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[160] people to render such acts valid, they put them into effect immediately; and before the vote could be taken on the question of ratification, transferred the whole military force of our State to the President of the Confederacy, and surrendered to him military possession of our territory.

When the chains had been thus fastened upon us, we were called to vote upon the ordinance of secession. The same reign of terror which compelled Union men to vote as they did in the Convention, was brought to bear on the people themselves. Vast numbers were obliged by intimidation and fear of threatened violence, to vote for secession. Many did not vote at all. Many, no doubt, were influenced by the consideration that the measures already adopted had placed the Commonwealth helplessly within the grasp of the President of the Southern Confederacy, and that she could not escape from his power by the rejection of the ordinance.

It is claimed that the ordinance of secession has been ratified by a majority of ninety-four thousand votes. Had the people of Virginia then so greatly changed? The best evidence that they had not, is found in the fact that wherever the vote was really free, there was a much larger majority against secession than was given at the election in February to the Union candidates for the Convention. The means of intimidation and violence which were resorted to, over a large portion of the State, to compel an appearance of unanimity in favor of secession, show that the leaders of this movement felt that the hearts of the people were not with them.

The proclamation of the President calling for seventy-five thousand volunteer troops, is commonly relied upon to justify the ordinance of secession. That proclamation was issued on the 15th of April, 1861. It must not, however, be overlooked that on the 6th of March, 1861, the pretended Congress at Montgomery, provided by law for calling into the field a force of one hundred thousand volunteers; and that on the 12th of April, the Secretary of War of the Confederate States, publicly announced that war was commenced, and that the Capitol at Washington would be captured before the first of May. The intention to capture the Capital of the Union was repeatedly proclaimed in influential papers at Richmond and other Southern cities, before the 15th of April. It was, in fact, long a cherished object of the leaders in this great conspiracy. Did they expect the President of the nation to yield the Capital and retire in disgrace, without adopting any measures of defence? Yet Virginia, we are told, seceded, because the President, under such circumstances, called volunteers to the defence of the country.

I need not remark to you, gentlemen, how fatal the attempted disseverance of the Union must prove to all our material interests. Secession, and annexation to the South, would cut off every outlet for our productions. We cannot get them to the Confederate States across the Alleghanies. The Ohio River and the country beyond it, would be closed to our trade. With Maryland in the Union, our outlet to the East would be interrupted; while we could not carry products across the Pennsylvania line, by the Monongahela or other routes. In time of war, we would encounter a hostile force, and in time of peace, a custom-house at every turn.

The interests of the people of Virginia were intrusted to the Richmond Convention. How have they fulfilled that trust? Why, if war was to come, was our land made the battle-field? Why was this Commonwealth interposed as a barrier to protect the States of the South, who undertook to overthrow the Union in utter disregard of our remonstrances? In the position in which the Richmond Convention have placed us, our homes are exposed to all the horrors of civil war; while the President of the Montgomery Congress can announce to the people of the Gulf States, that “they need now have no apprehension; they might go on with their planting and business as usual; the war would not come to their section; its theatre would be along the borders of the Ohio River, and in Virginia.”

Have we done wrong in rejecting the authority of the men who have thus betrayed the interests confided to their charge?

Under these circumstances the people of the State who desired to preserve a Virginia in the Union, by their delegates appointed at primary meetings, assembled at Wheeling on the 13th of May last, to consider the measures necessary to protect their constitutional rights and liberties, their lives and their property. Before a frank comparison of views could be had, differences of opinion were to be expected, and such differences accordingly then existed. That Convention, however, after three days mature consideration, determined to call upon the loyal people of the State, after the vote was taken on the Secession Ordinance, to elect delegates to a Convention to be held on the 11th day of June, 1861. All who witnessed the assembling of the last Convention, will bear witness to the solemnity of the occasion. Its action was attended with singular unanimity; and has resulted in the re-organization of the State Government, as a member of the Union.

Their Journal and Ordinances will be submitted to you. Plain principles vindicate their acts. The Constitution of the United States was adopted by the people of the United States; and the powers thus derived, could be resumed only by the consent of the people who conferred them. That Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Constitution of the State recognizes it as such, and all the laws of the State virtually recognize the same principle. The Governor, the State Legislature, and all State officers, civil and military, when they entered upon the discharge of their duties,

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