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Election in Washington County

Union or Secession
  • "The <em>immediate</em> secession candidates have been badly whipped"
The editor of the Abingdon Democrat judged that in the election of delegates to the Virginia Convention on February 4, 1861, "The immediate secession candidates have been badly whipped—in fact, have been almost annihilated."
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"The immediate secession candidates have been badly whipped"

Editorial in the Abingdon Democrat, February 8, 1861.

The editor of the Abingdon Democrat judged that in the election of delegates to the Virginia Convention on February 4, 1861, "The immediate secession candidates have been badly whipped—in fact, have been almost annihilated,—and the gentlemen representing the 'wait-a-bit' ticket triumphantly elected." John Arthur Campbell and Robert E. Grant, who were elected to the convention from Washington County, both opposed secession at that time. The editor had anticipated that Washington County and the other southwestern counties would have elected more supporters of secession than they did, but his characterization of the victorious candidates accurately represented the attitudes of a majority of all of the delegates elected on that day. He took heart, though, that opponents of secession were not inclined to submit without objection to what he and supporters of secession believed would be the intolerable policies of Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans.

Editorial in the Abingdon Democrat, February 8, 1861.

Election on Monday.
As will be seen by the return from this county, the immediate secession candidates have been badly whipped—in fact, have been almost annihilated,—and the gentlemen representing the "wait-a-bit" ticket triumphantly elected. We were, at first, rather down in the mouth, and felt as though the State had deserted the cause of the South and tacked herself on to the doctrine of unconditional submission; and we honestly believe that such will be the verdict of all men of both extremes of the Union. But, from conversations with many voters who opposed our doctrine of instant separation, and favored the plea of procrastination, we are bound to believe, and now assert, that unconditional submission was an idea entertained by but very few. We were told by many—among whom were large slave-owners—that they were willing, nay anxious, to exhaust every argument, and to wait any reasonable length of time which might be demanded by Northern sentiment, before consenting to resort to an appeal to arms for the settlement of the question.
Another cause for the recent vote may be found in the fact that the people were unprepared for the question. The time for its decision was too short, and the opportunities for a full understanding of all the issues involved had not been sufficient to reach a large mass of the voters; and thus, it ought not to have been expected that they would willingly hazard so much as to vote for what they considered an entire dissolution of the present state of government for any cause less than a direct invasion of our soil by an armed body of soldiers.
But an important step has been taken, and an important truth brought out. No single ultra submissionist has dared yet to offer himself as a candidate for a seat in the Convention; nor could one have been successful if he had done so.— Some few, it is true, asserted, that they were for the Union on any terms, and would fight for it "as long as there was a square yard left,"—but they were men who had but a slight and imperfect knowledge of the duty they owed to their State, or of the claims of honor by which all are bound to stand up for the rights and interests of their fellow citizens and countrymen. The position of the successful candidates in our county, (secession, if necessary,) has been indorsed by a heavy majority, and a large vote given for secession, now.
Let the North ponder this truth well, and let her take heed therefore how she attempts the use of coercion. "Tories" and "traitors" in the South of Virginia will be "very few and far between," after "the argument has been exhausted," and the advocates of abject submission not sufficient in number to form a corporal's guard.