P. Douglas Perks – January, 1861 – Delegates to the Dramatic Virginia Secession Convention

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Video: January, 1861 – Delegates to the Dramatic Virginia Secession Convention – with P. Douglas Perks TRT: 3:27

P. Douglas Perks

On Monday January 21st 1861, according to professor Millard Bushong, one of the most important meetings ever held in Jefferson County took place at the Jefferson County courthouse. The electorate of Jefferson County met to begin to discuss who would represent Jefferson County at the Virginia Secession Convention. As it turned out, there are essentially two groups: a group that supported the Constitution and remaining in the union and a group which favored secession. Each group nominated two men to stand for election and then the the county would vote to determine who would represent Jefferson County at the convention. The Constitutional Union Party nominated two men – Alfred Madison Barbour who was at the time superintendent of the United States armory at Harpers Ferry. They also nominated a local farmer from Kabletown – Logan Osburn. So Osburn and Barbour were the Constitutional Union or pro-union candidates; the secession candidates or the secession side nominated William Lucas, who resided just outside of Halltown at Rion Hall. The election was held and you can imagine that the 1800 men who had gone to the polls just 18 weeks before were back at the polls, this time far, far, far more serious matter.

Again I think sometimes we we think that these things happen without a lot of thought and that’s not the case here and overwhelmingly the pro-Union candidates were elected from Jefferson County.

Barbour got 1433 votes; Logan Osburn got 1350 votes; Hunter got 467 and William Lucas was 430. So you can see, that the mood of the county was “we’re staying in the Union. we’re opposed to secession. They also voted a resolution which instructed those candidates to vote against the session and in favor of remaining in the Union when they went to the convention on February the 13th. So Jefferson County by this vote decided overwhelmingly that it wished to remain in the Union.