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Virginia Ordinance of Secession

"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, 1778, 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and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of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.

John L. Eubank, Secretary of the Convention."



On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. He was elected by the smallest plurality of popular votes in American history. The loser in the next five presidential elections got more popular votes than Lincoln. Of the total 4,682,069 votes cast, (out of a population of 30 million) Lincoln received 1,866,452 which is 39.9%. The eighteen states voting for him were all above the Mason/Dixon line. He received no electoral votes in fifteen of the thirty-three states. His name was not even on the ballot in ten Southern states. Lincoln's opponents together totaled votes of 2,815,617 which is almost a million votes more than he received. Had the white people of the Slave States, therefore, been of one mind as to which of the three candidates opposing Lincoln to vote for—Douglas, Bell, or Breckinridge—it is plain Lincoln would not have been elected President and the Civil War would not have occurred in 1861. Given the certainty Lincoln's election would bring civil war, Why the Southern voting public did not coalesce on a particular candidate requires serious investigation.

The original records, that is, the transcripts of the speeches made by the politicians in Congress, and at home, the communications by and between State governors and the politicians, and their public speeches, constitute the primary source of information the serious student must use, if she wishes to get to the objective truth of the matter. Finding and reading this material requires the investment of time few students are willing to invest in the process, so, instead, they rely upon the shallow, self-serving narratives offered by the popular historians. Still, the few who do have the interest and the willingness to invest the necessary time, will be rewarded with the discovery that the white people of the seceded States, when their decisions to secede is seen in the clear light, had reasonable grounds, in the context of the time, to take the political action that they did.

The ultimate political cause of the coming on of the Civil War was the failure of the whole white people of the antebellum Union, through their control of the Union's Federal Government, to commit themselves as a truly consolidated people, to assimulate the four million Africans in their midst, into their society. They failed, through the seventy years of their history as a "nation" under the Constitutionl, to do this, because they were infected with the disease of human racism, a disease inherent in the race, its precursor being the natural right all human beings claim, of self-preservation. President James Buchannan, in his December 1860 State of the Union message to Congress states the "national" failure precisely when he said:

"How easy would it be for the American people to settle the slavery question forever and to restore peace and harmony to this distracted country! They, and they alone, can do it. All that is necessary to accomplish the object, and all for which the slave States have ever contended, is to be let alone and permitted to manage their domestic institutions in their own way. As sovereign States, they, and they alone, are responsible before God and the world for the slavery existing among them. For this the people of the North are not more responsible and have no more right to interfere than with similar institutions in Russia or in Brazil."

Under the terms of the Constitution, of course, Buchannan states the case correctly; but that is the expression merely, of the failure of the whole white people of the Union to deal with the Africans as they ought. It was one thing for the founding generation—the generation which secured by force of arms the North American continent for the exclusive possession of their progeny—but quite another for their progeny to refuse to recognize the absolute political necessity, if the Union was to become a consolidated nation, of bringing the Africans in as citizens of the United States. The cause of the war, therefore, in the political sense of the word, was the failure of the whole white people of the Union to accept responsibility for the presence of slavery in the supposed nation of America and excise it by finding the will and the means without throwing themselves into the holocaust of war.

It matters not whether there is "legal" and "political" substance in the claim made by the white people of the seceding States that they possessed the constitutional right to authorize their States' secession from the Union, as opposed to the claim that they possessed the revolutionary right to do so. What matters is that, in the emotions and intellect of their collective mind, they had, in fact, good reasons for believing their lives, liberty, and property were in immediate danger of destruction by Abraham Lincoln's election to the office of President of the United States. For the white people of South Carolina the preception of "danger" was to their "lives" and "property;" for the white people of Virginia it was to their "liberty." Unlike South Carolina's case, which rests squarely upon her citizens' fear of the Africans, Virginia's case rests squarely upon the objective fact—as shown by the original records—that her citizens did not want the adhering states to coerce Virginia to remain in the Union by force of arms.



Virginia Governor John Letcher called the House of Delegates into special session on January 7, 1861. In his message to the House the Governor provided an overview of the state of Virginia's economy, the health of its business environment, and the status of its financial wealth.

"I regret that I cannot congradulate you on the peace and prosperity, the healthy and flourishing condition of the branches of business in which our people are so vitally interested and offer bright and cheering hopes for the future of our country. The times are indeed full of peril and danger, and demand coolness, wisdom, and patriotism. An error committed now can never perhaps be corrected.

The country is torn by dissension, fierce and angry excitement exhibits itself in all sections; passion and prejudice have taken absolute possession of the minds of the people throughout the land. The vile spirit of faction rules; fraternal feelings are supplanted with intense sectional hate; the spirit of conciliation has been crushed.

If we trace our progress from the formation of the constitution up to the present time, the result is impressive: the area of our country (He means "America") was originally 550,000 square miles; now, with thirty-three States, the country covers 1.6 million square miles, with another 1.4 million in our Territories. Our navy has been increased until its canvass whitens every ocean, and our national flag assures protection to the American citizen wherever he may be. It is sad that now all this is to be sacrificed upon the altar of passion.

The only mode of remedying the evil that occurs to me, is that a convention be summoned of all the States, to ascertain whether the questions at issue cannot be settled upon some mutual agreed basis, and, if not, that they agree to a peaceable separation.

Note: The white people of the Union have run out of time for this. Even now at the extremity, they are incapable, in the grip of their racism, from solving the national problem by the expedient of amending their Union's constitution to include Africans as citizens.

It becomes our State to be mindful of her own interests. The cotton states seem to be looking to their own interests, why should we not look to ours? Virginia has immense interests, valuable and important at stake. A disruption of the Union is inevitable; and if new confederacies are to be formed, we must have the best guarantees before we can attach our state to either of them.

For the present condition of public affairs, the non-slaveholding states are chargeable; and if the Union shall be destroyed, upon them will rest the solemn responsibility. Their persistent warfare upon the institution of domestic slavery as it exists among us have done much to create the present state of exasperation existing between the two sections of the Union. Arms peculiarly suited to the use of slaves, have been fabricated, and sent into the slave states, to be placed in the hands of this class of our population, after they have been stimulated to such a degree of madness as will qualify them for the commission of murder, arson, and every species of cruelty.

Note: Letcher is referring to the Abolitionists agitation, the "personal liberty" laws of several of the Northern states, and John Brown's occupation of Harper's Ferry, in 1859. Brown gathered up Africans who lived around the Ferry and put pikes into their hands. The Africans, so armed, did nothing with them; being surrounded by mobs of white people they recognized Brown was insane.

The people of the Northern states, as their statutes, show, and this is confirmed by the speeches and addresses, their resolutions in public meetings, have been endeavoring to confine slavery within its present limits, by excluding it from all the territories belonging to the government. They have been endeavoring to `draw a line around the southern states.'

Note: Understanding why the white people of the Northern states were "endeavoring to draw a line around the Southern states" is the essential point. Instead of using their majority control of the Federal Government to disperse the Africans throughout the "nation," they were using it to bottle the Africans up in the Southern states, which meant to any intelligent-thinking white person that percentage of Africans in the populations of the Southern states would increase, and that increase would generate increased pressure between the races.

In addition, a candidate has just been elected to the presidency, who gave utterance to the atrocious statements, indicating his bitter hostility to the South and her institutions. When a president is elected, entertaining such sentiments, have we not reason for alarm and resentment?

Note: Put this in President Buchannan's words: "In order to justify a resort to revolutionary resistance, the Federal Government must be guilty of 'a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise' of powers not granted by the Constitution." (Dec. 1860 State of Union Message.)

The slave owners of Virginia have suffered seriously from these events. Still we have heard little complaint in our own state. The grievances complained of mainly, are those which the cotton states plead as justification for their action. Would it not be well for us to redress the wrongs our own people have suffered, before we undertake to redress the wrongs of others? Our actions should be based upon the wrongs done to our own people.

I am opposed at this time to a state convention. I see no necessity for it at this time, nor do I now see any good practical result that can be accomplished by it. The controversy now has reached the point where it must be settled fairly and permanently. The excitement is ruinous to the financial and commercial business, and to the agricultural and manufacturing interests of all sections. Unless a settlement is effected quickly, every species of property must fall to merely nominal prices, and a scene of general banruptcy must be the inevitable result. Even now, thousands have been thrown out of work, and at this inclement season poverty, want and misery must be the portion of them and their families.

Note: In November 1860, in the days after Lincoln's election, the banks of Virginia stopped making payments in specie; i.e., the banking system's method of reconciling calls and puts between banks came to a screeching halt, each bank not willing to let go of its hard currency in exchange for another bank's paper.

Many of the fanatics in the northern states are constantly calling attention to the fact that the number of slaveowners, as compared with the white population in the slave states, is small, and hence the inference that the non-slaveholder is not loyal to the state and will not willingly defend the state. This is a most serious mistake. All these parties have a common interest in the protection of persons and property, and each feels that in protecting the rights and property of others, he is securing and protecting his own, whether of little or great value. If the northern people entertain the opinion that the non-slaveowners of the south are not reliable and trustworthy in all respects, they are most grossly mistaken and deceived.

Note: Letcher is correct, but the reason for his correctness is buried in his language. The non-slaveowner—the farmer, merchant, townsperson, skilled and non-skilled white laboror, was, like everyone else, infected with human racism; he did not want to live with Africans in a political system based on political, much less social, equality which is what "freedom" for the Africans necessarily entailed. So, to prevent this, he would throw himself, along with the slaveowners, into the fire.

We have the best port in the country. If direct trade were established between Norfolk and Europe, it would give increased prosperity to every interets in the commonwealth. It would secure for us a commercial independence. The present system of rail roads in the state already point to the great northwest and will soon through a network reach Kansas, and fast forward to the Pacific.

Note: Letcher is referring to the port of Norfolk. The problem is that Norfolk, like Charleston, is a "port of entry" of the United States, designated such by the laws of Congress. In the second session of the Thirty-Sixth Congress, the Republicans introduced a bill that, had it passed which it did not, would have stripped both ports of this status. In such case, foreign ships would be at risk to be seized by the U.S. Navy, if they attempted to enter. Without a navy, Virginia had no means of challenging the Federal Government's policy.

I recommend that the State Militia be divided into twelve divisions. At present we have but five—three in the east and two in the west. In the two divisions in Western Virginia there are in each at least fifty thousand men subject to militia duty. We need to have a standard uniform issued, as now we have every description and if the men were called to service, we would not know friend from foe. We have now a contract with J.R. Anderson & Co. for the manufacture of arms.

The report of the auditor of public accounts shows we have in the treasury the balance of $139,305.18. The estimated receipts for the fiscal year were $3.9 million, and the estimated disbursement are $3.9 million. The total debt outsiding is $33 million. The interest on the debt has been promptly paid. The financial derangement and the uncertain condition of public affairs should impress upon us the necessity of practicing rigid economy. In these stirring times, we know not what the day may bring forth. The future is shrouded in gloom, and look in whichever direction we see nothing but danger and darkness."

Note: In 1860, the state of New York, alone, had $5.5 million in receipts from property tax collection.

Journal House of Delegates


        A majority of the members appearing, the SPEAKER called the house to order at 12 o'clock.

        Prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Duncan of the Methodist church.

        The proclamation of the governor convening the general assembly, was read as follows:


        Whereas, by the constitution of this commonwealth, the governor is invested with the authority to convene the general assembly, "when in his opinion the interests of the commonwealth require it:"

               Whereas, by the appointment of electors, a majority of whom are known to be favorable to the election of sectional candidates as president and vice-president of the United States, whose principles and views are believed by a large portion of the southern states to be in direct hostility to their constitutional rights and interest, and in consequence thereof, great excitement prevails in the public mind, and prudence requires that the representatives of the people of this commonwealth should take into consideration the condition of public affairs, and determine calmly and wisely what action is necessary in this emergency:

        Therefore, I, John Letcher, governor, by virtue of the authority aforesaid, do hereby require the senators and delegates of the two houses of the general assembly of the commonwealth to convene at the capitol in the city of Richmond, on Monday the 7th day of January, A. D. 1861, at 12 o'clock, to legislate upon such subjects as they may deem necessary and proper.

