Soon after Abraham Lincoln's election as president on November 6, 1860, advocates of disunion in South Carolina organized a convention that on December 20, 1860, repealed the state's ratification of the Constitution of the United States. They then invited the other slave states to do the same and to join in forming a Southern confederacy. In December, Congress began consideration of compromise proposals to preserve the Union, but neither House of Congress could agree on measures that were acceptable to political leaders in the lower South and also to political leaders in the free states. In February 1861 a national peace conference began a month of meetings in Washington, D.C., but its compromise proposals also failed to attract lower South states back into the Union or to gain widespread support in the free states.
A convention in South Carolina voted on December 20, 1860, to repeal the state's ratification of the Constitution of the United States. Within weeks conventions in several other lower South states had assembled and also voted to secede from the Union.
In hopes of averting a crisis, in December 1860, Kentucky Senator John Jordan Crittenden introduced compromise proposals that he hoped would preserve the Union, and in January 1861, Virginia's General Assembly issued a call for a national peace conference to meet in Washington to seek a compromise.
During the months following Abraham Lincoln's election in November 1860, Virginians discussed the future of the Union in personal conversations, in private letters, in public addresses, in the pages of newspapers, and in organized public meetings.