afford them an opportunity of a night’s reflection, and in order to have the vote as nearly unanimous as possible, I move we adjourn.

Mr. A.H.H. STUART, of Augusta—
I have heard the question asked whether gentlemen were at liberty to speak of the result of this vote. I think it is a matter of the very highest importance that the matter should be kept secret for the present.

The question was then taken on the motion to adjourn, and lost. The vote on the adoption of the ordinance of secession was then announced. It stood-yeas 88, nays 55, as follows: The Journal adds Rives to the affirmative votes listed here.

YEAS-Messrs. Ambler, Aston, Jas. Barbour, Blakey, Blow, Boisseau, Borst, Bouldin, Boyd, Branch, Bruce, Cabell, Campbell, Caperton, Cecil, Chambliss, Chapman, Coffman, Conn, James H. Cox, Richard H. Cox, Critcher, Deskins, Dorman, Echols, Fisher, Flournoy, Forbes, French, Garland, Gillespie, Graham, Gregory, Goggin, John Goode, Thomas F. Goode, Hale, Cyrus Hall, L. S. Hall, Harvie, Holcombe, Hughes, Hunton, Isbell, Marmaduke Johnson, P. C. Johnston, Kent, Kindred, Lawson, Leake, Macfarland, Chas. K. Mallory, James B. Mallory, Marye, Sr., Miller, Moffett, Montague, Morris, Morton, Neblett, Orrick, Parks, Preston, Randolph, Richardson, Robert E. Scott, William C. Scott, Seawell, Sheffey, Slaughter, Southall, Speed, Staples, Strange, Sutherlin, Tayloe, Thornton, Tredway, Robt. H. Turner, F. P. Turner, Tyler, Waller, Whitfield, Williams, Wise, Woods, Wysor-88.

NAYS-Messrs. Jno. Janney [President], Armstrong, Baldwin, Baylor, Berlin, Boggess, Brent, Brown, Burdett, Burley, Byrne, Carlile, Carter, Clemens, C. B. Conrad, R. Y. Conrad, Couch, Custis, Dent, Dulany, Early, Fugate, Gravely, Gray, Ephraim B. Hall, Hammond, Haymond, Hoge, Holladay, Hubbard, Hull, Jackson, Lewis, McComas, McGrew, Marshall, Masters, Moore, Nelson, Osburn, Patrick, Pendleton, Porter, Price, Pugh, Sharp, Sitlington, Spurlock, Alexander H. H. Stuart, Chapman J. Stuart, Summers, Tarr, White, Wickham, Willey-55.}

{(NOTE: Barton Wise Henry Wise’s grandson gives this account which he states came from his grandfather): The next morning he (Henry Wise) awaited telegrams at the hotel and received one from Captain Imboden, at Gordonsville, saying he was there with the volunteers under General Harper, and his guns, pressing forward to Harper’s Ferry. Wise immediately hastened to the Convention then in session. For some weeks previously telegrams had been announced to that body, with the news of hastening its action, until, at last, they lost their effect and had become an object of derision. As soon as one was named, voices would exclaim: “Another Democratic alarm! “Immediately upon reaching his seat, Wise addressed the president and said: “Mr. President, I arise to announce no “Democratic telegram,” but to say to you and this body that I know that armed forces are now moving upon Harper’s Ferry to capture the arms there in the arsenal for the public defence, and there will be a fight or a foot-race between volunteers of Virginia and Federal troops before the sun sets this day!”

And he asked the Convention whether it would sanction and support the movement on foot. If a hand grenade had been thrown in among the members, it could not have caused more consternation. Wise said no more, but went to Mr. Holcombe and Mr. George W. Randolph, told them what he had done and urged them to see Governor Letcher and to prevail upon him to reenforce the volunteers and to sanction their movement. They went immediately to the governor’s room and returned quickly, requesting Wise’s presence with Governor Letcher. He went forthwith to the governor’s chamber and inquired what he (Governor Letcher) would do? He answered that he would back the movement then and issued orders at once.

After a very short conference Wise returned to his seat in the Convention.
Mr. Robert Y. Conrad was on the floor, protesting warmly against the movement as unauthorized and illegal, involving, in fact, all the consequences of treason, and the whole people in a war to which the most of them were opposed. Mr. John B. Baldwin and others, but especially Mr. Baldwin, followed in a strain of awful lamentation and forebodings; denounced the act as a usurpation, as revolutionary and disturbing to peaceful measures, and interfering with the labors of that Convention toward compromise and conciliation. He asked who had assumed to instigate and organize so rash a folly? Whoever they were, he could not, for one, sanction or countenance their disastrous and unauthorized action. Wise rose and announced that he, and he alone, had originated and ordered the movement and assumed its whole responsibility; and he inquired of Mr. Baldwin whether he would or not, now that the movement was on the march, aid the people, who had waited on the Convention too long in vain, in seizing arms for their own defence. Mr. Baldwin said that he could not, and he hoped the Convention would not partake in any such fearful responsibility. It was not the act of the people, and those who had assumed to act for the whole State must, if they had made for themselves a bloody bed, lie upon it and take all the consequences, which he apprehended would be sad and fatal. They should not have his sanction, or aid, or countenance. As yet it was not known to him or the Convention of what portion of the people the volunteers were composed.

Wise then rose and said: “Mr. President, I have often heard old Augusta boasted of as the heart of Virginia. Heretofore I have been content to acquiesce by silence, in this claim of her preeminence over other members of our body politic, as a sort of political if not poetical license, for I always accorded her the highest rank among the sections of the State; but now I know, I feel in every fibre of every extremity of my body that she is the heart of Virginia. I feel her grand and noble pulse throbbing through every nerve, and kindling emotions in my heart of admiration and gratitude. Let me tell the gentleman from Augusta [Mr. Baldwin’s home] that the patriotic volunteer revolutionists, whom he consigns to bloody beds, are his constituents of Augusta, — his friends and neighbors of Staunton. They are the men who are marching under my orders to take up their own arms for their own defence! The self-sacrificing Kenton Harper is leading his neighbors and command to all the dangers and risks of taking Harper’s Ferry, and the question is: Shall they be doomed, unsupported, to bloody beds?” This appeal silenced Mr. Baldwin; he looked aghast; he dropped his austere mien of reprehension at the movement; and the whole body (then in secret session) was thrown into bewildering excitement by Mr. Baylor, Baldwin’s colleague, rushing by, almost over seats and down aisles, making his way to Wise. It might be to assail him, but no; it was to grasp his hand, with tears streaming down his cheeks, and exclaiming: “Let me grasp your hand! I don’t agree with you, I don’t approve your acts; but I love you! I love you!”(Barton Wise, pp. 275-280)

{On the eve of the passage of the ordinance, it appeared probable that a number of members, from what is now West Virginia, would retire. A member of the Convention, Judge John Critcher, thus describes a scene in which Wise arraigned their leader for this contemplated withdrawal. It was plainly premeditated.

Before he [Wise] arose, I noticed his suppressed agitation. Ex-President Tyler, who knew what was coming, turned his chair about ten feet in front of Wise, with his back to the president of the Convention. As Wise proceeded with his arraignment of Summers, Mr. Tyler lost control of his feelings and

tears trickled freely down his cheeks. The speaker was supernaturally excited. His features were as sharp and rigid as bronze. His hair stood off from his head, as if charged with electricity. Summers sat on the left of the chair, white and pale as the wall near him. It was the most powerful display of the sort I ever witnessed. I have heard Wendell Phillips, Beecher, Mr. Clay, Daniel O’Connell, Lord Brougham, Sir Robert Peel, Thiers, Guizot, and Lamartine; but never witnessed any display of eloquence like this, and in this opinion Mr. Tyler concurred. I have often wished that Wise’s remarks could have been preserved. It was in vain, during the excited debate that ensued in the secret session, that the extreme Union men remonstrated, and that old John Janney, of Loudoun, the president of the body, left his seat, and with tear-dimmed eyes and a voice trembling with emotion, pleaded with the Convention not to sever the tie that bound Virginia to the Federal Government, and lay bare his beautiful home to the invader. The adoption of the ordinance by a vote of 88 to 55, on the afternoon of the 17 th, left no doubt in the minds of the members as to where their paramount allegiance was due; and the instrument was then, or later on, signed by all the delegates, wdth the exception of about six or eight from the western part of the State. Governor Letcher, who on the night of the 16th had ordered a secession flag which had been placed over the Capitol to be hauled down, forthwith took active steps to place the Commonwealth in a condition of defence. From that time forward the sentiment of the people living within the present limits of Virginia may be said to have been a unit in favor of resisting invasion by the Federal Government. (Barton Wise, pp. 277-281)}

{The scenes witnessed within the walls of that room, as detailed by members, have no parallel in the annals of ancient or modern times. On the morning of the 17th, WISE, the member from Princess Anne, rose in his seat and drawing a large Virginia horse-pistol from his bosom laid it before him, and proceeded to harangue the body in the most violent and denunciatory manner. He concluded by taking his watch from his pocket and, with glaring eyes and bated breath, declared that events were now transpiring which caused a hush to come over his soul. At such an hour, he said, Harper’s Ferry and its armory were in possession of Virginia soldiers; at another period the Federal navy-yard and property at Norfolk were seized by troops of the State. It was then that the Union members saw the object of the other assemblage, which had sat with closed doors from its beginning and whose concealed hand, seizing the reins of government, had left them the form without the power to resist. (Waitman Willey quoted in Hall, p. 183)}

{In a letter written on April 17th to his wife, Logan Osburn reflected both the mood at the convention and also the mood of pro-Union delegates: It is now between ten and eleven oclock at night and the convention is still in session. I paired off with a gentle-man of the opposite side for the night to enable me to drop you a few lines and try to get a little sleep. The Convention went into secret session on tuesday, and its injunctions sealed the lips and silenced the pens of the whole body so far as its action is concerned until secrecy is removed. Whilst I will not divulge our actions Ifeel constrained to say that the last three days will form an epoch in my life that I fear I will never be able to refer to with composure. I have often said to you in great seriousness in the last six months that I feared the days of our republic were about numbered, & that the Sun of our National liberty was about to set. It is with me now no longer a matter of doubt. You will see by the papers that the authorities of our State have already inaugurated a revolution by the seizure of public property, vessels in our harbours, Gosport Navy Yard & Ex Gov. Wise told me to day a dispatch had been sent for the seizure of the armory at Harper’s Ferry.

Andrew Hunter is here, and told me he left home yesterday and all was quiet there then. The City is full of strangers brought hither I suppose by the circular to which I have Heretofore alluded. All precipitation and Secessionists thrown upon us just as the action was made on Fort Sumpter, evidently made at the suggestion of Roger A. Pryor (who is there) with a view of drawing some rash act out of the President at Washington (like the proclamation) to spend its full force upon this Convention at a critical moment of its deliberations and at the very time of the assemblage of the multitude of secessionists.

The whole scheme was evidently matured long ago, and but a small part of it is yet developed, and that the least offensive of it. “Lincoln has committed an outrage on the Rights of the great, the gallant, and the conservative Union Party of Virginia, for which posterity must ever hold him responsible, the consequences of which will not only entirely destroy that noble party but rear over it a Red Republican Revolutionary party that will plunge our glorious country and recently happy people into all the horrors of civil war. Had he only evacuated the Forts Sumpter and Pickens (for which he had no use) and given positive assurances to our commissioners that his policy towards the seceded states would be entirely pacific. I have no doubt the last card of the secessionists would have been played out and we could then have adjusted all difficulties and thoroughly restored the union of all the states. He cannot be so blind as not to see a strong revolutionary spirit manifesting itself among the people. Why did he not therefore endeavor to cooperate with the conservatism of the Convention & work out the solution of this difficulty? (April 17th). In view of all the surroundings, I think I will probably come home in a few days. I am well aware of the intense excitement necessarily existing in your midst. I presume I cannot remain but a few days. I desire an interview with the Governor (Letcher) this morning to ascertain the condition of H. Ferry. I rejoice you that you are at home. If you were here you would be deranged, almost. I am no company either man or beast. I have sought consolation in the solitude of my chamber and in the Gents parlour, in long walks when an opportunity is offered, but without avail. The Solemn, Sad, and desponding countenances that characterize the union men in the hall of the Convention clearly indicates their wounded pride and patriotic devotion to this country’s honour and the people’s liberty. Brave men with stout hearts and trembling voices, with tears rolling down their cheeks, have stood up nobly in defence of the rights of the people, and earnestly appealed to their brother members to save them & theirs from the dim calamities of civil war, but in vain.” – (Perks, pp. 81-83)}

{THE ORDINANCE OF SECESSION

AN ORDINANCE to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This Ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia

JNO. L. EUBANK,
Sec’y of Convention.

VOTES ON SECESSION

The names of those who voted in the affirmative are –

Messrs. William M. Ambler (Louisa)
Wm. B. Aston (Russell and Wise)
James Barbour (Culpeper)
Angus R. Blakey (Madison)
George Blow, Jr.
James Boisseau (Dinwiddie)
Peter B. Borst (Page)
Wood Bouldin (Charlotte)
William W. Boyd (Botetourt)
Thomas Branch (Petersburg)
James C. Bruce (Halifax)
Frederick M. Cabell (Nelson)
John A. Campbell (Washington)
Allen T. Caperton (Monroe)
William P. Cecil (Tazewell)
John R. Chambliss (Greenesville and Sussex)
Manilius Chapman (Giles)
Samuel A. Coffman (Rockingham)
Raphael M. Conn (Shenandoah)
James H. Cox (Chesterfield)
Richard H. Cox (Essex and King & Queen)
John Critcher (Richmond County & Westmoreland)
Harvey Deskins (Floyd)
James B. Dorman (Rockbridge)
John Echols (Monroe)
Miers W. Fisher (Northampton)
Thomas S. Flournoy (Halifax)
William W. Forbes (Buckingham)
Napoleon B. French (Mercer)
Samuel M. Garland (Amherst)
Henry L. Gillespie (Fayette and Raleigh)
Samuel L. Graham (Tazewell)
Fendall Gregory, Jr. (King William)
William L. Goggin (Bedford)
John Goode, Jr. (Bedford)
Thomas F. Goode (Mecklenburg)
F. L. Hale (Carroll)
Cyrus Hall (Pleasants and Ritchie)
Leonard S. Hall (Wetzel)
Lewis E. Harvie (Amelia and Nottoway)
James P. Holcombe (Albemarle)
John N. Hughes (Randolph and Tucker)
Eppa Hunton (Prince William)
Lewis D. Isbell (Appomattox)
Marmaduke Johnson (Richmond City)
Peter C. Johnston (Lee and Scott)
Robert C. Kent (Wythe)
John J. Kindred (Southampton)
James Lawson (Logan, Boone and Wyoming)
Walter D. Leake (Goochland)
William H. Macfarland (Richmond City)
Charles K. Mallory (Elizabeth City, Warwick, York and Williamsburg)
James B. Mallory (Brunswick)
John L. Marye, Sr. (Spotsylvania)
Fleming B. Miller
Horatio G. Moffett (Rappahannock)
Robert L. Montague (Matthews and Middlesex)
Edmund T. Morris (Caroline)
Jeremiah Morton (Greene and Orange)
William J. Neblett (Lunenburg)
Johnson Orrick (Morgan)
William C. Parks (Grayson)
Wm. Ballard Preston (Montgomery)
George W. Randolph (Richmond City)
George W. Richardson (Hanover)
Timothy Rives
Robert E. Scott (Fauquier)
William C. Scott (Cumberland and Powhatan)
John T. Seawell (Gloucester)
James W. Sheffey (Smyth)
Charles R. Slaughter (Campbell)
Valentine W. Southall (Albemarle)
John M. Speed (Campbell)
Samuel G. Staples (Patrick)
James M. Strange (Fluvanna)
William T. Sutherlin (Pittsylvania)
George P. Tayloe (Roanoke)
John T. Thornton (Prince Edward)
William M. Tredway (Pittsylvania)
Robert H. Turner (Warren)
Franklin P. Turner (Jackson and Roane)
John Tyler
Edward Waller (King George and Stafford)
Robert H. Whitfield (Isle of Wight)
Samuel C. Williams (Shenandoah)
Henry A. Wise
Samuel Woods (Barbour)
Benj’n F. Wysor (Pulaski) – 88.

The names of those who voted in the negative are –

NOTE: Jefferson County Delegate Alfred Barbour was not present, en route to Harpers Ferry in anticipation of an attack on the armory and arsenal. It was not fully clear whose “bidding” he was doing.-ED)

Messrs. John Janney (Pres’t) (Loudoun)
Edward M. Armstrong (Hampshire)
John B. Baldwin (Augusta)
George Baylor (Augusta)
George W. Berlin (Upshur)
Caleb Boggess (Lewis)
George W. Brent (Alexandria)
William G. Brown (Preston)
John S. Burdett (Taylor)
James Burley (Marshall)
Benj. W. Byrne
John S. Carlile (Harrison)
John A. Carter (Loudoun)
Sherrard Clemens (Ohio)
C. B. Conrad (Gilmer, Wirt and Calhoun)
Robert Y. Conrad (Frederick)
James H. Couch (Mason)
William H. B. Custis (Accomac)
Marshall M. Dent (Monongalia)
William H. Dulany (Fairfax)
Jubal A. Early (Franklin)
Colbert C. Fugate (Scott)
Peyton Gravely (Henry)
Algernon S. Gray (Rockingham)
Ephraim B. Hall (Marion)
Allen C. Hammond (Berkeley)
Alpheus F. Haymond (Marion)
James W. Hoge (Putnam)
J. G. Holladay (Norfolk County)
Chester D. Hubbard (Ohio)
George W. Hull (Highland)
John J. Jackson (Wood)
John F. Lewis (Rockingham)
William McComas (Cabell)
James C. McGrew (Preston)
James Marshall (Frederick)
Henry H. Masters (Pendleton)
Samuel McD. Moore (Rockbridge)
Hugh M. Nelson (Clarke)
Logan Osburn (Jefferson)
Spicer Patrick (Kanawha)
Edmund Pendleton (Berkeley)
George McC. Porter (Hancock)
Samuel Price (Greenbrier)
David Pugh (Hampshire)
John D. Sharp (Lee)
Thomas Sitlington (Alleghany and Bath)
Burwell Spurlock (Wayne)
Alex. H. H. Stuart (Augusta)
Chapman J. Stuart (Doddridge and Tyler)
George W. Summers (Kanawha)
Campbell Tarr (Brooke)
William White (Norfolk County)
Williams C. Wickham (Henrico)
Wait. T. Willey (Monongalia) – 55.}

“Voting Results on the Virginia Ordinance of Secession” – A State of Convenience The Creation of West Virginia. wvculture.org (West Virginia Archives & History). 2 March 2000 Web. 1 Oct. 2011.

“Chapter Three Richmond Convention February 13-April 17, 1861” – A State of Convenience The Creation of West Virginia. wvculture.org (West Virginia Archives & History). 2 March 2000 Web. 1 Oct. 2011.

{Taylor County Delegate John S. Burdett, who also spoke at the event, said:
Within an hour,” he continued, “after the ordinance had passed, a mob of seventeen hundred of just such chaps as these were in the capitol grounds. They went to the arsenal got out the cannon and paraded around the capitol We adjourned and went to our boarding-houses to get away from the mob. I felt for the first time, when I saw them breaking down the doors of the capitol and tear down the flag how deeply disgraced was the ensign of the Nation. (Hall, pp. 182-183).}

“Virginia Ordinance of Secession April 17, 1861” – A State of Convenience The Creation of West Virginia. wvculture.org (West Virginia Archives & History). 2 March 2000 Web. 1 Oct. 2011.

{The ordinance of secession was passed. The injunction of secresy is upon every member. I can only say that it passed — and one thing more, which you doubtless already know, that I did not vote for it. I would have suffered this right arm to be cut off before I would have signed that ordinance. (Hancock County Delegate George McC Porter in a speech in Wheeling May 5th; Hall, pp. 179-180)}

WILLIAM EDWARDS wrote:
On Monday (Wednesday-ED), April 17th, the convention passed the ordinance of secession, big with disaster to Virginia. It was to be submitted to the voters a month later, but the managers proceeded as if the State were already out, as in fact it was.

I left Richmond early, and heard afterwards that I had taken the last train that left for the North for many a day. When I reached Washington I found quite another city from that I had passed through a week before. Flags were out everywhere, soldiers were everywhere, and the lobby at Willard’s was thronged with people eager to hear the latest news. In the morning, on taking the train for Philadelphia, I found Augustus Schell, collector of the port of New York under Buchanan, and who was, or had been, Sachem of Tammany. From him I learned of the vast change which that shot at Sumter had brought about through the whole North. A fine-looking young officer sat in the seat next in front, and Mr. Schell spoke of him as Colonel Ellsworth, from Chicago, who had been much talked of. During the preceding year, in anticipation of the coming troubles, he had organized and drilled a band of young athletes. Ellsworth was the first man killed in McClellan’s advance at Alexandria.

After we had passed through Maryland the Stars and Stripes began to show. Philadelphia was gay with them. At that day it was necessary to cross the city in omnibuses, and this gave opportunity to see the display. So it was to Trenton, and through New Jersey. At Trenton the Governor of New Jersey got in, returning to his home in Newark. He, with his staff, had been engaged at the Capital on matters connected with the draft. A man came in and sat by me, and soon opened on the all-absorbing topic. He said he would not have believed a week ago that he would ever feel as he did today. That he was a Democrat, in Southern business, and had money due him from. all over the South; and that he considered the money gone. “Damn them,” said he; “I don’t care now if I never see a cent of it. We’ll fight it out.”

New York, which had outwardly been quiet, now threw out a flag on every house and place of business. The Herald at first refused to show its loyalty in that way, and was very soon visited by a gathering of citizens who meant business unless a flag was run up in short order. Bennett found a flag mighty quick. The war feeling became intensified as the days passed, and as soldiers from the interior and the upper States, began to arrive, on their way to Washington. There was trouble at Baltimore and Washington was in danger of finding itself isolated. Troops were hurried forward, and even the Seventh Regiment, the crack regiment of the State, and whose special duty it is to keep order in New York city, was sent on.

The larger part of the Democratic party, when it came to the cross-roads, went with the administration, and so upset many calculations both at the North and South. War Democrats, these allies were called, and they fought for and upheld the government to the end of the war.

Patriotic meetings were held in the city squares by day and by night. Buchanan had left the Treasury empty, and there was neither coin, nor credit to the Government. Citizens came to the rescue and contributed according to their means to help the Treasury tide over the difficulty, A. T. Stewart heading the list with fifty thousand dollars. In these days of multi-millionaires, who can draw their checks for millions, such a subscription from the greatest merchant of New York, seems trivial, but that was the day of small things in all but the love of country. The rivulets from all over the North made a sizeable stream, and helped at Washington amazingly. The banks had suspended payment, and silver had passed out of sight. To relieve the consequent pressure, diminutive bills called “shin-plasters” were issued by banks, corporations, firms and individuals, and passed every where without question. Even postage stamps for a while passed as currency. Congress was in session presently, and it was not long before ways and means were devised, and the country, that is, what was left of the country, went on as of old. Very few persons supposed that the war, if there should he a war, would last long; it might be six months – possibly a little longer; but the good sense of the people, north and south, might be trusted to make for peace and re-union. Little the north then knew of the bitterness of the South, and still less the South knew of the grim determination of the North.

ACT V – SCENE V – IMBODEN AND ASHBY BRING WAR TO HARPERS FERRY ACCORDING TO THE PLAN

{JOHN IMBODEN:
Ashby had sent men on the night of the 17th to cut the wires between Manassas Junction and Alexandria, and to keep them cut for several days. Our advent at the Junction astounded the quiet people of the village. General Harman at once “impressed” the Manassas Gap train to take the lead, and switched two or three other trains to that line in order to proceed to Strasburg. I was put in command of the foremost train.

We had not gone five miles when I discovered that the engineer could not be trusted. He let his fire go down, and came to a dead standstill on a slight ascending grade. A cocked pistol induced him to fire up and go ahead. From there to Strasburg I rode in the engine-cab, and we made full forty miles an hour with the aid of good dry wood and a navy revolver. At Strasburg we left the cars, and before 10 o’clock the infantry companies took up the line of march for Winchester. I now had to procure horses for my guns.

The farmers were in their corn-fields, and some of them agreed to hire us horses as far as Winchester, eighteen miles, while others refused. The situation being urgent, we took the horses by force, under threats of being indicted by the next grand jury of the county. By noon we had a sufficient number of teams. We followed the infantry down the Valley Turnpike, reaching Winchester just at nightfall.

The people generally received us very coldly. The war spirit that bore them up through four years of trial and privation had not yet been aroused. General Harper was at Winchester, and had sent forward his infantry by rail to Charlestown, eight miles from Harper’s Ferry. In a short time a train returned for my battery. The farmers got their horses and went home rejoicing, and we set out for our destination.

The infantry moved out of Charlestown about midnight. We kept to our train as far as Halltown, only four miles from the ferry. There we set down our guns to be run forward by hand to Bolivar Heights, west of the town, from which we could shell the place if necessary.

April 18 – Thursday – Harpers Ferry, Halltown, VA:

DAVID HUNTER STROTHER, a writer/illustrator for “Harper’s Weekly” who was born and grew up in the eastern Panhandle and later became an officer in the Federal Army, describes his witnessing of the invasion by Ashby and Imboden of Harper’s Ferry, what transpired, and his personal opinion of the extraordinary turn of events.-ED

As we passed the Armory shops I observed they were closed. And the United States soldiers there on duty (fifty or sixty men) stood in groups about the grounds apparently awaiting orders. As the train stopped opposite the hotel I missed the mob of idlers that usually crowded the platform, but remarked a collection of half a dozen gentlemen standing near the steps which led to the telegraph office. While engaged in getting my baggage I heard my name called by one of the group, and on approaching recognized several acquaintances, whose presence there at that time struck me as ominous.

STROTHER CONTINUED

J. A. Seddon

Among them were Captain H. Turner Ashby and a stranger whom I afterward ascertained was a Mr. J.A. Seddon of Richmond. I felt assured,

from the anxiety expressed in their faces and the restlessness of their manner, that some extraordinary occasion had assembled them here; but I was not allowed much time for speculation, for as Ashby advanced to shake hands with me he said, “We are here in the name of the State of Virginia to take possession of Harper’s Ferry. Three thousand Virginians are marching to support us, and I am expecting their arrival every moment. They should have been here ere this. An Ordinance of Secession has been passed by the Convention, and the Navy-yard at Norfolk is already in our hands.”

I was so stunned by these revelations that I had scarcely breath to utter the usual and appropriate ejaculation of astonishment – “The Devil!”

Ashby further stated that he had taken possession of the telegraph office, and then walking to and fro and looking at his watch at every turn, gave vent to reiterated expressions of impatience at the non-appearance of the expected forces.

As I rallied from the surprise into which I had been thrown by these sudden developments I began to wonder what the authorities at Washington were dreaming of, and why the Government troops were lying idle in their barracks. I saw but half a dozen men who seemed to be arranging their plans and awaiting reinforcements at their leisure. Why were they not immediately arrested or shot down?

I also began to feel annoyed at finding myself the recipient of these quasi-confidential communications from persons with whom I had formerly had agreeable social relations and some affinity in political sentiment, but whose present position was abhorrent to me. The frank and unreserved manner in which they detailed their plans seemed purposely designed to implicate me, at least by approval, and I was glad when a direct question afforded me the opportunity of undeceiving them.

R___ asked, “How many men can we bring from Martinsburg to sustain them?”

I answered, “None at all; we are all Union men in Martinsburg.” This reply appeared to startle them, and was followed by an interchange of significant glances among the party.

Ashby then said that he had always been a sincere Union man heretofore, but as the action of the General Government had already destroyed the Union he now felt bound to stand by his State.

R___ said that he too always have been a Union man, and was one now, but felt himself driven into the present movement as the only means of preserving the union. Although I could not perceive the adaptation of the means to the end, I wished him success.

The whistle of the Charlestown cars terminated a conversation which had become embarrassing, and I took leave of my acquaintances with the decidedly less of cordiality than had than had been exhibited at our meeting.

STROTHER CONTINUED

. . . I had intended to go no further than Halltown, but the entrancement of curiosity and interest was irresistible, and I continued to follow the march of the troops at a short distance. The stars twinkled clear and chill overhead, while the measured tread of the men and an occasional half-whispered word of command were the only sounds that broke the stillness of the night. It was an awful opportunity for reflection.

The column was suddenly brought to a halt by the peremptory and startling challenge of a sentinel in the road. It was too dark to see what was going on, but I presently heard the order given to load with ball-cartridge, followed by the ringing of ramrods and clicking of musket-locks. The leading company then fixed bayonets, and forming across the turnpike, swept forward at a double quick. The challenges had retired and the column resumed its march. At the toll-gate near Allstadt’s they were again challenged and halted, with the same result.

Here I overtook an acquaintance who was following the column in a buggy, and feeling fatigued from my walk accepted the vacant seat beside him. He professed himself greatly distressed at the proceedings and said he had done all in his power to stop them, but without avail. I told him I had “said my say,” and did not intend to meddle further with the business, yet, from present appearances, it was possible there would be a fight.

. . . It appeared that instead of three thousand men expected by Ashby only three hundred and forty had been assembled, including the cavalry and some artilleries with an old iron six-pounder from Charlestown. At Halltown the paucity of numbers was overlooked in the eagerness to seize the virgin honors of the enterprise. Now when within musket-shot, more prudent counsels were entertained. A little less glory and a few more men would answer the purpose quite as well. It was not a fight they were seeking, but the possession of Harper’s Ferry, with its supplies of arms and valuable machinery.

. . . Ashby alone seemed impatient with the order to wait. While the officers were thus discoursing, and looking toward the town there was a sudden flash that illuminated for miles around the romantic gorge where the rivers meet. Then followed a dull report, reverberating from mountain to mountain until it died away in a sullen roar.

The flashes and detonations were several times repeated; then a steadier flame was seen rising from two distinct points silently and rapidly increasing in volume until each rock and tree on the Loudon and Maryland Heights were distinctly visible and the now over-clouded sky was ruddy with the sinister glare. This occurred I think between nine and ten o’clock. Some thought they heard artillery. But the more skillful presently guessed the truth and concluded that the officer in command had set fire to the arsenals and abandoned the town.

Ashby immediately dashed down the hill at the head of his cavalry to reconnoitre and ascertain the facts. The idea that there was to be no fight seemed to afford very general relief. My sympathy with this feeling was mingled with a deep sense of humiliation, in knowing that my Government had yielded so rich a prize to the revolution upon so feeble a demonstration.

Quietly withdrawing from the circle of acquaintances with whom I was conversing, I walked down to the town alone, by the Bolivar Road.

The Old Arsenal buildings on Shenandoah Street and several of the shops in the Armory inclosure on Potomac Street were in full blaze. The road was alive with men, women and children hurrying to and fro, laden with spoils from the workshops and soldiers’ barracks. There were women with their arms full of muskets, little girls loaded with sheaves of bayonets, boys dragging cartridge boxes ad cross belts enough to equip a platoon, men with barrels of pork or flour, kegs or molasses and boxes of hard bread on their shoulders or trundling in their wheel barrows.

April 19 – Friday: Harpers Ferry, VA:

On going down into the town this morning I found that there had been considerable accessions to the State forces, seven or eight hundred having arrived during the night and morning, while as many more were reported on the way.

