Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia

Union or Secession
  • "I see no safety for Va in the union."
  • "I see no safety for Va in the union."
On December 17, 1860, Anselm L. Haden wrote from Selma, Alabama, to his brother-in-law, asserting that most of the Southern states would secede and that Virginia's slaves would be "secure" if the state seceded.
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My Dear Callie

"I see no safety for Va in the union."

Anselm L. Haden to Charles Anthony, December 17, 1860, Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.

Callie Anthony says: My uncle, Anselm Lynch Haden, is my ma's brother. He wrote to my Pa in response to a letter I wrote to him, which Pa had attached as a postscript.

Uncle Anselm was sure that most of the Southern states would secede. It turns out his prediction was right on track. South Carolina left the United States on December 20, 1860. Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama seceded during the second week of January, and Louisiana and Texas followed soon after.

Uncle Anselm wonders what border states like Virginia and Kentucky will do, because he thinks that slavery in Virginia will no longer be protected in the Union. He's afraid that if Virginia doesn't secede quickly, it might not be able to join the cotton states of the lower South in leaving the Union. It seems to me that protecting slavery is foremost for many Virginians in deciding whether our state should leave the Union or not.

Anselm L. Haden to Charles Anthony, December 17, 1860, Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.

Selma Ala
Decer 17th 1860
Capt Chas Anthony
My Dear Sir
Callie's letter with your post script is to hand dated 6th Inst.
I am sorry to hear that you still suffer from your leg, and that you fear you will, not get well. &c
In politics we have scarcely any division on the subject of dissolution, all say it must come and the mode is the only cause of difference.
South Carolina will go out of the Federal Union during this week. Florida early in Jany, Alabama in Jany. Miss about the same time Georgia a little later Louisiana and Texas will follow no doubt. Then North Carolina and Tennessee must go also, than what will Va and Kentucky do. They must either come South or go North, to take the latter alternative is to give up their slaves and without compensation. Can they do this? I think not, for to do so they become utterly bankrupt. It is deplorable, but such is the case with us, that we cannot, look for any protection from the Federal government for our instutions, indeed we have now to expect daily attempts at insurrection some plots have already been discovered and others may be looked for, but we believe we are able to take care of ourselves, and mean to do it if possible But divided as Va is can she, I am afraid not while I hope she will be, the border states must be great sufferers, unless the southern or cotton states can give them protection. But should they hold out and look to the "dear Union, what will be the result?
The Southern Seceding states will not suffer the negroes of the Union loving states, to be brought in to these states under any circumstances and then they will look to the north for protection or rather they will be at the mercy of their northern friends who seem to be very fond of the "nigger while a slave, but have no particular care for him while a free man especially They love him if he has escaped as a runaway. I see no safety for Va in the union. If any out of it. I believe however if she secedes she will have at least some protection, she can bring her slaves to the Cotton states where we hope they will be secure We intend from present indication, to try it, and soon. I wish you were here with your property but I fear you will not be able to get it here unless Va takes a step which if delayed she may not be able to do, i.e. Secde with the cotton states. Then I suppose lands would not sell at fair prices if they would sell at all, Should you be driven to the alternative to come to Ala, be assured if I am alive and can move about that I will do all I can to aid you [in] settling again where you could do well and I trust feel secure.
I write you with feelings very different from what I have ever felt before when writing to you, for we cannot see the end of what these things will bring upon us, There is no country which the sun ever shone upon that is better calculated to make man happy prosperous and free than this, The soil is productive the climate salubrious, and the population inteligent energetic and thrifty, and if left to ourselves, would be the most contented in the world. We have seasons when our crops are not so good, and what section is it that is exempt. The present year has been one long to be remembered for its drouth and consequently bad crops, still the people will make out to live free from want. But the trouble with us like yourselves though not so imminent, is the destruction of our goverment, I would prefer to see its destruction, could we arrange another and better, with out the troubles which we must have, but to defer it would but increase those troubles, and so let us meet it now, before it is too late. Excuse my want of style, and the want of connection for I have been disturbed much, since I commenced to write you, by visitors on business.
I present to you and through you to my relatives my most sincere affection. Hoping that something may turn up which may relieve our anxieties and give us feelings of security
Most affectionately
Your's in Ec.