250.-speech of John S. Carlisle, in the Wheeling Convention, June 14, 1861.
I think, sir, that a moment's consideration will satisfy this Convention that upon this question there is at least no difference of opinion between the advocates of a separation of this State.
If I may be allowed, I can claim some credit for my sincerity, when I say that it has been an object for which I have labored at least since the year 1850.
The Convention that met in Richmond
in that year and adopted our present State Constitution, clearly disclosed, to my mind, the utter incompatibility consistent with the interests of the people of North-western Virginia
of remaining in a connection with the Eastern
portion of the State
And, sir, the first favorable opportunity that discovered itself to me for affecting that separation was in the Convention
that met in this city in May last.
And I appeal to members who are present, and who were members of that Convention, to say if I did not zealously press that measure.
Why did I do it?
For the reason which I then stated — for the reason that now prevents me doing it. I then stated that we were still citizens of the United States
, according to even the theory of the Disunionists; that a separation could be effected then by the provision of the U. S. Constitution
providing for it; but when the 23d of May came and went, and the sun had set behind the hills in the evening of that day, we would be transferred, according to the theory of the Secessionists, to another and different Confederacy, and would be deprived of the Constitution of the United States
, and the mode and manner in which a separation could thereafter be effected under the authority of these Secessionists by virtue of that transfer, could only be by treaty and recognition; that although all Virginia
should agree to the separation, yet she would have to obtain the consent of the Southern Confederacy expressed in accordance with the Constitution
which she has adopted for its government, before we could be allowed to transfer ourselves to what they would then call another, a different, and a hostile Government.
I saw difficulties innumerable and insurmountable if we did not act then.
But the wisdom of that body thought otherwise, and I gracefully, as I should, bowed to its decision.
Now, sir, where are we?
I call the attention of my friend from Monongalia, and I tell him if he beats me in this race of separation, he will have to be swifter than I think he is. We have no Legislature now; and mark you, it is only by the assent of the Legislature a separation can be effected.
The people themselves, through their representatives assembled, cannot assent to a separation.
It can only be done as is provided in the Constitution of the United States
, by the assent of the Legislature of the State.
Now, sir, have we a Legislature?
would say that we have; and its members will be sworn to support the Constitution
of the Southern Confederacy.
Then you see we can never effect a separation in the manner in which we would have accomplished it.
Now, sir, let us pursue the policy laid down in the declaration, and let us repudiate Letcher
and his transfer; let us assemble a Legislature here of our own, sworn to support, not the Southern Confederacy Constitution, but that which Washington
Constitution of our fathers, under which we have grown and prospered, as never people grew and prospered before.
Let us maintain our position under that tree of Liberty, watered by the blood and tears of the patriots of the Revolution — planted by them, its roots having taken deep and firm hold in the hearts of a great people, and having, from a little spot on earth, spread from the Atlantic
to the Pacific
, embracing, I might say, a continent, and spreading its branches of protection over the whole unbounded land.
Let us organize a Legislature, swearing allegiance to that Government, and let that Legislature be recognized by the United States Government, as the
Legislature of Virginia.
Then we have still a direct recognition of the protecting care of our ancient Government, and then we will effect this separation.
But now, with no Legislature recognized as owing allegiance to the Constitution of the United States
, we could not do it. But with the Legislature.
recognized as still the Legislature of the State; with Virginia
in the Union
; with a Legislature recognized by the Government
of the United States
, and with its assent to our separation, our way is clear.
And if the Southern Confederacy dares to interpose, we have the strong arm of that same old Government to be thrown around us, and to shelter us from harm.
Let us then go on as we propose.
Let us be recognized as the true and lawful authorities, speaking for and on behalf of the loyal people of the whole State of Virginia
Give us that recognition, and then the separation will come.
And I here say that one of the first acts I shall perform, if no one else does it — and I believe it a duty I owe to the people who have honored me with a seat in Congress, will be to obtain from that body a legislative declaration recognizing this Legislature you will assemble here, as the Legislature of the State; and then let my friends, the representatives, assent to it, and my word for it, we will be the State
of New Virginia.
It is a mere question now whether we shall wait until we are solemnly recognized as the true, legal, constitutional representatives of the people of Virginia
, or whether we shall now attempt an impossibility; for every man who will reflect a moment will know that, until rebellion is crushed, no assent will be attained for our separation from the rebellious portion of this State.
But, sir, there is another object which I have at heart.
Two great objects influence and govern my actions.
The first, I am free to say the dearest, the highest, and the nearest my heart, is, the perpetuity of the Union
Keeping forever undimmed the thirty-four stars that now deck the constellation of our national ensign, adding to them, as we have done, star after star — when that is done — when safety and perpetuity are again secured to that flag — then we can consider our own State interests; then we can consider the interests of our own immediate section of this State; but until then, we owe it to our loyal brothers throughout the length and breadth of this great land, to stand by them and aid them in resisting a crime, the greatest that has ever been attempted to be perpetrated on humanity.
Let us do this, succeed in this, and we will succeed in all we desire in a very short time.
Let us. bring peace again to our Loudon
, and Hampshire
Let our brothers over the mountains, through our aid and assistance, and that of this great and good Government of ours, again see harmony throughout the land; again sit around their hearthstones with their families, and again instil, in the quiet hours of peace, the lessons the Father
of his Country has bequeathed to us in his Farewell Address
Then we may say to them: “We love you still as brothers, but your interests and ways and ours are diverse.
Let this line be drawn between us. We will have two separate and distinct sovereign States; but, brethren, we will be American citizens!” --N. Y. Tribute
, June 20.