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

The Virginia Convention

Union or Secession
previous page
  • Resolutions adopted unanimously at a public meeting in Gilmer County on January 1, 1861, and published in the Philippi <em>Barbour Jeffersonian</em>, ca. January 4, 1861.,
    Speedily call a convention
  • Undated editorial from a lost issue of the Clarksburg <em>Western Virginia Guard</em> reprinted in the Wheeling <em>Daily Intelligencer</em>, January 1, 1861,
    "More secure in the Union"
  • Zedekiah Kidwell to Governor John Letcher, January 8, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    "It all turned out exactly the opposite"
  • Excerpt from speech of Jubal A. Early in the Virginia Convention on March 6, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines Jr., ed., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:427.,
    "Rent into fragments"
  • Peyton Gravely to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, April 1, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia,
    Virginia Convention at work
  • William A. Burwell to Christoper Yancy Thomas, January 22, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Are you a Union Man?"
  • Samuel J. Mullins to Christopher Yancy Thomas, January 25, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Coolness and calmness and moderation"
  • Excerpt from John Minor Botts's announcement in the <em>Richmond Daily Whig</em>, January 28, 1861.,
    "I shall never despair of the Republic."
  • Benjamin Franklin Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, January 28, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Sober and discreet men"
  • Two undated items from the Lewisburg <em>Greenbrier Independent</em> printed in the <em>Staunton Spectator</em>, January 29, 1861.,
    Patriots Awake! Stir Your Stumps!
  • Richmond City Election Return, February 6, 1861, Virginia Convention (1861: Richmond), Records, 1861–1961, Acc. 40586, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 93, Library of Virginia.,
    Richmond City Election
  • "Virginia, Frederick County, Ticket. . . .," 1861, Broadside, 1861 .V8 BOX, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.,
    Frederick County Election
  • "To the Citizens of Frederick County," 1861, Broadside, 1861 .M36 BOX, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.,
    To the Citizens of Frederick County
  • Editorial in the <em>Abingdon Democrat</em>, February 8, 1861.,
    Election in Washington County
  • Report from the Norfolk <em>Argus</em> printed in the Richmond <em>Daily Dispatch</em>, February 15, 1861.,
    Excitement in Accomack
  • Peyton B. Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, February 19, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    Henry County secessionists
  • Excerpt from speech of Peter Bock Borst in the Virginia Convention on February 23, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:150–151.,
    A Trojan Horse
  • Undated address of the Women of Essex County, printed in <em>Daily Richmond Examiner</em>, March 18, 1861.,
    "The spirit of immediate secession"
  • Resolutions adopted by 52 men in Grayson County, March 22, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    Secession is the only alternative
  • Excerpt from James Coles Bruce's speech in Committee of the Whole on March 23, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 2:241–242.,
    "Hatred of our Southern institutions"
  • 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., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 2:304–305.,
    Henry A. Wise on the Union
  • Editorial in <em>Lynchburg Daily Virginian</em>, February 4, 1861.,
    "Why Such Haste?"
  • Editorial in the Lexington <em>Valley Star</em>, February 14, 1861.,
    "Strong advocate of the Union"
  • <em>Boston Herald</em>, February 28, 1861, reporting from a lost issue of the <em>Norfolk Herald</em>.,
    "Tell your people all is well"
  • Speech of John Echols, of Monroe County, in the Virginia Convention, March 1, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:275–276.,
    Recognize the Confederacy
  • Excerpts from a speech of John Snyder Carlile in the Virginia Convention on March 7, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:458–459, 468–470, 476–477.,
    Preserving slavery and the Union
  • <em>Alexandria Gazette</em>, March 9, 1861.,
    "I hope she will be slower still"
  • Christopher Yancy Thomas to Peyton Gravely, March 18, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "The Union Party is stronger now"
  • Excerpt from a speech of John Brown Baldwin in the Virginia Convention on March 21, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 2:142.,
    "A pro-slavery man"
  • Mary Berkley Minor Blackford to John Barbee Minor, April 3, 1861, Minor and Wilson Family Papers, Small Special Collections, University of Virginia.,
    The editor is entitled to thanks
  • Report from the missing issue of the Norfolk <em>Day Book</em> for January 26, 1861, reprinted in the <em>Charleston (S.C.) Mercury</em>, January 30, 1861.,
    "What means this hot haste?"
  • John P. Pleasants to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, February 18, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Less hopeful than we were"
  • Speech of Miers W. Fisher, of Northampton County, in the Virginia Convention on March 2, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:338–339.,
    "Before the fourth of March"
  • Speech of John Randolph Chambliss in the Virginia Convention, March 4, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., <em>Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861</em> (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:347–348.,
    "Virginia should step forth to-day"
  • Editorial in the <em>Daily Richmond Enquirer</em>, March 5, 1861.,
    "Civil war must now come"
  • Editorial in the Wheeling <em>Daily Intelligencer</em>, March 6, 1861.,
    Lincoln's inaugural
  • Editorial in the Lexington <em>Valley Star</em> of March 14, 1861.,
    "All may yet go well"
  • Excerpt from an editorial in the <em>Staunton Vindicator</em> of March 15, 1861.,
    "Our Convention hesitates to secede"
  • Three news items from the <em>Alexandria Gazette</em>, March 20, 1861.,
    "Lincoln was burnt in effigy"
  • Lexington <em>Valley Star</em>, March 21, 1861.,
    "Improvements in Lexington"
next page
« Return to The Virginia Convention

The Virginia Convention

In mid-January 1861, the General Assembly of Virginia ordered an election of delegates to a convention to consider the question of secession and asked voters to decide whether the convention, if it chose to secede, had to submit its decision to the voters for ratification or rejection in a popular referendum. The convention that met in Richmond from February 13 through May 1, 1861, is known in the literature of Virginia's history as the Secession Convention, but for its first two months it was a Union convention. Unlike state conventions in the lower South that met and speedily voted to secede, the Virginia convention remained in session for two and a half months and kept Virginia in the Union until mid-April 1861. At the same time, the delegates attempted to enlist the other upper South slave states that also remained in the Union in finding a compromise that would allow the states that had seceded to return and restore the Union.

Election of Delegates

On February 4, 1861, Virginia voters elected 152 delegates to the convention called to consider secession.

Supporters of Secession

Delegates who favored secession at the start of the convention explained their reasons using the same arguments that appeared in some of the state's newspapers and in the private conversations and correspondence of other Virginia secessionists.

Opponents of Secession

A large majority of convention delegates, like the voters who had elected them, opposed secession and believed that if Virginia remained in the Union they could engage the other upper South slave states in crafting a compromise to save the Union.

Abraham Lincoln is Inaugurated on March 4

Abraham Lincoln took office as president of the United States on March 4, 1861. His inaugural address was unpopular with many Virginians.

Featured Biographies:

prev
  • Peter Bock Borst (1826-1882)
  • John Randolph Chambliss (1809-1875)
  • John Brown Baldwin (1820-1873)
  • George William Brent (1821-1872)
  • Charles William Button (1822-1894)
  • Marshall Mortimer Dent (1828-1901)
  • John Janney (1798-1872)
next