Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia

Union or Secession
  • "The most enthusiastic joy"
Residents of Franklin Court House (later Rocky Mount, in Franklin County) celebrated the Virginia Convention's April 17, 1861, vote in favor of secession.
Related Biographies:
  • Jubal Anderson Early (1816–1894). Photograph in Special Collections, Library of Virginia.
    Jubal Anderson Early
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"The most enthusiastic joy"

Alexandria Gazette, May 1, 1861.

News of the Virginia Convention's adoption of an Ordinance of Secession on April 17, produced a celebration at Franklin's county seat (later called Rocky Mount). In the February 4, 1861, election of two delegates to the Virginia Convention, voters in Franklin County, in the southern Piedmont, cast 1,536 votes for Jubal A. Early, and 1,527 votes for Peter Saunders, both of whom opposed secession. Their three opponents received 477 votes, 292 votes, and 134 votes, respectively. Early voted against secession on April 4 and again on April 17, but he signed the Ordinance of Secession and later became a general in the Confederate army. Saunders missed most of the convention because of illness. He asked that it be noted in the journal that had he been present on April 4 he would have voted against secession. In June 1861, he, too, signed the Ordinance. On May 23, 1861, in the ratification referendum on the Ordinance of Secession, 1,787 Franklin County men voted for secession, and 3 voted against.

Alexandria Gazette, May 1, 1861.

A correspondent writes from Franklin Court House, under date of April 23, as follows:— "In this county, which gave Early and Saunders, Union, over Dillard and Hancock, Secessionists, more than a thousand majority, the news of the secession by the Convention, has inspired the people with the most enthusiastic joy. Our town, for the first time since its foundation, is brilliantly illuminated. Every house on the street is hung with lights and festooned with Palmetto and Southern devices; flags are floating, bonfires are burning; guns are firing, and deafening shouts are heard for the South. We can, and you may safely set it down as certain, that old Franklin will give one thousand majority for secession; and you may count upon her, for the first tap of the drum, for five hundred volunteers for active service. But few among us, if any, are gloomy now. All are gratified, and all ready for the field."