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Union or Secession
  • "The hope that sober and discreet men may be elected to the Convention"
  • "The hope that sober and discreet men may be elected to the Convention"
  • "The hope that sober and discreet men may be elected to the Convention"
On January 28, 1861, Benjamin F. Gravely informed Christopher Y. Thomas that an opponent of secession was likely to defeat a secessionist candidate in the February 4 election of a delegate to represent Henry County in the Virginia Convention.
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"The hope that sober and discreet men may be elected to the Convention"

Benjamin Franklin Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, January 28, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.

Late in January 1861, Benjamin Franklin Gravely, of Henry County, wrote to Christopher Yancy Thomas, a member of the Senate of Virginia and the brother-in-law of his uncle, Peyton Gravely. The letter includes family and personal news and comments on the stagnation of business. Gravely also referred to the national Peace Conference that would assemble in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 1861, to the campaign for election of delegates to the Virginia Convention that was to take place on that same date, and to his and Thomas's views on the secession crisis. "If the people could be allowed to vote on the preservation of the government," Gravely concluded, "It would not be broken up." At the election on February 4, Peyton Gravely, who opposed secession, defeated John T. Wootton, who favored it, by a vote of 705 to 335; and 77.9 percent of Henry County's voters insisted on requiring the ratification referendum.

Benjamin Franklin Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, January 28, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.

Leatherwood Va. Januy. 28th 1861.
Dear Christopher
I have intended for several weeks to write to you, but there being nothing of interest transpiring in this section I have defered it to this time, not however without several hints from your sister that I ought to do so,
About the time you left home, the weather commenced pretty bad and since, it has been the most disagreable weather I ever experienced in January. yet the health of the people of this neighborhood has been unusually good. Your Mother and family are well also. Uncle Peyton's and my own family are quite well at this time.
We are having quite an active Canvass in this County for the Convention. Mr. Wootton and immediate Secession on the one side, Mr Peyton Gravely sr. and union with the rights of Va. on the other, The opinion of those who know better than I do is that the Union Candidate will be elected by a large Majority.
It gives me great pleasure to state that your Course in the Senate meets with the approbation of every one I have seen of all parties,
Your mother was kind enough to show me your letters to her, I endorse fully every word of them. They express my views as well as the views of nine tenths of the people of this County, Mr. Wootton takes ground against refering the action of the question Convention to the People, He admits in his address that S. C did not secede on account of the election of Lincoln and that her object is free trade, direct taxes and the reopening of the African Slave trade, Still he says the cause of S. C. is the cause of Va. thereby Committing Va. to free trade direct Taxes and the African slave trade. I concur fully with you in the hope that sober and discreet men may be elected to the Convention and its action refered to the people, there are no party questions, they rise above party and every selfish, political feeing. I notice that your views are gaining strength in the Legislature, the votes being much larger on your side in the recent votes than they were early in the session The present indications are that, the Convention will be Composed of some of the first men in Virginia—There is but one opinion in this Vicinity as to the propriety and necssity of the passage of a Stay law by the Legislature, that would be its effects, I am not prepared to say. Certainly if the Collections of debts is attempted by law, there will be a great sacrafice of property; there has been no shereffs or Constables sales in this section of our County—there has been some sales on Snow Creek at ruinous rates, I name this to you not as an advocate of a stay law, but to assure you that, you would in going for one represent a large Majority of yr Constituents, in fact it would be acquiessed in by every body as the only thing to save the peoples property.
While the people of Henry are much cast down by the political surroundings, yet the action of the Va. Legislature, in appointing Commissioners to meet others, in Washington, has caused them to cheer up Considerably. If the people could be allowed to vote on the preservation of the government It would not be broken up.
I received a letter from Mrs Ruth P. Redd a few days ago, in which she, said that your family are getting on very well, and alluded to the fine daughter, as a very pretty baby—
Tommie sends his love and many thanks to Uncle Kit. for the nice paper you sent him. Julia sends her love to you, and says she will write to you she, endorses very fully your course, and is much encouraged at the expression in your letter to your Mother that there would be no "War" she is decidedly against War, Please Write me and give me your views fully as to the probabilities of a Settlement of our National troubles.
In haste
Very truly yr bro.
B F GRAVELY
Present my respects to Martin & Keen.