        Given under my hand as governor, and under the seal of the commonwealth at Richmond, on the 15th day of November 1860, and in the 85th year of the commonwealth.

Signed, John Letcher, Governor

Mr. Basssel submitted the following joint resolution:

        Resolved, by the general assembly of Virginia, that the Union being formed by the assent of the states respectively, and being consistent only with freedom and the republican institutions guaranteed to each, cannot and ought not to be maintained by force.

        That the government of the Union has no power to declare or make war against any of the states which have been its constituent members.

Note: The Constitution reads, in pertinent part: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of government and shall protect each against invasion, and on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive, against domestic violence." (Art. IV. Sec. 4.); and, in Art. III, Sec. 10, it reads: "No State shall, without the consent of Congress, . . . keep troops in time of Peace, enter into compact with another State. . . or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay." From this language the intent of the parties to the Constitution can reasonably be interpreted to mean that, if the Federal Government is used by sister states to launch an invasion of Virginia's territory, Virginia is constitutionally privileged to use her armed forces to resist the invasion, and that the Federal Government has no constitutional power to change the nature of Virginia's government which is republican in form; i.e., a government based solely upon the political authority of the people.

President Buchannan, in his December 1860 Address, put the matter of interpretation this way: "The question fairly stated is, Has the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to coerce a State into submission which is attempting to withdraw or has actually withdrawn from the Confederacy? If answered in the affirmative, it must be on the principle that the power has been conferred upon Congress to declare and to make war against a State. After much serious reflection I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power has been delegated to Congress or to any other department of the Federal Government. It is manifest upon an inspection of the Constitution that this is not among the specific and enumerated powers granted to Congress, and it is equally apparent that its exercise is not "necessary and proper for carrying into execution" any one of these powers. So far from this power having been delegated to Congress, it was expressly refused by the Convention which framed the Constitution.

It appears from the proceedings of that body that on the 31st May, 1787, the clause "authorizing an exertion of the force of the whole against a delinquent State" came up for consideration. Mr. Madison opposed it in a brief but powerful speech, from which I shall extract but a single sentence. He observed:

The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.

Upon his motion the clause was unanimously postponed, and was never, I believe, again presented. Soon afterwards, on the 8th June, 1787, when incidentally adverting to the subject, he said: "Any government for the United States formed on the supposed practicability of using force against the unconstitutional proceedings of the States would prove as visionary and fallacious as the government of Congress," evidently meaning the then existing Congress of the old Confederation.

        That any effort by that government to coerce any state to reunion or submission, whether under the claim of enforcing the laws against citizens or otherwise, should and will be esteemed by Virginia, from community of interests and relations, as war on her likewise, to be resisted to the utmost of her means and power.

        Mr. Robertson moved as a substitute for the foregoing resolution, that so much of the governor's message as refers to the coercion of a state by the government of the United States, be referred to a committee of fifteen, with instructions to report immediately; and the question being on agreeing thereto, was put, and decided in the affirmative.

        Mr. ROBERTSON, Mr. HOFFMAN and Mr. WILSON severally submitted resolutions; which were ordered to be referred to said committee.

        The SPEAKER announced the committee as follows: Messrs. Robertson, Bassel, Yerby, Seddon, Hopkins, Chapman, Martin, Wood, Anderson, Cowan, Duckwall, Ball, Grattan, Welch and Carter.

        On motion of Mr. Kemper,

        Resolved, that a committee of fifteen be appointed, with instructions to report, at the earliest practicable time, a bill, providing for a convention of the people of Virginia.

Mr. Christian moved a suspension of the rules, with a view to reconsider the vote of the house by which the resolution providing for a committee to report a bill for the call of a convention was adopted; and the question being on agreeing thereto, was put and decided in the negative.

        On motion of Mr. Kemper, the vote was recorded as follows:

        AYES--Messrs. Alderson, Boreman, Brown, Burks, Cassin, Christian, Crane, Dickenson, Ferguson, Ferrill, Fleming, Frost, C. H. Gilmer, Hackley, Holdway, Keen, Lockridge, Matthews, D. Miller, Morris, Myers, Patterson, Porter, Reid, Richardson, Segar, Staples, Thompson and Watts--31.

        NOES--Messrs. Crutchfield (speaker), Anderson, Baskervill, Bentley, Boisseau, Booker, Carpenter, Childs, Claiborne, Collier, Crump, Evans, Friend, D. Gibson, J. T. Gibson, J. Gilmer, Graham, Hanly, Haymond, Huntt, Hunter, Jett, Johnson, C. H. Jones, W. T. Jones, Kaufman, Kemper, Kincheloe, Knotts, Leftwich, Lucas, Lynn, Magruder, Mallory, T. Martin, McDowell, McGehee, McGruder, McKinney, McKenzie, Miles, J. R. Miller, Mong, Montague, Nelson, Newton, Orgain, Phelps, Preston, Pretlow, Randolph, Riddick, Robinson, Rives, Rutherfoord, Saunders, Scott, Shannon, Sibert, J. K. Smith, I. N. Smith, Thomas, Tomlin, Tyler, Wallace, Ward, A. Watson, West, Wilson, Witten and Woolfolk--71.

Note: On January 9, 1861, the Star of the West, a civilian steam paddle boat hired by the Buchannan Administration, entered Charleston Harbor, for the supposed purpose of resupplying the Union army garrison that had occupied Fort Sumter on December 26, 1860. The Carolinians used artillery to force the boat to exit the habor.


Mr. Thompson moved to amend the bill, by striking out the first section, and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

        "Be it enacted by the general assembly, that it shall be the duty of the superintendents and officers who were appointed to superintend elections for county officers in May last, at the places established for holding elections for members of the general assembly, to open polls for deciding the question of convention or no convention; which convention, if called by the voice of the people, shall consider and propose such measures as may be expedient for this commonwealth to adopt in the present crisis of state and national affairs. The said election shall be held on the 4th day of February in the year of our Lord 1861."

        And the question being on agreeing thereto, Mr. Seddon demanded the previous question; which was sustained by the house; and being put, was decided in the negative.

        Mr. Watts submitted the following amendment:

        "And provided further, that if said convention, which shall assemble on the day mentioned in the above section, shall make or pass any ordinance authorizing and directing the withdrawal of this state from this confederacy, or any ordinance authorizing and directing her connection with any other state or states of this Union, it shall, before any such ordinance shall take effect, be first submitted to and ratified by the citizens of this commonwealth."

        Mr. Keen submitted the following amendment to the amendment:

        "At the same time, the said commissioners shall open a poll to take the sense of the qualified voters upon the question as to whether any action of said convention changing the organic law of this state or dissolving our connection with the Union, shall be submitted to the voters of the commonwealth, for their ratification or rejection."

        And the question being on agreeing to the amendment to the amendment, Mr. Seddon demanded the previous question; and the question being, Shall the main question be ordered? was put, and decided in the negative.

        On motion of Mr. Keen, the vote was recorded as follows:

        AYES--Messrs. Anderson, Arnold, Bailey, Ballard, Bass, Bassel, Bell, Boisseau, Burks, Carpenter, Carter, Chapman, Childs, Claiborne, Edwards, Evans, Ferguson, Friend, Garrett, J. T. Gibson, Graham, Grattan, Hanly, Haymond, Hopkins, Huntt, Hunter, James, Johnson, C. H. Jones, W. T. Jones, Kaufman, Kemper, Kincheloe, Kyle, Lundy, Lynn, Mallory, J. G. Martin, T. Martin, McDowell, McGehee, Medley, Miles, J. R. Miller, Mong, Montague, Montgomery, Morgan, Nelson, Newton, Orgain, Robinson, Rives, Rutherfoord, Seddon, Shannon, H. Smith, Thomas, Tomlin, Tyler, Wallace, Ward, West, Wilson and Woolfolk--65.

        NOES--Messrs. Alderson, Ball, Bentley, Bisbie, Booker, Boreman, Brown, Caperton, Cassin, Christian, Coleman, Collier, Cowan, Crane, Davis, Dickenson, Duckwall, Edgington, Ferrill, Fleming, Frost, D. Gibson, J. Gilmer, C. H. Gilmer, Goodycoontz, Harrison, Hackley, Holdway, Jett, Keen, Knotts, Leftwich, Locke, Lockridge, Magruder, Massie, Matthews, McGruder, McKinney, McKenzie, D. Miller, Morris, Myers, Patterson, Phelps, Porter, Preston, Pretlow, Randolph, Reid, Richardson, Riddick, Robertson, Saunders, Scott, Segar, Sherrard, Sibert, I. N. Smith, Staples, Thompson, Walker, A. Watson, Watts, Welch, Wingfield, Wood and Yerby--68.

Note: On January 9, 1861, Mississippi secedes. On January 10, Florida secedes. On January 11, Alabama secedes. The gist of the motions referred to, was to establish a system of electing delegates to a convention of the people, to consider the issue of the day, and to provide the people with the opportunity to vote on whether an ordinance of secession passed by such a convention must be ratified directly by the people voting at the polls. The process resulted in the election of delegates to represent the people of each county and to require the people to vote on the question of ratification if the convention passed an ordinance.

Hall of Delegates

On Wednesday, February 13, 1861, the delegates, who had been elected by popular vote in the counties of Virginia, met together in the Hall of the House of Delegates at Richmond, to attend the first of fifty-five days of sesssions in the people's convention, convened to decide whether to authorize the State Government to secede from the Union. The delegates chose the members of two committees—Federal Relations and Elections—and a number of resolutions are introduced condemning the President-Elect's presumed policy of coercion. After several days of debate regarding the resolution, the delegates hear presentations made by representatives of South Carolina and Mississippi. These representatives presented themselves as "commissioners" from the nacent Confederacy. Their presence was perceived by the delegates as "pressure" by the seceded States, to induce Virginia to secede.

On the tenth day of the convention, Mr. Samuel Moore of Rockbridge County obtained the floor and offered a resolution dealing with the Fugitive Slave Clause and the Northern states personal liberty laws. Moore grew up in Philadelphia. He graduated from Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, and made the place his residence where he practised law.

"I say, sir, I believe that South Carolina cares nothing about the slaves which we have lost. They have lost no slaves; there has been no inroad made upon them, for we alone have been the sufferers by any loss resulting from the carrying off of slaves. There is then a direct conflict at once between our interests and those of the seceded States. Our chief losses from the abduction and escape of slaves have occurred within this period, and inasmuch as they have been seeking a pretext to go out of the Union for the last 40 years, these causes cannot have operated upon them at this time. The fugitive slave law and the personal liberty bills have been passed since 1850, and while the latter undoubtedly furnish just cause of complaint to the citizens of the border States, they cannot be supposed to have led to the secession of the Cotton States, because these States formed that purpose forty years ago, and because, moreover, while they justly deprecated this policy on the part of the North, as a violation of a Constitutional right, they were not materially affected by that policy.

Note: Nowhere through the dense transcripts of fifty-five days of speeches, did any of the delegates rage poetically about the failure of the Northern states to fulfill their constitutional duty, under the Fugitive Slave Clause, as a just cause for secession.

I am not very familiar with the proceedings to which I allude, but I imagine it is a fact that these men from South Carolina, believing that the Democratic party had lost the power to save the Union,  went to the Charleston Democratic Convention, for the purpose of breaking up the party with the ultimate purpose of destroying the Union. Now, if there was but one man in the United States of the Democratic Party who had the least chance of success, that man was Stephen A. Douglas.

