Excerpt from the speech of Henry Alexander Wise in the Virginia Convention on March 25, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 2:304–305.
Speaking in the Virginia Convention on March 25, 1861, former congressman and governor Henry Alexander Wise ridiculed the idea that the Union could be restored. After the secession of the lower South slave states, he said, "there are now three Unions, two existing, and one destroyed." With the lower South slave states out of the old Union, Virginia and the other remaining slave states would be a permanent minority. "While in the old Union, with a united South, we could to some extent, restrain the majority and beat back our aggressors," he explained, "but you are now in a Union where you are dwarfed, not only upon the slave question, but upon other questions, in my humble judgment, of ten times more potency with some gentlemen here than slavery" (none of which he or anybody else ever mentioned). A native of Accomack County on the Eastern Shore and a critic of slavery, Wise consistently defended the rights of slave owners. In 1861 he lived in and represented Princess Anne County in southeastern Virginia.