Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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Union or Secession
  • "Before the fourth of March"
Delegate Miers W. Fisher, of Northampton County, introduced resolutions on March 2, 1861, warning the United States government not to coerce any states that had seceded and to turn over all of its military installation in those states to the Confederacy.
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  • Miers W. Fisher (1806–1873). Image courtesy of Margaret Ryther.
    Miers W. Fisher
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"Before the fourth of March"

Speech of Miers W. Fisher, of Northampton County, in the Virginia Convention on March 2, 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), 1:338–339.

Two days before Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as president of the United States, Miers W. Fisher, of Northampton County, on the Eastern Shore, introduced two resolutions in the Virginia Convention. The first warned the United States government that any attempt to coerce any states that had seceded "would be the initiation of civil war." The second required the federal government to turn over to the "Southern Confederacy" its military installations in the states that had seceded. Fisher voted for secession on April 4, 1861, when a motion to secede failed, and again on April 17, when it passed.

Speech of Miers W. Fisher, of Northampton County, in the Virginia Convention on March 2, 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), 1:338–339.

I intended, sir, during the whole week to offer these resolutions, and to have accompanied them with some remarks. But as I see that it is impossible for me to do so, and being anxious that they should go to the Convention before the fourth of March, I shall content myself with simply offering them, and asking that they be referred to the Committee on Federal Relations.
The resolutions were then read as follows:
"Resolved, That in the opinion of this Convention any attempt on the part of the Federal Government to collect revenue on goods in transit to any port or ports in any of the States which have withdrawn from the Confederacy of the United States of America, or any attempt to take the forts, arsenals, dockyards or munitions of war in possession of any of the said States that have withdrawn from the Federal Union, would be the initiation of civil war; and that this Commonwealth will not be an indifferent spectator in such war, but will take part in the same to the fullest extent of her military ability in behalf of her Southern slaveholding sisters that have seceded from the Federal Union.
"Resolved, further, in the opinion of this Convention, that it is the duty of the Federal Government, at the earliest practicable moment, to enter into negotiations with the authorities of the Southern Confederacy for the transfer of Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens to said Confederacy, and for an equitable division of the public property and public burdens of the United States of America, at the time of the withdrawal of the States of the Southern Confederacy from the Union, between them."