What objection did they make to him? Why, that he was in favor of Squatter Sovereignty—Squatter Sovereignty, which they looked upon as one of the principles of the Democratic Party, and which they had sustained in voting for the Kansas and Nebraska bill. And yet, who did they nominate in opposition to him? John C. Breckinridge, who, himself, voted for the Kansas and Nebraska bill containing this Squatter Sovereignty doctrine. I have never had the fortune to read but one speech made by Mr. Breckinridge, and that was reported in the Congressional "Globe," and in that speech he distinctly announced that Congress had no right to interfere for the protection of slavery in the Territories or for any purpose whatsoever.

We have heard a great deal said about King Cotton. I have here a pamphlet, in which extracts are made from the speech of Gov. Hammond, in which he alleges that England and all the rest of the world would topple to their foundations in case the supply of cotton from the Southern States should fail them. This idea is absurd. Before the last war, the idea was prevalent in this country that we could, by withdrawing the supplies of cotton from France and England, redress the grievances of which we complained, and we resorted to that plan. Did they redress our grievances? The real fact was, that it involved a loss upon our own citizens of some hundreds of millions of dollars.

As to the matter of secession, I do not propose to discuss that now. The respect I have for the opinions of gentlemen who entertain the idea that secession is a rightful remedy, and that every State has that right, prevents me from saying what I think of it. But for that respect, I should denounce it as the most absurd and ridiculous notion that was ever presented. They make government nothing but a rope of sand, and the most solemn compact that men can enter into is to be set aside by one of the parties to it. Treaties between foreign powers can be enforced. There is redress which they can demand; but this thing of government is of so little consequence in the estimation of some, that it can be dissolved upon any slight pretext. But we have it, upon very high authority, that this right of secession was reserved ; that, at the time of the Convention, a proposition was made to give the power to Congress to enforce obedience on the part of the State to the compact, but that it was subsequently withdrawn; that this proposition was in reference to the articles of confederation, and not in reference to the constitution, and that it was laid aside. It was laid aside because they had determined to adopt a proposition which would operate upon the citizens of the United States. But we are told that Virginia reserved the right of secession. I deny the fact to be so. What Virginia said was that the people of the United States claimed the right. If they meant that each State had the right, they would have said that the people of Virginia had that right but they said no such thing.

Note: Mr. Moore obviously read President Buchannan's December Address and he states the case against secession being a "constitutional" right succinctly. But, the objective fact looms large in the context that the founding generation could not reasonably expect to bind all future generations of Americans to the product of their choice of words and their actions, especially when they knew—they, themselves having twice invoked it—that all men, according to the Declaration of Independence, possess the "inalienable" right to throw off a government the generation living under it, finds dangerous to their safety and happiness. Given the context, one can reasonably argue that the political principle defined by the Declaration of Independence was subsumed in the Constitution and, thus, an integral condition of it's operation.

I apprehend that we may have to fight with somebody. Our young men are full of fight and they will never be satisfied until they get to fighting with somebody. They are a good deal like the Irishman who stepped into a crowd and said, 'Gintlemen, is there any one of ye's who wud do me the favor to tread upon the tail of me coat, for I feel very much like fighting this morning.' [Laughter.]

Query: Where are the young men in this? We are reading what their elders said. What did they say? Did they have a say? Who remembers them in the streets in the spring of 1968? Who remembers them in the streets of Richmond, in the spring of 1861?

We have had telegraphic despatches about what they are doing in Boston, and we have heard a great deal about the pointing of guns down at some of our forts, at somebody's house or chicken coop. But this little sort of humbuggery I trust not will drive men into precipitate action, but I hope they will pass it all by as the idle wind.

As to the attitude I take in reference to Virginia, I say this, that I would take the part of the United States government against all the other governments of the earth; and I would take the part of the people of Virginia against all other States. Go where she will, I will be with her, unless she disgraces herself by going where she ought not. I will fight for Virginia to the last hour, and although she goes against my consent, I will still be bound to follow her fortunes. My idea of patriotism compels me to go for my country against all other countries; for my own family against all other families on the face of the earth."

On the tenth day, James Sheffey of Smyth County gains the floor and his concluding paragraph states Virginia's case precisely.

"The great principle of the Revolution was resistance, resistance to the death, of the assertion, the attempted enforcement, of the right to take from us our property by taxation against our own consent. The great principle, I say, sir, of the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Charta of our liberties, is, that 'all rightful governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.'

Note: Sheffy is stating the superficial myth of the American Revolution. In fact, in 1765, with the French power broken and gone from America, the elites of Virginia and Massachusetts decided to seize upon the excuse of Parliament's short-lived stamp tax, to inflame the people to throw off the British Government's rule over them, and possess the North American continent for themselves alone. The elites were gambling that, given the long contest for world domination going on between Great Britain and France, France would form an alliance with them, to spite and diminish its enemy, and by means of the alliance gain independence.

That Declaration proclaimed the thirteen colonies to be free, sovereign and independent States. The Constitution of the United States was framed by those free, sovereign and independent States, not merely, as some suppose, 'to establish a more perfect Union,' but for higher and greater objects—'to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility ; to provide for the common defence and general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to us and our posterity.' Then suppose that this Constitution fails in all these great and leading objects of its creation, where, then, is its vitality, and where its sacred obligations?

Let it be, sir, that instead of establishing justice, it becomes an engine of injustice and oppression; that rights guaranteed to us and intended to be protected by us are not only not secured and enforced, but are denied to us; that, instead of securing domestic tranquility it produces domestic discord, private insecurity and civil war ; that instead of providing for the common defence, the guns of the country—the guns, sir, bought by the common treasure, or won by the common blood—are turned upon our own bosoms; let it be that instead of liberty, we are to have a body-guard for a Republican President; a standing army, a military despotism, to coerce us into submission. Can a standing army and a military despotism lead us into subjection to a Union or a Government against our own consent? Wherein, then, do we differ from the provinces of conquered Gaul held down by Roman legions? Wherein do we differ from Ireland, coerced by English bayonets, or from Hungary subjugated by Austrian despotism?

Note: Here is the essence stated plainly. The choice the white people of Virginia are facing, plain and simple, is that, whichever solution they choose, their political community be transformed, from a "State" into a "province." If they stick with the Union, they will do it, if at all, only out of the fear that, being conquered, they will be subjugated.

Mr. President, I too love this Union. I love it because it is a sacred heritage from our fathers. But, sir, dear as is that love to the Union in my own bosom, and in the bosom of Virginia and of Virginia's sons, it cannot be maintained by force; it cannot be maintained at the expense of our interest, of our honor, of our liberty; it cannot be forced upon free States and a free people, unwillingly and against their consent. Such a Union would be the worst of tyrannies. A government professing to be founded on the consent of the governed, based upon that principle ; a Union, a Government held by coercion and by force, against the consent of the States, and against the consent of the governed, would be a despotism that no free or brave people ever can or will submit to.

How hold, sir—how hold co-equal the States of the Union by force? The very fact of force would destroy all equality and all liberty. Force, if effectual, must reduce a State to the position of a conquered province, or what is worse—no, no; not what is worse, but what is better far, would lead to the extermination of it. If the General Government may by force conquer and hold one State or seven States, why not, having raised an army for that purpose, conquer and hold successfully seventeen or all the States in a consolidated military despotism? What then, sir? What next? A standing army, against which we complained in the Revolution, harrassing our people out of their substance ; a military despotism to reduce us to a state of subjection and degradation far worse than colonial bondage.

Note: The other side of the coin, of course, is the idea that what counts in the political reality of 1861, is not the relation between "states"—that is, in Madison's idea of the white people of distinct political communities standing equal in their political relation with other distinct political communities—but the relation of the Federal Government to the whole people of "America."

Did the founders intend, and did the American generation of 1861 agree with that intent, that the Federal Government be controlled by a majority of the whole people of America? Or did the founders intend the Federal Government to be controlled by a majority of the "States" composing the Federal Union? If the latter, then, it certainly rings true that, as between themselves, the States owe each to the other certain duties, assumed by their ratification of the "agreement" between themselves, which, if breached, give the disappointed party the "right" to consider the agreement violated and void. In this equation, the "Federal Government" is but a bystander; it is the creature of its creators and cannot be used by any of them as a weapon to disarm any of the others. But, of course, the reality was, in 1861, that the Union had evolved in such a way that one large group of States had gained superiority, in population and economic production, over the other large group of States, and was using its superiority to seize for its exclusive use the huge expanse of Territory both groups had secured together.

At the conclusion of Mr. Seffry's speech, the President laid before the convention the report of the Adjutant General.


February 27, 1861.

To His Excellency, John Letcher, Governor of Virginia :

SIR: I have the honor to report the information called for by resolution of the Convention of 21stThe date was the 20th.instant:

The military force of the State consists of 5 divisions, 28 brigades, 5 regiments of cavalry, 5 of artillery, 3 regiments and 4 battalions of uniformed and armed volunteers, and 197 regiments of infantry of the line.

The annual consolidated return up to 1st October, 1860, being made up from the latest brigade returns, gives an aggregate of only 143,255, officers, non-commissioned officers and privates, although there are undoubtedly not less than 200,000 men in the State subject to militia duty. This is the result of negligence on the part of enrolling officers, and the failure of some regiments to make any returns at all.


There are now in commission 95 troops of cavalry, 26 companies of artillery, 112 companies of light infantry and 114 companies of riflemen.

Of Cavalry:

7 troops are armed with sabres and percussion cavalry pistols.

2 troops with sabres and cavalry musketoons.

32 troops with revolvers.

21 troops only—and

33 are unarmed.

Of the Artillery:

11 companies are armed with 6-pounder field guns, with carriages and implements complete, and artillery swords.

1 with 6-pounder field guns, swords and Sappers and Miners' musketoons.

1 with 6-pounder field guns, swords and artillery musketoons.

1 with six 12-pounder howitzers and light artillery swords—and

12 are unarmed.

Of the Light Infantry:

6 companies are armed with rifle muskets.

75 companies with percussion;

26 companies with flint lock;

4 companies without arms.

Of the Riflemen:

4 companies are armed with long range rifles, with sword attachment. 24 companies with percussioned rifles.

10 companies with flint lock rifles, and

76 companies are without arms.

All the armed companies are uniformed.

The numerical strength of the armed force of Virginia is:

Cavalry, with sabres and pistols, or sabres only, 2,547

Unarmed, about 1,650

Artillery—Armed companies, 820

Unarmed: 660


Light Infantry Companies with rifled muskets 400

Companies with percussion, 3,830

Companies with flint lock, 1,300

Companies unarmed, 250

Riflemen—Companies with long range rifles 330

Companies with percussioned rifles 1,320

Companies unarmed 3,600

Making an aggregate of 16,707

Note: The standing army of the United States, its elements scattered across the breadth of America was 18,000. The AG's reference to the "aggregate" being 16,707 does not mean Virginia had on active duty, in February 1861, 16,000 men; these men were on call. While the U.S. Army regiments were fully trained and equipped, they would have to be drawn together into an army of invasion, the Virginia State Government would have to start from scratch.

On March 5, 1861, the day following Lincoln's inauguration at Washington, Jubal Early of Franklin County took the floor. Early was a graduate of West Point and made his living as a lawyer in Lynchburg. When the war came he enlisted in the Confederate Army. At its end he held the rank of Lt. General. In 1861, he commanded a brigade at the Battle of Bull Run. In 1863, he commanded a division which he marched to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, where he burned the bridge spanning the Susquehanna at that place. 1n 1864, he commanded a corps which he marched from the Shenandoah Valley to 7th Street in Washington D.C and engaged in the exchange of artillery fire with the Union batteries at Fort Stevens as Lincoln watched from its parapets.

Jubal Early" I think, Mr. President, we have had quite enough debate here based upon the inaugural address of the President of the United States. I beg to call the attention of the Convention to the fact that the report which we have had of it, so far, has come over the telegraphic wires, and I do not think that it would be exactly right for us to base any action upon it until we receive that address in an authentic form.