STROTHER CONTINUED

Confusion reigned supreme, ably seconded by whisky. The newly-arrived troops having nothing to eat, consoled themselves as usual by getting something to drink. Parties were detailed to search the houses for the arms and the public property which had been carried off the evening before. This search was stoutly resisted by the women, who skirmished after their fashion with the guard, with tongue and broomstick, holding them at bay, while their husbands endeavored to conceal the spoils they had acquired. A rough estimate of the night’s work showed that about sixteen thousand muskets had perished by the burning of the arsenals and that one building (the carpenter shop) of the Potomac Armory had also been destroyed. On the other hand, several thousand new rifles and muskets complete, with all the costly material and machinery of the National Armory, had passed into the power of the revolution without a blow. Such were the visible and material results, but the social and political consequences who could estimate?

I must confess that I felt this morning like a man wandering in a maze. * The future exhibited but a dim and changing vista. Was the experiment of popular government indeed a failure, as our conservatives had been predicting from the commencement? Was Macaulay right when he said that our system would crumble into anarchy upon the first trial? . . .*

While indulging in these speculations my attention was directed to the flag-staff which stood in the yard of the Old Arsenal. The national standard had been lowered, and in its place floated the Sate flag of Virginia. It would be difficult to describe the mingled emotions excited in my mind by this simple incident.

(So) it seemed that the sudden gust of emotion, excited by the lowering of our starry flag, had swept away the mists of speculation and revealed in it’s depth and breadth the abyss of degradation opened by secession.

Yesterday I was a citizen of the great American republic. My country spanned a continent. Her northern border neared the frigid zone while her southern limit touched the tropics. Her eastern and western shores were washed by the two great oceans of the globe. Her commerce covering the most remote seas, her flag honored in every land. The strongest nation acknowledged her power. The great experiment which the pure and wise of all nations are watching with trembling solicitude and imperishable hope. It was something to belong to such a nationality . . .

Today, what am I? A citizen of Virginia. Virginia, a petty commonwealth with scarcely a million white inhabitants. What could she ever hope to be but a worthless fragment of the broken vase? A fallen splintered column of the once glorious temple.

Harper’s Ferry Resident Joseph Barry’s Account of Harper’s Ferry April 18-19, 1861

BARRY:
. . . While in Richmond, however, attending the convention, Mr. Barbour is said to have been drawn into the vortex of rebellion through the powerful influences brought to bear by the secessionists on the members of that body. Mr. Barbour’s family is one of the oldest and most aristocratic in Virginia, and many of his relatives had seats in the convention and were ultra-southern in their views. These, no doubt, had great influence over him, and, anyway he was finally induced to vote for a separation of his native state from the union.

Indeed, many at Harper’s Ferry who voted for him at the election, did so with strong misgivings respecting his sincerity, but, as there was no better choice under the circumstances, they gave him their support. Some who enjoyed his confidence said that he afterward bitterly regretted his course, and the writer is convinced that Mr. Barbour acted from sheer compulsion. The author of these pages was then a young man — poor and without weight in the community, but Mr. Barbour appeared to have some confidence in his judgment, for he sought an interview with him and asked him his advice as to the proper course to pursue in the convention. The author told him that he had a fine chance to immortalize himself by holding out for the Union of the States; that he was of a prominent southern family and that, if he proved faithful, his loyalty under the circumstances would give him such a national reputation as he could not hope for from the opposite course. They parted to meet but once again, and that for only a minute. After the fatal vote of the convention, Mr. Barbour called on business at the place where the author was employed and said just three words to him — “You were right.”

These words told the tale of compulsion or, perhaps, of contrition. The ordinance of secession was passed by the Virginia convention on the 17th of April, 1861. and, on the following day Mr. Barbour made his appearance at Harper’s Ferry in company with Mr. Seddon, afterward prominent in the confederate government.

He made a speech to his old employees advising them to co-operate with their native state and give in their allegiance to the new order of things. He appeared to be laboring under great excitement caused, perhaps, by his consciousness of having done wrong and unwisely. This speech excited the anger of the unionists to a high pitch, as he had received their suffrages on the understanding that he was for the old government unconditionally.

BARRY CONTINUED

A partial riot took place and the appearance soon after of a southern soldier, a young man named John Burk, on guard over the telegraph office, aroused the loyalists to frenzy. Lieutenant Roger Jones, with forty-two regular United States soldiers, was then stationed at Harper’s Ferry, a company of military having been kept there by the government for the protection of the place since the Brown raid. Hearing that a large force was marching from the south to take possession of the armory, he made some preparations to defend the post and called on the citizens for volunteers.

Many responded, prominent among whom was a gigantic Irishman named Jeremiah Donovan, who immediately shouldered a musket and stood guard at the armory gate. This man was the first — at least in that region — who took up arms in defense of the government and, as will be seen shortly, he was very near paying a heavy penalty for his patriotism. As before mentioned, a southern soldier was on guard at the telegraph office and he and Donovan were not fifty yards apart at their posts. To use a homely phrase, Harper’s Ferry was “between hawk and buzzard,” a condition in which it remained ’till the war was ended four years afterward. All day the wildest excitement prevailed in the town. All business was suspended except in the barrooms, and many fist fights came off between the adherents of the adverse factions. Mr. William F. Wilson, an Englishman by birth, but long a resident of the place, attempted to address the people in favor of the Union, but he was hustled about so that his words could not be heard distinctly. Mr. Wilson continued all through the war to be an ardent supporter of the Federal government. Mr. George Koonce. a man of great activity and personal courage, and Mr. Wilson, above mentioned, who is also a man of great nerve, were very prompt in volunteering their aid to Lieutenant Jones, and the latter put great confidence in them.

Lt. Roger Jones

With a few young men they advanced a little before midnight to meet the Virginia militia, about two thousand in number, who were marching towards Harper’s Ferry from Charlestown. They encountered and, it is said, actually halted them on Smallwood’s Ridge, near Bolivar. At this moment, however, news reached them that Lieutenant Jones, acting on orders from Washington City or under directions from Captain Kingsbury, who had been sent from the capital the day before to take charge of the armory, had set fire to the government buildings and, with his men, retreated towards the north.

This left the volunteers in a very awkward position, but they succeeded in escaping in the darkness from the host of enemies that confronted them. Mr. Koonce was obliged to leave the place immediately and remain away until the town again fell into the hands of the United States troops. A loud explosion and a thick column of fire and smoke arising in the direction of Harper’s Ferry, gave to the confederate force information of the burning, and they proceeded at double quick to save the machinery in the shops and the arms in the arsenal for the use of the revolutionary government. Before they had time to reach Harper’s Ferry the citizens of that place had extinguished the fire in the shops and saved them and the machinery. The arsenal, however, was totally consumed with about fifteen thousand stand of arms there stored — a very serious loss to the confederates, who had made calculations to get possession of them. Lieutenant Jones had put powder in the latter building and hence the explosion which had given notice to the confederates and, hence, also, the impossibility of saving the arsenal or its contents.

April 24 – Wednesday – Richmond, VA:

. . . Seven days after the ordinance was passed, the Convention, still in secret session, entered into a league with the Confederate States whereby all the purpose and effect of the ordinance was accomplished at once. It was a coup de main. There was no waiting for popular ratification. The terms of the secret league provided that pending the adoption of the permanent Confederate constitution — that is, instantly — the entire military forces and operations of Virginia “in the impending conflict with the United States” should be put under control of the President of the Confederacy, upon the same footing as if Virginia had already become a member of that government. After this, with Confederate soldiery in absolute control, instituting a reign of terror in three-fourths of the State, the form of going through an election on the question of ratifying the ordinance was a mockery. (Hall, p. 187). (NOTE: Hall served as secretary to Governor Francis H. Pierpont when the “Reorganized Government of Virginia” was set up by a convention of Western Virginia residents in Wheeling in 1861-ED)

May 6 – Monday, Fairmont, VA:

Ephraim B. Hall, a member of the Convention from Marion, spoke to a mass-meeting at Fairmont May 6th. Among other things he said:

The genuine Union men did not constitute more than one-third of the Convention. A tremendous outside pressure was brought to bear to dragoon us into the measures of the Secessionists. We were subjected to all sorts of insults. We were hissed at and groaned at The galleries were brought to bear on US whenever any man dared utter a sentiment for the ‘Union. Some of us were spit upon. We were told we would be driven out at the point of the bayonet. I come before you to-day with the Commonwealth’s seal upon my mouth. And when it was found we were not to be driven by ordinary means, you know what followed. We were finally forced Into secret session. I remonstrated, but to no purpose. They told us that before the Convention adjourned the Injunction of secrecy would be removed and they would retain a reporter and keep an accurate record of the proceedings. They refused to remove it. (Hall, pp. 179-180)

ACT VI – THE MAY 23 REFERENDUM VOTE IS FOR SECESSION, BUT CLOUDED BY A COUP AND WAR. NEVERTHELESS VOTES FROM EAST VIRGINIA REPORT FOR SECESSION AND WEST VIRGINIA, AGAINST – WITH THE EASTERN PANHANDLE EXTREMELY MIXED AND DIVIDED

WHO HAS THE LEGAL RIGHT TO VOTE IN THE SECESSION REFERENDUM MAY 23rd?

May 16 – Thursday, Winchester, VA: Former U. S. Senator James M. Mason wrote that any person voting against secession should, instead, leave the state since Virginia had already been incorporated into the Confederacy in a body that continued the Convention’s secret session. The members of the Convention who consummated the “League” with the Confederacy were: John Tyler, William Ballard Preston, Samuel McDowell Moore, James P. Holcombe, James C. Bruce and Lewis E. Harvie. Vice-President Stephens was the commissioner for the Confederacy. (Hall, pp. 188-190)

To the Editor of the Winchester Virginian from the former U. S.Senator James M. Mason:

The question has been frequently put to me. What position will Virginia occupy should the ordinance of secession be rejected by the people at the approaching election? And the frequency of the question may be an excuse for giving publicity to the answer. The ordinance of secession withdrew the State of Virginia from the Union, will all the consequences resulting from the separation. It annulled the Constitution and laws of the United States within the limit of this State and absolved the citizens of Virginia from all obligations of obedience to them.

Hence it follows if this ordinance be rejected by the people, the State of Virginia will remain in the Union and the people of the State will remain bound by the Constitution of the United States, and obedience to the government and laws of the United States will be fully and rightfully enforced against them.

It follows, of course, that in the war now carried on by the government of the United States against the seceded States, Virginia must immediately change sides, and under the orders of that government turn her arms against her Southern sisters.

From this there can be no escape. As a member of the Union, all her resources of men and money will be at once at the command of the government of the Union.

Again: for mutual defence, immediately after the ordinance of secession passed, a treaty or “military league” was formed by the Convention in the name of the people of Virginia, with the “Confederate States” of the South, by which the latter were bound to march to the aid of our State against the invasion of the Federal government. And we have now in Virginia, at Harper’s Ferry and at Norfolk, in face of the common foe, several thousand of the gallant sons of South Carolina, of Alabama, of Louisiana. Georgia and Mississippi, who hastened to fulfill the covenent they made, and are ready and eager to lay down their lives, side by side with our sons, in defence of the soil of Virginia. If the ordinance of secession is rejected, not only will this “military league” be annulled, but it will have been made a trap to inveigle our generous defenders into the hands of their enemies.

Virginia remaining in the Union, duty and loyalty to her obligations to the Union will require that those Southern forces shall not be permitted to leave the State, but shall be delivered up to the government of the Union; and those who refuse to do so will be guilty of treason, and be Justly dealt with as traitors. Treason against the United States consists as well “in adhering to its enemies and giving them aid” as in levying war.

If it be asked – What are those to do who in their consciences cannot vote to separate Virginia from the United States? The answer is simple and plain. Honor and duty alike require that they should not vote on the question; and if they retain such opinions, they must leave the State.

None can doubt or question the truth of what I have written, and none can vote against the ordinance of secession who does not thereby (whether ignorantly or otherwise) vote to place himself and his State in the position I have indicated.
J. M. Mason

May 23 – Thursday, Jefferson County, VA.: REFERENDUM ON SECESSION IS HELD

Results of the votes at county polling places on the referendum on whether or not to secede in Jefferson County were 813 “For”, 365 “Against.” (Phillips, p.41, Richmond Enquirer, May 29, 1861)

Vote tallies across the state were profoundly unreliable because of ongoing hostilities throughout the state. The fact that votes had to be given out loud (viva voce) opening the voter to reprisals, the absence of voting age men who enlisted mostly in Confederate armies (from Jefferson County) and would have added greatly to the County’s votes “for” secession; lastly, the effect of abstaining opponents of secession who heeded the advice of Senator Mason in the mentioned letter to the Winchester newspaper.

Shepherdstown Episcopal Priest C. W. Andrews voted against secession and believed according to his private writings, that many Unionists in Shepherdstown did not vote. His marriage to the daughter of Mathew Page of Clarke County and ties in his congregation to the Lees and Robinsons insulated him from criticism. (Phillips, p.41, footnote 29, p.176)

P. Douglas Perks writes in the Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society:

Only a total of 1,178 votes were cast in Jefferson County on May 23rd.
Many of the men who had voted in November and again in February were
now on the drill field. Of that total 813 men supported the secession
resolution. There were only 365 “NO” votes. . .

PERKS CONTINUES:

What caused men who so fervently supported remaining in the Union
in February to change their mind in May? At the risk of oversimplifying I
will offer one opinion. On June 6th, 1861 Logan Osburn was at his home
Avon Bend. He wrote a letter to his good friend and fellow convention
delegate Robert Y. Conrad who lived in Winchester. At first Osburn talks
about his wheat crop. Then prophetically he explains his change of heart:

I have earnestly (and perhaps obstinately) opposed the secession of Virginia for I voted against its ratification. I have regarded it as mischievous in its tendency, and destructive in its consequences to our best interests. Socially, politically and commercially. My opposition was based upon what I honestly believed to be my conscientious conviction of duty. But my opinions have been overruled by a large majority of the freemen of my state. My opposition is ended. My lot has been cast. I am a son of Virginia. & Her destiny shall be mine.

NEXT: ACT VII – THE WILL IS FORGED FOR A “WEST” VIRGINIA
George Koonce of Harpers Ferry Assures Jefferson County, “WEST” Virginia

Useful Local Links:

The Comet Strikes – Pt. 2: The Virginia Secession Convention 35,298 words Click Here

A Near Coup d-Etat’ – John Imboden 3376 words Click Here

The Red Dawn of Sedition – David Hunter Strother 8386 words Click Here

The Recruit: “Half-Horse, Half-Alligator” 1771 words Click Here

County Men Enlist, May 11, 1861 5095 words Click Here

“Why Did Virginia Secede?” – Dennis Frye 799 words Click Here

More County men Enlist, May 11, 1861 5853 words Click Here

More County Men Enlist, May 12, 1861 4198 words Click Here

More County Men Enlist, May 13, 1861 5775 words Click Here

More County Men Enlist, May 17, 1861 3092 words Click Here

The Messy Birth of the “Stonewall Brigade” 7925 words Click Here

The Tragic Vote in Richmond – P. Douglas Perks 5082 words Click Here

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The Comet Strikes – Pt. 2: The Virginia Secession Convention, spring, 1861 by Jim Surkamp

35,312 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20130511081923/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/11/the-comet-strikes-pt-2-the-virginia-secession-convention-spring-1861/

INTRODUCTION

This is where things fell apart. And Sumter.

More than one historian has called the conclusion of the Virginia Secession Convention in April, 1861 the most fateful moment in American history.

What a story. This is a chronology of eyewitness accounts and direct quotes of this tumultuous and very pivotal event. The personalities and intrigues are just one second and inch shy of blood on the floor. What happened starting the night of April 16th – the night before the vote on whether to secede – Henry Wise and John Imboden did what we nowadays call “hatching a coup.” Now, I’m not complaining – a war was starting up – but they too saw what they were doing in those terms at the time of execution.

The most interesting revelation for me from this convention and the war’s parallel inception was Wise’s reaction to first seeing from his clerk the news of Lincoln’s proclamation for volunteers from Virginia on April 15: “in utter disbelief,” according to his clerk. Before that moment, Wise acted fiercely on a belief that a strong, belligerent demonstration would make Lincoln back down and pave the way for Virginia to leave the Union. What a fateful, costly mis-read. As some say: “Bully meets bully; people get hurt.”

What also makes this story fascinating and sobering is that – minute-by-minute the world ending, the silent ones, even, will say they’re sad. Proud men bared their souls and emptied their hearts – no doubt shedding tears – because their world was ending – the United States. Existential sorrow hollowed solemn voices as the same Henry Wise brandished a long-barreled horse pistol in their faces, saying the war had already begun and by his own hand.

Virginia began really splitting, when West Virginians decided to leave the convention, such as when the forceful John Carlile of Harrison County hurried quietly out of Richmond to catch an early train on the edge of town, while men with hangin’ rope were searching for him in the halls of the Ballard Hotel.

“West” Virginia wasn’t “born” at the close of the Virginia Convention in April, 1861, but its contractions began then and there.

The rough treatment of western Virginia’s Convention delegates forged a will for them to “go west” once and for all as a matter of survival. And Jefferson County, whose two delegates never voted for secession during the proceeding, would see the first insurrection force marching on Harper’s Ferry before the work of secession was even formally authorized. It was the beginning of Jefferson County’s unique tragedy – of being pulled along the tear between both east and west Virginia for many years to come.

All in all, this is a tale of human nature that is timeless, of how close by potential anarchy always dwells, only requiring our carelessness and hubris. You can lose everything like awaking from a dream, in a spell of white hot passion, that also is awakened from, much later, by a cold morning.

If this story is the In-Between, then the Beginning and the End to the story of Jefferson County entering West Virginia, both are in the unwavering person of George Koonce, the focus of the next post.- Jim Surkamp

2 VIRGINIAS – THE COMET SPLITS THEM – APRIL, 17, 1861

ACT I – JEFFERSON VOTES UNIONISTS TO SECESSION CONVENTION
ACT II – CONVENTION UNIONISTS WITHSTAND VERBAL OFFENSIVE
ACT III – TWO ILL-TIMED VISITS TO LINCOLN
ACT IV – FIRST FLAME OF WAR
ACT V – THE WISE-IMBODEN COUP
ACT VI – THE MAY 23 REFERENDUM VOTE IS FOR SECESSION, BUT CLOUDED BY A COUP AND WAR
ACT VII – THE WILL IS FORGED FOR A “WEST” VIRGINIA

ACT I – JEFFERSON COUNTY VOTES 2 UNIONISTS TO SECESSION CONVENTION

William Lucas, Logan Osburn, Andrew Hunter, Alfred Barbour

P. Douglas Perks writes:


Soon Mississippi, then Florida and Alabama followed South Carolina out of the Union. But, the question on the collective mind of a now divided nation was, “How goes Virginia?”

The answer to that question would soon be forthcoming. Governor John Letcher called for a special session of the Virginia General Assembly to be held on Monday, January 14th, 1861. The purpose of the session was to determine Virginia’s position on the issue of secession from the Union. The General Assembly decided that Virginia’s position would be determined at a state-wide convention to be held on Wednesday, February 13th, 1861. Each county would elect delegates to attend the convention. The convention was empowered to debate the issue of secession and make a proposal which then had to be ratified by a statewide referendum.

According to Millard Bushong, “the most important meeting ever held” in Jefferson County occurred on Monday, January 21st, 1861.10 On that date the same men who had just two months earlier cast their votes in the presidential election met at the Jefferson County Court House. They assembled at a public meeting to determine who would represent Jefferson County at the upcoming Virginia Secession Convention.

The results of the meeting were announced in the Alexandria Gazette:

The Southern Rights party in Jefferson Co., Va., has nominated the Hon. Wm. Lucas and Andrew Hunter, esq., as candidates for the State Convention. The Union party in the same county have nominated Col. A. M. Barbour and Logan Osborne, esq.

The men who supported States’ rights were represented by two men well known in Jefferson County.

William Lucas was a member of one of Jefferson’s oldest families. Born on November 30th, 1800 at Cold Spring just south of Shepherd’s Town, Lucas studied law under Henry Berry of Shepherd’s Town and Judge Henry St. George Tucker in Winchester. Lucas married Sarah Rion and in 1826 they inherited Rion Hall and oversaw its expansion. Upon Sarah’s death, Lucas married

Virginia Bedinger, the daughter of Daniel Bedinger. They were the parents of
Judge Daniel Bedinger Lucas. Lucas practiced law first in Shepherd’s Town then in Charlestown. He was a delegate to the Virginia General Assembly in 1837-1838 and represented Virginia’s 15th Congressional District in 1839-1841. Lucas was a delegate from Jefferson County to the Virginia Constitution Convention held in 1850-1851.

Lucas’ running mate was local attorney Andrew Hunter, well known in the county for his role in the prosecution of John Brown. Hunter was born March 22nd, 1804 in Berkeley County the son of Colonel David H. and Elizabeth Pendleton Hunter. Hunter graduated from Hampden-Sydney College and then studied law. In the 1850s, he built Hunter Hill on the east border of Charlestown. Hunter practiced first in Harper’s Ferry then in Charlestown. He was a Whig presidential elector in 1840, a member of the Virginia General Assembly in 1846, and the Virginia Constitution Convention in 1850-1851. Lucas and Hunter were running opposite two men who represented the Union Party.

Alfred Madison Barbour was born April 17th, 1829 in Culpeper County, Virginia into one of Virginia’s oldest families. Barbour was a graduate of the University of Virginia and Harvard University School of Law. He began his practice of law in Charlestown. On December 24th, 1858 Barbour was appointed superintendent of the United States Armory at Harper’s Ferry. He was immediately faced with severe budget cuts, but Barbour handled the crisis well and earned good marks from his superiors at the Ordnance Department. In October 1859 at the time of John Brown’s attack on the armory, Barbour was in New England visiting the Springfield Armory and the Ames Manufacturing Company. He learned of the raid while visiting Samuel Colt in Hartford, Connecticut. He hurried home to Jefferson County and arrived back in Harper’s Ferry on October 21st. Archibald Kitzmiller, the acting superintendent, Master Armorer Benjamin Mills, and Master Machinist Armistead Ball had all had been held hostage by Brown and his men. Barbour was left with the task of restoring calm and order after the three day siege.

The other pro-Union candidate was Logan Osburn. Osburn was born March 23rd, 1810 in Loudoun County, Virginia. He received his education at the Catoctin Academy located in Loudoun County. In the 1830s after he married Hanna Leslie the Osburn’s moved to Ohio. There he pursued a number of vocations including newspaper editor and hotel operator. After the death of his wife, Osburn returned to Virginia where, in 1840, he married Margaret Chew Osburn. In 1843, the Osburn family moved to Jefferson County. Osburn bought the property in the Kabletown district known as Avon Bend. While the house was being renovated Osburn owned and operated a store in Kabletown. The Osburn family moved to Avon Bend in 1848. From 1851-1852 he co-owned Shannondale Springs. In 1856, Osburn built and moved his family to Avon View. Osburn represented Jefferson County in the Virginia General Assembly from 1857 to 1858.

PERKS CONTINUED:

Monday, February 4th, 1861 was the day designated by the Virginia General Assembly for each county to select its delegates to the Secession Convention. Jefferson’s electorate once again went to the polls. Consistent with the results of the presidential election, the men of Jefferson County voiced their support of the Constitution. Barbour and Osburn captured 1,433 votes and 1,350 votes respectively. Hunter’s 467 votes and Lucas’ total of 430 votes confirmed that in early February 1861 Jefferson County wanted to remain in the Union and would send two men to Richmond who would vote in opposition to secession.

The three-month period from the first of February to the end of April in 1861 is arguably the most important 90 days in our Nation’s history. During those 2,160 hours, men from around the Commonwealth met to debate and to decide Virginia’s fate.

Among the document archives at the Jefferson County Museum is a collection of Logan Osburn’s correspondence. Included in the collection are several letters written by Osburn during this critical time in history. Reading Osburn’s observation of how events transpired during Virginia’s convention affords us a front row seat as history is being made. (Perks, pp. 74-77)

ACT II – UNIONISTS CONTROL THE CONVENTION, WILLEY AND CARLILE “ANSWER” POWERFUL SPEECHES BY INVITED SECESSION LOBBYISTS ANDERSON, BENNING AND PRESTON. MEANTIME, PRESIDENT-ELECT LINCOLN GIVES HINTS OF HIS POLICIES IN PUBLIC STATEMENTS. BUT AT THE CONVENTION ON APRIL 4TH, RIGHT AFTER A SWEEPING PRO-UNION VOTE REJECTING SECESSION, THE UNIONISTS OVERLOOK A GOLDEN MOMENT TO PREVENT SECESSION ALTOGETHER – AND FAIL TO PLAY THEIR ULTIMATE CARD – ADJOURNMENT SINE DIE.

Willey, Preston Smith, youth, Carlile, F. Anderson, Benning

February 13 – Wednesday, Richmond, VA: First Day of the Convention

The Virginia Secession Convention opened on Wednesday, February 13th, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia. The Mechanics Institute at the foot of Capitol Square

was selected to be the convention site. John Janney, delegate from Loudoun County, was elected president of the convention. Janney’s opening remarks set the tone for the convention:

It is our duty on an occasion like this to elevate ourselves into an atmosphere, in which party passion and prejudice cannot exist-to conduct all our deliberations with calmness and wisdom, and to maintain, with inflexible firmness, whatever position we may find it necessary to assume. (Perks, pp. 74-77)

The Virginia State Convention assembles in the Hall of the House of Delegates, and elects Mr. Cox as temporary Chairman. Mr. Gordon, Clerk of the House of Delegates, is appointed temporary Secretary.

The roll is called. Mr. Janney is elected President of the Convention, and makes a speech of acceptance. Mr. Eubank is elected Secretary. The Convention adopts for the time being the rules of the House of Delegates.

February 18 – Monday, Richmond, VA: Fifth Day of the Convention

Mr. Fulton Anderson, commissioner from Mississippi, addresses the Convention; he justifies the secession of his state, and invites Virginia to the leadership of a Southern Union. Mr. Benning, commissioner from Georgia, speaks in the same vein, with frequent reference to economic considerations. (NOTE: The comments regarding race by speakers Anderson, Benning, and Preston are presented with the understanding that they are considered unacceptable in a modern civilized society.-ED)

ACT II – SCENE I – LOBBYIST FROM MISSISSIPPI SECESSION COMMISSIONER FULTON ANDERSON SPEAKS: But we in Mississippi, gentlemen, are no longer under that illusion. Hope has died in our hearts. It received its death-knell at the fatal ballot-box in November last . . .

{THE COMMISSIONER FROM MISSISSIPPI
The President stated that in pursuance of the resolution of Friday last, he begged leave to announce to the Convention, that the Hon. FULTON ANDERSON, the Commissioner from Mississippi, would now address them:

Mr. ANDERSON ascended the platform near the President’s Chair, and addressed the Convention, as follows:

Mr. ANDERSON:
Gentlemen of the Convention: Honored by the Government of Mississippi with her commission to invite your co-operation in the measures she has been compelled to adopt for the vindication of her rights and her honor in the present perilous crisis of the country, I desire to express to you, in the name and behalf of her people, the sentiments of esteem and admiration which they in common with the whole Southern people entertain for the character and fame of this ancient and renowned Commonwealth.

. . . In recurring to our past history, we recognize the State of Virginia as the leader in the first great struggle for independence; foremost not only in the vindication of her own rights, but in the assertion and defence of the endangered liberties of her sister colonies; and by the eloquence of her orators and statesmen, as well as by the courage of her people arousing the whole American people in resistance to British aggression.

. . . I desire also to say to you gentlemen, that in being compelled to sever our connexion with the government which has hitherto united us, the hope which lies nearest to our hearts is that, at no distant day, we may be again joined with you in another Union, which shall spring into life under more favorable omens and with happier auspices than that which has passed away . . .

. . . On the 29th of November last, the Legislature of Mississippi, by an unanimous vote, called a Convention of her people, to take into consideration the existing relations between the Federal Government and herself, and to take such measures for the vindication of her sovereignty and the protection of her institutions as should appear to be demanded.

. . . As early as the 10th of February, 1860, her Legislature had, with the general approbation of her people, adopted the following resolution:

“Resolved, That the election of a President of the United States by the votes of one section of the Union only, on the ground that there exists an irrepressible conflict between the two sections in reference to their respective systems of labor and with an avowed purpose of hostility to the

institution of slavery, as it prevails in the Southern States, and as recognized in the compact of Union, would so threaten a destruction of the ends for which the Constitution was formed, as to justify the slave-holding States in taking council together for their separate protection and safety.”

This was the ground taken, gentlemen, not only by Mississippi, but by other slave-holding States, in view of the then threatened purpose, of a party founded upon the idea of unrelenting and eternal hostility to the institution of slavery, to take possession of the power of the Government and use it to our destruction. It cannot, therefore, be pretended that the Northern people did not have ample warning of the disastrous and fatal consequences that would follow the success of that party in the election, and impartial history will emblazon it to future generations, that it was their folly, their recklessness and their ambition, not ours, which shattered into pieces this great confederated Government, and destroyed this great temple of constitutional liberty which their ancestors and ours erected, in the hope that their descendants might together worship beneath its roof as long as time should last.

But, in defiance of the warning thus given and of the evidences so cumulated from a thousand other sources, that the Southern people would never submit to the degradation implied in the result of such an election, that sectional party, bounded by a geographical line which excluded it from the possibility of obtaining a single electoral vote in the Southern States, avowing for its sentiment, implacable hatred to us, and for its policy the destruction of our institutions, and appealing to Northern prejudice, Northern passion, Northern ambition and Northern hatred of us, for success, thus practically disfranchizing the whole body of the Southern people, proceeded to the nomination of a candidate for the Presidency who, though not the most conspicuous personage in its ranks, was yet the truest representative of its destructive principles.

The steps by which it proposed to effect its purposes, the ultimate extinction of slavery, and the degradation of the Southern people, are too familiar to require more than a passing allusion from me.

. . . Having thus placed the institution of slavery, upon which rests not only the whole wealth of the Southern people, but their very social and political existence, under the condemnation of a government established for the common benefit, it proposed in the future, to encourage immigration into the public Territory, by giving the public land to immigrant settlers, so as, within a brief time, to bring into the Union free States enough to enable it to abolish slavery within the States themselves.

I have but stated generally the outline and the general programme of the party to which I allude without entering into particular details or endeavoring to specify the various forms of attack, which have been devised and suggested by the leaders of that party upon our institutions.

That this general statement of its purposes is a truthful one, no intelligent observer of events will for a moment deny; but the general view and purpose of the party has been sufficiently developed by the President elect.

“It is my opinion,” says Mr. Lincoln, “that the slavery agitation will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the house to fall, but I expect it to cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all another. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest its further spread and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in all the States—old as well as new, North as well as South.”

. . . We, the descendants of the leaders of that illustrious race of men who achieved our independence and established our institutions, were to become a degraded and a subject class, under that government which our fathers created to secure the equality of all the States—to bend our necks to the yoke which a false fanaticism had prepared for them, and to hold our rights and our property at the sufferance of our foes, and to accept whatever they might choose to leave us as a free gift at the hands of an irresponsible power, and not as the measure of our constitutional rights.

All this, gentlemen, we were expected to submit to, under the fond illusion that at some future day, when our enemies had us in their power, they would relent in their hostility; that fanaticism would pause in its career without having accomplished its purpose; that the spirit of oppression would be exorcised, and, in the hour of its triumph, would drop its weapons from its hands, and cease to wound its victim. We were expected, in the language of your own inspired orator, to “indulge in the fond illusions of hope; to shut our eyes to the painful truth, and listen to the song of that syren until it transformed us into beasts.”

ANDERSON CONTINUED

But we in Mississippi, gentlemen, are no longer under that illusion. Hope has died in our hearts. It received its death-knell at the fatal ballot-box in November last, and the song of the syren no longer sounds in our ears. We have thought long and maturely upon this subject, and we have made up our minds as to the course we should adopt. We ask no compromise and we want none. We know that we should not get it if we were base enough to desire it, and we have made the irrevocable resolve to take our interests into our own keeping.

