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Discussing the Ordinance of Secession

Union or Secession
  • Discussing the Ordinance of Secession
Artist David Hunter Strother sketched a scene of men discussing the Ordinance of Secession in western Virginia.
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Discussing the Ordinance of Secession

David Hunter Strother, The Village Magnates, 1861, Pierre Morand Memorial, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.

Artist David Hunter Strother sketched a scene of white men discussing the Ordinance of Secession that the Virginia Convention had adopted on April 17, 1861, and submitted to a ratification referendum on May 23. A copy of the ordinance is posted on the brick wall behind them, and an African American peering through the lower fence rails is listening intently to their discussion. Strother may have drawn his sketch in Jefferson County, where he lived. Voters in the county had elected two opponents of secession to represent Jefferson in the Virginia Convention, but on May 23 voters favored secession by a vote of 813 to 365 (69 percent).

Born on September 26, 1816, at Martinsburg, Virginia, David Hunter Strother was one of the best-known illustrators in the United States by the eve of the Civil War. In 1853 he achieved fame as "Porte Crayon" for a series of illustrated articles on Virginia published by Harper's New Monthly Magazine. He served in the Union army during the Civil War. His memoirs of the war were published in eleven installments in Harper's Monthly between June 1866 and April 1868. Strother died at Charles Town, Jefferson County, West Virginia, on March 8, 1888.