The hour has arrived at which we have been in the habit of adjourning. I do not make the motion which I am about to make for the purpose of claiming the floor to-morrow; but I think that, under the present circumstances, the best thing we can do is adjourn. I therefore move that the Convention do now adjourn.

Mr. Logan Osborn offered the following resolutions which were referred to the Committee on Federal Relations :

Whereas the Government of the United States having been created and established for the purpose of forming a more perfect Union than existed under the articles of Confederation, and adopted by all of the original States, with ample provisions for amendments to the same, but without any for its disintegration—

Therefore, Resolved, That a resort to State secession, or a resumption of the original rights of the States, by an ordinance of secession, is not only unauthorized by the letter of the Constitution, but is contrary to, and subversive of the fundamental principles upon which it was formed; wholly at variance with the legitimate objects of its creation, and can only be justified as a revolutionary means of obtaining redress, when every peaceable, honorable and constitutional expedient has been exhausted and failed.

2d. Resolved, That an ordinance of secession cannot restore to the seceding State its original sovereignty until its secession has been assented to by a Convention of the remaining States, called for the purpose thereof.

3d. Resolved, That with a view of preserving peace, and to prevent the collision of arms and effusion of blood, it would be both politic and wise to waive the unquestionable right on the part of the General Government to collect the revenue and to protect the public property within the limits of the seceding State or States during the adjustment of pending difficulties, holding them severally responsible for the safety of the same; and to either repeal or suspend the laws of the Federal Government therein, until their independence may be assented to, and their rights duly acknowledged.

4th. Resolved, That the preservation of this Government cannot be maintained by force or coercion; that, therefore, this Convention earnestly recommend to both the Federal Government and the Government of the seceded States to carefully abstain from any aggressive measure or policy towards the other.

March 6

The President then stated the pending question to be upon the following amendment, offered by the gentleman from Amelia, Mr. Harvey, to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Goochland, Mr. Leake:

"Whereas, it is now plain that it is the purpose of the Chief Executive of the United States to plunge the country into civil war, by using the power to 'hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties on imports,' in all the States, as well those that have withdrawn from, as those that have remained in the Union; and whereas, the State of Virginia will resist such exercise of power with all her means; therefore be it, Resolved, that the Legislature of this State be requested to make all needful appropriations of means, and provide the necessary forces to resist and repel any attempt on the part of the Federal authorities to 'hold, occupy and possess the property and places' of the United States in any of the States that have withdrawn, or may withdraw from the Union, or to collect the duties on imports in the same."

Mr. Flournoy of Halifax:

How did Virginia stand when this Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln was sent out to the country with its menaces and its threats of coercion. When this Convention was called to meet together, what was the responsibility of the people of Virginia, even though a portion of our sister States of the South had already left the Union?

She responded to the call for a Convention, and she sent here upon this floor, to represent her and to protect, guard and preserve her honor and her interest, and to restore this Government to its unity, a very large majority of men, who were determined to exhaust every means to save the country. I was, and am still, among that number. I came here with an earnest desire—and the people who sent me here felt that same earnest desire—that under the Providence of God, something might occur to drive away the storm that hung over our land and save us from its final destruction.

We assembled. Our Legislature in the meantime, in the spirit of peace and with a desire of preserving our Government and of bringing back our sister States of the South, appointed distinguished citizens as Commissioners to assemble in Washington, and Virginia invited all the States of the Confederacy to meet her there. A large number responded to the call made by Virginia to assemble there, and see if men fresh from the people, would not be able to settle and adjust these difficulties, upon a basis that would preserve our country and preserve the rights, honor, interest and liberty of the South. They did assemble, sir. That Conference finally adopted measures, the Franklin propositions, not up to the standard of Virginia, not up to her desire.

But, sir, even the Franklin propositions, which were adopted by that Peace Conference, when submitted to the Congress of the United States, found not a response sufficient in the hearts of the Black Republicans in Congress. The Peace Conference has adjourned; Congress has adjourned, while we in Virginia, assembled in convention, have been waiting for some action upon the part of the General Government that would drive away the clouds which now hang over us and darken our whole horizon. Upon the very adjournment of that Peace Conference and the adjournment of the Congress of the United States, the President, in his inaugural address, says to us this Union is not dissolved ; this Union cannot be dissolved ; that it is his duty, to execute all the laws in every part of the land, and that he intends to hold, occupy and possess all the public property in the seceded States and collect the duties upon imports.

Note: The Virginia State Government had sent "commisioners" to President Buchanan and, then, to Lincoln, seeking to obtain their committment that the Federal Government would not use force against the seceded States, and it organized a "Peace Convention" at Washington, in the days running up to Lincoln's inauguration, to agree on a package of proposed amendments to the Constitution. These mirrored the proposed amendments offered by Kentucky Senator Crittenden in the Senate during the same time period. These actions provide evidence, along with the speeches of the delegates printed here, that the sentiment of the white people of Virginia—slaveowner and non-slaveowner alike—was not in favor of secession; unless and until it became plain that the new President meant to use the Federal Government as a weapon of armed force against Virginia.

I have heard it said by some here that Mr. Lincoln does not mean what he has said ; that his language is susceptible of different constructions, and that while, in reading his inaugural, it may appear that he intends to exercise force to carry out his purpose, no coercion will be attempted and no force resorted to.

Sir, no man with a just sense of responsibility, no man, when called to preside over thirty millions of people, and upon whose conduct hangs the happiness of a nation, if not civilization and liberty throughout Christendom, ought to speak in doubtful language upon such a question; and I hope if his language is really susceptible of a different construction,  if he really does not intend coercion,  if his object really is not to attempt to re-possess himself of the public property in the seceded States by force; that a voice with unanimity, with clearness, with emphasis that does not admit of two constructions, will go up from this Convention saying to Mr. Lincoln, if coercion is attempted, that Virginia, with all her power and resources, will at once be in a position to maintain her honor and her interest, and protect her sisters of the South.

Note: It is a wonder, indeed, that a mass of men would intentionally throw themselves into the fire of war, for "honor," or to "protect" other poltical communities than their own. How such a war would defend, or promote, an "interest" of Virginia cannot be fathomed. Unless, the interest is to maintain her status as a "free, sovereign and independent" State, and prevent her from being transformed by the Federal Government into a province, as Catalonia was to Spain, or into a subjugated colony—as India was to Britain.

I shall not go into a discussion of the question of slavery ; but I desire simply to announce this as my conviction: that this much derided and much assailed institution is the conservative element in our Government, and that our liberty hangs upon its preservation. Sir, blot out tomorrow the four millions of Africans that occupy the position of laborers in the Southern States, and you put an extinguisher upon human liberty. Separate and divide us, throw us into a Northern and into a Southern Confederacy; let the conservatism and slaveholding representation be taken out of the Congress of the United States, let the North be left alone to itself, and anarchy and confusion worse confounded, would, in a few years, reign throughout her borders; and the result would be that she could have no peace, no liberty but by the strong arm of power and by her standing armies to keep her disorderly population in order.

Note: This language is unintelligble in meaning. How anarchy and confusion would ensue, if the Free States went their separate way, is not explained. The allusion seems to be, that the immigrant population of Irish and Germans will create the anarchy and confusion.

And, on the other hand, cut us loose from this Union of ours and make a Southern Confederacy of all these Southern States, and I will not draw you a picture of the troubles that may come upon us of the South. Let us then unite in an effort to restore this Government, to save this Union, and save it upon the terms of justice and equality to all the South. Let us bring our offending seceded sisters back, and they will come when Virginia shall make an adjustment of the difficulties, and throw around them such guards as shall protect their honor and their rights. Let us once more get together; let all our land see the troubles that spring from an improper interference with this institution of ours in the South. Let them reflect, too, that this day England, is alarmed for fear that the failure of one cotton crop may throw five millions of operatives out of employment. Restore the Government with these impressions upon the public mind, and one hundred years will pass away before the head of fanaticism will so erect itself in the North again as to disturb the peace and quiet of this land.

But in order to do this, the first step, the main step, is for this Convention now promptly and at once to take the position I have indicated in regard to the employment of coercion by the General Government—not in the spirit of menace, not in the way of threat, but with a cool, determined and deliberate purpose, expressed in such a form and in such a manner, as will show to the world that Virginia has placed herself where she means to stand, for weal or woe. If the effect of our voice is to bring peace back to our land, it will fill every heart with rejoicing; if it bring war, she has no recreant son who will refuse to buckle on his armor and fight gloriously in her defence.

Jubal Early, again.

Mr. President, I think that there was never a body assembled on the face of the earth having before it so important a duty to perform as this Convention has, and upon the result of whose deliberations so much depends. Sir, consequences, the most momentous that ever depended upon the action of any assembly, ancient or modern, depend upon our action here. These consequences are no less than the existence and the preservation of the fairest fabric of government that ever was erected. They involve the question whether thirty millions of people shall continue to enjoy peace and prosperity, or whether this Government shall be rent into fragments, and with it the last hope of freedom in the world shall expire.

Note: What Early means by the platitude—the last hope of freedom—who can say? In 1861, most all the governments of the countries of Europe were not republican in form; they were administered by monarchs or emperors.

In view of the grave consequences which our action involves. The gentleman from Halifax, Mr. Flournoy, and the gentleman from Prince Edward, Mr. Thornton, have just referred to the Inaugural Address of Mr. Lincoln, and among other parts of it to that portion in which he says he will execute the laws in all the States of this Union and hold, occupy and possess the public property of the United States.

Now, sir, I do not approve of the inaugural of Mr. Lincoln, and I did not expect to be able to endorse his policy and I did not think there was a member of this Convention who expected to endorse it; but, sir, I ask the gentleman from Halifax and the gentleman from Prince Edward, if it were not for the fact that six or seven States of this Confederacy have seceded from this Union, if the declarations of President Lincoln that he would execute the laws in all the States would not have been hailed throughout the country as a guarantee that he would perform his duty, and that we should have peace and protection for our property, and that the fugitive slave law would be faithfully executed? I ask why it is we are placed in this perilous condition? and if it is not solely from the action of these States that have seceded from the Union without having consulted our views.

Note: Again, we get to the essence of the thing. Virginia is now trapped between two contending forces—on one side stands seceded states, whose traditions and socities the people of Virginia can identify strongly with; on the other side stands the Northern states, their people, now mostly foreign born, in control of the Federal Government and mean to use it to march an army, with or without Virginia's permission, through her territory to wage a war of conquest against the seceded states. Virginia can bow low to the latter and usher its army through, even adding its power to the inturding force; or she can defend her borders against the invasion. What harder choice could her people face?

The gentleman from Prince Edward says that he has enunciated that the majority must rule and that the minority must submit.

Mr. President, I have been in a minority all my life. I have been standing up against currents that few men of my humble capacity could withstand, in defence of the rights of the minority. I have contended for the right to be heard, for the right to express my opinion under very disadvantageous circumstances, and I would be the last man to yield any right of the minority. But, sir, can these rights be asserted, not by force or violence, but under the Constitution and according to the laws? I think they can, sir. The gentleman tells you that this doctrine of the divine right of the majority, and of the obligation of the minority to submit, cost one king his head and another his crown.

The gentleman has denounced the intimations in Mr. Lincoln's inaugural, that the political action of the Government is not to be regulated by the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Dred Scott. I do not approve the intimation, but I believe the gentleman from Prince Edward, belongs to that school of politicians who take the resolutions of '98-'99, and the celebrated report thereon, as their guide; and I believe that every secessionist in this Convention claims to derive the doctrine of secession from these resolutions and that report.

Now, I do not profess to be intimately acquainted with the history of events which led to the passage of these resolutions, but they resulted from opposition to the enforcement of the alien and sedition laws; and I believe it is an unquestionable fact that the alien and sedition laws were and had been declared constitutional by the Courts at the time of the passage of these resolutions. Now, I submit it to the gentleman from Prince Edward, if Mr. Lincoln might not fairly deduce from the resolutions of '98-'99, his doctrine that the political action of the Government is not to be controlled by the decisions of the courts?

