Excerpt from speech of George W. Berlin, of Upshur County, in the Virginia Convention, April 23, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr. eds., Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 4:404–405.
On April 23, 1861, George W. Berlin, of Upshur County, in the mountains of western Virginia, asked permission to have his vote against secession on April 17 changed to a vote in favor. He then requested the convention to propose an amendment to the state constitution to require that all property be taxed at its market value. The Constitution of 1851 had placed a limit on the taxable value of slaves that worked to the interest of eastern slaveowners but provided no limitations on the taxable value of any other property. This was especially unpopular in the western counties where there were comparatively few slaves. As Berlin informed the other delegates, "You all know that this has been a thorn in the side of our people." He also predicted, incorrectly, that westerners "would hail joyfully this change, and unite heartily with the East." The convention submitted an amendment to the voters, who ratified it on May 23, 1861.