256.-Declaration of the people of Va., represented in Convention in Wheeling, June 17, 1861.
The true purpose of all government is to promote the welfare and provide for the protection and security of the governed, and when any form of organization of government proves inadequate for, or subversive of this purpose, it is the right, it is the duty of the latter to alter or abolish it. The Bill of Rights
, framed in 1776, reaffirmed in 1830, and again in 1851, expressly reserves this right to the majority of her people, and the existing Constitution does not confer upon the General Assembly the power to call a Convention to alter its provisions, or to change the relations of the Commonwealth
, without the previously expressed consent of such a majority.
The act of the General Assembly, calling the Convention
which assembled at Richmond
in February last, was therefore a usurpation; and the Convention
thus called has not only abused the powers nominally intrusted to it, but, with the connivance and active aid of the Executive
, has usurped and exercised other powers, to the manifest injury of the people, which, if permitted, will inevitably subject them to a military despotism.
The Convention, by its pretended ordinances, has required the people of Virginia
to separate from and wage war against the Government
of the United States
, and against the citizens of neighboring States, with whom they have heretofore maintained friendly, social, and business relations:
It has attempted to subvert the Union
founded by Washington
and his co-patriots in the purer days of the Republic
, which has conferred unexampled prosperity upon every class of citizens and upon every section of the country :
It has attempted to transfer the allegiance of the people to an illegal confederacy of rebellious States, and required their submission to its pretended edicts and decrees:
It has attempted to place the whole military force and military operations of the Commonwealth
under the control and direction of such Confederacy, for offensive as well as defensive purposes:
It has, in conjunction with the State Executive
, instituted wherever their usurped power extends, a reign of terror, intended to suppress the free expression of the will of the people, making elections a mockery and a fraud:
The same combination, even before the passage of the pretended Ordinance of Secession, instituted war by the seizure and appropriation of the property of the Federal Government
, and by organizing and mobilizing armies, with the avowed purpose of capturing or destroying the Capital
of the Union
They have attempted to bring the allegiance of the people of the United States
into direct conflict with their subordinate allegiance to the State
, thereby making obedience to their pretended Ordinance treason against the former.
We, therefore, the delegates here assembled in Convention to devise such measures and take such action as the safety and welfare of the loyal citizens of Virginia
may demand, having mutually considered the premises, and viewing with great concern the deplorable condition to which.
this once happy Commonwealth must be reduced, unless some regular adequate remedy is speedily adopted, and appealing to the Supreme Ruler
of the Universe for the rectitude of our intentions, do hereby in the name and on the behalf of the good people of Virginia
, solemnly declare, that the preservation of their dearest rights and liberties, and their security in person and property, imperatively demand the reorganization of the Government
of the Commonwealth
, and that all acts of said Convention and Executive, tending to separate this Commonwealth from the United States
, or to levy and carry on war against them, are without authority and void; and the offices of all who adhere to the said Convention and Executive, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are vacated.