Gillian Cote, "Virginia's Secession from the Union"


Virginian declared, "…it behooves the people of Virginia, in our judgement, to preserve a 'masterly inactivity' for the present."21 This author continued: "…let the true and patriotic people of Virginia, instead of indulging in hasty committals, or adopting any rash and ill-advised policy, patiently and dignifiedly await the development of events."22 Asserting such a policy for Virginia at a time when other Southern states felt it necessary to leave the Union because of the election of a Republican to the presidency demonstrated the desire of Virginians to hesitate and deliberate before simply fleeing their home, the United States. In a similar editorial written in January, just after the bill to form a convention passed, another Virginian expressed chagrin at the hasty and anxious movement of some to leave the Union. This writer recalled the many benefits the Union had brought to Virginia, as well as the important position the United States had held in the world despite its youth as a nation.23 Finally, an editorial from The Alexandria Gazette called for patience by Virginians with the hope that the North would, in time, change their policies and thus ultimately protect the rights of the South: "…the people of the North will yet do us of the South justice upon this slavery question, if all will give them a little more time for reflection and action."24

Likewise, Mr. Wilson proposed conservative action by Virginia in the state convention. Although he clearly supported ultimate secession if necessary, he first encouraged his state to take several preliminary measures in an attempt to secure the rights of the South and reunite the country. He proposed sending a commissioner to each of the free states to explain Virginia's plan of compromise. He also supported a border state convention. Finally, he desired a commissioner to be sent to the Southern Confederacy to discover under what conditions they

21. "A Suggestion to the People of Virginia," The Alexandria Gazette, 14 November 1860.
22. Ibid.
23. "Letter from Richmond," The Alexandria Gazette, 15 January 1861.
24. Untitled, The Alexandria Gazette, 22 January 1861.
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