and secessionists used Virginia's historical position of importance
and influence in the Union to support their arguments.
Throughout the months when the other southern states were, one by one,
leaving the Union, many Virginians maintained their steadfast belief
that it would be best for their state to remain with the North. These
arguments against secession were founded on several different bases.
The first type of argument appealed to the Constitution, the laws, and
the institutions of the government of the United States. These Virginians
felt that preserving the fundamental institutions of the nation was
more important than the individual concerns of members of that nation.
One such argument appeared in an editorial in The Fredericksburg
News, which explained that, although the President was the leader
of a sectional party that was antagonistic to the South, those states
still had the other branches of the federal government - namely, the
Congress and the Supreme Court - on their sides. The article stated
that utilizing these means of protection against Lincoln and the Republicans
"would be at once dignified, constitutional, safe, and would raise
us up hosts of friends everywhere."8 Similarly, in his
speech in the Virginia Convention, Mr. Baylor of Augusta discussed the
doctrine of secession: "
I do not believe that it [secession]
is a constitutional measure
I looked for it in vain in the Constitution
of the United States itself. I think that the framers of that Constitution,
if they had intended the doctrine to be there, would have put it in
that instrument."9 He went on to explain that he thought
that it was precisely because the states agreed to the compact of the
federal government that they were bound to abide by it. Had they been
forced, then secession would have been just.10 Another example
of the constitutional argument against secession was originally printed
in The New Orleans Picayune but later appeared in The Alexandria
Gazette. This editorial argued that the reason claimed for
secession - i.e., the election of a