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


of the state had few slaves since their main industry was mining. For this reason, they did not see themselves linked with the Cotton States. Furthermore, they were upset about the current system of taxation, in which slaves were taxed less than other property. They did not think that the eastern part of their state was providing its fair share of revenue through taxes. Therefore, it seemed to them that the eastern part of Virginia was abusing the northwestern part. In the convention, Mr. Hall gave his opinion on this question: "I am afraid that the North-West is not as sound as he [another member of the convention] thinks."48 Later on this same day of the convention, Mr. Willey expressed indignation that the loyalty of the northwest section of Virginia would ever be questioned:

…when I hear a member of this Convention, upon this floor, giving out intimations confirmatory of these suspicions, and going to credit the idea that there is want of loyalty in the Northwestern section of this State, to the institutions of Virginia, to all our institutions, I cannot but…ask the indulgence of this Convention for a few moments, while I disabuse any mind which has been poisoned by any such insinuations. Mr. Willey continued by asserting the loyalty of the northwestern part of Virginia to the actions and decisions of the rest of the state.49
The slow, deliberate action taken by Virginia compared to the other slave states singles it out as traveling a different path to secession. As this essay has shown, the major reason for Virginia's delay was the amount of disagreement between its citizens. The imminent cause for secession was neither Lincoln's election nor his inaugural, but the North's actual use of military force against the South. Only then, did Virginia, the most populous slave state and one of the most dominant and prestigious of all the states, decide to sever it ties with the Union it had been so instrumental in founding. Of this final decision to turn southward, one editorial published on April 19 in The Review, a newspaper from Charlottesville Virginia, stated,

48. Mr. Hall, 21 February 1861, Convention, 133.
49. Mr. Willey, 21 February 1861, Convention of 1861, 136.
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