Could we think that the crisis which is now upon us was but a temporary ebullition of temper in one section of the country, which would in brief time subside, we might even yet believe that all was not lost, and that we might yet rest securely under the shadow of the Constitution. But the stern truth of history, if we accept its teachings, forbids us such reflections. It is not to be denied that the sentiment of hatred to our institutions in the Northern section of the Confederacy is the slow and mature growth of many years of false teaching, and that as we receded further and further from the earlier and purer days of the Republic, and from the memory of associated toils and perils in a common cause which once united us, that sentiment of hatred has been fanned from a small spark into a mighty conflagration, whose unextinguishable and devouring flames are reducing our empire into ashes.

ANDERSON CONTINUED

Ere yet that generation which achieved our liberty had passed entirely from the scene of action, it manifested itself in the Missouri controversy. Then were heard the first sounds of that fatal strife which has raged, with occasional intermissions, down to this hour. And so ominous was it of future disaster, even in its origin, that it filled even the sedate soul of Mr. Jefferson with alarm ; he did not hesitate to pronounce it, even then, as the death-knell of the Union, and in mournful and memorable words to congratulate himself that he should not survive to witness the calamities he predicted.

Said he :“This momentous question, like a fire-bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the present, but that is only a reprieve, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once concurred in and held up to the passions of men, will never be obliterated, and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper, until it will kindle such mutual and mortal hatred as to render separation preferable to eternal discord. I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness for their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be that I live not to weep over it.”

But, so far were the Northern people from being warned by these sad prophetic words, that at each renewal of the struggle the sentiment of hostility has acquired additional strength and intensity. . . An infidel fanaticism, crying out for a higher law than that of the Constitution and a holier Bible than that of the Christian, has been enlisted in the strife, and in every form in which the opinions of a people can be fixed and their sentiments perverted. In the schoolroom, the pulpit, on the rostrum, in the lecture-room and in the halls of legislation, hatred and contempt of us and our institutions, and of the Constitution which protects them, have been inculcated upon the present generation of Northern people. Above all, they have been taught to believe that we are a race inferior to them in morality and civilization, and that they are engaged in a holy crusade for our benefit in seeking the destruction of that institution which they consider the chief impediment to our advance, but which we, relying on sacred and profane history for our belief in its morality, believe lies at the very foundation of our social and political fabric and constitutes their surest support.

This, gentlemen, is indeed an irrepressible conflict which we cannot shrink from if we would; and though the President elect may congratulate himself that the crisis is at hand which he predicted, we, if we are true to ourselves, will make it fruitful of good by ending forever the fatal struggle and placing our institutions beyond the reach of further hostility.

ANDERSON CONTINUED

. . .This is the inevitable destiny of the Southern people, and this destiny Virginia holds in her hands. By uniting herself to her sisters of the South who are already in the field, she will make that a peaceful revolution which may otherwise be violent and bloody. At the sound of her trumpet in the ranks of the Southern States, “grim-visaged war will smooth his wrinkled front,” peace and prosperity will again smile upon the country, and we shall hear no more threats of coercion against sovereign States asserting their independence. The Southern people, under your lead, will again be united, and liberty, prosperity and power, in happy union, will take up their abode in the great Southern Republic, to which we may safely entrust our destinies. These are the noble gifts which Virginia can again confer on the country, by prompt and decided action at the present.

In conclusion, gentlemen, let me renew to you the invitation of my State and people, to unite and co-operate with your Southern sisters who are already in the field, in defence of their rights. We invite you to come out from the house of your enemies, and take a proud position in that of your friends and kindred. Come and be received as an elder brother whose counsels will guide our action and whose leadership we will willingly follow. Come and give us the aid of your advice in counsel and your arm in battle, and be assured that when you do come, as we know you will do at no distant day, the signal of your move will send a thrill of joy vibrating through every Southern heart, from the Rio Grande to the Atlantic, and a shout of joyous congratulation will go up which will shake the continent from its centre to its circumference.}

ACT II – SCENE II – GEORGIA’S HENRY L. BENNING ON THE NEED FOR SECESSION:
By the time the North shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything.

{The PRESIDENT—
In further execution of the order of the day, I have the honor of introducing to you the Hon. HENRY L. BENNING, of Georgia.

Mr. BENNING came forward and said:
Mr. President and Members of the Convention:
I have been appointed by the Convention of the State of Georgia, to present to this Convention, the ordinance of secession of Georgia, and further, to invite Virginia, through this Convention, to join Georgia and the other seceded States in the formation of a Southern Confederacy. This, sir, is the whole extent of my mission. I have no power to make promises, none to receive promises; no power to bind at all in any respect. But still, sir, it has seemed to me that a proper respect for this Convention requires that I should with some fulness and particularity, exhibit before the Convention the reasons which have induced Georgia to take that important step of secession, and then to lay before the Convention some facts and considerations in favor of the acceptance of the invitation by Virginia. With your permission then, sir, I will pursue this course.

What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery. This conviction, sir, was the main cause. It is true, sir, that the effect of this conviction was strengthened by a further conviction that such a separation would be the best remedy for the fugitive slave evil, and also the best, if not the only remedy, for the territorial evil. But, doubtless, if it had not been for the first conviction this step would never have been taken. It therefore becomes important to inquire whether this conviction was well founded.

Is it true, then, that unless there had been a separation from the North, slavery would be abolished in Georgia? I address myself to the proofs of that case.

In the first place, I say that the North hates slavery, and, in using that expression I speak wittingly. In saying that the Black Republican party of the North hates slavery, I speak intentionally. If there is a doubt upon that question in the mind of any one who listens to me, a few of the multitude of proofs which could fill this room, would, I think, be sufficient to satisfy him. I beg to refer to a few of the proofs that are so abundant; and ***the first that I shall adduce consists in two extracts

from a speech of Lincoln’s, made in October, 1858. They are as follows: “I have always hated slavery as much as any abolitionist; I have always been an old line Whig; I have always hated it and I always believed it in the course of ultimate extinction, and if I were in Congress and a vote should come up on the question, whether slavery should be excluded from the territory, in spite of the Dred Scott decision, I would vote that it should.”

These are pregnant statements; they avow a sentiment, a political principle of action, a sentiment of hatred to slavery as extreme as hatred can exist. *** The political principle here avowed is, that his action against slavery is not to be restrained by the Constitution of the United States, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States. I say, if you can find any degree of hatred greater than that, I should like to see it. This is the sentiment of the chosen leader of the Black Republican party ; and can you doubt that it is not entertained by every solitary member of that same party? You cannot, I think. He is a representative man; his sentiments are the sentiments of his party; his principles of political action are the principles of political action of his party. I say, then; it is true, at least, that the Republican party of the North hates slavery.

My next proposition is, that the Republican party of the North is in a permanent majority. It is true that in a government organized like the government of the Northern States, and like our own government, a majority, where it is permanent, is equivalent to the whole. The minority is powerless if the majority be permanent. Now, is this majority of the Republican party permanent? I say it is. That party is so deeply seated at the North that you cannot overthrow it. It has the press, it has the pulpit, it has the school-house, it has the organizations—the Governors, Legislatures, the judiciary, county officers, magistrates, constables, mayors, in fact all official life. Now, it has the General Government in addition. It has that inexhaustible reserve to fall back upon and to recruit from, the universal feeling at the North that slavery is a moral, social and political evil. With this to fall back upon, recruiting is easy. This is not all. The Republican party is now in league with the tariff, in league with internal improvements, in league with three Pacific Railroads. Sir, you cannot overthrow such a party as that. As well might you attempt to lift a mountain out of its bed and throw it into the sea.

BENNING CONTINUED

But, suppose, sir, that by the aid of Providence and the intensest human exertion, you were enabled to overthrow it, how long would your victory last? But a very short time. The same ascendancy which that party has gained now, would be gained again before long. If it has come to this vast majority in the course of twenty-five years, from nothing, how long would it take the fragments of that party to get again into a majority? Sir, in two or three Presidential elections your labor would be worse than the labor of Sisyphus, and every time you rolled the rock up the hill it would roll back again growing larger and larger each time until at last it would roll back like an avalanche crushing you beneath it.

The Republican party is the permanent, dominant party at the North, and it is vain to think that you can put it down. It is true that the Republican party hates slavery, and that it is to be the permanent, dominant party at the North ; and the majority being equivalent to the whole, as I have already stated, we cannot doubt the result. What is the feeling of the rest of the Northern people upon this subject? Can you trust them? They all say that slavery is a moral, social and political evil. Then the result of that feeling must be hatred to the institution; and if that is not entertained, it must be the consequence of something artificial or temporary—some interest, some thirst for office, or some confidence in immediate advancement. And we know that these considerations cannot be depended upon, and we may expect that, ultimately, the whole North will pass from this inactive state of hatred into the active state which animates the Black Republican party.

Is it true that the North hates slavery? My next proposition is that in the past the North has invariably exerted against slavery, all the power which it had at the time. The question merely was what was the amount of power it had to exert against it. They abolished slavery in that magnificent empire which you presented to the North ; they abolished slavery in every Northern State, one after another ; they abolished slavery in all the territory above the line of 36 30, which comprised about one million square miles. They have endeavored to put the Wilmot Proviso upon all the other territories of the Union, and they succeeded in putting it upon the territories of Oregon and Washington. They have taken from slavery all the conquests of the Mexican war, and appropriated it all to anti-slavery purposes ; and if one of our fugitives escapes into the territories, they do all they can to make a free man of him; they maltreat his pursuers, and sometimes murder them. They make raids into your territory with a view to raise insurrection, with a view to destroy and murder indiscriminately all classes, ages and sexes, and when the base perpetrators are caught and brought to punishment, condign punishment, half the north go into mourning. If some of the perpetrators escape, they are shielded by the authorities of these Northern States—not by an irresponsible mob, but by the regularly organized authorities of the States.

My next proposition is, that we have a right to argue from the past to the future and to say, that if in the past the North has done this, in the future, if it shall acquire the power to abolish slavery, it will do it.

BENNING CONTINUED

My next proposition is that the North is in the course of acquiring this power to abolish slavery. Is that true? I say, gentlemen, the North is acquiring that power by two processes, one of which is operating with great rapidity—that is by the admission of new States. The public territory is capable of forming from twenty to thirty States of larger size than the average of the States now in the Union. The public territory is peculiarly Northern territory, and every State that comes into the Union will be a free State. We may rest assured, sir, that that is a fixed fact. The events in Kansas should satisfy every one of the truth of that. If causes now in operation are allowed to continue, the admission of new States will go on until a sufficient number shall have been secured to give the necessary preponderance to change the Constitution. There is a process going on by which some of our own slave States are becoming free States already. It is true, that in some of the slave States the slave population is actually on the decrease, and, I believe it is true of all of them that it is relatively to the white population on the decrease. The census shows that slaves are decreasing in Delaware and Maryland ; and it shows that in the other States in the same parallel, the relative state of the decrease and increase is against the slave population. It is not wonderful that this should be so. The anti-slavery feeling has got to be so great at the North that the owners of slave property in these States have a presentiment that it is a doomed institution, and the instincts of self-interest impels them to get rid of that property which is doomed. The consequence is, that it will go down lower and lower, until it all gets to the Cotton States—until it gets to the bottom. There is the weight of a continent upon it forcing it down. Now, I say, sir, that under this weight it is bound to go down unto the Cotton States, one of which I have the honor to represent here. When that time comes, sir, the free States in consequence of the manifest decrease, will urge the process with additional vigor, and I fear that the day is not distant when the Cotton States, as they are called, will be the only slave States. When that time comes, the time will have arrived when the North will have the power to amend the Constitution, and say that slavery shall be abolished, and if the master refuses to yield to this policy, he shall doubtless be hung for his disobedience.

My proposition, then, I insist, is true, that the North is acquiring this power. That being so, the only question is will she exercise it? Of course she will, for her whole course shows that she will. If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished except in Georgia and the other cotton States, and I doubt, ultimately in these States also. By the time the North shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. (Laughter.) The majority according to the Northern idea, which will then be the all-pervading, all powerful one, have the right to control. It will be in keeping particularly with the principles of the abolitionists that the majority, no matter of what, shall rule. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand that? It is not a supposable case. Although not half so numerous, we may readily assume that war will break out everywhere like hidden fire from the earth, and it is probable that the white race, being superior in every respect, may push the other back. They will then call upon the authorities at Washington, to aid them in putting down servile insurrection, and they will send a standing army down upon us, and the volunteers and Wide-Awakes will come in thousands, and we will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth; and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination. That is the fate which Abolition will bring upon the white race.

But that is not all of the Abolition war. We will be completely exterminated, and the land will be left in the possession of the blacks, and then it will go back into a wilderness and become another Africa or St. Domingo. The North will then say that the Lord made this earth for his Saints and not for Heathens, and we are his Saints, and the Yankees will come down and drive out the negro.

Sir, this is Abolition to the cotton States. Would you blame us if we sought a remedy to avert that condition of things? What must be the requisites of any remedy that can do it? It must be one which will have one of two qualities. It must be something that will change the unanimity of the North on the slavery question, or something that shall take from them the power over the subject. Any thing that does not contain one of these two requisites is not a remedy for the case; it does not come to the root of the disease.

BENNING CONTINUED

What remedy is it that contains these requisites? Is there any in the Union that does? Let us take the strongest that we have heard suggested, which is an amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing the power of self-preservation, of dividing the public territory at the line of 36 deg. 30 min., giving the South all below that line. I know that remedy has not been thought of as in any degree practicable. But, let us look at it. Suppose they grant us the power of self-preservation—suppose they give to each Senator and member the veto power over any bill relating to slavery. That is putting it strong enough. Would that be sufficient now, to make it protective? I say it would not, and for two reasons. The first is that the North regards every such stipulation as void under the higher law. The North entertains the opinion that slavery is a sin and a crime. I mean, when I say the North, the Republican party, and that is the North ; and they say that any stipulation in the Constitution or laws in favor of slavery, is an agreement with death and a covenant with hell ; and that it is absolutely a religious merit to violate it. They think it as much a merit to violate a provision of that sort, as a mere stipulation in favor of murder or treason.

Well, sir, a people entertaining this opinion of a covenant of that sort, is beyond the pale of contract-making. You cannot make a contract with a people of that kind, because it is a bond not as they regard it, binding upon them. That being so, how will it be any protection to us, that our senators and representatives shall have the power of saying this bill shall not pass. Suppose the bill to pass giving protection to slavery, they would say hereafter, we proclaimed from the mountain tops, from the hustings, from the forum, and wherever our voice could be heard, that we did not regard stipulations in matters relating to slavery as binding upon us. We recognize a higher law, and will not obey these stipulations—you might have so expected from our proclaimed opinions beforehand.

The next reason is this, the North entertains upon the subject of the Constitution the idea that this a consolidated Government, that the people are one nation, not a Confederation of States, and that being a consolidated Government, the numerical majority is sovereign. The necessary result of that doctrine when pushed to its natural result is, that the Constitution of the United States is, at any time, subject to amendment by a bare majority of the whole people; and that being so, it becomes no matter what protection the Constitution may contain, it would be changed by a majority of the people, because a stipulation in the Constitution can no more be binding upon those who may choose subsequently to alter it, than the act of a legislature upon a subsequent legislature. Thus it is they will have the power to change the Constitution, alter it as you will. The President elect has proclaimed from the house tops in Indiana that a State is no more than a county. This is an abandonment in the concrete of the whole doctrine. How, then, can we accept any stipulation from a people holding the opinions that they do upon the question of slavery, and the obligations of government. The proposition which I have already adduced for argument sake, is infinitely beyond anything that we have a hope of obtaining. Then I assume that if this be true, it must be true that you can get no remedy for this disease in the Cotton States of the Union.

The question then is, would a separation from the North be a remedy? I say it would be a complete remedy; a remedy that would reach the disease in all its parts. If we were separated from the North, the will of the North on the subject of slavery would be changed. Why is it now that the North hates slavery? For the reason that they are, to some extent, responsible for the institution because of the Union, and for the reason that by hating slavery they get office. Let there be a separation, and this feeling will no longer exist, because slavery will no longer enter into the politics of the North. Does slavery in the South enter into the politics of England or France? Does slavery in Brazil or Cuba enter into the politics of the North? Not at all ; and if we were separated, the subject of slavery would not enter into the politics of the North. I say, therefore, that this remedy would be sufficient for this disease in the worst aspect of it. Once out of the Union, we would be beyond the influence of the yeas and nays of the North. Get us out, and we are safe.

BENNING CONTINUED

I think, then, that this conviction in the mind of Georgia—namely, that the only remedy for this evil is separation was well-founded. She also was convinced that separation would be the best, if not the only remedy for the fugitive slave evil and for the territorial evil. It may be asked, sir, if the personal liberty bills, if the election of Lincoln by a sectional majority, had nothing to do with the action of Georgia? Sir, they had much to do with it. These were most important facts. They indicated a deliberate purpose on the part of the North, in every case in which there was a stipulation in favor of slavery, to obliterate it if it had the power to do so. They are valuable in another respect. These personal liberty bills were unconstitutional; they were deliberate infractions of the Constitution of the United States; and being so, they give to us a right to say that we would no longer be bound by the Constitution of the United States, if we choose. The language of Webster, in his speech at Capon Springs, in your own State, was, that a bargain broken on one side, is broken on all sides. And in this opinion many others have coincided. And these Northern States having broken the Constitutional compact gives us cause to violate it also if we choose to do it. The election of Lincoln in itself is not a violation of the letter of the Constitution, though it violates it in spirit. The Constitution was formed with a view to ensure domestic peace and to establish justice among all, and this act of Lincoln’s election by a sectional majority, was calculated to disregard all these obligations, and inasmuch as the act utterly ignores our rights in the government, and in fact disfranchises us, we had a full right to take the steps that we have taken.

Now, I ask the question, Georgia feeling this conviction, what could she have done but to separate from this Union? Was she to stay and wait for Abolition? Sir, that was not to be expected of her? She did the only thing that could have been done to ensure her rights.

The second branch of my case is to lay before the Convention some facts to influence them, if possible, to accept the invitation of Georgia to join her in the formation of a Southern Confederacy.

What ought to influence a nation to enter into a treaty with another nation? It ought not be, I am free to say, any higher consideration than interest—material, social, political, religious interests. I am free to say that unless it could be made to appear that it was to her interest, she ought not to enter into it. And it shall be my endeavor now to show that it will be to the interest of Virginia materially, socially, politically and religiously, to accept the invitation of Georgia to join the Southern Confederacy—and, first, will it be to her material interests?

Georgia and the other cotton States produce four millions of bales of cotton, annually. Every one of these bales is worth $50. The whole crop, therefore, is worth $200,000,000. This crop goes on growing rapidly from year to year. The increase in the last decade was nearly 50 per cent. If the same increase should continue for the next decade we should have, in 1870, six million bales ; in 1890,This is the year cited in the Enquirer, although the speaker must have meant to say 1880. nine million of bales, and so on. And, supposing that this rate will not continue, yet we have a right to assume that the increase, in after years, will be very great, because consumption outruns production, and so long as that is the case, production will try to overtake it.

You perceive, then, that out of one article we have two hundred millions of dollars. This is surplus, and a prospect of an indefinite increase in the future. Then, we have sugar worth from fifteen to twenty millions of dollars, increasing every year at a pretty rapid rate. Then, we have rice, and naval stores, and plank, and live oak and various other articles which make a few more millions. You may set down that these States yield a surplus of $270,000,000 with a prospect of increase. These we turn into money and with that we buy manufactured goods. iron, cotton and woolen manufactures ready made and many other descriptions of goods necessary for consumption. Then we buy flour, and wheat, and bacon, and pork, and we buy mules and negroes ; very little of this money is consumed at home; we lay it out this way.

BENNING CONTINUED

Now I say, why will not Virginia furnish us these goods? Why will not she take the place now held by New England and New York, and furnish to the South these goods? Bear in mind that the manufactures consumed by the South are manufactures of the United States. They have now got the whole market by virtue of the tariff which we have laid on foreign importation. Will not Virginia take this place? I ask, is it not to the interest of Virginia and the border States to take this place? Most assuredly it is. Now I say it is at her own option whether she will take it or not. I dare say she can have the same sort of protection against the north that she has against Europe. That being so, and inasmuch as the same cause must produce the same effect, the same cause that built up manufactures at the north, will operate similarly in Virginia.

Then the question is, will you have protection necessary to accomplish this result? I say I think you will. I do not come here, as I said at the outset, to make promises; but I will give my opinion, and that is that the South will support itself by duties on imports. It has certainly begun to do that. We have merely adopted the revenue system of the United States so far, and are now collecting the revenue under an old law. Our Constitution has said that Congress should have the power to lay duties for revenue, to pay debts and to carry on the government, and therefore there is a limit to the extent that this protection can go, and within that the South can give protection that will be sufficient to enable you to compete with the North. We have got to have a navy, and an army, and we have got to make up that army speedily. It must be a much larger army than we have been accustomed to have in the late Union—it must be large in proportion to the army that it will have to meet. These things will require a revenue of about 10 per cent, which will yield an aggregate of about $20,000,000, and with this per cent, it would be in the power of Virginia to compete, in a short time, with all the nations of the earth in all the important branches of manufacture. Why? Because manufacturing has now been brought to such perfection by the invention of new machinery. The result will be the immigration of the best men of the North; skilled artizans and men of capital will come here and establish works among you. You have the advantage of longer days and shorter winters, and of being nearer to the raw material of a very important article of manufacture. I have no idea that the duties will be as low as 10 per cent. My own opinion is that we shall have as high duty as is now charged by the General Government at Washington. If that matter is regarded as important by this Convention, why the door is open for negotiation with us. We have but a provisional and temporary government so far. If it be found that Virginia requires more protection than this upon any particular article of manufacture let her come in the spirit of a sister, to our Congress and say, we want more protection upon this or that article, and she will, I have no doubt, receive it. She will be met in the most fraternal and complying spirit.

What is the state of the cotton trade? The North by virtue of their manufactures buy our cotton. They then take our cotton to Europe; they buy for it European manufactures; they take these manufactures and carry them to Boston, New York or Philadelphia, whence they distribute to us and all over the continent. But this all depends on the fact that they have manufactures to buy the cotton with. New York, Boston and Philadelphia, in fact, fatten upon the handling of cotton, and I ask why it is you do not avail yourselves of the advantages which these possess; why do you not take the place of New York, engage in manufactures, sell us your goods, take our cotton and send it to Europe for goods, and thus make this city the centre of the earth? I know that in the outset foreign imports would come direct to our ports, because you have not the manufactured goods to buy the cotton with, and we would have to send the cotton direct to Europe. But after a while you would have a monopoly of our trade having all the facilities to build up a manufacturing business extensive enough for the requirements of the whole country.

What would be the effect of this? Your villages would grow into towns, and your towns would grow into cities. Your mines would begin to be developed, and would throw their riches over the whole land ; and you would see those lands enhanced, which you have now to give away, almost, for nothing.

I say, then, it is in your power, by joining our Southern Confederacy, to become a great manufacturing empire. If you do not consider our organization as it is now made good enough, go down to Montgomery, and say, change this in such and such a form, and I venture to assert that they will meet you in the spirit in which you go. As things now stand, there is a great drain of wealth from the South to the North. The operation of the tariff, which at present averages about 20 per cent, is to enhance the prices of foreign goods upon us to that extent; and not only foreign goods, but domestic goods, as they will always preserve a strict ratio with the price charged for foreign imports. The South is thus heavily taxed. What the amount of tribute is which she pays to the North in this form, I have not accurately ascertained. It is difficult to find out how much tribute she pays in this form, but, from a rough estimate which I have made out myself, putting the amount of goods consumed by the South at $250,000,000 annually, though a Northern gentleman puts it at $300,000,000; but putting it at $250,000,000, the tribute which the South pays to the North annually, according to the present tariff [20 per cent] amounts to $50,000,000. Then there are the navigation laws which give the North a monopoly of the coasting trade. The consequence of this monopoly is that it raises freights, and to that extent enhances the price of goods upon us. There is the indirect carrying trade, in which they also have a monopoly. Instead of our goods coming to us direct, they now come by New York, Philadelphia or Boston. Last year the amount of goods that came to the South by this indirect route was about $72,000,000 which were not carried at a less cost than $5,000,000, which, of course, had to be paid by us. In the matter of expenditures we have not more than one fifth allotted to us, whereas we ought to have one-third. In 1860 the expenditures were $80,000,000, and the proportion of this which is lost to us by an unjust system of discrimination amounts to nearly $20,000,000. This is a perpetual drain upon us.

Mr. BENNING then referred to the drain in the matter of fugitive slaves, and proceeded to ask what would Virginia gain by joining the Southern Confederacy? What, said he, is the state of things now on the border? Is it such as to prevent the escape of slaves? It is not. There is a remedy for this. The state of things on the other side of the line should be such that slaves would not be induced voluntarily to run off, and if they did, that they would again soon gladly return. If you were with us, it would become necessary, in order to collect our revenue, to station police officers all along the border, and have there bodies of troops. It could be easily made part of the duty of these officers to keep strict watch along there and intercept every slave, and keep proper surveillance on all who may come within the line of particular localities. Is not that arrangement better than any fugitive slave law that you could get? Most assuredly it is. If we were separated from the North, the escape of a fugitive slave into their territory would be but the addition of one savage to the number they have already. (Laughter.)

Separate us from the North, and the North will be no attraction to the black man—no attraction to the slaves. It is not from a love for the black man that they receive him now; but it is from a hatred to slavery, and from a hatred to the owners of slaves.

Is not this a better remedy than anything that you can get out of Congress or in any form of legislation?

As regards the Territorial evil, I will show that the remedy for that too, is in separation. We want land, and have a right to it. How are we to get our share of it? Can we get it in the Union? Never. Put what you please in the Constitution, you never can get one foot of that land to which you have so just a claim. Why? Kansas tells the reason. The policy of the Black Republican party is to have this land settled up by those who do not own slaves. Their policy is the Homestead bill. You can enjoy all these things if you join us; and not only that, but you can enjoy them in peace. Cotton is peace. It is an article of indispensable necessity to the nations of the world, and they cannot obtain it without peace. Whenever there is war they cannot have it, and will therefore have peace. Join us, therefore, and you will have the advantage of enjoying all those,benefits in peace.

Suppose you join the North, what can they give you? Nothing. They will maintain, in the matter of manufactures, a competition that will destroy you. You cannot go into any market in the world and compete with them. They have the start of you, and you cannot catch up. How will it be with agricultural enterprise? Manufactures give the most active stimulant to agriculture, and when you cannot build up manufactures, you must suffer in your agricultural pursuits. Then there is the social and religious aspect of the question. Go with us, and the irrepressible conflict is at an end. We are the same in our social and religious attributes. We have a common Bible; we kneel at the same altar, break bread together, and there can be no difficulty between us on this score.

BENNING CONTINUED

Then there is the political question. Suppose you join us, and also the other border States, which they will, if you come in. We shall have a territory possessing an area of 850 or 900,000 square miles, with more advantages than any similar extent of territory on the face of the earth, lying as it is between the right parallels of latitude and longitude, having the right sort of coast facilities, and abounding in every production that can form the basis of prosperity and power.

Mr. BENNING referred to the probability of the Pacific States forming a distinct Confederacy after a separation shall once occur, and then discanted briefly on the general corruption which seems to exist at the North, where men make politics a profession, requiring property to be taxed for their support. He instanced the enormous burdens amounting to nearly $2,000,000 a year, to which the city of New York is subjected through the corrupting influences of politicians, and deduced from this state of things the decay and ultimate disintegration of the North after she shall have been cut off from the rest of the Union, and circumscribed with the narrow limits of her own unproductive inhospitable area.

If, said he, you join in the Southern Confederacy, you will become the leader of it as you are now. You will have the Presidency and Vice-Presidency and other advantages which it is unnecessary here to mention.

Join the North, and what will become of you? In that, I say, you will find yourself much lower than you stand now. No doubt the North will now make fine promises, but when you are once in, they will give you but little quarter. They will hate you and your institutions as much as they do now, and treat you accordingly. Suppose they elevated Sumner to the Presidency? Suppose they elevated Fred. Douglas, your escaped slave, to the Presidency? And there are hundreds of thousands at the North who would do this for the purpose of humiliating and insulting the South. What would be your position in such an event? I say give me pestilence and famine sooner that that.

As regards the African slave trade, we have done what we could to expel the illusion which is said to deter some timid persons from uniting with us. Our State has given her voice against it, and so has Alabama, and finally the Convention at Montgomery has placed the ban upon it by a Constitutional provision. Suppose we re-open the African slave trade, what would be the result? Why, we would be soon drowned in a black pool; we would be literally overwhelmed with a black population. If you open it, where are you going to stop? There is no barrier to it but that of interest, and that will never be a barrier until there will be more slaves than we want. But go down to Montgomery and we will stipulate with you, and satisfy you, I have no doubt, upon that, as upon all other questions. What danger is there in your going with this Confederacy? You will have, with the other border States, a population of eight millions, while we will have only five. What danger is there then with such a preponderance in your favor?

I heard another objection urged to your joining us, and that is, that we held out a threat in the way of a provision in our Constitution that Congress shall have power to stop the inter-State slave trade. I do not hesitate to say to you, that in my opinion, if you do not join us but join the North, that provision would be put in force. I think that these States would do all in their power to keep the border States slave States. It would be a mere instinct of self-preservation to do that, and I think that it would be done. But is this to be regarded as a threat held out to deter you from joining the North? You might as well say that a provision in respect to a tax is a threat against you.

After meeting the objection urged against the seceding States for seceding without consultation with the border States, with the argument of necessity, he closed with an expression of thanks to the Convention, and submitted the Ordinance of Secession passed by Georgia, which was read by the Clerk.} (Reese, George H. Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861, vol. 1. Print)}

“Tomorrow is my address to the Convention I will make this (the “illusion of reconstruction”-ED) one of my main points – so will the Georgia and perhaps the Mississippi Commissioners . . . Virginia will not take sides until she is absolutely forced.” John S. Preston to (Francis W. Pickens), Feb. 17, 1861, John Smith Preston Papers, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. as cited in Dew, pp. 60-61)

ACT II – SCENE III – JOHN SMITH PRESTON WINS HIS DAY: But when at last this mad fanaticism, this eager haste for rapine, mingling their foul purposes, engendered this fell spirit which has seized the Constitution itself in its most sacred forms and distorted it into an instrument of our instant ruin; why, then, to hesitate one moment longer seems to us not only base cowardice, but absolute fatuity.

February 19 – Tuesday, Richmond, VA: Sixth Day of the Convention
Mr. Preston, commissioner from South Carolina, addresses the Convention; he explains why his state exercised her right of secession, and urges the people of Virginia to join with South Carolina in protection of their common rights and interests.

(NOTE: Mr. Preston is careful to describe the relationship between the Federal government and States as “a compact.”-ED).

{Mr. President and Gentlemen of Virginia:

I have had the honor to present you, sir, and this Convention my credentials, as Commissioner from the Government of South Carolina, and, upon your reception of these credentials, I am instructed by my Government to lay before you the causes which induced the State of South Carolina to withdraw from the Union, and the people of South Carolina to resume the powers which they had delegated to the Government of the United States of America.

It will be recollected by all that the British Colonies of North America, save by contiguity of territory, held no nearer political Union with each other than they did with the Colonies under the same Government at remote parts of the empire. They had a common Union, and a common sovereignty in the Crown of Great Britain. But when that Union was dissolved, each colony was remitted to its own ministry as perfectly as if it was separated from the other by the oceans of the empire. But being of joint territory, and having common interests, and having identical grievances against the mother country, the people of these colonies met together, consulted with each other at various times for a long series of years, and in various forms, but, as you may remember, most generally, in the form of a Congress of independent powers. They began their conflict with the mother Government each for itself, and the battles of Lexington, of Bunker Hill, of Fort Moultrie in the colony of South Carolina, and the battle of the Great Bridge in the colony of Virginia-all occurred before their common Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, ’76. The Colonies, then in Congress, made a joint declaration of their freedom from Great Britain, of their independence and of their sovereignty.