I do not wish to be understood as endorsing this inaugural, but I think, sir, as we have a Committee that has been earnestly engaged for some time in the consideration of these questions that are brought before us by the resolutions of the gentleman from Chesterfield, and the amendments thereto, that we ought not to forestall the action of that Committee, but that we ought to wait quietly and calmly for its report.

I have heard a great deal about revolution going on in the country. We hear a great many reports from those who come to mix in this seething cauldron of confusion and disorder. They tell us that revolution is going on in the country. They know nothing about the masses of the people of this State. The real people—the bone and sinew of the State—the men upon whose exertions the prosperity of the State depends, and upon the strength of whose arms its defence, in time of danger, will rest, are at home, attending to their occupations, providing the ways and means of support for themselves, their families and the country. They are waiting, calmly and quietly, the action of this Convention, upon which their whole hopes rest for the preservation of this Union. They do not want precipitate or hasty action, and should such be had, they will apply the corrective having judiciously reserved to themselves the right of ratification or rejection, as to them may seem best.

I think we can safely await the report of the Committee on Federal Relations, before taking any action ; and so believing, I shall vote against the resolutions of the gentleman from Goochland, and those of the gentleman from Amelia.

John GoodeMr. John Goode, of Bedford County replied to Early's speech. Goode was a Virginia Democratic politician who served in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War and then was a three-term postbellum United States Congressman. He graduated from Emory & Henry College in 1848, studied law at Washington College School of Law and was admitted to the bar in 1851. That same year, he was elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and in 1861 sat in the state convention that passed the Ordinance of Secession. n May 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed Goode as the acting Solicitor General of the United States, and he retained the office until August 1886.

"Mr. President, I had no desire to address the Convention this morning, and particularly to follow the eloquent gentlemen who have already occupied the floor. But, sir, I desire to reply briefly to the gentleman from the county of Franklin, who has just addressed this Convention. It will be remembered, sir, by yourself and by the Convention, that yesterday that gentleman informed us that the report of Mr. Lincoln's inaugural address was received by telegraph, and therefore he desired us to wait. The report is here to-day, sir, in the regular course of mail. The gentleman still desires to wait. He is determined not to be precipitated into any hasty action. [Laughter.]

Sir, we were told by the gentleman, and those who co-operate with him, prior to the election of Abraham Lincoln, that we must wait for the 'overt act.' We were told by the gentleman, and those who co-operate with him in this Convention assembled, that we must wait and dance attendance upon the so-called Peace Conference at Washington. We were told by the gentleman when that failed, that we must wait upon a Black Republican Congress. And now, sir, since they have deliberately rejected the solemn demands of the State of Virginia, which were put forth as the final effort to restore the integrity of the Union, the gentleman from Franklin comes again with the syren song 'wait.'

And, sir, yesterday we were told by him: 'The lightning has perhaps made a blunder; let us wait, wait until we hear what the man really has to say, wait until it is written down in black and white.'

Well, sir, we waited. The gentleman moved an adjournment yesterday; we voted an adjournment; we have waited upon him; he has consulted his pillow, and he comes this morning to the Convention. And now, sir, we have heard from Mr. Lincoln, and the gentleman from Franklin rises here, and while he repudiates the doctrines contained in the inaugural, while he does not wish to meet the crushing, overwhelming criticisms which have been made upon it, although we waited yesterday at his instance, and have heard what Mr. Lincoln had to say, the gentleman, contrary to all expectations, asks us now to wait. [Applause and laughter.]

It may save the Chair the actual performance of a very unpleasant duty, by announcing now his firm determination to clear the galleries if there is a repetition of such conduct. The scenes of the House of Representatives and of the Senate Chamber, shall not be repeated here in this Convention unless it takes from me the power delegated to me in the beginning.

Note: during the back and forth speeches, by Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, Clingman of North Carolina, Green of Missouri et al, there was much commotion in the galleries which caused the Senate Chair to clear them on several occasions.

Mr. Goode resumed.

We have waited Mr. President; we have deliberated, but the gentleman from Franklin asks us to wait now, upon the committee of twenty-one. Wait upon the committee of twenty-one? Why, sir, we have waited; we have been here twenty days; that committee has been in solemn session upon this question of coercion; a distinguished gentleman, who is a member of the committee, informed the Convention ten days ago that they had this very question under consideration, and would be prepared to report in a very few days. Are we to wait any longer upon that committee? Is this Convention to be shorn of its strength and its power, and is the committee of twenty-one to be the 'pent up Utica' which confines all our powers? Is the committee of twenty-one to remain the slaughterhouse and the burial place of all the resolutions upon the question of coercion, which have been sent to them for their consideration?

Note: Presumably Goode is referring to the twenty-one States which sent representatives to Virginia's Peace Conference at Washington.

Sir, the patience of the country is exhausted. The gentleman has referred to his own mountain home. I can tell him, for his consideration, that yesterday letters came to me from the mountains of Franklin, stating that the patience of that people, his own constituents, was well nigh exhausted. And, sir, I say I take up the words of the gallant and chivalrous gentleman from Prince Edward, and I repeat, that the time has come for action, decisive, emphatic, earnest action. Now is the time to strike, or all may be lost.

Sir, the people of this Commonwealth desire peace. They have desired peace. It is the daily prayer of this people to Almighty God that this hitherto favored country may be saved from all the untold horrors of civil war and fraternal strife. This peace-loving Commonwealth, with an unselfish and disinterested patriotism worthy of the pure and early days of the Republic, has thrown herself into the breach, and with uplifted hands begged both sections to stay the hand that would explode the magazine and light up the fires of civil war.

Note: Ultimately, everyone in Virginia knows that the State must take a side; that, unlike Kentucky, it will not do for her to assume the posture of a "neutral;" as she is directly in the line of the Federal Government's attack on South Carolina. Moreover, the astute must have known the probability was high that, if Virginia assumed Kentucky's posture that, like with Kentucky, the Federal Government would throw troops into the state as an occupying force, assuring no change of posture could occur.

How, sir, has she been met? The answer is contained in the inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln. He, the mere creature of an hour; he, the mere servant of the people; he, with all the solemn responsibilities of his official station, with his oath to support the Constitution just registered in Heaven, and still fresh upon his soul—he tells you that coercion is to be attempted; that this Union is still unbroken, that he will not recognize acts of secession, that he will hold the forts and other public places within the seceded States, and that he will collect the duties upon imports. What does that mean, sir? If there is an apologist of Abraham Lincoln in this body—which I will not admit—but, if there is one here, I demand to know what does this mean?

It means war—war to the knife, and from the knife to the hilt; war, cruel, bitter, unrelenting war upon our friends, our kindred, and our brethren of the South. Will they submit? Submit! Why sir, it is a foul stain and a burning shame upon their fair fame and good name, to entertain that thought for a single moment. When it is attempted sir, when the programme laid down in that inaugural is attempted—who believes that Jefferson Davis, the bright Saladin of the South, and the President of the Confederated States—who believes that he will hesitate one moment to march his proud legions upon the Capitol of the Black Republicans at Washington?

Note: Mr. Goode and his crowd must have been blind to the reality: Confederate legions marching upon Washington was a pipe dream; certainly Jubal Early and R.E. Lee knew the idea was in the air, with no material substance available to the seceded states to give it life.

He will do it. He has said he would. He has said that if war must come, they should have war in earnest—and Jefferson Davis is an earnest man—that the war should be carried into Africa, that the battle should be fought upon Northern soil. And, sir, I for one stand here to-day, with all my heart, to bid him Godspeed. It would be my battle as well as his, it would be the battle of our wives and children, it would be the battle for the very existence of the Southern people; and I hesitate not to declare—I don't know whether it will strike a responsive chord in the hearts of the members of this Assembly or not—but I hesitate not to declare that the Southern cause in such a struggle would be entitled to the sustaining prayers, the material aid, and the operative sympathy of every man and woman in the land, upon the altar of whose heart the fires of liberty had not become entirely extinguished.

Note the absence of talk about Africans and slavery. There are references to the value of slaves scattered through the speeches, some references made to the loss of slaves escaping north, but nothing much that suggests the delegates were being driven to their decision by the matter of slavery.

Mr. President, I do not intend to detain this Convention with a speech, for this is a time for action; but I want to say a few more words. I shake hands with the gentleman from Halifax that this is a peace measure. And why do I say it? Sir, he is an inattentive observer of the signs of the times, who does not see and know, that the people of Virginia are determined to resist coercion to the death. And, sir, the first attempt that is made to carry out the doctrines of Abraham Lincoln, will light up this land with the flames of civil war, and raise a storm of fiery indignation throughout the length and breadth of this Commonwealth. Sir, the heavy tramp of her citizen soldiery would be heard from the sea-board to the mountains, the camp fires would blaze brightly upon every hill-top, and the notes of martial music would be heard in every valley; her brave volunteers, her citizen-soldiery, the prop of the country and the flower of her youth, would come with arms in their hands, they would join the standard of Jefferson Davis, and press wherever they saw his white plume shining amid the ranks of war.

But I want to avoid it. How shall it be done? Why, sir, the civil power in this State could no more restrain this people than they could dam up the Nile with bulrushes. I want to preserve the peace; and, in my opinion, there is no way in which it can be done but for Virginia to speak, and to speak today. We have tried a Peace Conference. Let us now try what virtue there is in a firm, manly, and defiant attitude. And, sir, let the voice of Virginia go forth and peal into the ears of the President of the United States—a man who has but recently crept stealthily at night, under the garb of a foreigner, to place himself suddenly in a seat once occupied and honored by Washington, and Jefferson, and Madison, and Monroe—a man stricken with the terrors of an evil conscience when about to disseminate those odious doctrines denounced by the gentleman who addressed this Convention a short time ago—a man who finds it necessary, in order to sustain those doctrines, to fill the streets of the National Capital with armed soldiers, and to put men, with rifles in their hands, upon the very house tops in Washington. If we want to preserve the peace of the country and Commonwealth; if we want to preserve the lives of our wives and our little ones; if we want to save this whole land from fire, and sword, and faggot, I earnestly appeal to this Convention to speak today, and to let the voice of Virginia go back to Washington upon the electric wire, that she will resist any and all attempts at coercion at all hazards and to the last extremity.

Mr. Early obtained the floor.

The gentleman from Franklin, is not entitled to speak again, if any other gentleman desires to speak upon the question.

Mr Early—I merely rose to speak of a matter which is personal to myself.

The gentleman can proceed if no objection be made.

Mr. Early— The gentleman from Bedford, whose impatience has been so great and who has kept up the steam so high, not contented with the opportunities afforded to him for letting it off in this Convention, has on one or two occasions, let it off in the streets —undertakes to stand between me and my constituents, and he tells this Convention and the country that he has communications from my home, showing that the patience of my constituents is exhausted. I take it for granted that the gentleman has informed the Convention of this fact, upon information which he is perfectly willing to disclose.

Mr. Goode— Do you want me to answer?

Mr. Early — Yes, sir.

Mr. Goode
Since that gentleman has thought proper to arraign me in this manner before this Convention, I tell him, it has been a source of regret to me that somewhat of the spirit that animates other members of this body, has not been communicated to him. When he says that I have sought occasions here and elsewhere to harangue the people, I tell him that he makes the assertion without foundation in fact; and I say that I have addressed no people in this city until they have sought me at my lodgings and called for me in a manner which I could not decline obeying.

I say again to the gentleman, that while I had no disposition to interfere between him and his constituents, I am endeavoring to perform my duty, and I hold myself responsible to him here or elsewhere. And, sir, as to his request that I should disclose the information which I have received, I state without hesitation that I have received two letters, one from Col. Dillard, and the other from Mr. Garrett—two of the most respectable gentlemen in his county—stating that the secession feeling was clearly upon the increase there, and if the election was now to take place, in all probability there would be a different result.

