Submitting the question of North or South to the people.
asked leave to offer the following preamble and joint resolutions, which, on his motion, were read, and laid on the table, with an intimation that they would be called up to-morrow:
The General Assembly of Virginia
, deeply impressed with the critical condition of National affairs, deems it proper at this time to submit to the people of the State
the only question which seems to it necessary to be decided.
As representatives of the people, we have every confidence in their decision, and believe they will be guided by prudence and wisdom, and that the action of the majority will be acquiesced in, and thenceforth we shall move in harmony and concord.
The General Assembly has heretofore exerted its influence in endeavoring to preserve the Union
and to avert the calamity of civil war between the States.
All its efforts to that end have signally failed.
This utter failure to compose the differences existing between the sections, has been produced by the operation of causes and influences which have prevailed for many years.
Against these influences, the people of this Commonwealth have invariably struggled and urgently protested. --Against every protest, and regardless of consequences of the most disastrous character, which were constantly predicted, and which culminated in occurrences in this State deeply deplored, distressing to our people and burdensome and oppressive; the most incessant agitation of the question of slavery, in all its aspects, has been kept up in the halls of Congress, and in the legislative bodies of the Northern States
, as well as in their pulpits and presses and schools, as harassing to the Southern
people as the passage of the most obnoxious laws could possibly have been. --From these and other causes, a feeling of dissatisfaction, irritation, and distrust, has arisen in the minds of the Southern
people, and a sentiment of hostility to our domestic institutions has been exhibited at the North
, which is utterly at war with that fraternity which ought to pervade a Government instituted for mutual happiness and security.
These feelings have at length ripened into disruption and a severance of seven of the States which heretofore composed the Union
The seceding States have now formed a Confederacy and established an independent Government, which ought to be recognized by the United States
, and must be by the Governments of the world.
With all these facts before us, and with a view to ascertain that judgment, and to give effect to the popular will, does hereby
That it shall be the duty of the Commissioners
and officers who shall be appointed according to law to superintend and conduct elections for members of the General Assembly, at the next election in the month of May, to open a separate poll to take the sense of the qualified voters upon the question of remaining in the Union
with the Northern States
, or of uniting Virginia
with the Southern Confederacy.
In order to ascertain the sense of said voters thereupon, the said officers shall cause to be kept a separate poll, with two columns, the one to be headed "For the Northern Union," and the other "For the Southern Union;" and the names of those who vote for the former shall be written under the former heading, and those who vote for the latter, under the latter heading When the said officers meet, as provided by law in the elections for the Legislature, held at the same time, they shall ascertain and make return of the number of persons voting for each proposition; they shall deliver the said poll-books to the Clerk
of their respective counties or corporations, to be preserved in his office, and shall forthwith transmit a certificate, containing the aggregate vote for each proposition, to the Governor
Upon the receipt thereof, the Governor
shall ascertain the result and make proclamation thereof, and shall also transmit a copy of his proclamation, containing the said aggregate vote, to the Convention
for their information.