Doc. 59.--Gov. Letcher's proclamation.
Whereas seven of the States, formerly composing a part of the United States, have, by authority of their people, solemnly resumed the powers granted by them to the United States, and have framed a Constitution and organized a Government for themselves, to which the people of those States are yielding willing obedience, and have so notified the President of the United States by all the formalities incident to such action, and thereby become United States a separate, independent and foreign power; And whereas the Constitution of the United States has invested Congress with the sole power to “declare war,” and until such declaration is made, the President has no authority to call for an extraordinary force to wage offensive war against any foreign power; and whereas, on the 15th inst., the President of the United States, in plain violation of the Constitution, issued a proclamation calling for a force of seventy-five thousand men, to cause the laws of the United States to be duly executed over a people who are no longer a part of the Union, and in said proclamation threatens to exert this unusual force to compel obedience to his mandates; And whereas the General Assembly of Virginia, by a majority approaching to entire unanimity, declared at its last session, that the State of Virginia would consider such exertion of force as a virtual declaration of war, to be resisted by all the power at the command of Virginia; and subsequently, the convention now in session, representing the sovereignty of this State, has reaffirmed in substance the same policy, with equal unanimity; And whereas the State of Virginia deeply sympathizes with the Southern States, in the wrongs they have suffered, and in the position they have assumed; and having made earnest efforts peaceably to compose the differences which have severed the Union, and having failed in that attempt, through this unwarranted act on the part of the President; and it is believed that the influences which operate to produce this proclamation against the seceded States will be brought to bear upon this commonwealth, if she should exercise her undoubted right to resume the powers granted by her people, and it is due to the honor of Virginia that an improper exercise of force against her people should be repelled; Therefore, I, John Letcher, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, have thought proper to order all armed volunteer regiments or companies within this State forthwith to hold themselves in readiness for immediate orders, and upon the reception of this proclamation to report to the adjutant-general of the State their organization and numbers, and prepare themselves for efficient service. Such companies as are not armed and equipped will report that fact, that they may be properly supplied.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the commonwealth to be affixed, this 17th day of April, 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the commonwealth.