Members of the Virginia convention spent much of their time in March debating various proposals to settle the sectional crisis and discussing the advantages and disadvantages of seceding. In the evening session on April 4, 1861, Delegate Lewis Harvie, of Amelia County, introduced a resolution "that an ordinance resuming the powers delegated by Virginia to the Federal Government" be drafted and submitted to the voters for ratification. As recorded in the official convention journal, the resolution failed by a vote of 90 to 45. Of 17 convention members who did not vote that day, 4 are known to have favored the resolution and 7 were known to have opposed it.
On April 4, 1861, when the question faced by the delegates was whether secession was wise or desirable, 63 delegates from west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where in many areas there were very few enslaved African Americans, voted to remain a part of the United States, while only 15 delegates from the same area voted for secession. In the counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the vote was almost equally divided, with 30 delegates voting for secession and 27 voting against it.