Mr. Early— The Convention will bear me witness that I did not say the gentleman sought to let the steam off in the street. I have seen it paraded in the paper that he had delivered one or two addresses. He tells me that he has received two letters—one from Col. Dillard and the other from Mr. Garrett. The latter gentleman I do not know at all, and he must have recently moved into the county. Col. Dillard I do know, and I wish to say but one word in regard to him : He is a personal friend of mine, but he is the gentleman against whom I ran. [Laughter.] In the canvass, his position was that I would be in too great a hurry to bring the deliberations of the Convention to a close, but that he, himself, was ready to devote one, two or three years to save the country.

The Chair suggests that the gentleman should confine his remarks to matters in the Convention.

Mr. Early— In a Democratic county, giving 213 votes to Breckinridge as the county's majority, I beat that gentleman 1060 votes. The other gentleman who has been referred to, I do not even know him by reputation, and I presume, therefore, that he has recently moved into the county. So much for the change that has taken place in my constituency. Let me tell the gentleman that he will have enough to do to settle his account with his own constituents.

Mr. Goode— I would not have given this information to the gentleman, thus publicly, if I had an opportunity of seeing him elsewhere, but inasmuch as he thought proper to refer, in the terms that he did, to the views of his own constituents, I thought, as there was no telegraphic communication between this city and his constituents, that I had received information which it would be agreeable to the gentleman to receive.

Following Early and Goode came John Carlile of Clarksburg, in Harrison County, in western Virginia. Carlile served as a state senator and congressman. Like Jubal Early and fifty-three other delegates, he voted against secession in 1861. After the war began, using the same theory of political science as the Confederates, he headed the movement, orchestrated, in the main, by Wheeling businessmen, to break away from Virginia. He was elected to the United States Senate, where he drafted the statehood bill for West Virginia; but, as the bill moved through Congress, guided by Lincoln's hand, Carlile had changed his mind and voted against the bill's passage.

Note: It is amazing that Lincoln, in orchrestrating the admission of "West Virginia" into the Union, in 1863, used the exact political theory that the seceding States used, to justify secession. It was the law of nations at the time, as codified by Vattel, that the majority of a body politic may adopt a policy that fundamentally changes its political relation with Government, but that, when this is done, the minority is not bound to go along with the change against its will, but may remain in the relation as it was. This is the basis of the Wheeling businessmen of Ohio County, Virginia, orchrestrating the several counties in western Virginia's seceding from the State of Virginia and aligning them with the Union. So, Lincoln adopted the theory when it was of use to him, and refused its legitimacy, when it was used against him.

John Carlile"Those who deny the right of secession, and those who advocate the right of secession are intend on dragging us into a committal of the people of Virginia, without their being consulted upon it, to a policy which unites our fortunes with theirs, the people who have contempt for 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 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.

Because of our own divisions we allowed about one third of the voters of the Union, numbering a little more than one half of the votes in the non slave-holding States to succeed in elevating to the Presidency of the United States, one who is objectionable to us.

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 defense 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. No injury has it ever inflicted upon us. No act has ever been put upon the statute book of our common country, interfering with the institution of slavery in any shape, manner or form that was not put there by and with the consent of the slave-holding States of this Union.

As I remarked upon a former occasion, in this Convention, when we did put an act there, when we drew the line of demarcation across the common territory that belonged to us, and claimed it as a Southern triumph, we were saved from its injustice by the act of the Federal Government; and yet we are now called upon, in hot haste, to destroy the Government that shielded us from the injurious consequences of our own mistaken conduct. It did so by declaring that act of ours a nullity, and guaranteed to us the right to go to any and all the Territories of this Union with our slave property, if we desired to do it. That is the Government which we are called upon to destroy—a Government which protects us even against our mistakes—a Government which has quadrupled the area of slave territory since it had an existence—a government in which we have to-day the right to make five more slave States, if we had either the whites or negroes to occupy them; but we have neither—and it is because we have neither that we do not have to-day 19 slave States in the Union.

We have had the right to occupy them ever since 1845; and yet we want expansion in northern latitudes, where all the legislation and stimulants on earth could not keep the negro for a week, even if we were to take him there. This question of African slavery is regulated by climate, by soil, by products, and by interest.

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. But it is not because of any denial of right on the part of the Federal Government to allow us to carry our slaves into the Territories of this Union, that this Union is sought to be destroyed.

South Carolina scorns to place it upon any such ground. It is only used here and reference is made to Personal Liberty Bills here, not because of the injury inflicted by these bills, but it is because these gentlemen may obtain the motive power which is necessary to enable them to accomplish their disunion ends. If it were resistance to the Fugitive Slave Laws; if it were the passage of the Personal Liberty Bills that they considered as just cause for the dissolution of this Union, would South Carolina have inaugurated the movement of secession? Is Virginia so dull, is she so stupid, is she so lost to all her ancient fame, that she will consent to remain in the Union disgraced and dishonored, not knowing that she was so disgraced and dishonored until South Carolina advises her to that effect? Is that the position in which gentlemen would place us?

This movement originated in South Carolina, where they never lost a slave, precisely as most of these Personal Liberty Bills are found in the statute books of such of the New England and Western States as never saw a runaway slave. Now, sir, South Carolina tells you boldly and frankly, as Mr. Preston, her ambassador, told you in this Hall the other day, that it was not for that, but because of the irrepressible conflict that exists between free and slave labor. Is it not strange, is it not remarkable that we get all our doctrines of secession, of irrepressible conflict from these Yankees, whom we love to abuse?

Where did this doctrine of the right of a State to secede originate? In the hot-bed of all the isms—Massachusetts. In 1807, because of the embargo, citizens of Massachusetts and other New England State resolved that they had the right to secede. Let us see how that doctrine was treated in Virginia. In 1808 the Presidential Electors of Virginia met in this city and cast their votes for Mr. Madison as President, and as successor to Jefferson. A dinner was given to the Electors upon that occasion. Spencer Roane was President and Robert Taylor Vice President, P. N. Nicholas, Attorney General, Peyton Randolph, John Preston, Thomas Ritchie and many others of the most distinguished statesmen of Virginia, sat down to that dinner.

One of the regular toasts—the 14th I believe—was,

"The Union of the States; the majority must govern; it is treason to secede."

But, sir, that doctrine was still agitated to a later period in these New England States. The Richmond "Enquirer" of 1814 held the following language:

'No man, no association of men, no State, or set of States, has a right to withdraw itself from this Union of its own account. The same power which knit us together can unknit. The same formality which formed the links of the Union is necessary to dissolve it. The majority of States which formed the Union must consent to the withdrawal of any one branch of it. Until that consent has been obtained any attempt to dissolve the Union or distract the efficiency of its constitutional law is treason—treason to all intents and purposes.'

The authority of Mr. Madison has been invoked in favor of this right to secede. I will not detain the Convention now by reading the many letters which Mr. Madison wrote upon that subject. I will merely refer to them, taking care, however, that they shall accompany the publication of my remarks. First, in his letter to Mr. Trist ; 2d, in his letter to Mr. Cabell; 3d, in his letter to Mr. Everett, and, again, in his letter to Mr. Webster, he put his heel upon this poisonous doctrine of secession.

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. It is one of the most adroit ways in which they could get around it; for if they were to stop and discuss the right of a State to secede from this Union, and should fail to satisfy the people of Virginia that in the exercise of this power of withdrawal from the Union they were acting rightfully and legally, they would be very apt to pause long before they would exercise it; for the people of Virginia are not only a brave and gallant, but they are a moral people; and, sir, if they are not satisfied of the morality of an act, they never, never will join you in its exercise. They 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, looking alone to my own ideas of what would be expedient in the present condition of the country, I would say, not only let them go with what they have taken, but let them have what is still left to take, if they desire it; for I am satisfied, as much as I can be of any fact, that has to occur in the future, that one year will not roll round until the people of each and all of those States which have, in the estimation of some, withdrawn themselves from the Union, will rise in their majesty, assert their power, hurl those men from the places which they have obtained through their confidence, and raise again, high above the rattlesnake and the palmetto, the stars and stripes of our beloved land. Believing this, I would let them alone. I would let them, to use the language of politicians, "stand out in the cold awhile," and, I warrant you, they will come shivering back, glad to get to a Union fire.

Look at Virginia, her central position in the Confederacy, possessing within her broad limits the mineral wealth found anywhere and everywhere in the United States; the products of the Union are hers with the exception of sugar and rice; wielding a power and an influence in this Government by virtue of her very position, her central position, that she could never wield if the Confederacy were dissolved. Look, when she recommended a Peace Conference; her recommendation is responded to by 21 States, as quick as the lightning can bear to them the resolutions requesting it. What other State could have accomplished so much in so short a time?

Why is it that Virginia possesses the influence? Because of her position; because of her sacrifices made for the Union; because of her well known devotion to the Union; because she was the principal architect in its construction; because she has ever been governed by the impulse of a patriotic heart ; because her material interests are such as make her interests equal between the sections. But dissolve the Union, and hitch her on to the tail of a Southern Confederacy, to stand guard and play patrol for King Cotton, and where would she be? What son of Virginia can contemplate this picture without horror?

Mr. President, with our extended frontier, with our defenceless sea coast, tell me the amount of money that would be required so to fortify the State, in case of a revolution, as to afford the slightest protection not only to our slave property, but against those John Brown forays upon a larger scale? And, by the way, let me here call your attention to a single fact, namely, that it was fourteen of the marines of this very Federal Government, which you want to destroy, that took John Brown and his men out of the engine house. It was not all this army that you raised in Richmond and that we sent down from the border. It was fourteen marines belonging to the Federal Government which took that insurrectionary party out of the engine house, delivered them over to your civil authorities, who justly tried and hung them; and it was the Governor of our sister State of Pennsylvania for, denounce me as submissionist if you please, apply whatever epithets you will, Pennsylvania is our sister State—and it was the Governor of Pennsylvania who delivered up to us Hazlett and Cook, and, in doing so, he behaved as the Chief Executive of a sister State should behave.

Sir, can any man believe that in case of a dissolution of the Union, we would enjoy anything like the freedom and liberty and equality which we now enjoy under this General Government of ours? Could we maintain ourselves without a strong military force kept up at an enormous and exhausting expense? We are now, under the Union, and in the Union, the freest, the most independent, and the happiest people on earth. Dissolve the Union, and a military despotism, the licentiousness of the camp and ragged poverty will be substituted in its place.

And now, Mr. President, in the name of our own illustrious dead, in the name of all the living, in the name of millions yet unborn, I protest against this wicked effort to destroy the fairest and the freest government on the earth. And I denounce all attempts to involve Virginia to commit her to self murder as an insult to all reasonable living humanity, and a crime against God. With the dissolution of this Union, I hesitate not to say, the sun of our liberty will have set for ever.

  1. The days passed and events tumbled on to the war. On April 1, Lincoln set in motion his ruse which would induce the Confederates at Charleston to fire at Fort Sumter and he would use the resulting commotion to strenthen his call on the loyal states for their militias with the emotions of hysteria and passion; and, then, on the day the white people of Virginia voted to ratify the Ordinance of Secession, he used the young men of Ohio, Indiania, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, to invade Virgina.

Note: On April 12th, the officer commanding Confederate forces at Charleston, Pierre Beauregard, was informed that a U.S. Navy war ship was at the mouth of the channel leading into the harbor,and that other war ships were sighted at sea ten miles off. Beauregard ordered an artillery barrage against Fort Sumter to commence and, on April 13th, Major Anderson, commanding the fort's garrison, surrendered. Upon this Fort Sumterhappening, Lincoln immediately published a proclamation which called upon the governors of the adhering States, most of them Republicans, to bring forth their militias to the service of the Federal Government to "enforce the laws" of the Union in the territories of the seceded States. This was the "overt" act everyone had been waiting for.

