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

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would return to the Union.25 Wilson's arguments reveal the role in which many Virginians saw themselves - that of mediator between the North and the South. This role was predicated on both the prominence and geographical location of the state. Virginians felt that it was in their power either to save or destroy the Union. In the convention, Mr. Baldwin entreated, "…that we may go back to the days of Monroe, to the era of good feeling, and take up anew, not merely the language of compromise and adjustment, but take in the ancient Virginia school, the spirit of compromise, the spirit of settlement, the spirit characterized by our General Assembly as that in which the Constitution was formed…."26

Although anti-secession sentiments were clearly very strong in some Virginians, others just as ardently pushed for disunion. Just as in the case of the pro-Union arguments, those for secession relied on several different arguments. One group of arguments focused on Virginia's ties with the South. While some of these arguments simply stressed the importance of Virginia supporting the seceded states, others went as far as calling for Virginia's immediate secession. In either case, they highlighted the links between Virginia and the other slave states. In an editorial written about the task of the recently begun state convention, one Virginian explained that, while the immediate work of Virginia should be aimed at reconciling the North and the South, if these efforts failed, the convention needed to "…assure the South that we stand ready to draw Virginia's sword against the first act of coercion directed against any Southern State…."27

The economic connections between Virginia and the seceded states were of great interest to several representatives in the state convention. One, Mr. Holcombe, stated that Virginia's "manufacturing, mining, agricultural, and commercial interests" lay with the South.28 He further


25. Mr. Wilson, 26 March 1861, Convention, 364.
26. Mr. Baldwin, 22 March 1861, Convention, 200-1.
27. "The State Convention," The Richmond Enquirer, 15 February 1861.
28. Mr. Holcombe, 20 March 1861, Convention, 104.
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