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Union or Secession
  • "Grand Secession demonstration"
Advocates for secession organized a public convention to meet in Richmond on April 16, 1861.
Related Biographies:
  • John Randolph Chambliss (1809–1875)
    John Randolph Chambliss
  • Henry Alexander Wise (1806–1876). Portrait in State Artwork Collection, Library of Virginia.
    Henry Alexander Wise
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"Grand Secession demonstration"

Two news items from Alexandria Gazette, April 1, 1861.

Advocates for secession organized a public meeting in Richmond on April 16, 1861. Among the signers of the call, Samuel Woods, John Randolph Chambliss, Henry Alexander Wise, and James White Sheffey were members of the Virginia Convention. The summons indicated that the meeting would be "to consult with the friends of Southern rights as to the course which Virginia should pursue in the present emergency." By the meeting date, rumors were circulating that the members might seize control of the government from Governor John Letcher if the state convention failed to act. On April 16, after the events at Fort Sumter and President Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers to put down what he called a rebellion in South Carolina, the Virginia Convention went into secret session and the next day adopted an ordinance of secession.

Two news items from Alexandria Gazette, April 1, 1861.
Important from Richmond.
Correspondence of the Alexandria Gazette.
RICHMOND, March 30— The following Circular, it is presumed, is sent all over the State. What it means, of course, will be determined hereafter. The time, it is stated, at which this convocation is to take place is about the 16th of April. Whether intended to take action respecting the Spring elections, or to take the State out of the Union, time will develop. Perhaps they think the Convention too slow, and wish to hurry them up by a sufficient force here. I think it of sufficient importance to communicate it for publication. It is in printed form, and the first news of it came from Norfolk:
Your presence is particularly requested at Richmond, on the 16th day of April, to consult with the friends of Southern rights as to the course which Virginia should pursue in the present emergency.
Please bring with you, or send a full delegation of true and reliable men from your own county; and, if convenient, aid the same object in the surrounding counties.
On arriving at Richmond, report yourself and companions immediately to at .
Signed by, Samuel Woods, of Barbour.
John R. Chambliss, of Greensville.
Charles F. Collier, of Petersburg.
John A. Harman, of Augusta.
H. A. Wise, of Princess Anne.
John T. Anderson, of Botetourt.
Wm. F. Gordon, of Albemarle.
Thomas Jefferson Randolph, of Albemarle.
James W. Sheffey, of Smythe.

The Richmond Whig says that preparations are on foot for a grand Secession demonstration, to take place in Richmond, about the middle of April. Printed circulars have been circulated in various parts of the State inviting the Secession men to assemble there at the time designated.