Doc. 59: a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo, U. S. N., to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher.
Convention” issued--“the injunction of secrecy being removed” --in form of a proclamation by order of the Governor, by Geo. W. Munford, Secretary of the Commonwealth. One section of this ordinance reads thus:
And that he (the Governor) shall immediately invite all efficient and worthy Virginians, and residents of Virginia in the Army and Navy of the United States, to retire therefrom and to enter the service of Virginia, assigning to them such rank as will not reverse the relative rank held by them in the United States service, and will be at least equivalent thereto.John Letcher, for the sake of the American character, I deplore that the “injunction of secrecy” was removed. I was slow to believe that any body of Virginians, met in solemn convention, could have deliberately authorized  you, the Governor, to “invite” all efficient and worthy Virginians, and residents of Virginia in the Army and Navy of the United States, to betray their trust, to turn their hand, their efficiency, and their worth against the flag which has given them all they have and all they are worth. I can hardly believe that any body of the select men of the Old Dominion could “invite” any man through their Governor, whether an “efficient or worthy Virginian” or even the bugbear of a Yankee “resident of Virginia,” to become an honorable deserter. Even with the tangible evidence before me, I am in doubt as to the identity of the ordinance. I feel assured, sir, that the fifty odd loyal and true men-reduced by some “secret” political hocuspocus to a baker's dozen — who voted against secession, did their best to save the State from this execrable abuse of its people. Western Virginia, certainly, does not lend itself to such “invitations.” If I remember aright, sir, the leading State Rights men of Virginia declared, at the time of the Hartford Convention, that the secession of a State from the Federal Union was treason. How can leading State Rights men from Virginia now “invite” the military officers of that same Federal Union to commit the sin which then was so damnable? What system of morals works the change? John Letcher, I am not a politician, though I am a Virginian by birth. I am no Southerner, nor Northerner, nor Western man. I am a citizen of the United States. It requires no political acumen to discover that “The Convention,” whose orders you obey by publishing its own precept “for the benefit of the public,” perpetrated a gross fraud upon the people of Virginia and a grosser outrage upon the people and Government of the United States. Your Convention has precipitated the State into hostility against the Government, and has insulted the people. It has, however, as an offset shown the hand of those who now, unhappily, direct the State. John Letcher, I am not your mercenary, nor the mercenary of “The Convention.” --My primary and only allegiance is due and rendered to the United States. The United States has cared for me for many years, and its flag is endeared to me by too many associations to be lightly abandoned and turned against in this hour of its direst peril, particularly upon the promises to pay of an exhausted Treasury and the promises of “rank” from a State whose militia, by her own showing and invitation, is commanded by a foreigner, who is a traitor to that Government to which the people of Virginia are faithful despite the unholy and unpatriotic action of “The Convention.” If, sir, I were to forsake the Stars and Stripes in this dread hour and join your banner, what assurance would you have that I would not betray you? Surely not that of honor, not that of patriotism. John Letcher, Governor of Virginia, I scornfully reject the infamous proposal of “The Convention,” made “public” by you, its organ. It is cut from the same “secret” piece, dyed in the wool, as the perfidy of Harper's Ferry and Gosport Navy Yard. I decline to yield myself upon the invitation of “The Convention,” a disgraceful subordinate to Jeff. Davis, and unworthy and inefficient Virginian that I am, not all the wealth, biped and landed; not all the honors which the Old Dominion can create, will ever seduce me from a full and unreserved devotion to the Stars and Stripes. You, sir, might have restored peace to your country, but you would not.
W. K. Mayo, Lieutenant United States Navy.