. . . individually, they could not carry on this contest for independence and sovereignty, they united in certain articles which are known as the Articles of Confederation. In these articles there is the reiteration of the original declaration of the sovereignty and independence of the parts of it. All rights, all powers, all jurisdiction therein delegated produce no limitation upon the ultimate and discretionary sovereignty of the parts of it.

PRESTON CONTINUED

Four years later than this, it became apparent that their alliance was not sufficient for conducting the faculties of peace as it had been for conducting the faculties of war; and the remedies for this insufficiency resulted in that instrument known as the Constitution of the United States of America, and the amendments thereto proposed by the States individually.

Now, gentlemen of Virginia, we all know that in this instrument there is no one clause, no one phrase, no one word which places the slightest limitation, or indicates the slightest transmission of the sovereignty of the parties to that compact. On the contrary, the whole spirit and genius of that instrument goes to recognize itself as a mere agency for the performance of delegated functions, and to recognize the parts of it as the original holders of the sovereignty. In proof of this, the States at various times, under various forms, with a treaty reservation, consented to this compact. Now since that period, of course there has been no legitimated change of the relations of the parts under this compact.

. . . Then, are these questions of sufficient magnitude to require the interposition of sovereignty?

. . . Gentlemen, in these relations of the States to each other and to the Federal Government, the people of South Carolina have assumed that their sovereignty has never been divided; that it has never been alienated; that it is imprescriptibly in its entire; that it has not been impaired by their voluntarily refraining from the exercise of certain functions of sovereignty which they had delegated to another power, and upon this assumption, they contend that in the exercise of this unrestricted sovereignty, and upon the great principle of the right of a sovereign people to govern themselves, even if it involves the destruction of the compact which by its vitiation has become in imminent peril, that they have a right to abrogate their consent to that compact.

PRESTON CONTINUED

. . . As preliminary to this statement, I would say, that as early as the year 1820, the manifest tendency of the legislation of the general government was to restrict the territorial expansion of the slaveholding States. That is very evident in all the contests of that period;

. . . Besides this, I would state, as preliminary, that a large portion of the revenue of the government of the United States has always been drawn from duties on imports. Now, the products that have been necessary to purchase these imports, were at one time almost exclusively, and have always mainly been the result of slave labor, and therefore the burden of the revenue duties upon imports purchased by these exports must fall upon the producer who happens also to be the consumer of the imports.

In addition to this, it may be stated, that at a very early period of the existence of this Government, the Northern people, from a variety of causes, entered upon the industries of manufacture and of commerce, but of agriculture scarcely to the extent of self support.

. . . it was important that all the sources of the revenue should be kept up to meet the increasing expenses of the Government, it also manifestly became of great importance that these articles of manufacture in which they have been engaged should be subject to the purchase of their confederates. They, therefore, invented a system of duties partial and discriminating, by which the whole burden of the revenue from this extraordinary system fell upon those who produced the articles of exports which purchased the articles of imports, and which articles of import were consumed mainly, or to a great extent, by those who produced the exports.

Now, the State of South Carolina being at the time one of the largest exporters and consumers of imports, was so oppressed by the operations of this system upon her, that she was driven to the necessity of interposing her sovereign reservation to arrest it, so far as she was concerned.

. . . It could no longer be the avowed policy of the Government to tax one section for the purpose of building up another. But so successful had been the system; to such an extent had it already, in a few years, been pushed; so vast had been its accumulations of capital; so vastly had it been diffused throughout its ramifications as seemingly to inter-weave the very life of industry itself, in the two sections into each other in the form of mechanics, of manufactures, ships, merchants, and bankers. The people of the Northern States have so crawled and crept into every crevice of our industry which they could approach, and they have themselves so conformed to it, that we ourselves began to believe that they were absolutely necessary to its vitality; and they have so fed and fattened, and grown so great and large as they feed and fatten upon this sweating giant of the South, that with the insolence natural to sudden and bloated wealth and power, they begin to believe that the giant was created only as their tributary.

Now, strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true, that while they were thus building up their wealth and their power from these sources, step by step, we will see latterly that, with this aggregation of wealth was growing up a determined purpose to destroy the very sources from which it was drawn. I pretend not ta explain this; I refer to it merely as history.

This, gentlemen, brings me directly to the causes which I desire to lay before you. For fully thirty years or more, the people of the Northern States have assailed the institution of African slavery. They have assailed African slavery in every form in which, by our contiguity of territory and our political alliance with them, they have been permitted to approach it.

PRESTON CONTINUED

Secondly, then, in pursuance of the same purpose that I have indicated, a large majority of the States of the Confederation have refused to carry out those provisions of the Constitution which are absolutely necessary to the existence of the slave States, and many of them have stringent laws to prevent the execution of those provisions; and eight of these States have made it criminal, even in their citizens to execute these provisions of the Constitution of the United States, which, by the progress of the government, have become now necessary to the protection of an industry which furnishes to the commerce of the Republic $250,000,000 per annum, and on which the very existence of twelve millions of people depends.

. . . Now, gentlemen, the people of South Carolina, being a portion of these eight millions of people, have only to ask themselves, is existence worth the struggle? Their answer to this question, I have submitted to you in the form of their Ordinance of Secession.

Gentlemen, I see before me men who have observed all the records of human life, and many, perhaps, who have been chief actors in many of its gravest scenes, and I ask such men if in all their lore of human society they can offer an example like this? South Carolina has 300,000 whites, and 400,000 slaves. These 300,000 whites depend for their whole system of civilization on these 400,000 slaves. Twenty millions of people, with one of the strongest Governments on the face of the earth, decree the extermination of these 400,000 slaves, and then ask, is honor, is interest, is liberty, is right, is justice, is life, worth the struggle?

. . . Now, gentlemen, for one moment look at the other side of the picture. For thirty years, by labor, by protest, by prayer, by warning, by every attribute, by every energy which she could bring to bear, my State has endeavored to avert this catastrophe. For this long series of years in the federal legislature what has been her course? What has been the labor which she has performed? What has been the purpose which she has avowed? Has she not given to this all her intelligence, all her patriotism, all her virtue-and that she had intelligence; that she had patriotism; that she had virtue is in proof, because that marble sits in the hall where the sovereignty of Virginia is consulting upon the rights and honor of Virginia. (Applause.) All this she did in the Federal Government. Failing in this more than a year ago, seeing the storm impending, seeing the waves rising, she sends to this great, this strong, this wise, this illustrious Republic of Virginia, a grave commission, the purport of which, with your permission, gentlemen, I will venture to relate.

PRESTON CONTINUED

“Whereas the State of South Carolina, by her ordinance of A. D. 1852, affirmed her right to secede from the Confederacy whenever the occasion should arise, justifying her, in her own judgment, in taking that step; and in the resolution adopted by her Convention, declared that she forbore the immediate exercise of that right, from considerations of expediency only:

And, whereas, more than seven years have elapsed since that Convention adjourned, and in the intervening time, the assaults upon the institution of slavery, and upon the rights and equality of the Southern States, have unceasingly continued with increasing violence, and in new and more alarming forms be it therefore,

  1. Resolved unanimously, That the State of South Carolina, still deferring to her Southern sisters, nevertheless respectfully announces to them, that it is the deliberate judgment of this General Assembly that the slaveholding States should immediately meet together to concert measures for united action.
  2. Resolved unanimously, That the foregoing preamble and resolution be communicated by the Governor to all the slaveholding States, with the earnest request of this State that they will appoint deputies, and adopt such measures as in their judgment will promote the said meeting.
  3. Resolved unanimously, That a special commissioner be appointed by his Excellency the Governor to communicate the foregoing preamble and resolutions to the State of Virginia, and to express to the authorities of that State the cordial sympathy of the people of South Carolina with the people of Virginia, and their earnest desire to unite with them in measures of common defence.”

This, gentlemen, was one year ago and no more. Failing in that effort, the people of South Carolina, for the first time in over 20 years, joined with the political organizations of the day, in the hopes-of deferring the catastrophe.

. . . After this simple act of excision still she has not been satisfied, and now still she is seeking aid, she is seeking counsel, she is seeking sympathy, and, therefore, gentlemen, I am before you here today. Now, gentlemen of Virginia, notwithstanding these facts which I have so feebly grouped before you, notwithstanding this patience which I have endeavored to show you she has practised, my State, throughout this whole land, throughout all Christendom, my State has been charged with rash precipitancy. Is it rash precipitancy to step out of the pathway when you hear the thunder crash of the falling clouds? Is it rash precipitancy to seek for shelter when you hear the gushing of the coming tempest, and see the storm cloud coming down upon you? Is it rash precipitancy to raise your hands to protect your head? (Loud applause.)

Gentlemen of Virginia, never since liberty came into the institutions of man have a people borne with more patience, or forborne with more fortitude than have the people of these Southern States in their relation with their confederates of the North. As long as it was a merely silly fanaticism or a prurient philanthropy that proposed our destruction, we scarcely complained. Even when a long series of unjust, partial and oppressive taxation was grinding us into the very dust of poverty, with one convulsive struggle we bore that happily. . . . And, in addition to this, when all that malignant fanaticism, that baffled avarice, that moral turpitude could invent to defame and vilify us, was proposed by the people and by the States of our confederates, still we gave them our blood and sweat and offered them our hands and called them brethren. I draw no fancy picture. I make no declamatory assertion here. There is not one man here who cannot cite twenty cases to fill every item of this category. But when at last this mad fanaticism, this eager haste for rapine, mingling their foul purposes, engendered this fell spirit which has seized the Constitution itself in its most sacred forms and distorted it into an instrument of our instant ruin; why, then, to hesitate one moment longer seems to us not only base cowardice, but absolute fatuity. (Applause.) We felt, in the South, that if we submitted one hour to such a domination as that, we would have merited that destruction which we had earned by our folly and baseness. Tn South Carolina at least, we felt, if there was one son of a South Carolina sire who could give counsel to such submission as this, that there was not a hill side or a plain from Eutaw to the Cowpens, from which the spirit of his venerated sire would not have started forth to shame him from the land which discarded him. (Applause.)

PRESTON CONTINUED

I pray you, gentlemen of Virginia, to pardon me for referring with some particularity to the position of my State in connection with these matters, because she has been much spoken of and not much praised. I am here, gentlemen, as the Commissioner of these people, certainly not their eulogist. I am sent here as I thought mainly because among them I have always, with some pride, proclaimed that I sprang from this soil, and because they believe that I would tell an honest, earnest story of their wrongs and their trials; and if you will permit me, I will still farther allude to it.* Never, gentlemen of Virginia, since liberty begun her struggles in the world, has a mightier drama been enacted on the trembling stage of man’s affairs or been opened with a spectacle of purer moral sublimity, than that which has been manifested in this revolution in which we are now engaged.*

. . . Gentlemen of Virginia, I believe that these Southern States are no noisy faction clamoring for place and power. They are no hungry rabble ready to answer back in blood to every appeal to their brutal passions. We are no shouting mob ready to take for our government some glittering epigram or some fustian and infidel theory. We are no festering fanatics. With us liberty is not a painted strumpet, drazzling through the streets, nor does our truth need to build itself in pools of blood. We are a calm, grave, deliberate and religious people, the holders of the most majestic civilization and the inheritors, by right, of the fairest estate of liberty. Fighting for that liberty, fighting for our fathers’ graves, standing athwart our hearth-stones and before our chamber doors, for days and weeks the people of our little State stood alone – that little State around whose outermost border the guns fired at her capital might almost be heard; whose little scope of sky was so small that scarce one star had space to glitter in it. So small, so few, we begun this fight alone against millions; and had you piled millions upon millions, under God, in this fight we should have triumphed. (Applause.) But that God, gentlemen, cares for his people – cares for liberty, and right, and justice-and we are no longer alone. Very soon our own children from Florida and Alabama answer back to the maternal call, and our great sister, Georgia, marshaled forth her giant offspring; and from the grave of the gallant Quitman, on the banks of the Mississippi, there came forth his well-known clarion tones, (applause); and Louisiana proved her paternity in the appeal of liberty; and now young Texas has raised her giant form and marches to the right of this majestic column of confederated sovereignties. (Applause.) Ah, gentlemen of Virginia, wherever outside of the borders of Virginia, the voice of a son of Virginia has spoken in this fight, it too has been known, because he spoke in the ancient tongue of his mother. (Applause.) 1, one of the humblest of her sons, told my countrymen, that before the spring grass grows long enough to weave one chaplet of victory, they will hear the sound as of the tramp of a mighty host of men, and they will see floating before that host the banner whose whole history is one blaze of glory, and not one blot of shame. (Applause.) Aye, they will hear coming up from that host one voice like their own, but it will be the resounding echo of that voice which has thundered into the hearts of your God-like sires-”give me liberty, or give me death!” (Applause.) And on that banner will be written the unsullied name of Virginia. (Applause.)

Gentlemen of Virginia, have I promised too much for our mother? To suggest a doubt, would be more than blasphemy. I believe she will come. I believe she will take her place which she has held for one hundred years – the foremost of all the world in the ranks of liberty and of justice. (Applause.) The world knows her history, and knows no history above it in the niche of fame-and, knowing that history, none dare doubt where Virginia will be when her own offspring, and liberty and justice, call her to the fight. (Applause.)

PRESTON CONTINUED

Now, we believe that these diversities pertain to every attribute pervading the whole of these two systems, and we therefore believe that this revolution, with this separation, with this disintegration, is not a mere accident; that it is not the mere casual result of a temporary cause; that it is not a mere evanescent bubble of popular error or irritation; that it is not a mere dream of philosophy, and that it is not the achievement of personal or individual ambition. We believe, gentlemen, that it has a far profounder cause than all this. We believe that it is not only a revolution of material necessity, but that it is a revolution resulting from the profoundest convictions, ideas, sentiments, and moral and intellectual necessities of earnest and intelligent men ***. . . . African slavery cannot exist at the North. The South cannot exist without African slavery. (Applause.) None but an equal race can labor at the North; none but a subject race will labor at the South.

Now, for these reasons and for others, perhaps, we believe that the political socialisms of these two systems, of these two sections, have assumed shapes so diverse, that their continuity of action is an absolute impossibility. ***

. . . I believe, gentlemen of Virginia, that the question which you now have to decide is whether you, the representatives of the sovereignty, the power, the glory, the hope of Virginia, will be content like a modern Egyptian to skulk for protection beneath the crumbling fragments of an ancient greatness, and under the scourge of a haughty but mean task-master, or whether you will step forth and hush this storm of war and keep the ancient glory of your name. (Applause.)

PRESTON CONTINUED

. . . the people of South Carolina contend that justice has required of them a resort to arms, in the protection of a principle of right. She has maintained this position, as I have indicated to you, a reasonable time. She has maintained it against falsehood and prejudice; she has maintained it until six sovereign States have come to her aid, and have formed a Government which the six have announced to the world by the eminent and patriotic citizen who has been put in charge of the Executive department of that Government.

. . . Now, gentlemen of Virginia, believing the interests involved and the rights violated to be identical with the interests and the rights of Virginia, and remembering their ancient motto and their common glory, the people of South Carolina have ordered me to ask and urge that the people of Virginia will unite with her and her confederates in the protection of those rights and those interests.

I have now performed this, my mission, and have only, in the name of my government, to return to this Convention my earnest acknowledgement of the honorable courtesy with which it has accepted my mission. On my own behalf, gentlemen, accept my sincere and honest thanks, I should say my deprecating thanks, for the kindness, courtesy and patience with which you have listened to the delivery of this mission. (Long and continued applause.)Reese, George H. Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861, vol. 1, pp. 76-93. Print}

ACT II – SCENE IV – PRESIDENT-ELECT ABRAHAM LINCOLN TRAVELS EAST MAKING SPEECHES HINTING AT HIS INTENTIONS

(NOTE: Public comments by President-elected Lincoln were worded to not enflame prior to his inauguration, but, offer clues to his intentions.-ED)

February 20 – Wednesday, New York City to Mayor Fernando Wood

{Mr. MAYOR—It is with feelings of deep gratitude that I make my acknowledgment for this reception which has been given me in the great commercial city of New York. I cannot but remember that this is done by a people who do not by a majority agree with me in political sentiments. It is the more grateful [to me] because in this reception I see that, in regard to the great principles of our government, the people are very nearly or quite unanimous.

In reference to the difficulties that confront us at this time, and of which your Honor thought fit to speak so becomingly and so justly as I suppose, I can only say that I fully concur in the sentiments expressed by the Mayor. In my devotion to the Union I hope I am behind no man in the Union; but as to the wisdom with which to conduct affairs tending to the preservation of the Union, I fear that even too great confidence may have been reposed [placed] in me. I am sure I bring a heart devoted to the work.

There is nothing that can ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of this Union, under which not only the commercial city of New York, but the whole country has acquired its greatness, unless it were to be that thing for which the Union itself was made. I understand a ship to be made for the carrying and preservation of the cargo, and so long as the ship can be saved, with the cargo, it should never be abandoned. This Union should likewise never be abandoned unless it fails and the probability of its preservation shall cease to exist without throwing the passengers and cargo overboard. So long, then, as it is possible that the prosperity and the liberties of the people can be preserved in the Union, it shall be my purpose at all times to preserve it. Thanking you for the reception given me, allow me to come to a close. (Lincoln, Collected Works, Vol. IV, pp. 232-233).}

(NOTE: Lincoln often chose to place the greatest weight not on the Constitution, but the Declaration of Independence, especially its opening lines, viewing the Declaration as the set of aspirations and ultimate goals and the Constitution as the mutable document that was to be revised periodically to better attain the goals of the Declaration. In the following speech, for example, Lincoln makes reference only to the Declaration, not the Constitution. Similarly, the opening of The Gettysburg Address points to the Declaration which was created “four score and seven years” prior to the address.-ED)

February 22 – Thursday, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA:

{Lincoln was welcomed by Theodore L. Cuyler, president of the Select Council of Philadelphia.

Mr. CUYLER:—I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in the place where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to our distracted country.* I can say in return, sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated, and were given to the world from this hall in which we stand. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. (Great cheering.) I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence—I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that Independence. (Applause.) I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. (Great applause.) It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. (Cheers.) This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.*

Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can’t be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle—I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it. (Applause.)

Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the Government. The Government will not use force unless force is used against it. (Prolonged applause and cries of “That’s the proper sentiment.”)

My friends, this is a wholly unprepared speech. I did not expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here—I supposed I was merely to do something towards raising a flag. I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet, (cries of “no, no”), but I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, in the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.(Lincoln, Collected Works, Vol. IV, pp. 240-241).}

A later account of Lincoln’s speech at Independence Hall shows the larger context of a believed assassination threat to Lincoln.

Mr. Lincoln visited old Independence Hall, and with his own hand raised over it the flag. His speech on this occasion was the most impressive and characteristic of any which he made on his journey to the Capital. He gave most eloquent expression to the emotions and associations suggested by the day and place. He declared that all his political sentiments were drawn from those which had been expressed in that Hall. He alluded most feelingly to the dangers, and toils, and sufferings of those who had adopted and made good the Declaration of Independence: that declaration which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men. Conscious of the dangers which threaten his country, and that those dangers originated in opposition to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and knowing that his own life was even now threatened for his devotion to liberty, and that his way to the National Capital was beset by assassins, yet he did not hesitate to declare that he would rather be assassinated on the spot than surrender those principles.(Arnold, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, (June, 1868), p. 127)

ACT II – SCENE V – WAITMAN T. WILLEY COUNTERS THE VISITORS’ SPEECHES, INVOKES GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THE VIRTUES OF WESTERN VIRGINIANS

February 21 – Thursday, Richmond, VA: Eighth Day of the Convention

{Mr. WILLEY—
I will avail myself, Mr. President, of the indulgence of the Convention, for a very few moments, while I attempt to disabuse the minds of many members, as I have been given to understand, of a very serious misapprehension of the public sentiment of the Northwestern section of this State. For some cause unknown to me, intimations and insinuations prejudicial to the character of that section of country, for her loyalty to the institutions of Virginia, have been busily circulated among the members of the Convention. I was willing, for a while, to submit to a misapprehension which to some extent might be considered as natural, when it came alone from the Eastern borders of the State; but when I hear a member of this Convention, upon this floor, giving out intimations confirmatory of these suspicions, and going to credit the idea that there is want of loyalty in the Northwestern section of this State, to the institutions of Virginia, to all of our institutions, I cannot but violate the fixed resolution which I had formed in my mind when I came here, and ask the indulgence of this Convention for a few moments, while I disabuse any mind which has been poisoned by any such insinuations.

Sir, there exists not within the broad limits of this great State any people more loyal to its interests than the people of the North-western part of the State—any people readier to defend her rights to the death. I speak especially for my own constituency, and I verily believe that I represent the universal sentiment of trans-Alleghany. But this seems to be an age of distrust and suspicion. Guarantees are required on every hand, and it appears that Western gentlemen are asked for some guarantees for their fidelity to this glorious old Commonwealth. Why should these guarantees be asked? In what portion of our history can a single incident be pointed to that would subject us to the ban of your distrust? In what have we been derelict? In what have we been faithless? When did we not come up to the full demands of justice to the East on all questions? Never; but, sir, we have a record upon this subject — a record written in blood. I stand here representing the sons of sires who fell in your defence in the war of 1812. The cry of your distress and for help had scarcely echoed back from our western mountains and died along the Eastern shores of your coast, when the crack of the Western rifle was heard defending your firesides and your families defending that very property which you now make the object and subject of distrust of the Western heart. We have a glorious record. Your soil is consecrated with the memories of the loyalty of the West, because it contains the honored remains of some of her bravest and noblest sons. Why, sir, your honor is her honor; your interest is her interest; your country is her country; your faith shall be her faith; your destiny shall be her destiny.

But, sir, it seems that we love the Union too well. That seems to be the measure of our offence. If it be treason to love the Union, we learned that treason from you, sir — we learned it from your great men from your Jeffersons, from your Madisons, your Monroes, and from others of equally illustrious dead; and we have learned it from the living, little less distinguished men who are recognized as leaders at the present day, and who need but the consecration of death to place their names on the same roll of immortality.***Above all, we learned it from the

Father of his Country, the greatest of Virginia’s sons — the greatest man that ever stood upon the tide of time. As I passed down by his monument the other day, and gazed upon it with the reverence with which every American heart must contemplate his memory, I could almost imagine that I heard falling from his sacred lips the admonitions he gave us in his Farewell Address, bidding us beware of sectional dissensions, bidding us beware of geographical divisions, and instructing and conjuring us to regard the Union as the palladium of our liberties; to look with distrust upon any man that would teach us any-other doctrine.* . . . Mr. President, I may be asked, as I have often been asked, when I would consent to the dissolution of the Union?”— and I could almost imagine that I heard falling from his lips, “Never!” “Never!”*

And, sir, there lingers in the Western heart, especially of the Democratic constituency which I have the honor to represent, that sentiment uttered or written by Mr. Calhoun, in 1832, to General Hamilton, when he said : “The institution of the Union was so wisely ordered for the redress of grievances and for the correction of all evils, that he who would seek a remedy for this disease in dissolution would merit and receive the execration of this and all future generations.” That sentiment lingers there yet. You will forgive us if we cannot forget these great lessons of these great men in a moment. But I tell the distinguished gentleman from Princess Anne, [Mr. WISE], that while I do not understand altogether what he meant by fighting in the Union, the West, who still remembers him with gratitude for his services in the Convention of 1851, will rally to his support, or to the support of any other man in any fair contest, for the redress of any just grievances. When the last resort must come, when the proper appeal to the law and to the Constitution has failed to redress the grievances of the East, when her oppressions are intolerable, I tell you the Northwest will send you ten thousand men, with hearts as brave and arms as strong as ever bore the banner of freemen; and they will rally to her support, and seize by violence, if you see proper to call it so, or rescue by revolution, what we could not get by means of law. We are with the gentleman from Princess Anne in that regard. We do not stand upon nice distinctions. We do not always understand what is meant by the right of secession—we do not understand what is meant by the right of revolution; but when the proper cause arises, there are men in Western Virginia who will stand by the right to the last extremity.

I have been betrayed by the impulse of the moment to claim your attention much longer than I intended when I rose to address you; but, impelled by the kind indulgence of the Convention, I could not repress the desire to repel any insinuation against the loyalty of the citizens of Western Virginia, or to allow, on the other hand, any wrong impression to be made upon the minds of this Convention, that we are going to yield up our glorious Union for naught.}

ACT II – SCENE VI – JEFFERSON COUNTY DELEGATE ALFRED BARBOUR’S REQUEST THE PREVIOUS JANUARY TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR REINFORCEMENTS AT THE HARPER’S FERRY ARMORY (WHERE HE WAS ALSO ITS SUPERINTENDENT) DRAWS SCRUTINY. A QUESTION BEFORE THE BODY HAD BEEN: “WITH FEDERAL FORTS CAPTURED BY THE SECEDING STATES, WHAT POSITION SHOULD VIRGINIA TAKE IN TERMS OF ANY FEDERAL INTENTION TO REINFORCE OR EVACUATE FEDERAL FORTS OR ARMORIES WITHIN VIRGINIA?” PRESIDENT-ELECT LINCOLN HAD BEEN CLEAR THAT HIS DUTIES INCLUDED OCCUPYING, POSSESSING, AND PROTECTING FEDERAL PROPERTY. BARBOUR APPEARS TO BE IN THE UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION OF HAVING TO SERVE “TWO MASTERS.”

Feb. 23 – Saturday, Richmond, VA: Ninth Day of the Convention
Mr. Tredway explains his resolution on the reinforcement of Federal forts and arsenals in Virginia.

{Mr. TREDWAY—
I hope we have got through with personal explanations. I fear that we shall become as famous for personal explanations as we have been for the election of officers. I move now, sir, to take up the resolution offered by me on Wednesday last, and laid on the table at that time.

(The resolution was taken up. It reads as follows:)

Resolved, That a select committee of five be appointed with instructions to enquire and report as speedily as practicable, whether any movement of arms or men has been made by the General Government to any fort or arsenal in or bordering upon Virginia, indicating a preparation for attack or coercion.

Mr. A. M. BARBOUR—
I am sure, sir, that this body of Virginia gentlemen will recognize the delicacy of my position upon a question like this. But, sir, I want it known to all Virginia, that upon this floor, although occupying a Federal office, I represent the sovereign people of Virginia.

I must return my thanks to this Convention for the kindness they did me in my absence, to lay that resolution upon the table, and shall also express to them my regret that my absence prevented the appointment of the Committee, which the resolution proposed.

That resolution meets with my cordial approbation. I want all these facts brought out. Let the truth come instead of flying rumors and telegraphs in sensation papers from sensation people. When the time comes — when that Committee reports here, I pledge myself before the whole people of Virginia, that every soldier and every piece of ammunition sent to the armory at Harper’s Ferry sent there under my suggestions, from considerations of the highest obligations of duty — duty to the State of Virginia and duty to the Federal Government, will be made known; and, gentlemen, it will be to me, as a Virginian, a source of sincere consolation, if the sequel of that investigation does not become to the people of Virginia a subject of regret.

I have nothing more to say, except to repeat my thanks to those gentlemen who had this resolution laid upon the table in order to give me an opportunity to be heard.

(NOTE: The questioning from Mr. TREDWAY might have stemmed from the following exchange of telegrams and letters in January, 1861 initiated by Barbour, requesting reinforcements at the Harper’s Ferry Armory because of heard rumors of possible attack.-ED)

{Official Records, Series I, vol. LI, Part 1., pp. 308-309)

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 2, 1861.
Capt. WILLIAM MAYNADIER,
Ordnance Bureau:
SIR:
I have reason to apprehend that some assault will be made upon the U. S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry. My reasons I do not feel at liberty to disclose. They may or may not be well founded. I deem it my duty to inform you that there is no regularly organized defense for the post. The armorers have been formed into volunteer companies, and arms and ammunition furnished them. But they work in the armory during the day, and of course are not on duty at night. They would doubtless come to the protection of the armory when notified of the necessity. But the armory might be taken and destroyed; the arms might be abstracted and removed or destroyed; vast amount of damage might be done to the Government property before the companies could be notified or rallied. The watch force on duty at night numbers ten men, who are put there more to keep fires burning where necessary in certain shops and as general guards against fire, &c. Of course they are but little real protection against assault of a numerous force. They might all be taken without difficulty, though they are armed. I deem it my duty, therefore, as a public officer and as a citizen of Virginia, to express the belief that a company or more of regular U.S. soldiers should be placed there very soon. Willing and determined to discharge every duty devolved upon me in my relation to the Government as the superintendent of the armory, I cannot be held responsible for consequences at present, unless the Government itself sees to the protection of its property by placing reliable, regularly drilled forces to sustain me. I do not look to personal consequences at all. I look to the duty of protecting the property of the Federal Government now under my charge. I have taken every precaution which could be taken with the means at my command. I shall cheerfully abide by any order or decision made by the Department.
Your obedient servant,
ALFRED M. BARBOUR,
Superintendent U. S. Armory, Harper’s Ferry, Va.

ADJUTANT-GENERAL’S OFFICE,
Washington, January 3, 1861.

Maj. L. P. GRAHAM,
Second Dragoons, Supt. Mounted Recruiting Service,
Carlisle Barracks, Pa.:

SIR:
The Secretary of War directs that you send sixty men, composed of the permanent party, and some picked men of the best drilled recruits, with the complement of non-commissioned officers for a company to Harper’s Ferry Armory without delay, under charge of First Lieut. Roger Jones, Mounted Rifles. The company will be reported to Bvt. Maj. Henry J. Hunt, Second Artillery, at Harper’s Ferry, who will receive orders concerning it. The company will take no arms or accouterments, but as it may remain at the armory some time, the men should go provided with the necessary clothing. Of course horses will not be required.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General.}

{Mr. BORST—
. . . Let me here say to this Convention, whose members are, no doubt, familiar with the Trojan war, that the Old Dominion may find herself in the attitude in which ancient Troy was placed by the wooden horse of the Greeks. May not these fortifications prove to Virginia, by and by, what the wooden horse proved to Troy? It is well that our people should take warning by these suspicious movements of the Federal Government. I will say for my people that they are utterly opposed to coercion; that they are opposed at this time to any reinforcement of the forts or arsenals by the Federal Government; and I believe it is the sentiment of Virginia, that if the Federal Government shall fill its wooden horses within her limits with arms and munitions of war for the ultimate destruction of her people, that the voice of this Convention should be heard issuing orders to seize the wooden monster and hurl it from the State. . . . With these remarks I will express a hope that the Convention will adopt this resolution, that we may ascertain the true condition of the country. If we are to be menaced; if we are to be coerced; if the General Government contemplates a policy of subjugation, I hope and trust the fact will be made known.

