Extract from speech of George William Brent in the Virginia Convention on March 8, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines Jr., ed., Proceedings of the Virginia Convention of 1861 (Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:501–502, 503.
Opponents of secession in Virginia early in 1861 frequently predicted that if the state seceded, owners of slaves would no longer be able to rely on the power of the U.S. government and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to enable them to recover runaway slaves. George William Brent, of Alexandria, spoke at length on that subject in the Virginia Convention on March 8, 1861. He rhetorically asked his fellow delegates, "But what would be the effect of secession upon the escape of fugitive slaves? . . . As has been well said by some member upon this floor, it would bring Canada down to our very doors."