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Union or Secession
  • "The proper position for Virginia is <em>in</em> the Union"
The editor of the Staunton Spectator wrote on January 22, 1861, "The proper position for Virginia is in the Union."
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"The proper position for Virginia is in the Union"

Editorial in Staunton Spectator, January 22, 1861

In January 1861, the editor of the Staunton Spectator, in the Shenandoah Valley county of Augusta, was strongly opposed to secession. "The proper position for Virginia is in the Union," he wrote, "and there is where she can use her potential influence with some effect for its preservation or reconstruction. If she remains in the Union, she can exercise, as mediator, great influence with both the North and the South; but if she will go out her influence will be lost, and she will be irretrievably hitched to the car of the Cotton States." In the presidential election in November 1860, Constitutional Unionist John Bell and Democrat Stephen A. Douglas together had received more than 94 percent of Augusta County's votes. On February 4, 1861, the county's voters selected three firm opponents of secession to represent them in the Virginia Convention.

Editorial in Staunton Spectator, January 22, 1861
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For the purpose of deceiving the people that they may accomplish their disunion designs, the secessionists profess to be the best friends of the Union, and are endeavoring to persuade the people that the only way to save the Union is for Virginia and all the other States to secede that they may intimidate the North by presenting a united front. This view is plausible and calculated to deceive those who are not acquainted with the game the disunionists are playing for the purpose of imposing upon good Union men. If they can inveigle the people of Virginia to consent to the secession of this State, it will never be in the Union again. The proper position for Virginia is in the Union, and there is where she can use her potential influence with some effect for its preservation or reconstruction. If she remains in the Union, she can exercise, as mediator, great influence with both the North and the South; but if she will go out her influence will be lost, and she will be irretrievably hitched to the car of the Cotton States.— There is a fixed purpose on the part of the secessionists to precipitate Virginia into immediate secession. We warn the people in time, that they may guard against their coming machinations. "Never give up the ship," but stick to it as the mariner clings to the last plank when darkness and tempest close around him.