Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia

Union or Secession
  • "I am a secessionist per se"
  • "I am a secessionist per se"
On January 21, 1861, Sue Ragsdale wrote to her friend Callie Anthony about her impatience with people who did not want Virginia to secede.
Related documents:
  • "I fear that our glorious Union will soon be no more."
« Return to July 1860 to January 1861
My Dear Callie

"I am a secessionist per se"

Sue Ragsdale to Callie Anthony, January 21, 1861, Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.

Callie Anthony says: My friend, Sue Ragsdale, is impatient with people who don't want Virginia to secede. This is quite a change in sentiment from her letter in October! Now Sue believes that the South will have to go into all-out war, and she recommended that I read two editorials in the Southern Literary Messenger by George William Bagby. He is a Virginia writer and an enthusiastic secessionist. She also mentioned a letter by John Tyler, a Virginian who was president of the United States from 1841 to 1845. After the Southern states began seceding in December 1860, he was hopeful that a compromise could be worked out.

I agree with Sue that the "Black Republicans" aren't reasonable because they are so hostile toward the interests of slaveowners like my Pa. Some of the other people Sue mentioned are James Buchanan, the current United States president who will step down in March; Winfield Scott, general in chief of the federal army; William H. Seward, a Republican senator; and Robert Toombs, a senator from Georgia. The Star of the West was a ship sent earlier in January to resupply Fort Sumter, South Carolina, but cadets from the Citadel fired on it, and the ship turned back.

Sue Ragsdale to Callie Anthony, January 21, 1861, Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.

Cottage Home Jan 21st 1861.
My very dear friend,
Your kind letter was received in due time, and would have been replied to immediately, had I have had anything worth three cents to communicate, don't think from this that I have anything worth telling now, if you do, you will be disappointed. I have just come up from listening to Papa read the letter of ex-President Tyler, it is very patriotic, but will do no good. The B Republicans will not listen to reason. I am a secessionist per se, and as you, am tired of hearing them talk about "trying Lincoln," to wait for "some overt act." G. Bagby (editor of the Southern Literary Messenger) says "there will be no overt act. Will Lincoln be so foolhardy, as to insult an already enraged people?" By the way have you read his two last editorials?, if you have not I recommend you to do so by all means. Dr. B. is one of the bright stars of the Old Dominion, Virginia must and will be proud of him, he thinks and speaks as each and all of her sons should think and speak—as every true Virginian will. He gives it to the submissionists, he says, "every appeal of (I will not say submissionists—Virginians do not submit—they who do are bastard dastards) every appeal of the Delayers has been addressed not to the courage and honour of Virginians, but to their fears, their love of money." Good, isn't it? Have you read the soul-stirring and patriotic letter of ex-Govenor Wise? I think Virginia has only two sons, who are worthy of her, and they are Dr. B. and the ex-Govenor. So tell me what you think of Virginia's position? I think, she is acting shamefully, nay! disgracefully—The old blood has utterly died out. She seems to censure South Carolina more than she does the North—instead of thanking her for urging her to resent the many insults she (Virginia) has received. Old Buchanan, General Scott, Lincoln, Seward and the whole lot of B. Republicans [illegible] busy. With Sen. Toombs, I wish the 'Star of the West' together with Scott had been sunk in the "mighty deep". I read an extract from Benjamin's speech, would like much to see the whole. I think there is but one alternative left the South, that is to defend her rights by force of arms. We have truly fallen upon "evil days, and evil tongues". Pardon me for thus boring you, but I'm so much interested in politics, that I forget myself when ever I get on the subject.
I need scarcely say, that I was very sorry that I could not visit you xmas. I had rather a quiet time, went only to one party, and I usually spend the time in frolicing. I am no man hater on the contrary, I am the warmest of their admirers, and think a good intelligent man about prime. I have not heard from [two words obscured] in a long, long time, don't understand the way she way she treats me, however you know something of this. I hear from Sallie occasionally. I think Sallie a good, smart, interesting girl, and I love her very much.
My kindest and best regards to your Pa and Ma, I wish much to know them for I know they must be good, kind and warmhearted, as you Callie possess these traits in an eminent degree. Please write very soon, as I am exceedingly anxious to hear from you.
Remain my darling Callie as ever,