April 16th:

George RandolphGeorge Randolph of Richmond—"Mr. President, I believe, from all that I have heard, and can understand, 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 repossessed. 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. As for a position of neutrality in this shock of arms, if any were base enough to desire it, he could not attain it.

Why, you are called upon already to furnish your quota of men! You are now furnishing your contingent of money to pay that army. You do not occupy a neutral position now; and you have got sons who are required by their military oath and allegiance to serve in that army, and who, unless you call them back to you, will serve in that army and commit themselves to the policy of the administration. There is only one course which would ensure neutrality. If they would permit you to separate yourselves from the United States without connecting yourselves with the other States, you might stand idle, and dishonorably witness this war upon your own frontiers. But as long as you are connected with one side or the other, you must be a party to the war.

There is no alternative; you have got to fight-and the question is, which side will you fight with? If, in place of girding your loins for battle, you go into council with irresolute, divided, unprepared States, you will put a clog upon your military preparations which will render them wholly inefficient. In my humble judgment the very first step which the safety of this State imperiously requires is, to release herself from all constitutional obligations to the people and to the government who are preparing to coerce her sister States of the South. As a military question, waiving all political considerations, looking solely to that which will enable us to maintain our liberties, I believe that the very first step in the preparation must be to relieve ourselves from all further constitutional obligations to that government, and to call home from its service all of our sons who are willing to abide by you.

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


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.



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


Washington, April 15th, 1861.

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


Secretary of War


William PrestonMr. William 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.

Note: The ordinance was adopted by a vote of 83 to 55. The people in their counties voted to ratify it on May 26, 1861. That same day the Federal Government's armies invaded Virginia from five directions.

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


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:


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

Hnery WiseMr. Henry 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. I make this suggestion for the discretion of the House; and, by way of testing the sense of the Convention as to the propriety of acting upon it, I move to lay aside the order of business for the present, in order to pass an ordinance directing the Governor to refuse to comply with the requisition of the President.

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. It is hardly to be supposed that a communication received this evening could have been responded to by him at this early day. I think I can say that when the Governor does answer, it will be such an answer as will become his dignity, and the position of the Commonwealth.

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. Although it may require time to prepare the answer to the requisition, it would not require more than a sentence for him to have said that he did not intend to comply with it.

Now, when the gentleman says that he will do what will comport with duty-that he will refuse to obey the requisition-does he state what he knows to be the intention of the Governor?

Mr. Stuart— Certainly, sir.

Mr. Wise— Then I withdraw the motion for the present.

John J. Jackson of Wood Co—But the gentleman from Richmond, Mr. Randolph, indulged in expressions which I was very much surprised to hear. I trust it was a slip of the tongue, and that he really did not mean to say what he did say.

He asks us, what will you do? And he says it would be base to talk about neutrality.

Mr. President, I never believed it was base at any time for a man to look before he leaped; to consider before he undertook to act; to survey the whole subject, and to see whether he was forcing the representatives of the people here, who have rights upon this floor as well as others, into measures which have not the approval of their judgments; to examine what is all this war about, and to reflect upon every other difficulty which may grow out of this transaction.

We are told that, as for the protection of slave property, my people have none. They have rights and interests, and if these people could believe in their consciences that your rights and interests in this particular were depreciated, they would readily grant you all the support that may be in their power to afford. But they cannot believe it; and, if anybody could be alive to the interests of that institution, I would have been that man. I have had a clear, painful light showered upon me, in consequence of the transactions I have already adverted to. I have not yet been informed that the Government is in fault for this lack of protection complained of. Did the Government of Virginia come to my relief to protect me, and to restore to me my property? They did not. The Government of the United States and that of Virginia did all they could, and, having done so, I was bound to be content. A bad man may steal your horse or your negro. Do you hold the Government accountable for that? You have no more right to hold the Government of the United States responsible for the theft of your negro, than you have to hold it responsible for every man who chooses to steal your horses.

Then we are going to destroy this Government, under which we have prospered as no people ever prospered before, and which we are bound to hand down to posterity as it was given to us-and for what? Because South Carolina chooses to throw off her connection with the General Government. Virginia does not suffer more now than she did twenty years ago, and I can see no other reason for this effort on her part to destroy this Government, than this action on the part of South Carolina. It strikes me that the Government of the United States is acting on the defensive. Such seems to me to be the case. I may not be able to comprehend the entire bearing of the proposition, but, according to the best lights of my understanding, it does seem to me that the Government of the United States is acting on the defensive; and, viewing the matter in this light, can you expect me, representing a people who have their family connections on the other side of the Ohio, in sight of them-who are allied with the people of that State by inter-marriages-do you expect me to abandon them all, and to throw them away by giving sanction to your proceeding?

This is the way I feel. I have not strength enough to pursue this subject. I would to God that I could see this as other gentlemen see it. Would to God that I could see it as the gentleman from Richmond sees it. Would to God that I could bring myself to similar conclusions with those who differ from me. But I, and my people like me, cannot help believing that it is a great sacrifice of the interests of the State to take such a step as seems now contemplated by this Convention. Why follow thus in the footsteps of South Carolina? Have you not yourselves recorded your testimony that there was not sufficient cause for secession? Have you not stated that the mere election of a President is not enough to cause you to take this step? You cannot get anybody to believe it. They cannot believe it. The agitation and excitement, which so generally prevails, may get gentlemen to disregard their conscientious convictions, and yield to the popular current; but the day is soon coming when they will have to confront the great tribunal on this subject. I have sought to do my duty to man and to my God. I have not hesitated in appealing humbly to God on bended knees for his direction in this matter. I have done this often and again. I love my country; I love my fellow man. I forgive all. It is because I do believe this to be a most momentous occasion, that I felt called upon to bear testimony against this precipitate action.

Wednesday April 17

The PRESIDENT—The Chair has received a communication from the Governor, to be laid before the Convention, which the Secretary will read.

The Secretary then read the following reply of the Governor to the requisition for Virginia's quota of troops, made by the President of the United States through the Secretary of War:


Hon. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War:

SIR: I received your telegram of the 15th, the genuineness of which I doubted. Since that time I have received your communication, mailed the same day, in which I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia "the quota designated in a table," which you append, "to serve as infantry or riflemen for a period of three months, unless sooner discharged." In reply to this communication, I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington, for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and the requisition made upon me for such an object, in my judgment, not within the province of the Constitution or the act of 1795, will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and, having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the administration has exhibited towards the South.



William BrownWilliam M. Brown of Preston Co—Our county contains some of the descendants of the men of the Revolution, and of the descendants of the men who fought in the last war; probably more than any other two counties in the State. Following upon the last war, and immediately at the close of the Revolution, when that county was opened to settlement and the poor soldiers discharged from service, they sought a home there, carrying with them their trusty rifles. These rifles are still in the hands of their descendants, as well as some specimens of the Continental money.

During the last war-I mean the war of 1812-the men of Monongalia and of Preston not only came to the Eastern shore for the defence of Virginia, but went to the lakes and fought there in defence of your rights. They were prominent in all the battles along these frontiers; and I think it is but just to their descendants to day that some regard should be had to their interests in the action which this Convention may take at this time. They did not expect me to say anything about their bravery. Sir, they disregard any conflict that may come upon them; but they are aware of the vast difference in numbers and equipments which exists between them and the enemy. They know that the very moment the dogs of war are let loose that we are to be assailed from North of Mason and Dixon's line-that we are in fact to be overrun.

Sir, we will defend our homes, and our wives and children to the very last. Our old rifles will be called into requisition and all the use we can make of them will be made. If we are driven back, we will fall into the gorges of the mountains and battle to protect ourselves. I trust in God for our success. While thus engaged in our own defences you cannot expect aid of men from us. We have more to encounter than you have. You have Maryland between you and the free States, which contains a population very differently disposed towards you from what the population on our border is towards us. We have North of us a people who have very little scruples in assailing us and running off our slaves. But let them go; we can spare them. I care nothing about the sacrifice of property; if we can only save our families, and occupy our homes, when war ceases, it is as much as we can expect. If we have a soldier to spare, you can have him. If it is necessary to carry the old revolutionary rifle, we will come here with it; but I am satisfied we will have as much as we can do to defend ourselves.

If it is the pleasure of the Convention to pass the Ordinance of secession and let loose upon us the Northern horde, do it quickly, that we may make haste to our homes. I am told the railroad is to be broken up between this and Harper's Ferry; in which event, we will have to take the road by Philadelphia. I am even told that we will be captured on our way home; and you will doubtless, hear of many captures before long.

The Pan Handle is in a worse condition than even my own county. It is bounded on the north by Pennsylvania and on the west by Ohio. It is a country over which a cannon ball can be thrown. Can they maintain their existence there? Can you send a soldier there to defend them? Do you really think that we will not need any? We will need them, but we do not expect aid from you, and I am sure you will not be able to get aid from us to any extent. The Pan Handle will be overrun, and will be in the possession of the enemy, as well as all the border counties of the North-west. That will be our condition.

Sir, I will simply conclude by saying that I have been more than thirty years in the service of the State, either here or at Washington. It is not necessary for me to say that I am attached to Virginia and to the Federal Government. This State and the Federal Government have protected me, and my fathers before me; and I only hope that they will furnish the same protection to those that I shall leave behind me.

Friday April 19

Mr. Scott submitted the following reports from the Committee on Military Affairs:

"Be it ordained, That the office of commander of the military and naval forces of the State with the rank of Major-General, be and the same is hereby created. The said commander shall be appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth, by and with the advice and consent of this Convention, and, in subordination to the Governor, shall take charge of the organization and operations of all the military and naval forces which may be called into the service of the State.

Be it further ordained, That the said commander shall take rank and precedence over all other military and naval officers of the State, without regard to date of commission."

Mr. Scott, of Powhatan— I have been instructed by the committee to report the following resolution, in connection with the ordinances just submitted :

Resolved, That the ordinance providing for the appointment of a Commander-in-chief of military and naval forces of the Commonwealth, with the ordinance providing for calling out the volunteer forces of the State, be communicated in confidence to Col. Robert E. Lee.

R.E. Lee sittingNote: Some one came from Richmond to Arlington, the evening of April 19, a Friday, and informed Lee of the Convention's approval of Governor Letcher's recommendation that Lee be offered command of Virginia's military forces. On Saturday, April 20,, Lee wrote a letter of resignation from the U.S. Army and caused it to be delivered to General Scott, commanding General of the Army. Lee then left Arlington by train on Sunday, April 21,and went to Richmond where he arrived on Monday morning, April 22 At Washington, Scott's Adjutant General, Lorenzo Thomas, caused Lee's resignation letter to pass, in the ordinary course of office mail, from department to department until it was returned to him on April 23, marked as "clear." At this point he presented the resignation to Secretary of War Cameron who approved it. By that time Lee had assumed command of Virginia forces.

Mr. James Mallory, of Brunswick— I call the previous question.

The call was sustained, and the main question ordered to be put, which was on the ordinances reported by the Military Committee.

The question was then taken, and the ordinances were adopted.

The PRESIDENT announced the following committee under the resolution of Mr. Preston ordering a reference of the ordinance of secession and preamble to a committee, who shall also prepare a schedule for the submission of said ordinance and preamble to the people:

I beg leave to submit to the Convention a telegraphic despatch received from the President of the Confederate States.

The Secretary read the despatch.

MONTGOMERY, April 19,1861.

Hon. JOHN LETCHER, Governor of Virginia:

Resolution for alliance received and proposition cordially accepted. A Commissioner will be sent by next train.


The question was then put on the resolution reported by the Committee on Military Affairs, directing the Governor to communicate, in confidence, to Col. Lee the ordinances referred to in that resolution, and it was agreed to.