Mr. A. M. BARBOUR
I have no disposition to have myself paraded in the local papers in connection with this or any other matter. I do not intend to discuss the question of Union, but I mean to say, that if Virginia gentlemen, who are in favor of going out of the Union, are afraid of fifty blue-coated men, they had better stay in. We shall find that the result of this conflict will be, that the men who go out last will be the first to fight for you. I desire to say, that I want Virginia to stay in the Union, if she can do so upon terms of honor; and if not, I want her to go out and appeal to the God of battles. I do say this, also, as a Virginian, that if you get me out, I will cut this head off before I come back. I am not in favor of dodging old Virginia out of the Union one day, to get her in another. I want to stay in the Union upon terms that are satisfactory to all our people, and when we cannot stay in upon such terms, to go out; and if you go out, then there is no power on the face of this earth that can bring back the brave and noble people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Mr. EARLY—
I am sorry to detain the Convention for one moment, but I feel bound to make a remark or two with regard to this resolution. I think we can all understand the motives that actuated the gentleman from Jefferson, (Mr. A. M. BARBOUR) in the call that he made. A Virginia gentleman and a Federal officer, in charge of an arsenal belonging to the United States, when lawless designs were initiated in some of the States, was put in a position that required for the protection of his honor that he should not be charged with colluding at any unlawful attempt upon the arsenal in his charge. I think there can be no misapprehension as to the motives which actuated him.

Mr. JAMES BARBOUR—
I shall, in very few words, make a statement on a subject involving very great delicacy. But as a matter of justice to the Superintendent at Harper’s Ferry, since this matter is going out to the public, I feel it to be my duty to make a statement of a fact.

I happened to be in the city of Washington at the time that the superintendent made the communication to the Executive, which resulted in this movement. It was made, sir, upon information communicated to me, with a desire to have that information communicated to him by a Virginia member of Congress, a personal friend of mine, and as warm and bitter a secessionist as is to be found within the limits of the Commonwealth. After getting possession of this information, I consulted some gentlemen of clear heads and sound hearts, and told the Superintendent there that as a Virginian, in view of the facts that I communicated to him upon the high authority upon which I did communicate them, that it was his business to communicate them to the Executive, and to demand aid, which he did, and I told him if censure came upon him that I would bear part of it. I say that the steps which he took were the steps which every Virginian, knowing the facts that he knew, would have taken.

Mr. TREDWAY—
In offering this resolution, sir, I will state that I had entirely forgotten at the time that the gentleman from Jefferson (A. M. BARBOUR) was at all connected with the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. It was certainly not dictated by any want of confidence in his fidelity to the State of Virginia, although he occupied the position of an officer connected with that arsenal. I am satisfied, sir, that the effect of this resolution will be to place him, where I never doubted he would be placed, in the position of a true, loyal Virginian.

Mr. A. M. BARBOUR—
Although the resolution of the gentleman from Pittsylvania (Mr. TREDWAY) in no way contemplated any action of mine, yet, because this debate has taken this range, I feel that it is due to this body, as Virginia gentlemen, due to myself and due to the gentleman who moved the inquiry, that the Convention should refuse to lay the resolution on the table. About the other forts in the Commonwealth, I know nothing and care nothing.

The force sent to Harper’s Ferry was sent at my suggestion, and that takes from the Federal Executive the only poison here, that of intent. I have in no way deemed it due to myself even to consider that resolution in view of any vindication of myself, but because when these soldiers went there two or three weeks ago, there were misapprehensions aroused all over the State. I did not rise here to vindicate myself, but to put the facts before the country, and make a statement which I believe to be due both to the government and to myself. It was with this view that I requested the Convention to refuse to lay the resolution on the table.

March 4 – Monday, Washington, D.C.: LINCOLN INAUGURATED

(NOTE: Lincoln’s Inaugural Address, was helped at the draft stage by William Seward. Seward dissuaded Lincoln from his original written conclusion as alienating to Virginia and other un-seceded, slave states: With you, and not me, is the solemn question of: ‘Shall it be peace, or a sword?’- ED.; Doris K. Goodwin, p. 326)

{LINCOLN’s INAUGURAL ADDRESS
Fellow-citizens of the United States:
In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President “before he enters on the execution of this office.”

I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Administration, their property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed, and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the platform, for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves, and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.”

I now reiterate these sentiments; and in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause – as cheerfully to one section as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:

“No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

LINCOLN CONTINUED

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it, for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the law-giver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution – to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause, “shall be delivered,” their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not, with nearly equal unanimity, frame and pass a law, by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by national or by state authority; but surely that difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him, or to others, by which authority it is done. And should any one, in any case, be content that his oath shall go unkept, on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept?

Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safeguards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced, so that a free man be not, in any case, surrendered as a slave? And might it not be well, at the same time to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guarantees that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States”?

I take the official oath to-day, with no mental reservations, and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws, by any hypercritical rules. And while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to, and abide by, all those acts which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of them, trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional.

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President under our national Constitution. During that period fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens, have, in succession, administered the executive branch of the government. They have conducted it through many perils; and, generally, with great success. Yet, with all this scope for [of] precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four years, under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper, ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever – it being impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade, by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it — break it, so to speak; but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that, in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution, was “to form a more perfect Union.” But if [the] destruction of the Union, by one, or by a part only, of the States, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union, – that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part; and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means, or in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

LINCOLN CONTINUED

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion – no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality, shall be so great and so universal, as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable with all, that I deem it better to forego, for the time, the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union. So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favorable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed, unless current events and experience shall show a modification or change to be proper; and in every case and exigency my best discretion will be exercised according to circumstances actually existing, and with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles, and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.

That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do it, I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step, while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to, are greater than all the real ones you fly from? Will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union, if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, plainly written in the Constitution, has been denied? I think not. Happily the human mind is so constituted, that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied. If by the mere force of numbers, a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution — certainly would, if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities, and of individuals, are so plainly assured to them, by affirmations and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered by national or by State authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the territories? The Constitution does not expressly say.

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the government must cease. There is no other alternative; for continuing the government, is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority, in such case, will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in turn, will divide and ruin them; for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy, a year or two hence, arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments, are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this.

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new Union, as to produce harmony only, and prevent renewed secession?

Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy. A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it, does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

LINCOLN CONTINUED

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit; as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be over-ruled, and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink, to decide cases properly brought before them; and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade, are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, cannot be perfectly cured, and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections, than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction, in one section; while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all, by the other.

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the presence, and beyond the reach of each other; but the different parts of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face; and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory, after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.

I will venture to add that to me the Convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions, originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution, which amendment, however, I have not seen, has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have referred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this if also they choose; but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.

LINCOLN CONTINUED

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope, in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth, and that justice, will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.

While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied, hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.(Basler, Ed. “Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol.” IV, pp. 262-271)}

March 4 – Monday, Richmond, VA: After the inauguration of President Lincoln, the excitement in and around the Convention increased like a fever as the night draws nigh. (Hall, p. 160)

ACT II – SCENE VII – HARRISON COUNTY DELEGATE JOHN CARLILE COMES DOWN HARD AND LONG WITH A DETAILED HISTORY – IN FAVOR OF LINCOLN AND UNION, CAUSING RAMBUNCTIOUS OUTRAGE IN THE GALLERY – AND IS HISSED AS HE IS LEAVING.

. . . Carlile was loyal at heart and recognized the right of the government to enforce its laws everywhere. In a speech delivered March 7th, he declared it had the right to collect the duties in the seceded States as in all others; and the motion just noticed, to strike out of the Federal Relations report a contrary declaration, confirms his attitude. (Hall, p. 159).

Thursday – March 7, Richmond, VA: Nineteenth Day of the Convention

Mr. Carlile makes a very long speech against secession, and criticizes its advocates in the Convention and on the Enquirer. Mr. Cox replies, deploring the action of the seceded states, opposing coercion, and placing his hopes of peace on the border states.

{Mr. JOHN S. CARLILE, of Harrison—
Mr. President, in this the hour of your country’s greatest peril, when the strength of our system of government is being severely tested, I should be slow to believe that any but patriotic emotions could influence the members of this body. Candor and frankness, therefore, should characterize our discussions, and a love of country alone should influence our deliberations. In this spirit I enter upon this discussion.

The resolutions before the Convention are designed, and if adopted will have the effect, to place Virginia in hostility to the Federal Government, which Federal Government is Virginia’s government. In other words, to commit Virginia to a war against herself, and to connect her with the Cotton States, so as to share with them the disastrous consequences that may flow from the rebellious attitude assumed for them and in their name, by the men who for the time have the control of their respective State Governments. Mark it well, Mr. President; note it, gentlemen of the Convention; look to it, ye people of Virginia — it is the purpose of those who are pressing with such eagerness and such earnestness upon this body these resolutions, if they can have them adopted here, never, never to allow the people to pass upon them.

. . . I will here remark, Mr. President, that every movement that has been made in the State of Virginia, looking to secession, has been in exact conformity to the programme laid down by the Richmond “Enquirer.” In October last, before the election, the editors of that paper advised the Cotton States immediately and separately to secede, and stated that they would inevitably drag Virginia after them. . . I have said that the appearance of the Inaugural Address of the President has been merely seized upon as the occasion for the submission of these resolutions, and the eloquent declamation to which we have listened day after day, during the present week, has been but in compliance with the programme “to fire the Southern heart,” to induce members of this body, if possible, to forget that they had a constituency behind them to whom they were responsible—not responsible to those who get up meetings in the streets of this city, and call for reports from Peace Commissioners to be made to them.

. . . We are urged to adopt these resolutions “to save Virginia from civil war.” Oh, but a tear will course down my cheek, when the fact is made patent to my mind that my mother Commonwealth is to be driven into a course of conduct which her judgment does not approve, by appeals to her fears!

Mr. President, what are we called upon to do? Let us examine these resolutions? Let us see what gentlemen expect of this Convention? To make war upon the Constitution of our own country; to destroy our own Government, the work of our own revolutionary fathers . . .?

Why, sir, I suppose if these gentlemen expected to have been satisfied with Mr. Lincoln’s inaugural address, they would not have opposed him so bitterly as they did. And here in the midst of the assembled Representatives of Virginia, I declare, on my own responsibility as a man and a Virginian, that I am agreeably disappointed in the pacific tone that breathes through the whole of that inaugural address.

. . . What less could Mr. Lincoln have said? I am not here as his defender or his apologist. God knows, if there is a man in the land who regrets his existence and the existence of his party more than I do, I know him not. But I am a Virginian, born and raised in the State, never having lived out of it, and not expecting to die out of it. I have too much Virginia blood in my veins to do the slightest injustice to the meanest reptile that crawls. Mr. Lincoln dare not recognize these Ordinances of Secession, by which these States say they have severed the tie that bound them to the rest of the States of the Union. And I cannot for the life of me reconcile the opinions offered by the distinguished gentleman from Bedford [Mr. GOGGIN], denying the right of secession, but yet recognizing it as a duty on the part of Virginia, to give her aid, and to spill her blood, if necessary, and expend her money, and appropriate her men, in defence of those who have done that which, if they have not the right of secession, is evidently an illegal act.

. . . Not only by those who deny the right of secession, but by those who advocate the right of secession are we to be dragged into a committal of the people of Virginia, without their being consulted upon it, to a policy which unites our fortunes with those who contemn the laws of the country, and despise and set at nought its authority. The people I have the honor to represent upon this floor are a brave, and a gallant, and a law-abiding people, and you may travel where you will—North, South, East, or West—and a more honorable, or a more intelligent people is not to be found on the face of God’s green earth ; a more loyal people to the soil of their birth is nowhere to be found; a people devoted to the institution of slavery, not because of their pecuniary interest in it, but because it is an institution of the State; and they have been educated to believe in the sentiment uttered by the gentleman from Halifax the other day, and which I cordially endorse, “that African slavery, as it exists in the Southern States, is essential to American Liberty.”

The people that I have the honor in part to represent, have not been seized with this frenzied madness which has seized our friends in other parts of the Commonwealth, to induce them—brave and gallant though they may be—to adopt a cowardly—I use this language because I have no other, for I have never been inside a school house to learn since I was fourteen years of age—to adopt a cowardly course, to run away and give up all their inheritance in this great country;

. . . Sir, we know we have the protection of our Common Constitution ; we know that that flag is ours ; we know that the army is ours; we know that the navy is ours; we know that in any battle in defence of our rights, fifteen hundred thousand gallant voters in the non-slaveholding States will rush to our assistance, and under the stars and stripes will hurl from power any and all who dare to take advantage of the position they have obtained to our injury or oppression. We cannot reconcile secession with our notions of Virginia’s chivalry and Virginia’s courage. But we know, Mr. President—and no man upon this floor has denied it—that this Government we are called upon to destroy has never brought us anything but good.

. . . But, Mr. President, we have heard a great deal here about equal rights—that’s the expression, I believe. I never heard it specified what the rights were. We have heard a great deal about “rights,” but very little about “duties.” “Rights” are in every man’s mouth—”duties” are never alluded to. “Rights” are to be enjoyed ; “duties” are to be performed.

. . . I have been surprised—no, I will not say surprised—I have been struck with the adroitness on the part of the secessionists in this body in evading an express declaration that they believe in the right of secession. They will not stop to discuss the right of secession. . . .They (Virginians) are a law-abiding, a Constitution-loving people; and before you can get them to go with you for an ordinance of secession, or for resolutions pledging them to a course of policy which will bring about the same result that an ordinance of secession will bring about, you must first convince them of the morality and legality of the act.

Now, sir, how will you attempt, at this day and at this hour, to maintain before the people of Virginia the rightfulness of secession? Astute, learned and great as you may be, you are not astute, learned and great enough for that. Its absurdity is too palpable ever to be maintained successfully before a Virginia people.

. . . We have been told in the progress of this argument that the Government of the United States was a mere league between co-States: in other words, that the spirit of the old Confederation exists in the Federal Constitution, although the former has been superseded and abolished by the latter. We must live in an age of political wonders and miracles, if not natural ones. I confess that I heard with astonishment the old Confederation lauded as the best Government in the world, when I had regarded it as settled and given up fifty years ago, as a matter of history, that it was an impracticable Government.

It seems to me perfectly clear that the Government created by the Federal Constitution is, strictly speaking, a government of the people. It is a Government: for within its prescribed Constitutional limits it acts upon the people, and enforces against them its laws through its own judiciary or that of each State. Within its own Constitutional limits it is absolute and supreme.

By the second section of the sixth article of the Constitution of the United States it is declared that ‘this Constitution and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, &c., shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the CONSTITUTION or laws of any State notwithstanding.’ Does not this supremacy of constitutional law necessarily make the Government of the United States as much the Government of the people of this State as her own immediate Government? It is too clear to admit of argument that it does.

CARLILE CONTINUED

. . . Mr. Spratt sent from South Carolina as Commissioner to the State Convention of Florida, while the question of secession was pending before that body, and again in a letter which he addressed to a delegate from Louisiana to the Montgomery Congress, uses the following language:

“The South is now in the formation of a Slave Republic. This, perhaps, is not admitted generally. There are many contented to believe that the South, as a geographical section, is in mere assertion of its independence ; that, it is instinct with no especial truth—pregnant of no distinct social nature; that for some unaccountable reason the two sections have become opposed to each other; that for reasons equally insufficient, there is a disagreement between the peoples that direct them; and that from no overruling necessity, no impossibility of coexistence, but as mere matter of policy, it has been considered best for the South to strike out for herself and establish an independence of her own. This, I fear, is an inadequate conception of the controversy.

“The contest is not between the North and South as geographical sections, for between such sections merely there can be no contest; nor between the people of the North and the people of the South, for our relations have been pleasant; and on neutral grounds there is still nothing to estrange us. We eat together, trade together, and practice, yet, in intercourse, with great respect, the courtesies of common life. But the real contest is between the two forms of society which have become established, the one at the North and the other at the South. Society is essentially different from Government—as different as is the nut from the bur, or the nervous body of the shell-fish from the bony structure which surrounds it; and within this Government two societies had become developed as variant in structure and distinct in form as any two beings in animated nature. The one is a society composed of one race, the other of two races. The one is bound together but by the two great social relations of husband and wife, and parent and child; the other by the three relations of husband and wife, and parent and child, and master and slave. The one embodies in its political structure the principle that equality is the right of man ; the other that it is the right of equals only. The one embodying the principle that equality is the right of man, expands upon the horizontal plane of pure Democracy; the other, embodying the principle that it is not the right of man, but of equals only, has taken to itself the rounded form of a social aristocracy. In the one there is hireling labor, in the other slave labor; in the one, therefore, in theory at least, labor is voluntary; in the other involuntary;

***. . . Mr. Commissioner PRESTON, in his speech before this body, winds up a rhapsody of the same character, as follows : “None but a subject race will labor at the South.”

There it is in a nutshell. That is it — that is the feast to which the people of Virginia are invited; that is the Government to be provided for the people I have the honor to represent here; for my children, for your children and the children of the people of this good old State.*** South Carolina initiated this movement; South Carolina will control this movement; South Carolina will give direction to this new cotton Government, if ever a permanent one is formed, which, I trust in God, never will be, and humbly believe, never can be. But, if it ever should, it must of necessity—if these Commissioners from Georgia and South Carolina who addressed us, understood what they were talking to us about—partake strongly of a military character, and strongly of the character of the present Government of South Carolina, where no man within her limits is eligible to a seat in the Lower House of her Legislature, unless he is the owner of ten negroes and 500 acres of land.

. . . How long, if you were to dissolve this Union — if you were to separate the slaveholding from the non-slaveholding States — would African slavery have a foothold in this portion of the land? I venture the assertion, that it would not exist in Virginia five years after the separation, and nowhere in the Southern States, twenty years after. How could it maintain itself, with the whole civilized world, backed by what they call their international law, arrayed for its ultimate extinction? — with this North that is now bound to stand by us, and to protect slavery, opposed to us, and united with England, France and Spain, so to control the destiny of the slaveholding Republic as to work out the ultimate extinction of the institution?

Mr. President, we have heard a great deal said about coercion, and the resolutions under consideration refer to that subject.

Will gentlemen define what kind of coercion it is they desire the people of Virginia to pledge themselves to resist? It is a most remarkable fact, that during the progress of this disunion movement, generalities and generalities alone are indulged in, accompanied with sensation telegrams. In the language of the lawyers, I call upon you to file your bill of particulars.

. . . And, sir, in this country the sovereign power is in the people. It has for the time been usurped, but just as sure as the sun shines in a clear and cloudless sky, that people will rebuke those who have endeavored to bring on this distracted condition of things, and to destroy the fairest Constitution and the freest Government ever erected by man, upon the footstool of God. . . .

(CARLILE CONTINUED AT LENGTH AND WAS INTERRUPTED BY JAMES H. COX)

Mr. JAMES H. COX—
I want a vote upon this resolution this day, if it can be had. I should not now rise to say one word to the Convention at this late hour of the day, when I desire that the vote shall be taken, were it not for the extraordinary speech made by the gentleman [Mr. CARLILE], who has just taken his seat.

He commenced his speech by saying that the inaugural was not the cause of the introduction of the resolution here, but was made the excuse for it. The original resolution was offered by myself, I intended to have offered that resolution many days ago, before I saw the inaugural. But I consulted some of the members of the Committee of twenty-one, and I was informed—

Mr. CARLILE—
Will the gentleman allow me to interrupt him right at this point. In the whole of my remarks I did not have in view your original resolution. My remarks were addressed principally to the amendment of the gentleman from Goochland [Mr. LEAKE].

Furthermore, I desire to say, if any remark that I have made is calculated to be construed by any gentleman into a personally offensive remark, I entirely disclaim any such intention whatever.

Mr. COX [resuming]—
Mr. President, the gentleman from Harrison has expressed upon the subject of coercion, sentiments that I did not believe would fall from any member in this Convention. [Applause.]

The PRESIDENT
The galleries will be cleared upon any renewal of such manifestations.

Mr. COX—
If I understood the gentleman, he tells us that the coercion of a sovereign State is war. Sir, it is war; and the reason I want a report upon the subject of coercion, the reason I want a test vote, showing that Virginia is opposed to coercion, is that I want to prevent civil war.

Sir, that gentleman tells us that he is in favor of this Union, and he sings paeans to the Union. I like him love the Union ; I want — though the hope is now faint to preserve or re-construct this Union and keep it entire in all its parts. But, sir, will abuse of South Carolina—as wrong as she may have been, and I condemn her for it—will abuse of her and her people—will abuse of the Southern people who have seceded—will denunciations of them as rebels and traitors be calculated to bring them back to us?
. . .

But will coercion accomplish that end? Will abuse and denunciation of those States accomplish it? No sir! The very moment you attempt coercion you produce war, and war will end this Union now and forever. It breaks up all hope; faint as the hope is now—that faint hope is gone forever. I will not undertake to discuss this question of coercion, as it was so ably done by my friend from Halifax [Mr. FLOURNOY], every word of whose speech I endorse most cordially; but I will not, at this late hour, undertake to detain the Convention by a discussion on that subject.

I tell the gentleman who has just taken his seat, that if he wants o preserve this Union, he cannot preserve it by any acts of coercion or any attempt to collect unwilling tribute from these States that have thought proper to leave us.}

Referring to Carlile’s speech of March 7th, for which he was hissed as he was leaving the Convention accompanied by two ladies, Marshall M. Dent, member from Monongalia, wrote to his paper, the Morgantown Star, that the speech “struck the secessionists like a thunderbolt and was decidedly the boldest effort of the session.” (Hall, p. 161)

March 11 – Monday, Richmond, VA.: Logan Osburn writes home . . .

{Logan Osburn to his father-in-law, Balaam Osburn, who was back home in Kabletown. The letter has been transcribed just as it was written on March 11th, 1861 while Logan was still in Richmond. There are no changes to spelling or grammar. (P. Douglas Perks):

{Great excitement continues to exist in our councils. The outside purpose is exceedingly offensive. The sensation dispatches repulsive to conservatism. All manner of means resorted to affect our action. Threats have been made to drive our body from the convention hall at the point of the bayonet if we fail to pass an ordinance of secession. We are threatened with civil war, by timultuos uprising of the people, if we hold out much longer in our efforts to preserve the union. A delegate of high respectability approached Robt Y. Conrad & myself last night as we walked the hall of the hotel & inquired of Mr. Conrad, if any important vote would be taken today? And assigned as the reason of his inquiry that his constituents were about taking steps to withdraw him from the convention, with a view of defeating its ultimate action, & if it was commenced no one could tell where it would end. He desired of course to go home and arrest it. T J Randolph of Albemarle is here & says the entire county is now for secession. That they do not look to the action of this convention for any relief, but the spring election will secure a great majority of secessionists to the legislature. They will then call an extra session thereof, order an election for another convention, secede &c. &c.
You must therefore lookout for reliable union candidates for the legislature.

I really think the secession party are seriously damaged. It cannot be possible that sensible men (as I know many of them are) of sane minds could rejoice (as they do publicly) about the hotels at every indication of collision between the federal authorities and those of the seceded states.

Rumours have reached here this evening that the authorities at Washington
will withdraw Major Anderson from Fort Sumter & (I trust in God it is true) it is regarded as a signal of peace & really the secessionists are gloomy and desponding & regard it as a trick to delude & deceive the people. Wm C. Rives delivered an address at the African church in support of the report of the peace congress at Washington on Friday night last, which was characterized by distinguished ability and irresistible arguments. He is an accomplished orator and gentleman. Geo W. Summers commenced his exposition & defence of the report before the convention to day. He looks & talks like Hector, reasons cogently argues with sledge hammer force & clinches it with ten penny wrought nails as he goes. He gave way to a motion to adjourn without finishing will resume in the morning and has already proven to every man open to conviction that better guarantees are provided for the institutions & interests of the South by the support of the peace conference than by Crittendon’s amendments. I spent an evening at I. M. Betts (probably John Minor Botts-ED) last week, I regretted your absence. His independent manner of speaking, honesty, candor, & frankness almost captivated me. He is possessed of an extra-ordinary mind, unequaled simplicity of manner – and conversational talent. One of Virginia’s noblest sons & one whom she will yet rejoice to honor. I am proud of his acquaintance, for it has entirely removed an ill-founded prejudice I honestly entertained. His views are not ultra, but based upon sound constitutional doctrine, maintained by
conclusive argument. Yours &c.”

Threats have been made to drive our body from the convention hall at the point of the bayonet.}

March 15 – Friday, Camp Hill School House, Bolivar, VA:
JEFFERSON COUNTIANS FORWARD TO THE CONVENTION’S DELEGATES THEIR FORMAL OPPOSITION TO SECESSION

{On motion, E. H. Chambers was called to the Chair, and A. McCliesh appointed Secretary.

On motion, it was
Resolved, That there is no change of public sentiment upon the subject of secession, so far as the people of Harper’s Ferry and Bolivar are concerned, and that we fully endorse the resolutions adopted by the Convention at Charlestown, on the 21st January, 1861, which nominated the Union candidates, Messrs. Osburn and Barbour.

On motion, it was
Resolved, That the position of our Senators in Congress and in the State Senate, does not reflect the true sentiments of their constituency; and that we regard their conduct as being in open rebellion to our interests as a people and at war with the Constitution of our beloved country.

On motion, it was Resolved, That a copy of the proceedings of this meeting be sent to Messrs. Osburn and Barbour, delegates to the Virginia Convention. The meeting then adjourned.
E. H. CHAMBERS, Chairman
A. McCliesh, Secretary.}

ACT II SCENE VIII – WITH THE UNIONISTS HOLDING THE MAJORITY IN THE CONVENTION, AND NO SUPPORT FOR ACTION ON SUMTER FROM HIS OWN CABINET, PRESIDENT LINCOLN SEEKS OUT CONTACT WITH UNIONIST LEADER GEORGE W. SUMMERS, POSSIBLY TO URGE SUMMERS AND THE OTHER UNIONIST DELEGATES TO VOTE AN ADJOURNMENT THE CONVENTION SINE DIE, THUS ENDING IT AND THE POSSIBILITY OF VIRGINIA’S SECESSION. ON APRIL 4TH, THEY SUCCESSFULLY VOTE BACK A MOTION
TO SECEDE. (More on GEORGE W. SUMMERS)

March 20 – Wednesday, Washington, D.C:
Lincoln sends word to George W. Summers, a friend and leader in the Unionist majority at the Convention, seeking a private meeting.

George Nicolay, Lincoln’s secretary wrote later:

Mr. Seward had an abiding faith in the Unionism and latent loyalty of Virginia and the border States. He wished by conciliation to re-awaken and build them up; and thereby not merely retain these States, but make them the instruments, and this feeling the agency, to undermine rebellion and finally reclaim the Cotton States. Lincoln did not fully share this optimism; nevertheless, he desired to avoid actual conflict, and was willing to make any experimental concession which would not involve the actual loss or abandonment of military or political advantage. The acts of the previous Administration had placed Fort Sumter in a peril from which, so the military authorities declared, he could not extricate it. . . ***He (Lincoln) had ordered Fort Pickens reenforced; he was daily awaiting news of the execution of his announced policy to “hold, occupy, and possess” the Government posts. Pickens once triumphantly secured, the loss of Sumter could be borne. But might not the loss of Sumter be compensated? Might he not utilize that severe necessity, and make it the lever to procure the adjournment of the Virginia Convention, which, to use his own figure, was daily shaking the rod over his head? This we may assume was his reasoning and purpose when about March 20, *** either directly or through Seward, he invited Summers, the acknowledged leader of the Union members of the convention, to Washington. Summers, however, hesitated, delayed, and finally refused to come. (Nicolay, Hay, “Abraham Lincoln: A History” Vol. 3 pp. 427-428)}

March 29 – Friday, Washington, D.C.: LINCOLN AND HIS CABINET VOTE TO SEND PROVISIONS TO FORT SUMTER, MAKING WAR MUCH MORE LIKELY. LINCOLN’S INTEREST IN SPEAKING WITH GEORGE W. SUMMERS WAS RAPIDLY BECOMING MOOT AFTER SUMMERS HAD BEEN SLOW IN RESPONDING TO AN EARLIER INVITATION

At noon on the 29th of March the Cabinet assembled and once more took up the absorbing question of Sumter. All the elements of the problem were now before them — Anderson’s condition and the prospects of relief as newly reported by Fox; the state of public opinion in Charleston as described by Hurlbut; the Attorney-General’s presentation of the legal aspects of an attempt at collecting the customs on shipboard; the Secretary of the Treasury’s statement of the condition and resources of the revenue service; the report of the Secretary of the Navy as to what ships of war he could supply to blockade the port of Charleston; and, finally, the unexpected attitude of General Scott in advising the evacuation of Fort Pickens. All these features called out so much and such varied discussion, that at length the Attorney-General, taking up a pen, rapidly wrote on a slip of paper a short summing-up of his own conclusions. This he read aloud to the President, who thereupon asked the other members of the Cabinet to do the same. They all complied. . . (Nicolay, Hay, p. 429).

The majority opinion of the Cabinet on the 15th of March had been against the expediency of an attempt to provision Fort Sumter; but now, after a lapse of two weeks, the feeling was changed in favor of the proposed measure. Irrespective of this fresh advice, however, the President’s opinion was already made up. On the day previous he had instructed Captain Fox to prepare him a short order for the ships, men, and supplies he would need for his expedition . . . (Nicolay, Hay, p. 433)

April 1 – Monday, Richmond, VA:
THE VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE VOTES TO BLOCK FEDERAL MILITARY MOVEMENTS ACROSS VIRGINIA

The Legislature at once put itself in an attitude of quasi-rebellion, by resolving on the second day of the session, that it would resist any attempt of the Federal Government to coerce a seceding State. It soon passed an act to assemble a convention; and by a large appropriation for defense, already mentioned, by issuing treasury notes, by amending the militia laws, and by authorizing counties to borrow money to purchase arms, and especially by its debates, further increased the prevailing secession undertow during the whole of its extra session, from January 7 to April 4. (Nicolay, Hay, p. 421)

ACT II – SCENE IX – THE CONVENTION’S UNIONISTS SHOW THEIR POWER WITH A 90-45 VOTE AGAINST A SECESSION MOTION – A PERFECT MOMENT TO QUASH THE ENTIRE SECESSION PROCEEDING THROUGH THE USE OF A MOVED AND VOTED ADJOURNMENT SINE DIE (“NOT TO BE CONTINUED”). THE APPARENT LACK OF LEADERSHIP, FOSTERED PERHAPS BY THE INTENSELY HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT TOWARDS THE UNIONISTS AND A MIS-PLACED FAITH AMONG SOME UNIONISTS IN THE POTENTIAL REWARDS FROM CONTINUED DEBATE ALLOW THE OPPORTUNITY TO SLIP AWAY – AN OVERLOOKED KEY MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE CIVIL WAR AND NATION.

April 4 – Thursday, Richmond, VA:
Forty-Third Day of the Convention

In the evening session on April 4, 1861, Delegate Lewis Harvie, of Amelia County, introduced a resolution “that an ordinance resuming the powers delegated by Virginia to the Federal Government” be drafted and submitted to the voters for ratification. As recorded in the official convention journal, the resolution failed by a vote of 90 to 45. Of 17 convention members who did not vote that day, 4 are known to have favored the resolution and 7 were known to have opposed it . . . 63 delegates from west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where in many areas there were very few enslaved African Americans, voted to remain a part of the United States, but only 15 delegates from the same area voted for secession.

{The Clerk then read again the proposed amendment offered by Mr. HARVIE, of Amelia, to the sixth section of the report of the Committee on Federal Relations, as follows:

“Resolved, That an ordinance resuming the powers delegated by Virginia to the Federal Government, and provision for submitting the same to the qualified voters of the Commonwealth for adoption or rejection at the polls in the Spring elections in May next, should be adopted by the Convention.”

. . . The CHAIRMAN—

The question will be upon striking out the 6th resolution of the Committee and inserting the amendment of the gentleman from Amelia, and upon this question the ayes and noes are called.

The ayes and noes were then called upon the question to strike out and insert, which the Convention refused to do by a vote of 45 to 88, as follows :In the Proceedings of April 9, page 370, Mr. Mallory noted that he had voted in the affirmative on Mr. Harvie’s substitute to the 6th resolution of the Committee of Twenty-One. The Journal lists J. B. Mallory, W. C. Scott, R. H. Turner, F. P. Turner and Tyler among the affirmative votes, giving a total of 45. In the negative votes, the Journal omits J. B. Mallory, but includes Coffman, Gray, Marshall and Marr, making a total of 90.

