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Union or Secession
  • "We are in favor of a National Convention"
On November 23, 1860, the editor of the Staunton Vindicator favored holding a national convention to work out a compromise to keep the union together.
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"We are in favor of a National Convention"

Editorial in the Staunton Vindicator, November 23, 1860.

Following Abraham Lincoln's election as president, South Carolina and other states in the lower South immediately called for conventions to determine their fates. Many white Virginians did not strongly identify with residents of the lower South states, especially in regions of Virginia where slavery was less important. Some residents in western Virginia and in the Shenandoah Valley, including the editor of the Staunton Vindicator, shared more interests with residents of the other slave states bordering free states. "We have no idea of 'hitching' on to the Cotton States, on any other conditions than those we may prescribe ourselves," the editor wrote. "They must come to us—we can never go to them without depreciating our position and losing our self-respect. We have all to lose as Border States—they, as Gulf States, nothing, comparatively." The Vindicator's editor called for a national convention including representatives of free and slave states to arrange a compromise to keep the union together. If the union dissolved, the editor hoped it could be peaceful, as was the separation of the Methodist Episcopal Church into northern and southern divisions in 1845 over the question of slavery.

Editorial in the Staunton Vindicator, November 23, 1860.
Our Position.
First.—We are in favor of a National Convention to consider the causes of grievance between the North and South. We desire to meet the North face to face, and calmly, deliberately and firmly present our ultimatum. We wish to make no demand upon a sovereign State—for that would conflict with the doctrine of State Rights—but, appealing to the reason, the justice and patriotism of the North, lay down the conditions which we will resolutely stand by as a sine qua non to further existence in a common Confederacy. Failing in which, let there be a peaceable arrangement for division, upon pretty much the same idea that the M. E. Church separated.
Second.—Dissolution having been determined upon, we favor a Border State Convention, the object of which to be the declaration of the conditions upon which we are willing to unite in a Southern Confederacy, embracing two prominent specifications—a clause forever prohibiting the re-opening of the African Slave trade, and discountenancing any entangling alliances with any foreign power.
Third.—Should these terms be rejected by the Cotton States, then we will favor the formation of a Border State Confederacy, embracing Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and if willing to unite, North Carolina and Georgia.
These are our views. We have no idea of "hitching" on to the Cotton States, on any other conditions than those we may prescribe ourselves. They must come to us—we can never go to them without depreciating our position and losing our self-respect. We have all to lose as Border States—they, as Gulf States, nothing, comparatively.