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Union or Secession
  • Shall this Government be "rent into fragments"
Three weeks after the Virginia Convention began, Jubal A. Early, one of the two opponents of secession elected to represent Franklin County in the Virginia Convention, spoke about the importance of the decisions that the convention would have to make.
Related Biographies:
  • Jubal Anderson Early (1816–1894). Photograph in Special Collections, Library of Virginia.
    Jubal Anderson Early
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Shall this Government be "rent into fragments"

Excerpt from speech of Jubal A. Early in the Virginia Convention on March 6, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines Jr., ed., Proceedings of the Virginia Convention of 1861 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:427.

Three weeks after the Virginia Convention began, Jubal A. Early, one of the two men elected to represent Franklin County in the Virginia Convention, spoke about the importance of the decisions that the convention would have to make. "They involve the question whether thirty millions of people shall continue to enjoy peace and prosperity, or whether this Government shall be rent into fragments," he said, "and with it the last hope of freedom in the world shall expire." The freedom about which he spoke was the freedom of white people. In his native Franklin County, 31.6 percent of the residents lived in slavery in 1860. Early voted against a motion to secede on April 4, 1861, when it failed, and also on April 17, 1861, when it passed. He later signed the Ordinance of Secession and served as a general in the Confederate army.

Excerpt from speech of Jubal A. Early in the Virginia Convention on March 6, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines Jr., ed., Proceedings of the Virginia Convention of 1861 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:427.

Mr. President, I think that there was never a body assembled on the face of the earth having before it so important a duty to perform as this Convention has, and upon the result of whose deliberations so much depends. Sir, consequences, the most momentous that ever depended upon the action of any assembly, ancient or modern, depend upon our action here. These consequences are no less than the existence and the preservation of the fairest fabric of government that ever was erected. They involve the question whether thirty millions of people shall continue to enjoy peace and prosperity, or whether this Government shall be rent into fragments, and with it the last hope of freedom in the world shall expire.