YEAS—Messrs. Ambler, Barbour, Blakey, Boisseau, Borst, Bouldin, Branch, Cecil, Chapman, Conn, R. H. Cox, Fisher, Garland, Graham, Goggin, J. Goode, Hale, L. S. Hall, Harvie, Holcombe, Hunton, Isbell, Kent, Kindred, Lawson, Leake, Montague, Morris, Morton, Neblett, Randolph, Richardson, Seawell, Sheffey, Speed, Strange, Williams, Wise, Woods, Wysor-45.

(Jefferson County delegates in boldface-ED)
NAYS-Messrs. Janney [President], Armstrong, Aston, A. M. Barbour, Baylor, Berlin, Blow, Boggess, Boyd, Brent, Brown, Bruce, Burdett, Burley, Byrne, Campbell, Caperton, Carlile, Carter, C. B. Conrad, R. Y. Conrad, Couch, Critcher, Custis, Dent, Deskins, Dorman, Early, Echols, Flournoy, French, Fugate, Gillespie, Gravely, Addison Hall, Cyrus Hall, Ephraim B. Hall, Hammond, Haymond, Hoge, Hubbard, Hughes, Jackson, Marmaduke Johnson, Peter C. Johnston, Kilby, Lewis, McComas, McGrew, McNeil, Macfarland, J. B. Mallory, Marye, Sr., Maslin, Masters, Moffett, Moore, Nelson, Orrick, Osburn, Parks, Patrick, Pendleton, Porter, Preston, Price, Pugh, Rives, R. E. Scott, Sharp, Sitlington, Slaughter, Southall, Spurlock, Staples, A. H. H. Stuart, C. J. Stuart, Summers, Sutherlin, Tarr, Tayloe, Tredway, Waller, Whitfield, Wickham, Willey, Wilson-88.}

Map of April 4, 1861, Vote on Secession
E. Hergesheimer, Map of Virginia Showing the Distribution of its Slave Population from the Census of 1860, C. B. Graham, Lithographer (Washington, D.C.: Henry S. Graham, 1861), Library of Virginia.

ACT III – TWO ILL-TIMED APPOINTMENTS WITH LINCOLN

Baldwin, Randolph, Preston, Stuart, Lincoln

ACT III – SCENE I – BALDWIN SEES LINCOLN AFTER “THE STAR OF THE WEST” HAS SAILED FOR FORT SUMTER.

{The anxiously-looked-for news of the reinforcement of Fort Pickens did not arrive. (On March 29) The Cabinet once more voted, and changed its advice. The President ordered the preparation of the Sumter expedition. A second expedition to Fort Pickens had been begun . . . At this juncture Baldwin made his appearance, but clearly he had come too late. By this time (April 4, 1861) his presence was an embarrassment, and not a relief. Fully to inform him of the situation was hazardous, impossible; to send him back without explanation was impolite and would give alarm at Richmond.

Lincoln, therefore, opened conversation with him, manifesting sufficient personal trust to explain what he intended to have told Summers . . . This called forth Baldwin’s dogmatic and dictatorial rejoinder, from which Lincoln discovered two things: first, that Baldwin was only an embryo secessionist; and, second, that the Virginia Convention was little else than a council of rebellion. Hence the abrupt termination of the interview, and the unexplained silence at Richmond. (Nicolay, Hay, “Abraham Lincoln: A History” Vol. 3 pp. 427-428)

Mr. Lincoln said to him more than once, “You came too late. Colonel Baldwin,” who had gone to the interview full of hope and confidence as to its results, was obviously much depressed and disappointed at the unfavorable turn of affairs. He expressed to me his fears for the country; said that the presidents reserve, after having invited him to the interview, and sent a special messenger to him, convinced him that he had changed his mind . . . (From the recollection of the messenger who brought Baldwin to Lincoln. Magruder, Allan B. (April 1875). “A Piece of Secret History.” The Atlantic Monthly Vol. 35 Issue 210. Boston, MA: Atlantic Monthly Co. pp. 438-446.)

April 7 – Sunday – Washington, D.C.:

{Mr. John Minor Botts of Richmond, VA was in Washington and received a note from President Lincoln inviting him to call. He spent the evening, from seven to eleven, with Mr. Lincoln, and in the course of the conversation the President told him of his message to Summers and his interview with Baldwin. Lincoln had said to Baldwin: “Although I fear it is almost too late yet I will submit, any way, the proposition I intended when I sent for Mr. Summers.Your Convention has been sitting now nearly two months and all they have done has been to shake the rod over my head. You have recently taken a vote in the Convention on the right of secession, which was rejected by 90 to 45, a majority of two-thirds, showing the strength of the Union party in that Convention; and if you will go back to Richmond and get that majority to adjourn and go home without passing an ordinance of secession, so anxious am I for the preservation of the peace and to save Virginia and other border States from going out, I will take the responsibility of evacuating Fort Sumter and take the chance of negotiating with the Cotton States which have already gone out.”

“Well,” said Mr. Botts, “How did Mr. Baldwin receive that proposition?”

Raising his hands, Mr. Lincoln replied: ”He would not listen to it for a moment; he hardly treated me with civility. He asked me what I meant by an adjournment. Did I mean an adjournment sine die? ‘Why, of course, Mr. Baldwin, I mean an adjournment sine die. I don’t mean to assume such a responsibility as that of surrendering that Fort to the people of Charleston upon your adjournment and then for you to return in a week or ten days and pass your ordinance after I have given up the Fort.’”

Mr. Botts felt very much incensed that Mr. Baldwin should have rejected such a proposition and asked if the President would authorize him to make that proposition to the Union men of the Convention?

“O,” said Lincoln, “it is too late, the fleet has sailed, and I have no means of communicating with it.” (Hall, pp. 171-172.)}

ACT III – SCENE II – PERHAPS ON BALDWIN’S INFORMATION FROM HIS PRIVATE VISIT TO PRESIDENT LINCOLN, THE CONVENTION DECIDES TO NOMINATE AND SEND AN OFFICIAL DELEGATION TO LINCOLN. THEY, TOO, FIND THAT LINCOLN’S POSITION REGARDS SUMTER HAS HARDENED, BUT IS UNEXPLAINED.

THE RICHMOND ENQUIRER’S FIREBRAND EDITOR, ROGER PRYOR, POSSIBLY LEARNING OF LINCOLN’S NEW RESOLVE TO FORT SUMTER, SPEEDS TO CHARLESTON TO URGE SOUTH CAROLINIAN LEADERS TO BEGIN THE ATTACK ON FORT SUMTER – JUST AS THE CONVENTION’S DELEGATION DEPARTS FOR WASHINGTON.

The importance of its (Virginia’s) relation to that supreme tragedy could not well be exaggerated. The Cotton States had taken all the declaratory steps toward insurrection; but they waited for Virginia to join them and give the signal. It was the message Roger A. Pryor (the editor of “The Richmond Enquirer) carried to Charleston that fired the opening gun of the conflict; and it was on Virginia soil beyond all other that the dragon teeth were sown and reaped the deadly harvest. (Hall, P. 18)

April 8 – Monday, Richmond, VA: Forty-Sixth Day of the Convention

A moment of heightened tension:

{Mr. CONRAD — I do not choose to be interrogated. I have borne with patience and forbearance all these vituperations, all these epithets which have been applied to me, in connection with others, in reference to the opinions which different members of this Convention may entertain upon this floor. I desire to treat every member here with all respect; and, sir, I shall continue to disregard utterly all denunciations of my opinions, or of the opinions of those with whom I may stand upon this floor . . .}

After hours of debate on the matter, the Convention reconvenes at 5 PM and votes 63 to 57 to appoint three Commissioners to visit President Lincoln “and respectfully ask of him to communicate to this Convention the policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue in regard to the Confederate States.” Barbour and Osburn of Jefferson County vote against the idea.

William B. Preston, the author of the proposal, is promptly chosen as one of the delegates.

{Mr. WISE adds a few minutes later:


There is but one condition, Mr. President, on which you could get me to go to Washington. That is, that you should send me there alone, and let me adopt my own course. Do that, and I think I could end the controversy in a very short time. I would treat the President with the utmost kindness, and I have no doubt that he and I would have one of the most perfectly confidential cheek by jowl talks. (Laughter.) We would meet in all courtesy, and part in peace. But I would understand him perfectly before I left him, or else he would have a great deal of trouble to avoid being understood, and he would understand me distinctly.

Personally, I pity the man. No man could be in a more pitiable condition than an ignoramus and coarse creature as he is, elevated by a surprise, to one of the most responsible positions on the face of the earth, with the destinies of the great country in his hands. I have no doubt that he is unapprized of the sentiments of the hearts of this people, a portion of the people he governs. I would try, on my part, to make him understand them. I would not come back with any word, or shadow of word or thought, that could deceive any body, especially when common mercy requires that there should be no veil over the face of the prophet at this hour.

Sir, no veiled prophet of Khorassan, no Mokanna, was ever more dangerous to a people than the veiled President who now sits in the Executive Chair of this republic.}

. . . The chosen delegates to visit President Lincoln were:
A. H. H. STUART, of Augusta, GEORGE W. RANDOLPH, of Richmond, to join
GEORGE BALLARD PRESTON.

April 8 – Monday, Richmond, VA: A traveler comes, observes, writes.

(William Henry Edwards, a native of the Kanawha County community of Coalburg, was a renowned entomologist. In April 1861, Edwards was in Richmond attending the Richmond Convention, providing insight into this tumultuous event).

{I went from New York to Richmond on Monday, April 8th, 1861, at the request of the

Hon. Allen T. Caperton, who was there as a member of the Legislature . . . In the convention, the Hon. George W. Summers and Dr. Spicer Patrick were members from Kanawha. It was a gathering of the ablest men of the State. Ex-President Tyler was one of them, and so was ex-Governor Wise. From one of the lower counties came Jeremiah Morton, whom I had known as a stockholder in one of the cannel coal-oil companies of Paint Creek, in Kanawha county, and also as one of the recently organized White Sulphur Springs Company.

When I left New York, public opinion throughout the North was unsettled. The people were astonished at the violent action of the most Southern States, and could not guess whither the currents were carrying the country. Many of the papers were outspoken against any attempt at coercion by the government, none of them more so than the influential New York Tribune,

edited by Horace Greeley. He had gone so far as to utter the memorable words:”Erring sisters, go in peace.” How many of the tens of thousands who read and swore by that paper thought as Greeley thought there was as yet no means of knowing. The Herald, owned and run by the Scotchman, James Gordon Bennett, was clamoring for the right of a State to secede. Fernando Wood, the Mayor, openly advocated the secession of New York city, and would have it join the Confederacy. It was supposed that the Democratic party, as a whole, would refuse to follow President Lincoln if he should attempt coercion. The Governor, Horatio Seymour, at a mass meeting held in the city on January 31st, had vigorously opposed coercion of any sort, and he was influential with the Democracy. Therefore the North held itself in suspense, and most of the friends of the Union had faith that the black clouds would blow away.

On the day I left there was no symptom of present disturbance, at any rate. So when I reached Washington, I saw nothing to indicate a coming storm. Passing through Alexandria, I noticed a pole from which flew a new style of flag, and someone remarked that this was the emblem of the Confederacy, but there was no talk about it. People were keeping their opinions to themselves. That was all to Richmond. I put up at Ballard’s Exchange Hotel,
where I found Mr. Caperton and several friends from the Western counties. Judge Summers was one of these.

John Tyler
William C. Rives

He, in connection with John Tyler, William C. Rives and others, had represented Virginia in a peace deputation that met in Washington late in February or early in March, but which had been unable to obtain assurances or promises from the incoming administration. The Judge was a Union man then and always, and he expressed to me his disquiet at the situation. Indeed he was very much dispirited. He spoke of desperate efforts that were being made to take Virginia over to the Confederacy, and what the result would be he could not conjecture. Dr. Patrick felt in the same way, as did others whom I knew. All agreed that the sooner this convention separated the better for Virginia. I was surprised at this feeling, as from what I had heard at home I had not believed that Virginia could be made the cat’s paw of the cotton States.

On successive days I attended the meetings of the convention, and listened to no end of speeches, some few sensible, deprecating excitement and hasty action, but the most were fiery and breathed of war and blood. The Union men had already had their say, and had no wish now to protract the session, and the talking was mostly left to the other side. The extremists, on the other hand, were desirous of nothing so much as delay. If they could prolong the session a few weeks only, something might turn up to “fire the Southern heart,” and force the State out. John Tyler was ardent for secession, and talked interminably. So did Wise and Morton, and all three made long speeches on nothing. It seemed to me that these men were acting on a preconcerted plan.

All this time Beauregard was planting his batteries against Sumter, and the signal to open fire was daily looked for. Frequent bulletins were posted about the hotels showing progress. This kept the excitement at fever-heat. But, while I saw evidence of satisfaction with the assault on the fort, I heard citizens at the bulletin boards curse the folly of the Carolinians. The papers from the South, and some not so far from Richmond, added fuel, with their bloodcurdling predictions of what was going to happen when the Louisiana Tigers and similar ferocious organizations let themselves loose on the cowardly scum of the North. A New Orleans paper just then was bragging that one buck from the South would chaw up three Yankees any day.

Jubal Early

I was greatly impressed by the loyalty of his language, and by the feeling manifested, and on asking who the speaker was was told that it was Lieutenant or Captain Early, of Franklin county, a graduate of West Point, who had served with credit in Florida and Mexico. This tender-hearted Union man, who wept as he apostrophised the flag, was the same General Jubal Early, of Bull Run, Gettysburg, and the Shenandoah Valley, one of the bitterest enemies the Union had during the war, and who died unreconciled.

One of the most outspoken of the Union men was John S. Carlile, from Harrison county. I had made his acquaintance some years previous in the Western part of the State – a bright, able man. He fought Wise and Morton strenuously. Being a Democrat, he was very obnoxious to the secessionists. (Edwards, William H. (July, 1902). “A Bit of History.” The West Virginia
Historical Magazine Quarterly. Print.)}

ACT IV – FIRST FLAMES OF WAR

ACT IV – SCENE I – FORT SUMTER IS FIRED UPON, RICHMOND TEMPERS FLARE.

April 12 – Friday, Fort Sumter, SC:

At 4:30 A.M. . . . the country’s collective sigh of relief suddenly became a sharp gasp of distress. The Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina fired on the Union garrison at Fort Sumter. (Perks, p. 81).

Mr. Willey, member from Monongalia, some years afterward wrote this graphic description of the crisis:

During the progress of the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the excitement in Richmond and in the Convention was intense. Bonfires and illuminations blazed high in the streets and public squares; the national flag was torn from its place over the dome of the capitol and trampled under the feet of an infuriated mob. Stores and public places were closed and the populace sought the streets to give vent to their feelings. Strangers rushed to the city from all parts of the State and helped to swell the throngs. Many who had come in advance of the call to meet on the 16th of April assembled together in a large hall and sat with closed doors. No ingress could be obtained to the sessions of this mysterious body. (Hall, p. 183)

Delegate George McC Porter said later:
After the attack on Sumter, the mob in Richmond seized the artillery. They ran howling through the streets. They broke through the doors of your State house. They tore down the stars and stripes and hoisted in its place the flag of the Confederate States. (To an audience in Wheeling, May 5th; Hall, p. 183)

Delegate Marshall M. Dent, member from Monongalia, wrote to his paper, the Morgantown Star:
This afternoon a crowd assembled at the old market and taking down a Union flag which had been floating there for many days, hoisted in its stead, amidst the cheers of the crowd, the rattlesnake flag. Speeches were made by several persons, among whom was Charles Irving, Mr. Clemens’ second in the duel with Wise. In the course of his remarks Irving impressed upon the people that resistance was not enough; that the true policy was to drive the Convention out of the city at the point of the bayonet. Scarcely had Mr. Irving uttered these words when the crowd shouted “That’s right! That’s right! Drive them out!” and these cries were followed by deafening cheers. (Hall, p. 161).

April 12 – Friday, Richmond, VA: John B. Jones, Wise’s clerk, arrives.

{Arrived at the Exchange Hotel, Richmond. A storm rages above, and below in the minds of men; but the commotion of the elements above attracts less attention than the tempest of excitement agitating the human breast. The news-boys are rushing in all directions with extras announcing the bombardment of Fort Sumter! This is the irrevocable blow! Every reflecting mind here should know that the only alternatives now are successful revolution or abject subjugation. But they do not lack for the want of information of the state of public sentiment in the North. It is in vain that the laggards are assured by persons just from the North, that the Republican leaders now composing the cabinet at Washington were prepared to hail the event at Charleston as the most auspicious that could have Happened for the accomplishment of their designs; and that their purpose is the extinction of slavery, at least in the border States; the confiscation of the estates of rebels to reimburse the Federal Government for the expenses of the war which had been deliberately resolved on; and to gratify the cupidity of the “Wide-Awakes,” and to give employment to foreign mercenaries.

But it is not doubtful which course the current of feeling is rapidly taking. Even in this hitherto Union city, secession demonstrations are prevalent; and the very men who two days ago upheld Gov. Letcher in his

conservatism, are now stricken dumb amid the popular clamor for immediate action. I am now resolved to remain in Richmond for a season.

. . . (Jones wrote later on Monday, April 22nd) Perhaps the occurrence which has attracted most attention is the raising of the Southern flag on the capitol. It was hailed with the most deafening shouts of applause. But at a quiet hour of the night, the governor had it taken down, for the Convention had not yet passed the ordinance of secession. Yet the stars and stripes did not float in its stead; it was replaced by the flag of Virginia. (Jones, Vol. 1 pp. 13-26)}

April 13 – Saturday, Richmond, VA: Sumter Falls.

{Fort Sumter capitulated April 13th to the delight of the majority of that convention. All the week Richmond had been filling up with long-haired, wild-eyed strangers, many of them said to be Knights of the Golden Circle, brought in for the purpose of influencing the convention and public opinion.


On Sunday (April 14) I took a walk to the suburbs with Mr. Caperton, and he expressed himself as being greatly disturbed at the situation. He said that messengers were coming in from his county and from Greenbrier and the adjoining counties, and the country was reported as wild for secession. He did not believe that the contagion could be resisted. He thought that if Virginia cast her lot with the Southern States, it would make for peace. The government would not dare to attack the Confederacy, with the addition of Virginia, and in time, through the good officers of his State, the two sections. would be brought together again. I suggested that he use his great influence in his district, and that Mr. Price should do the same, and resist this ruinous action of the convention before the people, as Judge Summers and Colonel Ben. Smith and Lewis Ruffner would do in Kanawha; and I assured him that it was a great mistake to assume that the North would not fight for the Union.

A committee, or rather an embassy, had recently been sent to Washington to urge non-action. One of its members was the Honorable Ballard Preston, a particular friends of Mr. Caperton, and who had great influence with him. They returned while I was in the city, having failed to get the least concession. The depression of the Union men was deep and apparent. It seemed to them that every effort for peace was pre-destined to be a failure. They had hoped much from this embassy. Things were going to suit the other side, however. The ambassadors were to report to the public on Monday afternoon, at one of the churches, and I went thither, but was turned back at the door, as a stranger. (Edwards)}

April 15 – Monday, Washington, D.C.:

ACT IV – SCENE II – LINCOLN ISSUED A CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS – THE SAME DAY HE MET THE CONVENTION’S THREE EMISSARIES.

President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 three-month volunteers, to include 2340 men from Virginia, to put down the “insurrection” in South Carolina. (Perks, p. 81).

{On April 15, 1861. the President issued his proclamation calling for 75,000 militia for the purpose of suppressing insurrection and “to cause the laws to be duly executed.” This proclamation was in terms as follows:

Whereas, the laws of the United States have been for Home time past and now are opposed and the execution thereof obstructed in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by the powers vested in the marshals by law:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of “5,000, in order to suppress said combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

The details of this object will lie immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department.

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our national Union and the perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already long enough endured.

I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union, and in every event the utmost care will be observed consistently with the objects aforesaid to avoid any devastation, any destruction of or interference with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.

And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress.

Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective Chambers at 12 o’clock noon on Thursday, the 4th day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as in their wisdom the public safety and interest may seem to demand.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this 15th day of April, in the year of our Lord 1861, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

Abraham Lincoln.
By the President:

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State.

On the date of this proclamation the Secretary of War addressed letters to the governors of twenty-four States, including one to the governor of Missouri . . .(Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series III, Vol. I, pp. 67,68.)}

WISE’S FIRST RESPONSE TO LINCOLN’S CALL FOR TROOPS (ACCORDING TO HIS CLERK).

Henry A. Wise

{APRIL 22nd. – Early a few mornings since, I called on (ex-ED) Gov. Wise, and informed him that Lincoln had called out 70,000 men. He opened his eyes very widely and said, emphatically, “I don’t believe it.” The greatest statesmen of the South have no conception of the real purposes of the men now in power in the United States. They cannot be made to believe that the Government at Washington are going to wage war immediately. But when I placed the President’s proclamation in his hand, he read it with deep emotion, and uttered a fierce “Hah!” Nevertheless, when I told him that these 70,000 were designed to be merely the videttes and outposts of an army of 700,000, he was quite incredulous. He had not witnessed the Wide-Awake gatherings the preceding fall, as I had done, and listened to the pledges they made to subjugate the South, free the negroes, and hang Gov. Wise. I next told him they would blockade our ports, and endeavor to cut off our supplies. To this he uttered a most positive negative. He said it would be contrary to the laws of nations, as had been decided often in the Courts of Admiralty, and would be moreover a violation of the Constitution. Of course I admitted all this; but maintained that such was the intention of the Washington Cabinet. Laws and Courts and Constitutions would not be impediments in the way of Yankees resolved upon our subjugation. Presuming upon their superior numbers, and under the pretext of saving the Union and annihilating slavery, they would invade us like the army-worm, which enters the green fields in countless numbers. The real object was to enjoy our soil and climate by means of confiscation. He poohed me into silence with an indignant frown. He had no idea that the Yankees would dare to enter upon such enterprises in the face of an enlightened world. But I know them better. And it will be found that they will learn how to fight, and will not be afraid to fight. (Jones, Vol. 1 pp. 25-26)}

{That day, 15th April, President Lincoln issued the call for 75,000 troops, of which Virginia was expected to furnish her quota. This added fresh fuel to the sufficiently hot fire. I went with a gentleman that evening to the Powhatan House,the headquarters of the extremists, to see what was going on.

William H. Edwards

We found Mr. Morton enthroned in the lobby, haranguing, and evidently feeling extra good. Presently he addressed me personally: “Sir, if all my coal in Kanawha were diamonds, and the White Sulphur ran pearls, I would give the whole to have Virginia go out. Why, sir, in twenty years grass would be growing in the streets of New York, and Norfolk would be the bigger city.” That was at the time a common hallucination, that war would ruin the North and build up the South, for “Cotton was King.” In the summer of 1862, the story goes that General Early was leading his weary troops through Morton’s plantation, when he encountered his fellow member of the convention: “Well, Uncle Jerry, what do you think now of the compromises of the Constitution?” that having been a pet expression of his. The year after the war, I met Mr. Morton in Kanawha, and he remarked that he was broken “as fine as powder.” I was sorry, for he was really a fine old gentleman, who was born for a better fate. I had gone to bed that night when Mr. Caperton came to my room and advised me to leave town in the morning, else there was no telling when I might be able to get away. He said that some fellows had just been through the house carrying a rope, in search of Carlile. That gentleman probably had notice, for he had already left. He walked a few miles up the Fredericksburg road and boarded the train in the morning. (Edwards)}

John F. Lewis

. . . a party of Secessionists met together at Richmond — a self-constituted convention — for the purpose of forcing this Convention to pass an ordinance of secession or of turning them out of doors and deposing Governor Letcher. And I believe that if it had not been for the fear of that body, the ordinance of secession could not have been passed. A large portion of the people of Virginia at that time were utterly opposed to the passage of an ordinance of secession. (John F. Lewis after the war before the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, quoted in Hall, p. 162)

ACT IV – SCENE III – THE SECESSION CONVENTION GOES INTO THE FIRST SWORN-SECRET SESSION, ALLOWING FIERCE AND GUT-WRENCHING DEBATE.

April 16 – Tuesday, Richmond, VA: First Day of Secret Session
The Convention goes into secret session. The commissioners report on their conversation with President Lincoln: Mr. Randolph urges immediate defense measures, and secession, while Mr. Stuart advises against secession before Virginia has consulted the border states. The Governor communicates the call of the U. S. Secretary of War for Virginia militia. Mr. Preston submits an ordinance of secession. Mr. Scott speaks in favor of resistance, but proposes a referendum on secession. Members from western Virginia discuss the effect of secession on their section of the state. Other members continue the discussion of secession, with most of those speaking opposed to precipitate action.

{Mr. RANDOLPH, of Richmond city—

George Wyeth Randolph

I desire, as far as possible, like the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. PRESTON) to confine myself to clearly ascertained facts; but it will be impossible for me to avoid giving, to some extent, the impressions that I derive from the conversation with the President of the United States, and from facts that came to our knowledge within the City of Washington.

The President requested that his conversation would not be reported, and, as a matter of course, I shall not undertake to say what he said, inasmuch as I might mistake his language. But, I presume, it will be perfectly legitimate to state the impression which that conversation made upon me. The reason that he assigned for desiring that it should not be reported, as I understand, was that it might be misreported; and I shall not undertake, therefore, to state what he said. But I deem it my duty to-this-Convention, to state the impressions that conversation made upon me.

Mr. President, I believe, from all that I have heard, and can understand, said that we are in the beginning of the greatest war that has ever been waged upon this continent. That war will be conducted with the entire force of the Federal Government, and will, unquestionably, in the start, command the entire support of the Northern people. I believe, sir, that a warlike policy has been in part impressed upon the popular sentiment of the North; and, from what I now observe in the public press, I see no ground to hope that, at least, in the beginning of that war, there will be any serious division among them. I conferred yesterday with a gentleman who had just come from the North-west, and with other gentlemen just from the city of New York, and they all told me that where they travelled there, there was but one opinion, and that in favor of war.

Now, sir, what is the object of that war? It is ostensibly defensive-merely to re-possess certain forts and arsenals which have been seized by the Confederate States, and to collect the revenue. But can it be a defensive war? Can it be to re-possess Fort Sumter and the other forts seized by the Confederate States? Can you for a moment believe that they will be allowed to recover these back? There is no chance of it; and then will not a discretion be given to the commanders of the United States forces which will necessarily induce them to follow up the contest and to disperse the defending army? If so, there is an aggressive war at once. You may as well attempt to circumscribe a fire in a prairie as to attempt to confine a war to the neighborhood of the forts intended to be re-possessed. We see by the President’s proclamation that 75,000 men are to be called into action, and as we have every reason to believe that it is the wish of the administration that at least one-third of that number should be concentrated upon the frontier of Virginia and at the City of Washington, my own opinion is, that unless this State views this just now as a military question, and unless she considers military preparations as of the first and primary importance, we will be a subjugated people.

. . . I called at the War Department and got them to show me a list of the arms within the State belonging to the United States. I found that there were at Harper’s Ferry 48,000 Minie muskets and a much larger number of smooth bore muskets. It would be an easy matter to prevent the removal of those by breaking up the railroad track of the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road and the question now is whether you will give up these arms to the enemy or keep them yourselves. . .

Let us get ready, not as a member of the Northern Confederacy; but let us detach ourselves from that Union, and throw the responsibility of the military operations upon the government of the Northern Confederacy, which will also have to bear the expense of the war. . . . Sir, the destiny of Virginia is committed now to our hands. We are sent here to advise the people. Don’t let us distract the people by submitting to them alternate propositions.}

ALEXANDER H. H. STUART

{The gentleman reminds me that he expressly said, that what was said in the interview referred to was under confidence between gentlemen. I know that the obligation existed. I speak of it as an obligation which I do not mean to violate.

But I may be permitted to say that I did not conceive that a good portion of that conversation should go without an answer. . . I stated to him (Lincoln), . . . that I thought he had fallen into a great error. I instanced, in the first place, the revenue law, and stated that he ought to remember that while he was under an obligation to enforce the law, the law itself provided agencies and instrumentalities by which they were to be enforced; and that it was as much his obligation to pursue the mode pointed out by the law, as it was to execute the law itself.

. . . I then stated to him that, as this machinery did not exist, his authority ceased with it. He could only execute the laws through this agency, and when this agency no longer existed he had no right to substitute others than those which the law itself provided. . . I then referred to the forts. I stated to him that I cherished the hope that he would find it consistent with his sense of duty to withdraw his troops, at least from those forts which were, strictly speaking, local; that he might find it consistent with his sense of official obligation to withdraw the troops from Fort Sumter, Fort Pickens, and any other local forts which had no great national functions to perform; but which were intended for the defence of the particular locality in which they were situated . . . I said to him that upon this subject his power was plenary; that, as Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, he had power to dispose of these forces as to him seemed most expedient . . . I reminded him of the fact that the Congress of the United States was the only agency through which a response could be obtained to that appeal. Now, I desire to say a few words more.* I confess, sir, that, like my friends who were associated with me, I regard the President’s answer as in the highest degree unsatisfactory. I regard it, while courteous in form, as almost hostile in intent. But I must confess further, that I was utterly unprepared for the developments which have taken place since. All the inferences which my mind could draw from the interview were directly at variance with these subsequent developments. While his policy was decidedly expressed, yet I understood him, from our official communications-and the general impressions left on my mind, favored that idea-as intending nothing like a general war,* nothing in the shape of a general system of hostilities. I understood his whole efforts to be limited to the special purpose of re-occupying the forts. While he said in his communication to us that he would, after the attack upon Fort Sumter, feel himself at liberty to recapture, if he could, that and other public property seized by the seceded States, he did not indicate any determination of purpose to do so. . . . I was so entirely taken by surprise by the appearance of the proclamation, that I did not for a moment believe that it was authentic. I believed that it was a sensation document, gotten up by some mischievous persons . . .

It seems proper, then, for us to decide in this emergency what we, as Virginians, are to do. There are three lines of policy that lay before us: One is to remain in the Union as we are. . . But there are two others. One is to secede immediately, and the other is to ask the co-operation of our sister States which have not yet seceded. . . Now, let us see what would be the effect if an Ordinance of Secession is adopted at this time.

. . . Virginia would stand alone between the Federal Government and the Confederate States of the South. She would be the battle ground. Her fields would be laid waste, and her citizens would become the victims of the conflict.

And, sir, what is our state of preparation? Where is our ordnance? Where is our musketry? Where are our rifles? Where, in fact, are any of the munitions of war, which are indispensable for our security? Sir, you may talk about courage, and you may talk about chivalry; but I say it is not true courage and true chivalry to rush into such an unequal contest as that. . . . But, sir, all must concur that we are not in a condition to go to war, and I say that it is the part of common prudence, common sense and humanity, that we should not engage in war until we shall have prepared ourselves for the conflict.

My friend over the way, from the city of Richmond (Mr. RANDOLPH) has suggested the idea of the capture of the Navy Yard at Gosport, and of the Armory at Harper’s Ferry. Let me call his attention, and that of the Convention, to the relations which we now bear to the Federal Government.

. . . But, sir, as wise, sagacious statesmen, we should not lose sight of these facts, and that before we take this fearful step- for fearful it is, sir, in every aspect in which we can view it – we should pause and ponder well.}

Sources at the end of Part 3

The Tragic Vote in Richmond, April, 1861 – P. Douglas Perks

5082 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20190710014831/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/the-tragic-vote-in-richmond-april/

Delegate Logan Osburn

“My lot has been cast. I am a son of Virginia. & Her destiny shall be mine.”1

By P. Douglas Perks


Mr. Perks, a Native of Jefferson County, is Director of the Charles Town Library and Assistant Curator of the Jefferson County Museum. He is a frequent speaker on Jefferson County History, the author of “Mr. Jefferson’s County” in The Guardian, and a contributing author to The Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society-ED.