It was ordered that copies should be sent to Gen. Johnston

Sunday April 21

Mr. Early, of Franklin— I wish to inquire whether it is necessary to have our debates here today reported? I think we had better dispense with this reporting service, for if our proceedings here are ever brought to light, they will show in what state of confusion we are, and how little we seem to know as to how this emergency should be met. I propose, therefore, that we dispense with the services of the reporter.

Mr. Sheffy— I shall oppose any such motion as that.

Mr. Early— I wish the gentleman from Greenbrier, would withdraw his motion in order that I might offer this amendment by way of a substitute for the first portion of the report. I want to say to the gentleman that the position I take here is not at all inconsistent with the position I took on the committee. We assembled here in a very sudden manner this morning, and it is not to be wondered that some conflict of opinion between the different members of the committee should exist.

Monday April 22

Mr. Harvie—I am no military man, sir. I know as little upon that subject as any other man upon the face of the earth; and my impression is, that a large majority of this Convention are just as ignorant upon the same subject as I am. [Laughter.] Now, sir, here is a plan involving the organization of an army for the State of Virginia before we have a head for that army; before we know whether this is to be part of the army acting in subordination to the chief officer of the Confederate States army. I don't think the government of the State of Virginia should appoint the officers of these departments. I think these appointments should be made by the Convention, or the Commander-in-chief, if we had one. It will be remembered that I gave notice on Saturday last, that unless we had ascertained that we could get within the limits of the State of Virginia a head for the army of the State, I should move to invite the President of the Confederate States to come here and take charge of the army. I am told that Col. Lee will be here to-day, but I hold that it is not certain whether he will offer his services or not to the State of Virginia.

Mr. Preston— I understand he will.

Mr. Harvie— If that be so, I am satisfied. I heard that he was coming. I have not heard whether he will accept the commission to be tendered to him or not.

Mr. William MacFarland—Will the gentleman allow me to say that Colonel Lee has resigned his commission in the United States army.

I beg leave to make this suggestion, that there is an obvious propriety in Col. Lee's not showing his willingness to accept high rank until he comes here, and it is properly tendered.

Mr. Harvie— I hope the gentleman does not understand me as casting any imputation upon Col. Lee. If he is coming here it is the more necessary that we should consult him in regard to the organization of the army, for he will necessarily desire to have it established upon a footing in conformity with his own predilections and ideas.

I think Col. Lee is more competent to suggest appointments to the Governor than the Governor is to make them. I do not want to restrict these appointments to the State of Virginia, or to those United States officers who have tendered their services to Virginia. I am, therefore, opposed to any action upon this question now. Without meaning to cast the least imputation upon Col. Lee or any gentleman connected with the service of the United States, I believe now, as I believed from the first, that the enunciation of Virginia's policy in the passage of her ordinance of secession on Tuesday was invitation enough to all her sons in the service of the United States to rally to her standard; and I now say that unless Col. Lee accepts this position of Commander-in-Chief, it is the duty of this Convention to act without any further delay, and to call upon those who are already in the field to come here and organize this army. I shall, tomorrow, after Mr. Stephens concludes his speech, bring this matter to a point.

I came here yesterday [Sunday], hearing you were in session, and when I got into the city, I witnessed a scene such as I never witnessed before, and such I trust as I shall never witness again. I saw the citizens of Richmond, without any cause, put in a state of excitement. I saw old men with their shot guns, hurrying down in the direction of Rocketts, to meet the United States steamer Pawnee, which was supposed to be on her way up the river, with a military force to attack Richmond. Had the r-port proved true, and the forces been landed, our citizens would have been cut to pieces like sheep in the shambles; and this, because we have no military leader, who would establish order and enforce discipline. Our people were, yesterday, in a state of perfect disorder, with no head to lead them, and the consequence would have been, had the enemy landed, as was apprehended, . . .

Mr. MacFarland—I confess, sir, that I have entire confidence in those who compose the Military Committee, but I will beg leave to make this suggestion, hoping it may command the concurrence of that committee.

Colonel Lee will be here at 2 o'clock, and I have witnessed indications which cannot be mistaken that there is a disposition on the part of this Convention to confer upon him the highest rank which it is in their power to confer in connection with the military and naval organization of the State. I desire to call the attention of the Convention distinctly to the consideration of a fact which, in my view, is a very important one.

Colonel Lee, as I have said, will be here at 2 o'clock. We will have an evening session. Between the time of his arrival and our meeting here, the Military Committee will have an opportunity of conferring with him, for his opinion.

I submit if something will not be gained by adopting that course. It would seem to be due to the high position intended for Colonel Lee, when his arrival is so near at hand, that he should be consulted upon the details of any military scheme that we should adopt. I would say to all sides of the House, that, as Colonel Lee will be here at 2 o'clock, nothing will be lost really in point of time. By awaiting his arrival we shall gain the counsels of a mature soldier, while, at the same time, we will be showing to him a very becoming respect.

I may add here, that gentlemen ought not to be surprised at the failure of any intimation on the part of Colonel Lee, that he will accept any rank that may be tendered to him. Propriety required that he should seal his lips upon the subject until a tender came through some authorized channel. It is my privilege to know him, and what his merits are in other particulars. He is distinguished by modesty and reserve, and could not, in my opinion, bring himself to accept a position tendered to him otherwise than in strict conformity with official usage.

I think, that in view of these simple considerations, by common consent, the matter should be passed over for the present with a view to its being taken up in the afternoon session.

I submit a motion to pass it by.

Mr. Scott, of Powhatan— I fully concur with the gentleman in the views he has taken. The committee was not aware that Col. Lee would be here to-day; but whether he comes or not, it is all important, in my estimation, that these departments should be organized if we are to have an army in the field. Whether it be connected with the Southern army or not, I repeat that we should have these. departments. An Engineer corps is all important; and you will find, when we have the advice of Col. Lee, that he will agree to it, because it is absolutely necessary. We would not have acted upon this matter, I believe, if we knew that Col. Lee would be here to-day, and I shall therefore concur in the motion just made.

Mr. Early, of Franklin— We passed, on yesterday, amidst the stampede, "an ordinance to provide for the organization of Staff Departments for the military forces of the State." It will be recollected that I was opposed to this action in regard to a standing army. My desire has been all the time to wait until we had an efficient military chief who could prescribe a proper system of military organization. I am very much afraid that this action is to be forestalled, because, as I stated yesterday, we have a large number of major generals and brigadier generals in the field.

We now have four Major Generals and three Brigadier-Generals. while there is a command for a Brig. General in the field; and on yesterday the Convention came very near establishing a regular army, which could not be got into the field until these questions are settled.

It was stated by a member of the committee, that General Gwynn was sent to Norfolk with an assurance that an ordinance would be passed yesterday or to-day, providing for a staff department. We passed such an ordinance on yesterday, but it appears we left out what was the most important of all-an engineer's department. Yesterday evening I met Mr. Randolph on his way down the river. He informed me that he did not expect a war vessel as high up as Richmond; but that he intended, however, to sink hulks and thus intercept her passage up, if any such movement was contemplated. He deemed this course the only safe one in case of any such attempt, inasmuch as he could not fire upon a vessel with any good effect. He asked me to speak to the Governor about the organization of a corps of engineers, who would superintend the construction of a line of - -

Mr. Wysor of Pulaski— I beg leave to inquire what effect would a re-consideration of the vote adopting the ordinance on yesterday have upon the action of the Governor?

Mr. Early— I cannot tell exactly. I am afraid it will have the effect of nullifying that action. But, as I understand, the gentleman in charge of this report does not propose to interfere with any action already taken, but merely to make the addition of an Engineer Corps to the staff already provided for, so that whoever shall come to take charge of our forces, may have an efficient organization of all the Engineers and Staff Departments, which he can at once proceed to have placed on an efficient footing.

Mr. Harvie— I never felt, sir, more embarrassment and difficulty as to the action which I should take than I do now. I don't want to show distrust of any human being on earth; and I have none. I

Tuesday April 23

The PRESIDENT— I am informed that Major General Lee is now in the Capitol, and will present himself whenever it shall be the pleasure of the Convention to receive him. identical. The version of the Proceedings printed in the Enquirer on November 5 is given here, unless another version is specified.

It will be so understood by the Convention.

At this stage of the proceedings, the Hon. A. H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, entered the Hall, accompanied by the Governor, and was introduced to the President by Mr. Johnson, a member of the committee appointed to invite and conduct that gentleman to the Hall.

Mr. Morton introduced Capt. M. F. Maury, late of the United States navy, who, with Col. Smith, constitute the other members of the Advisory Council.

Every delegate was on his feet during this ceremony.

The Governor and Mr. Stephens were assigned seats on the right of the President, and the three members of the Advisory Council on the left.

At this time, Major General Lee entered, leaning on the arm of Mr. Johnson, of Richmond, chairman of the committee appointed to conduct the distinguished military chief to the Hall. As they reached the main aisle,

Mr. Johnson said:
"Mr. President, I have the honor to present to you and to the Convention, Major General Lee."

The PRESIDENT— Major General Lee : In the name of the people of your native State, here represented, I bid you a cordial and heartfelt welcome to this Hall, in which we may almost yet hear the echo of the voices of the statesmen, the soldiers and sages of bygone days, who have borne your name, and whose blood now flows in your veins.

We met in the month of February last, charged with the solemn duty of protecting the rights, the honor and the interests of the people of this Commonwealth. We differed for a time as to the best means of accomplishing that object; but there never was, at any moment, a shade of difference amongst us as to the great object itself ; and now, Virginia having taken her position, as far as the power of this Convention extends, we stand animated by one impulse, governed by one desire and one determination, and that is that she shall be defended; and that no spot of her soil shall be polluted by the foot of an invader.

When the necessity became apparent of having a leader for our forces, all hearts and all eyes, by the impulse of an instinct which is a surer guide than reason itself, turned to the old county of Westmoreland. We knew how prolific she had been, in other days, of heroes and statesmen. We knew she had given birth to the Father of his Country; to Richard Henry Lee, to Monroe, and last, though not least, to your own gallant father, and we knew well, by your own deeds, that her productive power was not yet exhausted.

Sir, we have, by this unanimous vote, expressed our convictions that you are, at this day, among the living citizens of Virginia, "first in war." We pray to God most fervently that you may so conduct the operations committed to your charge, that it will soon be said of you, that you are "first in peace," and when that time comes you will have earned the still prouder distinction of being "first in the hearts of your countrymen."

I will close with one more remark.

Washington's swordWhen the Father of his Country made his last will and testament, he gave his swords to his favorite nephews, with an injunction that they should never be drawn from their scabbards except in self defence or in defence of the rights and liberties of their country, and, that if drawn for the latter purpose, they should fall with them in their hands, rather than relinquish them.

Yesterday, your mother, Virginia, placed her sword in your hand, upon the implied condition that we know you will keep to the letter and in spirit, that you will draw it only in her defence, and that you will fall with it in your hand rather than the object for which it was placed there shall fail. [Applause.]

Major General Lee responded as follows :
"Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: Profoundly impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, for which I must say I was not prepared, I accept the position assigned me by your partiality. I would have much preferred had your choice fallen on an abler man. Trusting in Almighty God, an approving conscience, and the aid of my fellow-citizens, I devote myself to the service of my native State, in whose behalf alone will I ever again draw my sword." [Applause.]

The chair was then vacated, and some time was spent in the introduction of delegates to Major General Lee, and the tender to him of congratulations by the members.

Lee on Traveller

General Lee led his army of young Americans through thirteen general battles, fought over a four year period, until he was brought to the surrender at Appomatox. Today, like the rest of the "states" of the Union, Virginia is nothing more or less than a province of the Federal Government, no different in her political standing in the world than is Burgundy or Normandy in France, Catalonia in Spain, Bavaria in Germany, Ontario in Canada, Hong Kong in China, or Estado libre y soberano de Sinaloa in Mexico. The old Union of the founders ended at Appomattox, replaced by a reinterpretation of the constitution they wrote, and the consolidated nation we call America ruled by the Federal Government with a million man army standing ready at its call.