Excerpt from James Coles Bruce's speech in Committee of the Whole on March 23, 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), 2:241–242.
James Coles Bruce, of Halifax County, was a wealthy planter who probably owned more slaves than any other member of the Virginia Convention of 1861. Elected as an opponent of secession from a county that was almost evenly divided on the question in February 1861, he identified Northern hatred of Southern slavery as the cause of the sectional crisis. "It is that the hatred of our Southern institutions and our system of slavery," Bruce said in debate in the Committee of the Whole on March 23, 1861, that "is deeply, irradacably ingrafted into the minds of the Northern people. It is an opinion, sir, which has been deeply fastened there, and an opinion which, I fear, can never be eradicated." That was the reason why Bruce believed that Northern states could not be trusted to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that required return of runaway slaves to their owners.