Excerpt from a speech of John Brown Baldwin in the Virginia Convention on March 21, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 2:142.
John Brown Baldwin, of Staunton, was one of three delegates from the Shenandoah Valley county of Augusta in the Virginia Convention. On March 21, 1861, he made a long speech in opposition to secession. Like many of the other Unionists in the convention, he believed that slavery would be safer in Virginia if the state remained in the Union than if Virginia seceded. None of the opponents of secession in the convention was an opponent of slavery. "I have always entertained the opinion that African slavery, as it exists in Virginia, is a right and a good thing," Baldwin said, "on every ground, moral, social, religious, political and economical—a blessing alike to the master and the slave—a blessing to the non-slaveholder and the slaveholder." Baldwin was absent on April 4, 1861, when the convention defeated a motion to secede because he had gone to Washington to talk with President Abraham Lincoln about how to settle the secession crisis. Baldwin voted against secession on 17 April when a majority voted in favor, but he later signed the Ordinance of Secession.