In 1810 the first census taken in Jefferson County, Virginia recorded 11,851 residents. By 1860 Jefferson County was home to 14,535 inhabitants, a twenty-three percent increase. Of that number roughly seventy percent were free white citizens. Twenty-six percent of the
population was enslaved. There were just over 500 free blacks, about four percent of the total.

Charlestown, the county seat, had finally become the largest town in the county by 1860. Harper’s Ferry was a close second in size followed by Shepherd’s Town. Bolivar with its growing population of armory workers was next. The village of Middleway was the smallest.2

The economic engine of Jefferson County, Virginia was agriculture. In 1860 there were 463 farms in this part of the Lower Valley and they included some of the most productive in the commonwealth. Most were small farms with no more than 500 acres.3 There were only twelve farms that cultivated more than 500 acres. None were larger than 1,000 acres. As testimony to its rich farm land, Jefferson County was the leading wheat producing county in Virginia in 1860.4

The 1860 census report included a demographic snapshot of the United States. One category recorded the number of white men between the ages of 20 and 59, roughly the productive years of a white male in the mid-nineteenth century. In Jefferson County there were 2,125 men in this category.

Jefferson County residents were citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia in November, 1860. In less than five years Jefferson County found itself included in the new state of West Virginia. This is the first in a series of articles that will examine the events that occurred in the transition from Jefferson County, Virginia to Jefferson County, West Virginia.

On Tuesday, November 6th, 1860, 1,857 Jefferson County men went to a polling place to cast their vote. A number of local and statewide political positions needed to be filled, but by far the office that was on everybody’s mind was who would be the next man to reside in the White House.

Reflective of the divergent opinions over what course the nation should set, there were four, not the usual two, presidential candidates. With fifty-two percent of votes cast, John Bell and the Constitutional Union Party won in Jefferson County.

The Southern Democrats and John Breckinridge garnered twenty-five percent of the vote. Surprisingly Stephen Douglas got the support of twenty-three percent of the electorate.5 Although Abraham Lincoln and his Republican party received eleven votes in next door neighbor Loudoun County, he got no support in Jefferson County.

At the end of the day Berkeley, Hardy,6 Loudoun, and Morgan counties joined Jefferson in support of Bell. Clarke, Frederick, and Hampshire threw in with Breckinridge.7 Aside from a respectable show of support in Jefferson, Douglas gained little traction in the Lower Valley. There were no votes cast for Lincoln.8 Virginia followed the lead of Jefferson County, and Bell won her fifteen electoral votes.

Bell’s victory in Virginia was by the slimmest of margins. John Breckinridge came within a whisker of winning in Virginia.9 The presidential election of 1860 made it crystal clear that Virginians were equally divided on the States’ rights issue-roughly one-half of her people supported Bell and his belief in the Constitution and a continued union of the states and one-half supported Breckinridge and his belief in the sovereignty of a state.

The election of Abraham Lincoln as the 15th president added fuel to the fire of the national debate over the issue of States’ rights. The fire eventually burned out of control until it seemed to some that the union of states had failed, and that the proper course was to return to the days when sovereign states were joined voluntarily in a confederation. On December 20, 1860 South Carolina became the first state to repeal its approval of the adoption of the Constitution.

Soon Mississippi, then Florida and Alabama followed South Carolina out of the Union. But, the question on the collective mind of a now divided nation was, “How goes Virginia?”

The answer to that question would soon be forthcoming. Governor John Letcher called for a special session of the Virginia General Assembly to be held on Monday, January 14th, 1861. The purpose of the session was to determine Virginia’s position on the issue of secession from the Union. The General Assembly decided that Virginia’s position would be determined at a state-wide convention to be held on Wednesday, February 13th, 1861. Each county would elect delegates to attend the convention. The convention was empowered to debate the issue of secession and make a proposal which then had to be ratified by a statewide referendum.

According to Millard Bushong, “the most important meeting ever held” in Jefferson County occurred on Monday, January 21st, 1861.10 On that date the same men who had just two months earlier cast their votes in the presidential election met at the Jefferson County Court House. They assembled at a public meeting to determine who would represent Jefferson County at the upcoming Virginia Secession Convention.

The results of the meeting were announced in the Alexandria Gazette:

The Southern Rights party in Jefferson Co., Va., has nominated the Hon. Wm. Lucas and Andrew Hunter, esq., as candidates for the State Convention. The Union party in the same county have nominated Col. A. M. Barbour and Logan Osborne, esq. 11

The men who supported States’ rights were represented by two men well known in Jefferson County. William Lucas was a member of one of Jefferson’s oldest families. Born on November 30th, 1800 at Cold Spring just south of Shepherd’s Town, Lucas studied law under Henry Berry of Shepherd’s Town and Judge Henry St. George Tucker in Winchester.

Lucas married Sarah Rion and in 1826 they inherited Rion Hall and oversaw its expansion. Upon Sarah’s death, Lucas married Virginia Bedinger, the daughter of Daniel Bedinger. They were the parents of Judge Daniel Bedinger Lucas. Lucas practiced law first in Shepherd’s
Town then in Charlestown. He was a delegate to the Virginia General Assembly in 1837-1838 and represented Virginia’s 15th Congressional District in 1839-1841. Lucas was a delegate from Jefferson County to the Virginia Constitution Convention held in 1850-1851. 12

Lucas’ running mate was local attorney Andrew Hunter, well known in the county for his role in the prosecution of John Brown. Hunter was born March 22nd, 1804 in Berkeley County the son of Colonel David H. and Elizabeth Pendleton Hunter. Hunter graduated from Hampden-Sydney College and then studied law. In the 1850s, he built Hunter Hill on the east border of Charlestown. Hunter practiced first in Harper’s Ferry then in Charlestown. He was a Whig presidential elector in 1840, a member of the Virginia General Assembly in 1846, and the Virginia Constitution Convention in 1850-1851. 13

Lucas and Hunter were running opposite two men who represented the Union Party. Alfred Madison Barbour was born April 17th, 1829 in Culpeper County, Virginia into one of Virginia’s oldest families. Barbour was a graduate of the University of Virginia and Harvard University School of Law. He began his practice of law in Charlestown. On December 24th, 1858 Barbour was appointed superintendent of the United States Armory at Harper’s Ferry. He was immediately faced with severe budget cuts, but Barbour handled the crisis well and earned good marks from his superiors at the Ordnance Department. In October 1859 at the time of John Brown’s attack on the armory, Barbour was in New England visiting the Springfield Armory and the Ames Manufacturing Company. He learned of the raid while visiting Samuel Colt in Hartford, Connecticut. He hurried home to Jefferson County and arrived back in Harper’s Ferry on October 21st.

Archibald Kitzmiller, the acting superintendent, Master Armorer Benjamin Mills, and Master Machinist Armistead Ball had all had been held hostage by Brown and his men. Barbour was left with the task of restoring calm and order after the three day siege.14

The other pro-Union candidate was Logan Osburn. Osburn was born March 23rd, 1810 in Loudoun County, Virginia. He received his education at the Catoctin Academy located in Loudoun County. In the 1830s after he married Hanna Leslie the Osburn’s moved to Ohio. There he pursued a number of vocations including newspaper editor and hotel operator. After the death of his wife, Osburn returned to Virginia where, in 1840, he married Margaret Chew Osburn. In 1843, the Osburn family moved to Jefferson County. Osburn bought the property in the Kabletown district known as Avon Bend. While the house was being renovated Osburn owned and operated a store in Kabletown. The Osburn family moved to Avon Bend in 1848. From 1851-1852 he co-owned Shannondale Springs. In 1856, Osburn built and moved his family to Avon View. Osburn represented Jefferson County in the Virginia General Assembly from 1857 to 1858.15

Monday, February 4th, 1861 was the day designated by the Virginia General Assembly for each county to select its delegates to the Secession Convention. Jefferson’s electorate once again went to the polls. Consistent with the results of the presidential election, the men of
Jefferson County voiced their support of the Constitution. Barbour and Osburn captured 1,433 votes and 1,350 votes respectively. Hunter’s 467 votes and Lucas’ total of 430 votes confirmed that in early February 1861 Jefferson County wanted to remain in the Union and would send two men to Richmond who would vote in opposition to secession.16

The three-month period from the first of February to the end of April in 1861 is arguably the most important 90 days in our Nation’s history. During those 2,160 hours, men from around the Commonwealth met to debate and to decide Virginia’s fate.

Among the document archives at the Jefferson County Museum is a collection of Logan Osburn’s correspondence. Included in the collection are several letters written by Osburn during this critical time in history. Reading Osburn’s observation of how events transpired during Virginia’s convention affords us a front row seat as history is being made.

The Virginia Secession Convention opened on Wednesday, February 13th, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia. The Mechanics Institute at the foot of Capitol Square was selected to be the convention site. John Janney, delegate from Loudoun County, was elected president of the convention. Janney’s opening remarks set the tone for the convention:

“It is our duty on an occasion like this to elevate ourselves into an atmosphere, in which party passion and prejudice cannot exist-to conduct all our deliberations with calmness and wisdom, and to maintain, with inflexible firmness, whatever position we may find it necessary to assume.”17

From the opening day the debate over Virginia’s future was both passionate and sometimes heated. On February 21st, 1861 Waitman T. Willey, delegate from Monongalia County, spoke to the convention. As the debate progressed the issue of loyalty had been equated with support for secession. Willey asserted the loyalty of the citizens of his part of the state, western Virginia, and invoked the memory of Virginia’s greatest men:

“Sir, there exists not within the broad limits of this great State any people more loyal to its interests than the people of the North-western part of the State – any people readier to defend her rights to the death. When did we not come up to the full demands of justice to the East on all questions? Never; but, sir, we have a record upon this subject – a record written in blood. I stand here representing the sons of sires who fell in your defence in the war of 1812 …. Your soil is consecrated with the memories of the loyalty of the West, because it contains the honored remains of some of her bravest and noblest sons. Why, sir, your honor is her honor; your interest is her interest; your country is her country; your faith shall be her faith; your destiny shall be her destiny.

“But sir, it seems that we love the Union too well. That seems to be the measure of our offence. If it be treason to love the Union, we learned that treason from you, sir – we learned it from your great men – from your Jefferson’s, from your Madison’s, your Monroe’s, and from others of equally illustrious dead; and we have learned it from the living, little less distinguished men who are recognized as leaders at the present day, and who need but the consecration of death to place their names on the same roll of immortality. Above all, we learned it from the Father of his Country, the greatest of Virginia’s sons – the greatest man that ever stood upon the tide of time. As I passed down by his monument the other day, and gazed upon it with the reverence with which every American heart must contemplate his memory, I could almost imagine that I heard falling from his sacred lips the admonitions he gave us in his Farewell Address, bidding us beware of sectional dissensions, bidding us beware of geographical divisions, and instructing and conjuring us to regard the Union as the palladium of our liberties; to look with distrust upon any man that would teach us any other doctrine.” 18

Willey certainly brought out the big gun by admonishing his fellow delegates to recall the words of The General in his “Farewell Address.” Who would argue with that?

But, argue they did. Vivid proof of the pressure brought to bear on pro-Union delegates is clear in the following letter sent by Logan Osburn to his father-in-law Balaam Osburn who was back home in Kabletown. The letter has been transcribed just as it was written on March 11th, 1861 while Logan was still in Richmond. There are no changes to spelling or grammar:

“Great excitement continues to exist in our councils. The outside purpose is exceedingly offensive. The sensation dispatches repulsive to conservatism. All manner of means resorted to affect our action. Threats have been made to drive our body from the convention hall at the point of the bayonet if we fail to pass an ordinance of secession. We are threatened with civil war, by timultuos uprising of the people, if we hold out much longer in our efforts to preserve the union.

“A delegate of high respectability approached Robt Y. Conrad & myself last night as we walked the hall of the hotel & inquired of Mr. Conrad, if any important vote would be taken today? And assigned as the reason of his inquiry that his constituents were about taking steps to withdraw him from the convention, with a view of defeating its ultimate action, & if it was commenced no one could tell where it would end. He desired of course to go home and arrest it. T J Randolph of Albemarle is here & says the entire county is now for secession. That they do not look to the action of this convention for any relief, but the spring election will secure a great majority of secessionists to the legislature. They will then call an extra session thereof, order an election for another convention, secede &c. &c.
You must therefore lookout for reliable union candidates for the legislature.

“I really think the secession party are seriously damaged. It cannot be possible that sensible men (as I know many of them are) of sane minds could rejoice (as they do publicly) about the hotels at every indication of collision between the federal authorities and those of the seceded states. Rumours have reached here this evening that the authorities at Washington will withdraw Major Anderson from Fort Sumter & (I trust in God it is true) it is regarded as a signal of peace & really the secessionists are gloomy and desponding & regard it as a trick to delude & deceive the people.

“Wm C. Rives delivered an address at the African church in support of the report of the peace congress at Washington on Friday night last, which was characterized by distinguished ability and irresistible arguments. He is an accomplished orator and gentleman. Geo W. Summers commenced his exposition & defence of the report before the convention to day. He looks & talks like Hector, reasons cogently argues with sledge hammer force & clinches it with ten penny wrought nails as he goes. He gave way to a motion to adjourn without finishing will resume in the morning and has already proven to every man open to conviction that better guarantees are provided for the institutions & interests of the South by the support of the peace conference than by Crittendon’s amendments. I spent an evening at I. M. Betts last week, I regretted your absence. His independent manner of speaking, honesty, candor, & frankness almost captivated me. He is possessed of an extra-ordinary mind, unequaled simplicity of manner-and conversational talent. One of Virginia’s noblest sons & one whom she will yet rejoice to honor. I am proud of his acquaintance, for it has entirely removed an ill-founded prejudice I honestly entertained. His views are not ultra, but based upon sound constitutional doctrine, maintained by conclusive argument. Yours &c.”

“Threats have been made to drive our body from the convention hall at the point of the bayonet.” With one sentence Osburn communicates to his family the serious nature of the convention’s proceedings. Surely there was similar sentiment on behalf of pro-Union forces. But, Osburn affords us the opportunity to view the frenzy that swirled around the convention delegates, and he also made it clear that regardless of the pressure the pro-Union contingent was still holding strong.

There is clear evidence that pro-Union delegates dominated the secession convention. After weeks of debate the question of secession was finally put to a vote. On April 4th, 1861 an ordinance of secession was proposed and was soundly rejected. Forty-five delegates voted in favor of the ordinance and eighty-five opposed it. True to their commitment made when elected, both Barbour and Osburn cast votes in opposition to secession. Following Jefferson’s lead, the Berkeley, Clarke, Frederick, Hampshire, Hardy, and Loudoun delegations all voted “NO.” The only “YES” vote from our area was cast by John Orrick from Morgan County. 19

But delegates who assumed that the matter had been decided were in error. The convention did not adjourn. Instead, they continued to debate.

On April 4th, the eyes of the country were focused on Richmond, Virginia. Everyone awaited the answer to the question: “How goes Virginia?” After Virginia’s resounding support of the Union and the Constitution, the hand on the anxiety gauge moved back a few notches. But the respite was to be short-lived.

At 4:30 A.M. on April 12th, 1861 the country’s collective sigh of relief suddenly became a sharp gasp of distress. The Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina fired on the Union garrison at Fort Sumter. In response on April 15th President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 three month volunteers, to include 2340 men from Virginia, to put down the “insurrection” in South Carolina.

With this news, the deliberations at the Virginia Secession Convention took a different tack. In a letter written on April 17th to his wife, Logan Osburn reflected both the mood at the convention and also the mood of pro-Union delegates:

“It is now between ten and eleven oclock at night and the convention is still in session. I paired off with a gentle-man of the opposite side for the night to enable me to drop you a few lines and try to get a little sleep. The Convention went into secret session on tuesday, and its injunctions sealed the lips and silenced the pens of the whole body so far as its action is concerned until secrecy is removed. Whilst I will not divulge our actions Ifeel constrained to say that the last three days will form an epoch in my life that I fear I will never be able to refer to with composure. I have often said to you in great seriousness in the last six months that I feared the days of our republic were about numbered, & that the Sun of our National liberty was about to set. It is with me now no longer a matter of doubt. You will see by the papers that the authorities of our State have already inaugurated a revolution by the seizure of public property, vessels in our harbours, Gosport Navy Yard & Ex Gov. Wise told me to day a dispatch had been sent for the seizure of the armory at Harper’s Ferry. Andrew Hunter is here, and told me he left home yesterday and all was quiet there then. The City is full of strangers brought hither I suppose by the circular to which I have Heretofore alluded. All precipitation and Secessionists thrown upon us just as the action was made on Fort Sumpter, evidently made at the suggestion of Roger A. Pryor (who is there) with a view of drawing some rash act out of the President at Washington (like the proclamation) to spend its full force upon this Convention at a critical moment of its deliberations and at the very time of the assemblage of the multitude of secessionists. The whole scheme was evidently matured long ago, and but a small part of it is yet developed, and that the least offensive of it. Lincoln has committed an outrage on the Rights of the great, the gallant, and the conservative Union Party of Virginia, for which posterity must ever hold him responsible, the consequences of which will not only entirely destroy that noble party but rear over it a Red Republican Revolutionary party that will plunge our glorious country and recently happy people into all the horrors of civil war. Had he only evacuated the Forts Sumpter and Pickens (for which he had no use) and given positive assurances to our commissioners that his policy towards the seceded states would be entirely pacific.

“I have no doubt the last card of the secessionists would have been played out and we could then have adjusted all difficulties and thoroughly restored the union of all the states. He cannot be so blind as not to see a strong revolutionary spirit manifesting itself among the people. Why did he not therefore endeavor to cooperate with the conservatism of the Convention & work out the solution of this difficulty? April 17th} In view of all the surroundings, I think I will probably come home in a few days. I am well aware of the intense excitement necessarily existing in your midst. I presume I cannot remain but a few days. I desire an interview with the Governor (Letcher) this morning to ascertain the condition of H. Ferry. I rejoice you that you are at home. If you were here you would be deranged, almost. I am no company either man or beast. I have sought consolation in the solitude of my chamber and in the Gents parlour, in long walks when an opportunity is offered, but without avail. The Solemn, Sad, and desponding countenances that characterize the union men in the hall of the Convention clearly indicates their wounded pride and patriotic devotion to this country’s honour and the people’s liberty. Brave men with stout hearts and trembling voices, with tears rolling down their cheeks, have stood up nobly in defence of the rights of the people, and earnestly appealed to their brother members to save them & theirs from the dim calamities of civil war, but in vain.” 20

Undoubtedly this is what Osburn had been sworn to neither speak, nor write about:

“Ordinance of Secession of Virginia

“AN ORDINANCE to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United State of America by the State of Virginia and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution.

“Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain, That the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, 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 all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying and adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

“And they do further declare, That said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

“This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day, when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.” 21

In a fortnight the winds of fate changed direction. This time when the question was called the support for secession was there. On April 17th the delegates cast eighty-eight votes in favor of secession and fifty-five votes in opposition. The caveat was that the convention’s vote must be ratified by a popular referendum to be held on May 23rd, 1861. 22

The Lower Valley delegates held firm their belief that Virginia should remain in the union. With two exceptions they each cast a “NO” vote. Alfred Barbour had left the convention and had returned to Harper’s Ferry -he would play an important role in the disposition of the U. S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry.23 Johnson Orrick again cast a “YES” vote. 24 By the time of the referendum on May 23rd, Virginia had left the Union and was preparing for war. Militia companies from the Valley were on the march for Harper’s Ferry where they were mustered into the Provisional Army of Virginia. The vote on the 23rd became a mere formality as 132,201 Virginians confirmed their support of secession. Just 37,451 votes, many from the western counties of Virginia, were cast in support of remaining in the union.25

Only a total of 1,178 votes were cast in Jefferson County on May 23rd. Many of the men who had voted in November and again in February were now on the drill field. Of that total 813 men supported the secession resolution. There were only 365 “NO” votes.26

What caused men who so fervently supported remaining in the Union in February to change their mind in May? At the risk of oversimplifying I will offer one opinion. On June 6th, 1861 Logan Osburn was at his home Avon Bend. He wrote a letter to his good friend and fellow convention delegate Robert Y. Conrad who lived in Winchester. At first Osburn talks about his wheat crop. Then prophetically he explains his change of heart:

“I have earnestly (and perhaps obstinately) opposed the secession of Virginia for I voted against its ratification. I have regarded it as mischievous in its tendency, and destructive in its consequences to our best interests. Socially, politically and commercially. My opposition was based upon what I honestly believed to be my conscientious conviction of duty. But my opinions have been overruled by a large majority of the freemen of my state. My opposition is ended. My lot has been cast. I am a son of Virginia. ‘& Her destiny shall be mine.”

References:

1 Letter from Logan Osburn to Robert Conrad, June 6th, 1861. Logan Osburn was a successful farmer and owned approximately 1,300 acres in the Kabletown area that included the farms Avon Bend, Avon Hill, and Avon Wood.

2 1810 and 1860 population figures from existing United States census records.

3 1860 census records for Jefferson County indicate that 356 farms (seventy-seven percent) had between 100-500 acres.

4 Jefferson County farms produced 422,514 bushels of wheat in 1860.

5 Most of these votes came from the Harper’s Perry precinct-a long-time Democratic stronghold.

6 Included present day Grant County.

7 Included present day Mineral County.

8 Abraham Lincoln received a total of 1,887 votes in Virginia.

9 In the 1860 presidential election, Bell won Virginia with 74,481 votes to Breckinridge’s 74,325 a margin of 156 votes.

10 Millard Bushong, Historic Jefferson County, Jefferson Publishing Company, Charles Town, West Virginia, 1972, P. 144.

11 Alexandria Gazette, Friday, January 25th, 1861 Page 2, column 2.

12 Bushong P. 431.

13 Bushong P. 423.

14 Merritt Roe Smith, Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology, Cornell University

15 Adeline Osburn Palmer’s hand-written biography of her uncle Logan Osburn. In the document collection of the Jefferson County Museum, Charles Town, West Virginia.

16 Bushong P. 144.

17 West Virginia Archlves & History. http://www.wvculture.org/history/statehood/ordinanceofsecession.html. September 2nd, 2010.

18 Ibid.

19 Encyclopedia Virginia. http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Virginia_Convention_of_1861. September 2nd, 2010.

20 Logan Osburn to Margaret Chew Osburn, April 17th, 1861, Richmond, Virginia. In the document collection of the Jefferson County Museum, Charles Town, WV.

21 West Virginia Archives & History

22 Encyclopedia Virginia

23 Smith, P 314.

24 West Virginia Archives & History.

25 Bushong P. 145.

26 Ibid.

2 Virginias: The Awaited Comet – Pt. 1

6002 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20130508020903/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/10/jefferson-county-pulled-along-the-tear-pt-1/

Virginia’s Demise in 1861 was not an unscheduled comet, landing on the unsuspecting. . .

But George Koonce of Harper’s Ferry did not yet know that the challenge of getting grudging, growling Jefferson County into the new West Virginia would land squarely on him. When this rending finally came in 1863, Jefferson County – perhaps more than anywhere else – was pulled along the tear – becoming the West Virginia County that least wanted to be in West Virginia.

A SUMMARY OF THE PROBLEM

ALWAYS A BAD PAIRING: 1720-1861

The freedom-driven German Lutherans, Scotch-Irish dissenters and Presbyterians west of the Blue Ridge would eventually “break” from east Virginia because eastern Virginia landowners tied all voting power to their own vast “property” holdings. Much of that property was owned people, adding a dimension of immorality to the unfair voting law. Also were strains caused by state-funding to schools almost entirely in eastern Virginia and a highly-leveraged railroad that served eastern and southern Virginia only. Routinely referring to the western Virginians as “peasants” whose honest labor eastern Virginians haughtily assessed as much less valuable, dollar-for-dollar, as the forced labor of an owned, healthy African man – verged on being duel-worthy.

Giant increases in western settlement of arrivals from the British Isles in the first three decades of the 19th century and the completion in 1853 of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Wheeling both empowered, emboldened and increasingly “northernized” western Virginians. Both factors were hastening the end of oppression by east Virginia’s large property-holding class. So, the bonfire of Separation was set and long-awaiting before the Secession Convention of April, 1861 and the fiercely bullying tactics of the eastern Virginians gave it a blazing match.

WHITHER JEFFERSON COUNTY?

Jefferson County had one ideological foot in each region and tended to suffer doubly, as both the viewpoints of east and west Virginia were advanced by its own diverse populace. Jefferson County was prized by both regions for being the top wheat-producing county anywhere in Virginia and, by 1842, was traversed by a vital stretch of the 178-mile B&O that carried the mails fast and would offer the first telegraph line in its miles of rights-of-way. Whose side Jefferson County was on in this slow-motion, divorce proceeding mattered.

THE SLOW-MOTION DIVORCE UP TO DECEMBER, 1860

The chasm between eastern and western Virginia was as old as the real chasms. The first settlers entering Virginia west of the Blue Ridge, were seen by Virginia’s powers as nothing more than an encouraged protective barrier against marauding Shawnees.

Governor William Gooch encouraged settlement west of the Blue Ridge to thwart Shawnee attacks.

The date of the arrival of these German pioneers of the Valley has been variously put. There is nothing of record, so far as is known, by which the exact time may be ascertained, but it is evident that they were here some time before 1730, as early as 1725 has been surmised, but 1727, or thereabout, is more likely to have been the date. That they came before 1729 is pretty surely known, for in that year a number of grants were issued by Gov. Gooch, and had the settlers come in after these grants were issued, they would, doubtless, have gone a little farther along, where land was apparently free. . . (Norris, pp. 320-321).

DIFFERENCES LAID BARE EARLY

June 25, 1788 – Wednesday, Richmond, VA.:
Virginia’s Ratifying Convention of the U.S. Constitution

At Virginia’s Ratifying Convention of the U.S. Constitution in June, 1788 at Richmond, Patrick Henry fiercely attacked the Constitution for days. Adam Stephen, founder of Martinsburg, once a major general in the Continental Army and George Washington’s executive officer for some twenty years before that, rose on June 23rd and said:

Henry means to frighten us by his bugbears of hobgoblins, his sale of lands to pay taxes, Indian purchases, and other horrors that I think I know as much about as he does . . . if the gentleman does not like this government let him go and live among the Indians. I know of several nations that live happily and I can furnish him a vocabulary of their language.

The final vote on June 25, 1788 to ratify the United States’ Constitution was 89-79, with the western counties led by Stephen voting 15-1 for ratification, saving the new nation.

1822 – FIRST RUMBLINGS OF SEPARATION

After the Virginia Assembly evaded addressing a formal petition for redress by western Counties for about thirteen years, a constitutional convention was convened on October 5, 1829 and carried on until January 15, 1830. Eighteen of the ninety-six members were from today’s West Virginia.

Focus was above all on suffrage. The population was growing much faster to the west than the east, so the eastern interests held even more tightly to their prerogative of basing voting power on population AND the extent of one’s held property. If the best, but owned, African-American laborer was assessed in his value at $1200 – the value of over thirty acres of arable land in Jefferson County at that time – the tax on the owned person was much less than that on the thirty acres of land.

. . . To the statement that nearly three-fourths of the tax had been paid by the counties east of the Blue Ridge, the West asked who were the men who had fought the battles. . . The convention finally agreed to lessen the requirements of a free-hold, and to extend the suffrage to leaseholders and housekeepers who paid taxes.

When submitted to the people in April, 1830, and ratified by a vote of 26,055 to 15,563, the vote within the bounds of West Virginia was only 1,383 for ratification and 8,365 against it. Almost all the northwestern counties except Monongalia and Preston were practically unanimous in opposition. (Callahan, pp. 321-324).

Hierome L. Opie and Thomas Griggs – both large property and people-owners – represented Jefferson County and sided with the eastern interests. Hampshire and Jefferson were the only two West Virginia counties which gave a majority for the minor revisions and concessions to western Virginia. The separation pot would keep boiling – but more.

Benjamin Watkins-Leigh described the white people west of the mountains as peasantry. He added: What real share, so far as mind is concerned could the peasantry of the West be supposed to take in the affairs of the State? (Hall, p. 36).

Wrote Historian Granville D. Hall in 1902:
At this distance of time it seems startling to recognize the irrepressible conflict between the two sections as it showed itself in openly expressed fear of division and the free handling of the question of disruption so long ago. The wonder arises that with such discordant elements, such outspoken discontent and hostility to an existing order of things within its borders, it was possible for the Old Dominion to hold the West under its domination so long, before the crisis arrived which settled the question of division at once and forever.

JEFFERSON COUNTY’S “OLD VIRGINIANS” RE-ASSERT AGAINST NEW WAYS, NEW-COMERS

John Pendleton Kennedy, a Baltimorean with vast family roots in Jefferson County from his relatives, the Pendletons, and author of the greatly influential book in 1831, “Swallow Barn,” based on “The Bower” in Jefferson County – complained in 1828 of these unpleasant newcomers, suggesting the Scotch-Irish:

One thing I should like your father to see in this country – you know his prejudice (I think I may call it one) against Virginia, for its loose manners and thriftless mode of life – I should like him to travel through this upper region at least to see how completely the elegancies of society and the best points of a luxurious mode of living, have been invaded by a sort of stiff, awkward, and churchly morality, that seems to have attacked every seal of grace in gesture, speech, ‘affections of delight’ (as Shakespeare calls them) with everything that made Old Virginia once the seat of noblemen, but not of penny-saving presbyterians. (Bohner, p. 76)

Ambrose Ranson, who grew up on a family farm near Charles Town, captured in word that “luxurious mode of living” having imbibed lengthily on the elixir of enslavement’s unjust rewards to the people-owner. He describes life as it was (NOTE: The editor has included Ranson’s long description to allow for nuance and to show the seductive nature of the slavery-dependent lifestyle.):

The most remarkable feature of the situation in our section was that refinement and even elegance could exist on such very small means. A man with a small farm, say 300 acres worth about $12,000 and a few slaves, was really a prince – a prince of the kind that no millionaire of the present can even emulate. His butler, his coachmen, his cook were all his property. They could not strike for higher wages. They could not give notice of leaving. They were there and there to stay. Knowing this, the head of the house was free from some of the carking cares, which beset the most favored people of the present age (1913-ED).

He had leisure to think, to read, to cultivate his mind and manners and to indulge himself in social pleasure. He was a better-educated man, a better-read man in current and ancient literature, and he was a better-mannered man than the man of the present age. Freed from little worries, his temper was better, his heart was softer, and his disposition more sunny and genial. Social intercourse, therefore, was on a plane which is now unknown. There was little attempt at grandeur or extravagant display, a beautiful simplicity pervaded life and gave it its greatest charm. Of course there were degrees of wealth; the man with thousands of acres and hundreds of slaves, the man with a few hundred acres and a few slaves, but the latter was all the same a prince and was so recognized by the former. The man with the smaller fortune was just as independent as the other, and in some respects was in a rather more favored position. His fares were fewer certainly and his time was more his own, while his social position was as good as anybody’s. He was received in all social functions, his financial status not being considered in the least.

