Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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Secession Begins

Union or Secession
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  • Editorial in the Staunton <em>Vindicator</em>, November 9, 1860.,
    "Disunion?"
  • Resolution of Citizens of Elizabeth City County, December 22, 1860, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    "Defend the cause of Constitutional Liberty"
  • Editorial in Leesburg <em>Democratic Mirror</em>, December 26, 1860.,
    Secession of South Carolina
  • Editorial in <em>Alexandria Gazette</em>, December 31, 1860.,
    1860 "ends in gloom and sadness"
  • "The 'Secession Movement,'" 1861, Broadside, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.,
    "The Secession Movement"
  • Telegram from Governor Martin Starke Perry to Governor John Letcher, January 11, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    Florida secedes
  • Telegram from William M. Brook to Governor John Letcher, January 11, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    Alabama secedes
  • Two editorial comments from the <em>Abingdon Virginian</em>, March 8, 1861.,
    "The people have been hoodwinked"
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« Return to Secession Begins and Compromises Fail

Secession Begins

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. Mississippi seceded on January 9, 1861, Florida on January 10, Alabama on January 11, Georgia on January 19, Louisiana on January 26. The Texas convention adopted its secession ordinance on February 1, and it was ratified on February 23. Representatives of the seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama, and on February 4 formed a provisional government of the Confederate States of America and a few days later selected Jefferson Davis as president. Uncertain during those weeks about what would take place next, many Americans looked for guidance to Abraham Lincoln, who said nothing substantial before his inauguration as president of the United States on March 4, 1861. Americans also watched what took place in Virginia, the most populous of the slave states, believing that what Virginia did might determine the fate of the Union.

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