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(JANUARY, 1861-FEBRUARY, 1861)

HE attitude of the border states, and particularly that of Virginia, was a question of momentous interest. The influence of Virginia was still great, especially in the South, where the great traditions of the state, blood relationship, and the common bond of slavery gave her easy primacy. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison were not in such a distant past but that there were still some living men who had known them all. Though the state had sunk to much less than the second rank politically and commercially, the glamour of her ancient ascendency still remained. Reversing Marshal Lefevre's dictum concerning himself, she was truly a descendant, no longer an ancestor. John Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry had been used to arouse the blood of the state, which had acted upon Wise's call in his message of December 5, 1859, to "organize and arm"; half a million was voted for arms in the winter of 1859-1860; muskets were distributed, volunteer companies formed, and

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the antiquated militia organization brought into such working order as it was capable of.

Leaving aside about sixteen thousand votes cast for Douglas and (1929) for Lincoln, the remaining vote of the state (about 149,000) had been almost equally divided between Bell and Breckinridge, the former having but 218 plurality. While strongly Unionist in general, the sympathy of the state was warmly southern, except in the northwest counties, where every other feeling gave way before that for the Union. Union meetings were held in nearly every part of the state, but more especially in the valley of Virginia and "across the mountains" in what is now West Virginia. In the latter region, talk of secession was not tolerated, and it was not long before threats of separation in case the state should secede became too frequent to be lightly regarded.

The Virginia legislature met January 7, 1861, in extra session. Governor Letcher, in his message, charged the non-slave-holding states with the responsibility for affairs; declared that any attempt of Federal troops to pass through Virginia for the purpose of coercing a southern state would be repelled, and advised that New England and western New York be "sloughed off" and allowed to ally themselves with Canada. Although he opposed a state convention, one was called for February 4, also the date of the meeting of the Confederate provisional congress.


1 National Intelligencer, January, 8, 1861.

The resolutions passed by the legislature of New York, January 11, tendering the president "whatever aid in men and money may be required to enable him to enforce the laws and uphold the authority of the Federal Government,"1 were ordered, January 17, by the Virginia legislature, to be returned to Governor Morgan of that state, with an expression of indignation with the policy of coercion thus countenanced. On this same day, in the lower house, an amendment bringing up the right, and the present policy, of secession was lost by 96 to 36. In the state senate, however, a resolution that, if efforts to reconcile differences should prove abortive, "every consideration of honor and interest demands that Virginia shall unite her destinies with her sister slave - holding states," was passed unanimously. January 23 was passed an appropriation for one million dollars for the defence. of the state. As indicative of the influence of the environment of Congress, ten of the Virginia members of Congress at this time sent an address declaring that it was "vain to hope for any measures of conciliation and adjustment from Congress which the people of Virginia could accept "; and that it was the design of the Republican party to coerce the southern states under the pretext of enforcing the laws.2

The Virginia convention met at Richmond, February 13, with 152 delegates. Of these only twenty2 Ibid., pp. 729, 730.

1 Am. Annual Cyclop., 1861, p. 519.

five were classed as secessionists,' but not more than six were "actual submissionists-that is, men in favor of the preservation of the Union under any and all circumstances." Kentucky, though Governor Magoffin was in close affiliation with his seceding colleagues, would have no convention; Governor Hicks, of Maryland, was firm in resisting a call of the legislature, and state sentiment gradually crystallized in favor of the Union.

In North Carolina the convention bill provided also for putting at the time of the election of delegates the question whether or not there should be a convention. In the 90,000 votes cast there was a majority of 651 opposed. Of the 120 delegates elected, but 38 were secessionists. In Tennessee the election, February 9, showed a strong Union majority in every part of the state and a majority of nearly 12,000 against holding a convention. The election in Missouri gave a Union majority of 80,000, and not a secession delegate was chosen. Even in Arkansas, in the election of delegates to a convention, the Union majority was 5699.3

The action of the Virginia legislature, January 19, in calling what came to be known as the Peace Conference, strengthened the influence of Hayne and his senatorial advisers to continue the truce


1 Tyler, Tylers, II., 621.

1 Richmond Whig, February 8, 12, quoted by Rhodes, United States, III., 309.

3 Am. Annual Cyclop., 1861, pp. 22, 395, 443, 538, 677.

with regard to Sumter. The resolution extended an invitation to all states "willing to unite with Virginia in an earnest effort to adjust the present unhappy controversies in the spirit in which the Constitution was originally formed" to meet in Washington, "to consider, and, if practicable, to agree upon some suitable adjustment." The basis proposed was the Crittenden resolution, with the first article modified to apply to all territory "now held or hereafter acquired" south of latitude 36° 30', and to protect slavery therein during the continuance of territorial government, and with a new provision that slave-owners should have the right of transit with their slaves through non-slave-holding states and territories. Ex-President Tyler and Judge Robertson, the latter already a commissioner of peace to the seceding states, were appointed to request President Buchanan to agree to abstain, pending the proposed proceedings, "from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms. Tyler, on this errand, met Buchanan January 24, and the latter promised to refer the mission of the former to Congress, with a recommendation "to avoid the passage of any hostile legislation."



South Carolina's answer to Virginia's proposal was complete and emphatic. January 28, on the reception by the legislature of the governor's message transmitting the resolution, it was resolved 1 Am. Annual Cyclop., 1861, p. 178.

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