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Union or Secession
  • "I fear it is now too late"
At the beginning of January 1861, a man in Clarke County feared that antislavery Republicans were about to take control of the federal government.
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"I fear it is now too late"

Extract of a letter from M. to the editor, dated at White Post, Clarke County, on January 5, 1861, printed in the Alexandria Gazette, January 8, 1861.

At the beginning of January 1861, a man in Clarke County feared that Southerners had not adequately protected their interests as slaveowners, and as a consequence antislavery Republicans were about to take control of the federal government. More than 47 percent of the residents of Clarke County lived in slavery, a much-higher percentage than in the surrounding counties in the lower Shenandoah Valley. He wrote, "We cannot accustom ourselves to the idea that our once free and happy country is to become the scene of discord and hate, and, it may be, of blood and untold woes."

Extract of a letter from "M." to the editor, dated at White Post, Clarke County, on January 5, 1861, printed in the Alexandria Gazette, January 8, 1861.
WHITE POST, Jan. 5.— The holidays are over, and the servants have all gone to their different homes, entering upon the duties of another year with their usual life and spirit. The earth is covered with a deep snow, and were it not for the newspapers, and the general paralysis in business, which we feel even here, we would not know that all was not well with us as a nation. We cannot accustom ourselves to the idea that our once free and happy country is to become the scene of discord and hate, and, it may be, of blood and untold woes. As a people, I feel that if we had pursued a different course on the slavery question, we would not be in our present troubles. In years past, when the question of slavery, and the true position for us to maintain as slave-holders and as Virginians, was discussed, and some maintained that we should let the North and all the world know that on that question we had no compromise to make, and that every and any encroachment on our rights, in that direction, would be followed by even a sacrifice of our lives, if necessary to preserve our rights, such men were looked on as agitators, and it was thought that the question of slavery was almost too delicate a subject to handle, and that we should remain passive and quiet. I fear it is now too late to profit by our past experience. The North, always meddlesome, took it from our quietness that we were not as sound on that question as we should be, and have been allowed to go from step to step, until at last they have gotten possession of a government once the glory of all the earth, but which, under their rule, may become a disgrace to any people.