Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
THIS PAGE HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Union or Secession
  • "More secure in the Union than outside of it"
At the end of December 1860, the editor of the Clarksburg Western Virginia Guard published a denunciation of Virginians who wanted to call a state convention to deal with the secession crisis and recommended that western counties secede from Virginia if Virginia seceded from the Union.
Related Biographies:
  • John Snyder Carlile (1817–1878). Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress.
    John Snyder Carlile
« Return to The Virginia Convention

"More secure in the Union than outside of it"

Undated editorial from a lost issue of the Clarksburg Western Virginia Guard reprinted in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, January 1, 1861

At the end of December 1860, the editor of the Clarksburg Western Virginia Guard published a denunciation of Virginians who wanted to call a state convention to deal with the secession crisis. The editor's references to Jacobins were intended to remind readers of the mob violence of the French Revolution, and the phrase "Yancey-Vigilance" committees referred to William Lowndes Yancey, of South Carolina, one of the best-known advocates of secession in that state. Should disunionists succeed in Virginia, the editor suggested the propriety of "adopting proper measures for forming a new State in the Union, or in other words to be ready to secede from Virginia the very moment that Virginia shall withdraw from the Union, believing that our interests of every kind, and that liberty, which is above everything else, to be more secure in the Union than outside of it." On February 4, 1861, voters in Clarksburg and Harrison County elected two opponents of secession to the Virginia Convention. One of them, John Snyder Carlile, later took the lead in creating the new state of West Virginia.

Undated editorial from a lost issue of the Clarksburg Western Virginia Guard reprinted in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, January 1, 1861
TO THE PEOPLE OF WESTERN VIRGINIA:
From the numerous articles published in the newspapers, evidently written by disunionists, it is believed that a strong effort will be made in the approaching session of the Legislature to induce that body to authorize the call of a Convention for the purpose, pretendingly, of determining what course Virginia shall pursue, or what position she will assume in the present alarming state of affairs existing in the country, and it is believed that the movers of this scheme hope and expect that, by the handicraft workmanship of their many dexterous and never-tiring wire-workers and tricksters, to be enabled in the building up of this Convention, to secure and to mix in its body a majority of members favorable to disunion, and then to decide in favor of disunion: and proceed to make the necessary provision for the appointment of "Vigilance Committees and minute men," (another name for Jacobin clubs) in every county and magisterial district in the State; and these Jacobin clubs to be set to work in every corner, and to work openly in appearance, but secretly as spies: to use all means whether fair or foul to inflame the public mind, to excite and rouse the worst passions of the worst and most depraved portion of the population like the Yancey-Vigilance Committees. Jacobin clubs have been started down in the South to "fire up the Southern heart and to precipitate the cotton States into revolution." And no doubt they expect with this machinery—this powerful engine once secure in their hands—to easily drag the State into revolution, "whether her people are willing or not," for it cannot be done in any other way without some justifiable cause—and they know it. Therefore, in the event of a call by the Legislature of any such Convention, or of the appointment of delegates to any Southern disunion conference it is earnestly requested that the people in all of the counties west of the Blue Ridge, and all of the counties east of said Ridge, whose interests are identified with Maryland the cities of Baltimore, Washington, and Alexandria, shall immediately after the call of any illegal or irresponsible convention or conference, and regardless of the same, take such steps as may be necessary, (to proceed upon their own responsibility and in their own right to choose Delegates to a convention which shall assemble at some time and place to be agreed upon,) for the purpose of adopting proper measures for forming a new State in the Union, or in other words to be ready to secede from Virginia the very moment that Virginia shall withdraw from the Union, believing that our interests of every kind, and that liberty, which is above everything else, to be more secure in the Union than outside of it. And also, through said convention to express their fixed and firm determination that their interests and their liberty shall not for any light and transient cause be thrown out to take their chances upon the uncertain and boisterous waves of revolution and rebellion. And that the people of Western Virginia are "hitched" by the strong bonds of their affection to the Constitution and the Union; and feeling secure under its broad folds, will forever defy any such underground engines and machinery to 'drag' our proud vessel of State from its moorings.