His intellectual and educational advantages were of great importance and his manners also. As a consequence, he was careful to cultivate these, and was generally entertaining and agreeable. It is well-known that the Man I am describing was well-posted in political and other matters of his own and antecedent epochs. I have known men of this stamp who knew well their Homer and their Thucydides, their Bacon and their Shakespeare and were ready and apt in quotations, and at the same time were not lifted above current events, but rather forgave them the preference in conversation, using their knowledge of the past in illustration of events of the present day. A friend of mine told me of a dinner in New York the other day at which twenty-five hundred millions of dollars were present. He told me nothing of the people, what they said or what they did. He only told me in bated breath of their money. Such a dinner in olden times was of course unknown and in comparing them, words cannot express my preferences for the old. I can remember some of those dinners when the ladies had retired, and the decanters of old Madeira went circling round over the polished mahogany, and am filled with regret that those days have passed away forever.

People-owning was a tough habit to break. For a laborer to escape to freedom was the occasion for as much consternation as seeing 20-40 acres of good farmland absconding on running feet.

(NOTE: The young boy is wearing ragged clothes that were common. He would be sold for perhaps $500 in the 1850s in Jefferson County.-ED)

RAILROAD PLANS SET THE COURSE TO WAR 1831-1861

Railroads forecast the future. Virginia’s Assembly committed its and others’ money to lay a line serving east-west the southern portion of the state. So long as the B&O’s projects inside Virginia stayed far to the north from their planned Virginia Central line, the Virginia Assembly allowed the laying of B&O line across the girth of Jefferson County, to Martinsburg and a massive depot, and further west for many more miles inside Virginia’s borders.

But eastern Virginia would watch aghast as Jefferson County and the northwestern counties plunged permanently into the powerful orbit of the commercial colossus of the Baltimore and Ohio, as it pressed its muscular reach west, with 4500 busy workers, offering the fastest mail delivery – a letter could go 200 miles in less than six hours – while exploiting its own unlimited free use the telegraph line it hired Samuel F. B. Morse to make happen in the B&O rights-of-way. Meantime, the Virginia Central faced the challenge of Blue Ridge Mountains – and foundered.

Inexorably, by 1834 the B&O’s massive rail crews reached Harpers Ferry from Baltimore. More time was needed to tie the B&O into the Winchester & Potomac at Harpers Ferry. Relentlessly work crews of 1500 men and 450 horses then lay iron rails, shipped from England and weighing 51 pounds a yard onto wooden ties mounted in a foot-deep bed of crushed limestone, marching across Jefferson County to Martinsburg.

By connecting to the Winchester-Potomac line that ran to Winchester, opening up the lower Shenandoah Valley to produce transport, farmers here and Winchester’s region could ship their farm goods – as the state’s breadbasket – to markets that were north, not south.

Continuing west, the B&O line in November, 1842 re-crossed out of Virginia to connect with the Old National Road in Maryland. In a concession to the Virginia legislators, the B&O management brought the line back into Virginia at Corinth and continued the rest of the way to Wheeling, Virginia.

Much of the B&O track between Wheeling and Baltimore, which opened in January, 1853, ran through northwestern Virginia. By the time the B&O was shipping nearly half a million tons a year east on the line – Jefferson County and its western neighbors were well within the B&O commercial force field. Cries emitted from Richmond, led by governor (1856-1860) Henry A. Wise that the railroad was “abolitionizing” Jefferson County.

A train may have enticed an Ohio-born, ethnic German Lutheran from Steubenville to Harpers Ferry. George Koonce was just one of those stalwart principled voices with a northern ring that disquieted some native Virginians.

Much fate would devolve into the hands of George Koonce’s childhood buddy, Edwin Stanton, who, in adulthood, became an ardent B&O advocate and later – Secretary of War in Lincoln’s cabinet.

Stanton would wish to have George Koonce become the hinge in the madly swinging door of West Virginia’s – and Jefferson County’s – destiny.

GEORGE KOONCE’s GREAT GRANDSON, STAFFORD KOONCE

I’m Stafford Koonce, great grandson of George Koonce. George was born April 17, 1818. He was born in Steubenville, Ohio. He died July 23rd, 1908 at his home – Ellersie – at the age of ninety. He grew up with a young man named Edwin M. Stanton, and, later in life, Stanton was named Secretary of War by Lincoln. And when the division of Virginia arose to form West Virginia, Stanton asked George to attend the meetings in Wheeling. He represented Jefferson County at the convention. He was elected to the West Virginia state legislature in 1865, 1866, 1867 and to the State Senate in 1870 and 1871. At the time when he went to Wheeling, the residents of Jefferson County weren’t too pleased and, more or less, had a hard time in the County. (He would go to Washington to stay with his son “Charlie”). He was also Sheriff of Jefferson County. He was Constable of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry in the 1830s, and he was also, to my understanding, U. S. Marshal. He had thirteen children and two marriages. (In) his first marriage – his wife passed away (Emily Piles Koonce) – he had six children. (In his) second marriage with my grand-mother – Bettie (Ellen Brittain)

Koonce – he had seven children. His son, Harry Stafford Koonce, is my grandfather. She was born January 6, 1837 and died April 6, 1920.

MARY KOONCE (Mrs. Stafford Koonce): My name is Mary Koonce. He (Stafford) has been very lucky because his aunt collected a lot of material and pictures and gifted the family and the libraries in the area with “The History of the Koonces, Brittains, the Allstadts, and Henkles.” One night when I couldn’t sleep I was surfing the Internet and I came across a listing for George Koonce in the Duke University Archives. I read two papers. And one said George Koonce actually rallied a militia when John Brown attacked Harper’s Ferry. The other paper said at one time that he had to leave the area – because he was a Union sympathizer – when the Confederates held Harper’s Ferry. He went to Washington. He believed in public service. He was known to be very straight-forward. When he gave you his word, he gave you his word – he didn’t falter or go back on his word. People really knew where they stood with him.

George Koonce was a leader in the militia called Floyd’s Guards serving Harper’s Ferry. When John Brown’s group attacked Harper’s Ferry, Koonce appears to have been part of this operation:

The Harper’s Ferry Guards divided into four squads; one crossed the Potomac and came down the Maryland side, and seized the bridge. That was where the Abolitionists’ re-enforcements were looked for. Another squad took possession of the Shenandoah Rifle Works, and a third guarded the railroad bridge above the Musket Factory. Captain Avis, Lieutenant Chambers, Richard Washington (brother of Colonel Lewis, the captive), William Copeland, John Stahl, Jr., Jacob Bajent, George Coleman, Sr., Ed. McCabe, Mr. Sweeny, Thomas Bird, Mr. Watson, and four others were in the last squad, that headed straight for the Arsenal. SOURCE: Chambers, Jennie. (January, 1902). “What a School-Girl saw of John Brown’s Raid.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 104.

“The Virginia Free Press” published on Thursday January 3, 1861, a statement with the headline: “Union Meeting, Bolivar December 15, 1860.”

The meeting’s organizers, including Koonce, were mostly men who weren’t native to Virginia and had come from the northern states. Of the two who were born in Virginia among the leaders, both had had jobs at the federal armory. According to the 1860 Census, the leaders and their place of origin were:

Thomas Russell: an England-born, 41-year-old armorer;
Koonce George: a 42-year-old from Ohio;
George Angure: a 36-year-old machinist from Connecticut;
Franklin Manzy: a 27-year-old born in Va. an armorer;
Thomas W. Green: a 39-year-old armorer born in Maryland;
Philip Engle: a 49-year old armorer born in Virginia;

The report in the “Free Press” began:

Pursuant to the call made by some of the prominent Union residents of Harpers Ferry and Bolivar, the citizens thereof convened in the Bolivar School House for the purpose of obtaining some public sentiment on the subject of the impending public crisis.

The meeting was one of comparative interest characterized by an observance of marked order and respectfully attended irrespective of party or party proclivities. Thomas Russell was called to the chair and J. W. Gannon appointed secretary.

On motion the following named gentlemen were appointed a commission to draft and report Resolution to whit:

George Koonce, Frank Manzy, Phillip Engle, and George Angure, Thomas W. Green

Motion made by E. H. Chambers and carried: That an immediate call be made upon all the citizens who on bent, principle, and practice love the Constitution and the Union and abhor the false tongue and sacrilegious hand that would attempt its destruction, to meet at the Ferry on Monday morning the 17th at 8 o’clock, accompanied by Fife and Drum. – there join in procession and march to Charles Town in Old Continental Style.

Committee returned:

Whereas, in view of the indicative signs of the times, we deeply deplore the confused and agitated condition of our once happy and God-blessed heritage, truly an evil day has overtaken us, pregnant with the breeding of evil events.

The clock of aggression and depredation has arisen with its sad forebodings in the North, while the storm of revenge and secession equally alarming has arisen in the South, both of which are the legitimate and spontaneous results flowing from the absolute want of that feeling of sincere brotherhood and regard of mutual interests; that should ever abound in the bosum of one state towards another, as members of the great national family. And while we rebuke one we condemn the other.

Although many true causes are alleged by “secessionists” in vindication of the rights of severing the Union asunder, whose component parts were cemented by the blood of the revolutionary fathers; thus ruin and wreck the mightiest temple of strength and national prosperity known in the records of the earth yet we recognize none nor all as sufficient provocation for the committal of so rash an act; much less to be an infallible cure of existing troubles, or a permanent guarantee against the perpetuation of similar grievances. We declare that our first and most urgent desire is to preserve and to perpetuate the Union which was formed by the fathers and which we would transmit to our posterity unborn, with all its resplendent glory and endearments, even at the sacrifice of our lives.

No where have Northern hostilities been felt more bitterly than here. If any community has been aggrieved – if any people can claim a peculiar right to speak – we the citizens of Harpers Ferry might justly demand a hearing.

We concede to no people or section of this wide spreading empire a more just call for secession or redress than the citizens of this town. We have been made the target of wild northern fanaticism. The peace and quiet of our homes and our firesides have been invaded by an abolition banditti of merciless outlaws. Our roads and soil have been marked by the unhallowed footsteps of the Northern knave. We have seen their Pike and heard the keen crack of the Northerners’ rifle. . .

The article concluded with the following:

1st: Resolved that the Federal organization is not a voluntary organization of states, subject to dissolution at the discretion of any member – that it is a compact founded upon the principles of good faith between the states of mutual and permanent obligation, and therefore the right of any state to secede is an usurpation of power and wholly unwarranted by the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

2nd: Resolved that the imminent danger of the Union’s dissolution – the cause of the present portentous crisis – is the actual and threatened interference on the part of the North with the rights and prosperity of the people of the South.

3rd: Resolved that the mutual and common interests of the several states renders it the imperative duty of the Federal government to enforce in good faith and with temperate fairness the laws enacted in pursuance of its authority, in all cases where their infringement would impair the constitutional rights of any state or the common and reciprocal rights and the several states.

4th: That should Virginia’s legislature deem it expedient to call a State Convention or propose a conference with the Border States for the purpose of meeting the issues forced upon us that we yield over hearty acquiescence, provided that the final decision of such convention when arrived at shall be submitted to a vote of the people for their approval and rejection.

NEXT: 2 Virginias – The Awaited Comet – Pt. 2: January, 1861 to statehood – then Jefferson County rebels again.

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Flickr Sets:

“Shenandoah Valley.” oil on canvas, by the artist William Louis Sonntag. Courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society.

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Detail from:
Jefferson, Peter, Joshua Fry. (1755). “A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1751.” London, Thos. Jefferys.

Jefferson, Peter, Joshua Fry. (1755). “A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1751.” United States. The Library of Congress: American Memory. “Maps Collection.” 27 Oct. 2009 Web. 10 Sept. 2010.

Sir William Gooch.
Records Ancestry.com 22 Jan. 2009 Web. 20 Oct. 2011.

Preamble-United-States-Constitution. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 May 2011.

Patrick Henry by George Bagby Matthews. Oil on canvas, 1891 ca. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 May 2011.

Hierome L. Opie
Opie, John N. (1899). “A Rebel Cavalryman With Lee, Stuart, and Jackson.” Chicago, IL: W. B. Conkey Co. Print.

Opie, John N. (1899). “A Rebel Cavalryman With Lee, Stuart, and Jackson.” Google Books. 19 July 2008. Web. 24 Dec. 2010.

Benjamin Watkins Leigh. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 May 2011.

John Pendleton Kennedy
“John Pendelton Kennedy.” Anniversary Edition. House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College. 31 March 2011. Web. 19 May 2011

Strother, David H., “Virginia Illustrated.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, New York, NY: Harper and Bros. Volume 10, Issue: 55, (Dec., 1854). p. 10. Print.

Strother, David H. (Dec., 1854). “Virginia Illustrated.” Harpers Magazine. 7 May 2008. Web. 29 May. 2011 ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=ha….

man sitting on sofa
Strother, David H., “Virginia Illustrated.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, New York, NY: Harper and Bros. Volume 13, Issue: 75, (Aug., 1856). p. 317. Print.

Strother, David H., “Virginia Illustrated.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=ha…7 May 2008. Web. 29 May. 2011.

Man reading and laborer
“The Great Labor Question From a Southern Point of View.” Harpers Weekly. Vol. IX. No. 448. New York, NY: Harper & Bros. (29 July 1865). Print.

“The Great Labor Question From a Southern Point of View.” Harpers Weekly. Start date unavailable Web. 27 May 2011.

Hunted enslaved from a painting by Richard Ansdell. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 May 2011.

Boy in raggy clothes – Historical Resources Branch, U. S. Army Center of Military History. Carlisle, PA.

Map of B&O Route east-west
Hoen, A. (1860). “A map of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and its principal connecting lines uniting all parts of the East & West.” Baltimore, MD: A. Hoen & Co. Print.

Hoen, A. (1860). “A map of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and its principal connecting lines uniting all parts of the East & West.” (1860). United States. The Library of Congress: American Memory. “Maps Collection.” 27 Oct. 2009 Web. 10 Sept. 2010.

Jacobi, L. (1858). “Map and profiles showing the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road with its branches and immediately tributary lines.” Baltimore, MD. Print.

Jacobi, L. (1858). “Map and profiles showing the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road with its branches and immediately tributary lines.”
United States. The Library of Congress: American Memory. “Maps Collection.” 27 Oct. 2009 Web. 10 Sept. 2010.

Vaisz, W. (1852). “Map of the Virginia Central Rail Road showing the connection between tide water Virginia, and the Ohio River at Big Sandy, Guyandotte and Point Pleasant.” Philadelphia, PA. Print.

Vaisz, W. (1852). “Map of the Virginia Central Rail Road showing the connection between tide water Virginia, and the Ohio River at Big Sandy, Guyandotte and Point Pleasant.” United States. The Library of Congress: American Memory. Maps Collection. 27 Oct. 2009 Web. 10 Sept. 2010.

Jefferson County Railroads
West Virginia Geo-History. 5 Oct. 2005 Web. 28 2011

Henry A. Wise
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 29 Aug. 2011.

George Koonce – courtesy of Stafford and Mary Koonce

Stafford Koonce – Jim Surkamp

Betty Brittain Koonce – Stafford and Mary Koonce

Mary and Stafford Koonce – Jim Surkamp

Edwin M. Stanton
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2011.

Beyer, Edward. (1858). “Harpers Ferry Armory 1858.” (Painting). “Album of Virginia; Or, Illustration of the Old Dominion. The Valley of the Shadow.
Start date unavailable. Web. 15 Oct. 2011.

Beyer, Edward. (1858). “Harpers Ferry 1858.” (Painting). “Album of Virginia; Or, Illustration of the Old Dominion. The Valley of the Shadow.
Start date unavailable. Web. 15 Oct. 2011.

“What Was Virginia’s Opinion of Secession?” – Dennis Frye

707 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20190710013811/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/what-was-virginias-opinion-of-secession-dennis-frye/

:12 Virginians are, very proud, and they have every reason to be. I mean, again, Virginians all felt that they had some of

George Washington in themselves, all of them . . .

:48 It depends on how you define a Virginian. Do you define a Virginian,

like Robert E. Lee, who came from a family of military heritage, came of a family that had wealth, that was a slave-owner, came from a family that was very much pro-Union, very much in favor of the United States? He himself spent an entire adulthood serving in the United States military . . . Yet he, after agonizing, agonizing hours, made a decision to go with his state . . .

1:29 Or, what about the slave-holder in eastern Virginia . . . that Virginian was represented in many respects by

Edmund Ruffin . . .

2:15 – Now in the Shenandoah Valley, very complex reaction. Most people in the Valley were pro-Union, they were pro-Union up until the time they learned the state had left the Union.

Logan Osburn was one Jefferson County delegate to the Secession Convention . . .

The second delegate:

Alfred Barbour, superintendent of the Harper’s Ferry Armory.-ED

The delegates at the Secession Convention were very torn, and ripped apart on which way to vote, only after Lincoln called on Virginia to squash the rebellion. (Up to) that point, there was unanimity in the Shenandoah Valley against secession . . .

3:14 “My allegiance will be to my state.”

Now this wasn’t universal, you had Dunkers and Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley who were totally against war of any kind, whatsoever. . .

3:41 Jefferson County is an example of divided loyalties as is Berkeley County
. . .

4:13 These people (west of Alleghenies) felt strongly about the United States.

They still held on to the strong tradition of unity that Washington, Madison, and Monroe had projected . . .

References:

George_Washington. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

Robert_E._Lee
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

Edmund_Ruffin. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

Alfred_Madison_Barbour. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

“A State of Convenience: The Creation of the State of West Virginia.” West Virginia State Archives. West Virginia Archives and History. Latest update 31 July 2008. Web. 3 May 2011.

Video:

Frye, Dennis. “What Was Virginia’s Opinion of Secession?” American Military University Civil War Scholars. 14 April 2011. Web. 2 May 2011.

Flickr Set:

File:Robert_Edward_Lee.jpg. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

File:Edmund_ruffin.jpg. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

HF-0509_Barbour_lowres.jpg.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Offline Collection.

osburn.jpg. Private Collection of Don Amoroso.

april_4_1861_vote.jpg
“Union or Secession.” Virginia Memory-Library of Virginia. 2009. Web. 5 May 2011

P. Douglas Perks – November, 1860: Jefferson County Votes

729 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20190710023237/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/doug-perks-1860-jefferson-county-votes/

The following is a truncated transcript of Mr. Perk’s discussion, noting the times of statements in this video

:00 Sometimes I think the assumption is the Civil War started and Virginia was automatically a Confederate state. And that’s not quite how it happened . . . And remember, in the spring of 1861, Jefferson County was still part of Virginia . . .

1:03 What’s Jefferson County all about?

1:08 In the Census of 1860, Jefferson County was populated with 14,535 people. Interestingly, when you compare 1860 to 1850, that’s a slight decline . . . a decline of about four per cent. You break that down a little further – there are 10,054 white citizens in Jefferson County in 1860, 3,960 enslaved people. . . and 511 freed blacks . . . and each of those represents a decline as compared to 1850. . . the biggest change . . . is in the enslaved population. In 1850 there were 4,341 enslaved individuals, and that number dropped by nine per cent to 3,960 in 1860.

2:35 Jefferson County,Virginia in 1860 is an agricultural county . . . We are at that point the number one wheat producer in the state of Virginia . . . a little over 460 farms. . . The majority of them – 356 of them – are small farms, around four to five hundred acres . . . At the start of American Civil War Jefferson County is rural with about 15,000 people, roughly seventy per cent of the population is white, roughly 27 per cent is enslaved. . .

3:36 Look at the presidential election of 1860. This election, of course, is noteworthy because of the fact there are four candidates – the Democratic Party is split, north and south, the Republican Party has a candidate, and there is also another candidate that is providing yet another option, the Constitutional Union Party. So John Bell, John Breckinridge, Stephan Douglas and Abraham Lincoln are campaigning to see who will be President.

4:11 In Jefferson County – overwhelmingly – John Bell and the Constitutional Union Party, won the vote. Out of a total of 10,857 voters, John Bell got 959 votes, which is 52 per cent of the vote. Now, 52 per cent, of course, is just a little over a majority. But you see John Breckinridge got 458 votes and Stephen Douglas got 440. Abraham Lincoln got no votes in Jefferson County. . .

5:04 Interestingly, the only county in our neck of the woods who gave Lincoln any votes was Loudoun . . . In the state of Virginia . . . there was the slimmest, slimmest of victories for John Bell . . .

5:54 So this indicates to us . . .Virginia didn’t jump into the Confederacy . . .

6:29 After Lincoln’s election, after the firing on Fort Sumter , the Southern states begin to leave the Union . . .

6:48 But all eyes were on Virginia. Virginia had yet to decide.

Video:

Perks, Doug. “The 1860 Census and Presidential Election in Jefferson County, Va.” APUS: Civil War Scholar. 16 June 2011. Web. 18 June 2011

Virginia Free Press November 8, 1860 p. 2 – loc.gov chronicling america

Presidential Election Nov. 8, 1860 – Virginia- wikipedia.org

Shepherdstown, Va. – July, 1860 – Drumbeats By Jim Surkamp

1638 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20190710014746/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/shepherdstown-va-july-1860-drumbeats/

This is an account of Census-taker Joseph Coyle making his way around Shepherdstown in July, 1860, using the record of the Census to chart his course. It is interspersed with reports in the town newspaper, “The Register,” reflecting the rising anxiety and fear of future divisive conflicts, in the wake of the John Brown Raid. DeWitt Clinton Gallaher writes of growing up in Shepherdstown. His family moved and he was a student at Waynesboro Academy in Pennsylvania in 1860.-ED

Caught Between “A Rock” of the John Brown Raid and “A Hard-Place” of the Upcoming Presidential Election

On July 24, 1860, Census-taker Joseph O. Coyle kept going down Washington Street in Shepherdstown as a strong, dry wind pushed.

He counted the Cookuses, a butcher family: John H., 29; Ann, 31; John, 6; Eliza, 4; Mary Ida, 2; and Michael Cookus, 57, who owned the place. Then, Blacksmith John Snyder; his wife, Josephine; their three girls and son. Then, Plasterer Tom Fawcett, his place and family of five. Then, Coach Trimmer David Conner with his wife, Josephine, their 20-year-old-son, Newton, who was a boatman.

At one o’clock, the storm unleashed hail the size of walnuts on the Lewis Washington, John Moore, Francis Yates, and John Yates Beall farms southward. “The corn is so completely riddled that fields which gave promise of ten barrels to the acre will now scarcely produce one. In many instances the gardens are entirely destroyed, stones by hail large as walnuts literally tearing to pieces any vegetation it comes into contact,” the “Shepherdstown Register” reported.

Coyle passed George Fayman’s hattery and home (POST OFFICE AND STREAM) that he counted the day before.

“On Washington below King, near the run, lived the Faymans, who had on the opposite or lower side of the street a felt or wool hat shop,” wrote DeWitt Clinton Gallaher.

“I wore one of their make and still almost feel its weight on my brow, like all wool hat factories, the odors therefrom were simply fierce.”

Mr. Coyle called on 29-year old blacksmith, Conrad “Peg-Leg” Snyder, and his mother, 54-year-old, Nancy Snyder – just east of the Princess Street turn.

To his right on the southwest corner of Princess and Washington Streets was John Boroff blacksmith and home place and, to his left north on Princess Street, 39-year-old John Hoffman’s new coach-maker shop (CARLOS NIEDERHAUSER/LIZ WHEELER SITE).

The jovial Boroff got a homesick poem dedicated to him by the ambassador to Denmark, Henry Bedinger from Shepherdstown: “To My Good Friend, Mr. John Boroff, by the Exile,” starting, “I am walking on a Sandy Shore, hard by a Sounding Sea; And to save me, John, I cannot tell why I should think of thee; And yet, throughout this lengthened day, thy friendly face will come; To fill my soul with memories of happier houses and HOME . . . .”

Coyle hadn’t seen much of his family and farm in Middleway, since the 17th. But his farm, fortunately, wasn’t hit by the hail.

Boroff reported to Coyle that he had an enslaved twelve-year-old boy who ran off. Sometimes you send them to run an errand and they just kept running. The same thing happened to Coyle back at his farm.

The County remained shaken by the John Brown Raid in Oct, 1859, the trial, and the executions that occurred through the spring of 1860. Those enslaved, sensing a new world, were fleeing in the hundreds in the County, while census takers in Clarke or Berkeley reported just a few. Coyle, as he wrote down what he was told by the residents, was the first to know its vast scope.

Ahead was the November election for president. Election Commissioners were made official that week in July. Locals didn’t support Lincoln, but they didn’t support Breckinridge either. They preferred a pro-unionist “conciliator,” named John Bell.

John Zittle, living up on German Street, wrote in the “Register:” “There are four candidates for president of the United States. The contest bids fair to be the warmest ever known in the political annals of our country. The troubled waters appear so threatening to engulf us we can invoke the blessings of providence to direct us through.”

The Fourth of July celebration at Big Spring near Morgan’s Grove held together – barely. It began “with the Hamtramck Guards; Capt. V. M. Butler with the spirited notes of the fife and the inspired music of the drum . . . All hands did justice in relieving the table of it’s ponderous weight of provisions ‘done up brown’ by our friend Martin Yontz,” wrote Zittle. Capt. Heskitt had earlier marched the Guards, the town militia, from the town armory in full parade dress, each man having fifteen rounds of blank cartridges.

Auctioneer George McGlincey lifted his glass to: “The Union . . . may the ship of state ride safely into port over the troubled waters.” Then C. W. Yontz counter-toasted: “To Virginia, so long as she contains the graves of Washington, Jefferson, and a Madison, she must be faithful to her glorious title of Old Dominion.”

Coyle, with a schedule, continued on north on Princess, to the corner. Rain often turned that place on the street into a pond. Not this day. It had been high nineties and hot since late June and a rain didn’t help.

He recorded 51-year old Margaret Cookus’ place and her three grown children on the east side; at the southwest corner of Princess and New Streets, was the tailoring family, the Camerons, with their storefront around the corner on German Street.

The free school (STILL STANDING ON S.E. CORNER) could barely house the terrors borne by its teacher:

“A northern man by the name of Alder was the teacher. He never believed in ‘sparing the rod and spoiling the child,’ but kept a fine lot of long hickory rods in his desk. He was one of the terrors of my early boyhood for several months and I still recall him as a sort of bete-noir or cruel tyrant, though he never whipped me,” wrote Gallaher.

56-year-old Prudence Conley’s fine garden along the east side of Princess Street fronted where she lived with her 63-year old wheelwright, Eli Conley.

Coyle went toward the intersection of Princess and German Street to do an accounting in Daniel Entler’s hotel, Tommy Hopkins’ furniture shop, Cato Moore’s home and the “Rising Sun” tavern – the four corners.

Behind the Entler Hotel, the elderly Jacob Line ran his big tannery along the Town Run and the saying was – whenever the Lines hauled more tannin bark through the lane on a wagon, it was a sure predictor of rain. Line would live three more years.

60-year-old Tommy Hopkins made cabinets and rented to lawyer, 35-year old John A. Jones. His place on the southeast corner preceded the one built in the 1890s by Matt and Hattie Tolliver that stands today.

A few doors west from southwest corner was where 38-year old merchant, Cato Moore Entler, lived with his wife, 31-year old Mary, and their three children: William, Ellen, and Sallie.

The “Shepherdstown Register” reported on the 14th of July that the board of school commissioners of Jefferson County were asked to meet at their room in the courthouse in Charles Town to receive recommendations and reports on resolutions to improve the schools. The improvements were to include a school to begin as a military school at Harper’s Ferry. Mr. John Zittle, the Register’s editor, commented that the school, was not quite like the 30-some schools already funded by the education-conscious county residents. To get federal or Virginia funding, it would have to be open to all applicants from beyond the County’s borders.

The paper also suggested the students be trained and used to guard the Harper’s Ferry armory from attack.

References:

Gallaher, D. C. “Shepherdstown Sixty or Seventy Years Ago: Boyhood and Other Reminiscences.” The Shepherdstown Register. 19 April, 1923. P. 1. Print.

Shepherdstown Register, July 14, 1861. Print.

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1967). “Population schedules of the eighth census of the United States, 1860, Virginia [microform] (Volume Reel 1355 – 1860 Virginia Federal Population Census Schedules – James City and Jefferson Counties).” Jefferson, Kanawha, King George, King and Queen, and King William Counties).” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.

Flickr Sets:

All images by Jim Surkamp, except

DeWitt Gallaher image from Driver, Robert J. (1991) “1st Virginia Cavalry.” Lynchburg, VA: H. E. Howard, Inc. Print.

Henry Bedinger – Perkins Manuscript Collection Bedinger Papers Duke University

Eastman Johnson self-portrait – wikiart.org

ad runaway enslaved person – Library of Congress

A correct history of the John Brown invasion at Harper’s Ferry, West Va., Oct. 17, 1859
by Zittle, John Henry, 1905 Publisher Hagerstown, Md., Mail Publishing Company – archive.org

Did Virginia Realize They Would Host the Civil War?” – Dennis Frye

550 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20190710022406/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/did-virginia-realize-they-would-host-the-civil-war-dennis-frye/

The following is a truncated transcript of Mr. Frye’s discussion, noting the times of statements. There is no video.-ED

:14 I think they very clearly understood the geography, and the geography for them, in case of Civil War . . .

:48 Virginia knew that it’s geographic location, being in such close proximity to Pennsylvania, to Ohio, that could be problematic for Virginia . . .

1:41 So perhaps Virginians think that the real battleground will be in Pennsylvania

2:18 And obviously if the United States intended to bring the Southern states, the seceded states, back, that the most logical target, the place to start would be Virginia . . .

3:03 The Capital moved from Montgomery to

Richmond and the separation between

Washington, D.C. and Richmond was only about a hundred miles . . .

References:

Cowles, Capt. Calvin D, 23d U. S. Infantry, Major George B. Davis , U.
S. Army, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph W. Kirkley. “The Official Military
Atlas of the Civil War.” EHistory, Ohio State University.
17 June 2008 .Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

Mason-Dixon_Line. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

Richmond_in_the_American_Civil_War
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

Washington,_D.C._in_the_American_Civil_War.
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington,_D.C._in_the_American_Civil_War

Videos:

Frye, Dennis. “Did Virginia Realize They Would Host the Civil War?”
American Military University Civil War Scholars. 1 July 2011 Web. 1 July 2011.

Flickr Set:

dec61va.jpg
Cowles, Capt. Calvin D, 23d U. S. Infantry, Major George B. Davis , U.
S. Army, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph W. Kirkley. “The Official Military
Atlas of the Civil War.” EHistory, Ohio State University.
17 June 2008 .Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

Mason-dixon-line.jpg. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

File:Capitol_under_const_1860.jpg. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

File:LC-B815-911 Rt side stereoview 1865 LOC.JPG.
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

richmond-civil-war.jpg.
SonoftheSouth. 2003 Web. 5 May 2011

“Did John Brown Elect Abraham Lincoln President?” – Dennis Frye

501 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20190710014557/https://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/1253/

The following is a truncated transcript of Mr. Frye’s discussion, noting the times of statements. The video is no longer available-ED

:49 the Democratic Party fractured over principally John Brown and the issue of slavery . . .

1:04 But instead of having two principle parties and two principle candidates . . .

1:15

we had four candidates, four people, running for president in 1860 –

Lincoln, of course being the Republican is the best-known, but three others:

two Democrats
John C. Breckinridge,

Stephen A. Douglas,

and an independent candidate, John Bell

were also running and it was all principally a result of the divisions over slavery and that Brown had brought forth and had exacerbated these divisions. . .

1:51 There’s no way that Lincoln would have been elected had there been no John Brown . . .

Main References:

John Brown (abolitionist). Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

“United_States_presidential_election,_1860.” Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

Video:

Frye, Dennis. “Did John Brown Elect Abraham Lincoln President?.” American Military University Civil War Scholars. 14 April 2011. Web. 2 May 2011.

Flickr Set:

File:JohnBell.png. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

File:John C Breckinridge-04775-restored.jpg.
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

File:John_Brown_daguerreotype_c1856.png.
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

File:StephenADouglas.png. Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.

File:Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Helser, 1860-crop.jpg.
Wikipedia English. Latest update 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 May 2011.