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Liberty, democracy, and constitutional government

Union or Secession
  • Liberty, democracy, and constitutional government
On the day when the referendum took place to ratify or reject the Ordinance of Secession, the editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer urged votes in northwestern Virginia to vote against it to preserve liberty, democracy, and constitutional government.
Related documents:
  • "A vote against the Ordinance is treason to Virginia!"
Related Biographies:
  • Archibald W. Campbell (1833–1899). Photograph in Granville Davisson Hall, <em>The Rending of Virginia</em> (1902).
    Archibald W. Campbell
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Liberty, democracy, and constitutional government

Editorial in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, May 23, 1861.

On the day when the referendum took place to ratify or reject the Ordinance of Secession, Archibald W. Campbell, editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, urged voters in northwestern Virginia to vote against it. He wanted the vote to stand as a rebuke to some of the principal advocates of secession: Confederate President Jefferson Davis, former Virginia governor Henry Alexander Wise, Virginia Congressman Roger A. Pryor, and Georgia Senator Robert A. Toombs. "Secession will find no abiding place in these latitudes," Campbell wrote. "It will be utterly overthrown and crushed out by the vote to-day. . . . It is of great importance that the Union column be swelled to overshadowing dimensions. Let the demonstration in favor of liberty and democracy and constitutional government be so strong and so overpowering that the hideous rattlesnake will never show its head hereafter within our borders." The voters of Ohio County, of which Wheeling was the county seat, rejected secession by a margin of 3,368 to 157.

Editorial in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, May 23, 1861.

TO-DAY.
This is the long expected election day. We are called upon to go through the farce of voting on the secession ordinance, passed on the 17th of last April, and which for two days prior to that date, and ever since has been in as full force and operation as ever it can be, though it be adopted to-day by a hundred thousand majority. Still it is our duty to vote—a duty we owe to ourselves—the performance of which will set us right before the loyal people of the nation. We may be defeated and doubtless will be, but that does not affect our immediate position in the eyes of the country. The vote to-day affords the people of North Western Virginia an opportunity to establish their position and their patriotism in contradistinction to other portions of the State. According as our vote is will our future be. To-day we are regarded with great favor by the Government and by loyal States. They have high hopes of us to-day. All their sympathies are with us. They stand ready to afford us all the assistance that we may need in our determination to resist the Jeff Davis yoke. If we are true to ourselves to-day, that yoke will never come upon our necks. If we are not true we will be in the ruinous position of having made enemies of our neighbors and friends without having gained an equivalent elsewhere.— Situated as we are in respect to the Jeff. Davis rebels, it is a geographical impossibilit,y that we can ever be part or parcel of them, or that they can ever be of aid to us or we to them. We are at the mercy of the loyal States, but thank God we are not at the mercy of the rebels. Eastern Virginia may vainly rage at our loyalty, but her rage is impotent for harm. She is separated from us by two ranges of mountains and on her entire coast she is imminently threatened by the increasing legions of the government. It is probable that in a few days she will be the scene of active war, in which not only all her own rebellious people will be kept busily employed, but all the co-operating conspirators who have now gathered within her borders from the lowlands and the swamps of the Gulf States.
But we have no fears of North Western Virginia to-day. She will give a majority vote against the infamous ordinance. She will tell Wise and Pryor, and Jeff. Davis and Toombs, and all the perjured band of marauding desperadoes who head the rebellion, that she will never aid or sympathize with them, that some other hand than hers will strike the blow that shall blot out republican government in this country.
Our own loyal little city will give a noble vote. So likewise will the county; and so indeed will all the counties near by, above and below. Secession will find no abiding place in these latitudes. It will be utterly overthrown and crushed out by the vote to-day.
We trust that there will be a full vote. Let no one omit to go to the polls. It is of great importance that the Union column be swelled to overshadowing dimensions. Let the demonstration in favor of liberty and democracy and constitutional government be so strong and so overpowering that the hideous rattlesnake will never show its head hereafter within our borders.