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Union or Secession
  • "Civil war must now come"
On March 5, 1861, the day after Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States and delivered his inaugural address, the editor of the Daily Richmond Enquirer characterized it as a declaration of war.
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"Civil war must now come"

Editorial in the Daily Richmond Enquirer, March 5, 1861.

Abraham Lincoln took office as president of the United States and delivered his inaugural address on March 4, 1861. Virginians' reactions to the address ranged from enthusiasm to condemnation. The editors of the Daily Richmond Enquirer denounced the address as a declaration of war. "No action of our Convention can now maintain the peace," they wrote. "She must fight! The liberty of choice is yet hers. She may march to the contest with her sister States of the South, or she must march to the conflict against them. There is left no middle course; there is left no more peace; war must settle the conflict."

Editorial in the Daily Richmond Enquirer, March 5, 1861.

The Declaration of War.
Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural Address is before our readers—couched in the cool, unimpassioned deliberate language of the fanatic, with the purpose of pursuing the promptings of fanaticism even to the dismemberment of the Government with the horrors of civil war. Virginia has the long looked for and promised peace offering before her—and she has more, she has the denial of all hope of peace. Civil war must now come. Sectional war, declared by Mr. Lincoln, awaits only the signal gun from the insulted Southern Confederacy, to light its horrid fires all along the borders of Virginia. No action of our Convention can now maintain the peace. She must fight! The liberty of choice is yet hers. She may march to the contest with her sister States of the South, or she must march to the conflict against them. There is left no middle course; there is left no more peace; war must settle the conflict, and the God of battle give victory to the right!
We must be invaded by Davis or by Lincoln. The former can rally fifty thousand of the best and bravest sons of Virginia, who will rush with willing hearts and ready hands to the standard that protects the rights and defends the honor of the South—for every traitor heart that offers aid to Lincoln there will be many, many who will glory in the opportunity to avenge the treason by a sharp and certain death. Let not Virginians be arrayed against each other, and since we cannot avoid war, let us determine that together, as people of the same State, we will defend each other, and preserve the soil of the State from the polluting foot of the Black Republican invader.
The question "where shall Virginia go?" is answered by Mr. Lincoln. She must go to war—and she must decide with whom she wars—whether with those who have suffered her wrongs, or with those who have inflicted her injuries.
Our ultimate destruction pales before the present emergency. To war! to arms! is now the cry, and when peace is declared, if ever, in our day, Virginia may decide where she will finally rest. But for the present she has no choice left; war with Lincoln or with Davis is the choice left us. Read the inaugural carefully, and then let every reader demand of his delegate in the Convention the prompt measures of defence which it is now apparent we must make.