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We know our rights and dare maintain them

Union or Secession
  • We know our rights and dare maintain them
A committee appointed by the convention that met in Wheeling, May 13–15, 1861, issued an address on May 21 to the people of northwestern Virginia advising them to vote against ratifying the Ordinance of Secession at the referendum on May 23.
Related documents:
  • "Remain true to the Union"
Related Biographies:
  • John Snyder Carlile (1817–1878). Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress.
    John Snyder Carlile
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We know our rights and dare maintain them

Excerpts from an address "To the People of North Western Virginia," Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, 21 May 1861.

A committee appointed by the convention that met in Wheeling from May 13 to May 15, 1861, issued an address to the people of northwestern Virginia advising them to vote against ratifying the Ordinance of Secession at the referendum on May 23. John Snyder Carlile, of Clarksburg, who had opposed secession in Richmond during the spring and issued the call for the Wheeling Convention, was the chairman and draftsman of the committee. He wrote, "We will, in the strength of our cause, resolutely and determinedly stand by our rights and our liberties secured to us by the struggles of our Revolutionary Fathers, and the authors of the Constitution under which we have grown and prospered beyond all precedent in the world's history."

Excerpts from an address "To the People of North Western Virginia," Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, 21 May 1861.

Why should the people of North Western Virginia allow themselves to be dragged into
the rebellion inaugurated by ambitious and heartless men, who have banded themselves together to destroy a government formed for you by your patriot fathers, and which has secured to you all the liberties consistent with the nature of man, and has, for near three-fourths of a century, sheltered you in sunshine and in storm, made you the admiration of the civilized world, and conferred upon you a title more honored, respected and revered, than that of King or Potentate—the title of an American citizen. Will you passively surrender it, and submit to be used by the conspirators engaged in this effort to enslave you, as their instruments by which your enslavement is to be effect?
Freemen who would remain free, must prove themselves worthy to be free, and must
themselves first strike the blow. . . .
But, people of North Western Virginia, why should we thus permit ourselves to be
tyranized over, and made slaves of, by the haughty arrogance and wicked machinations of would-be Eastern Despots. Are we submissionists, craven cowards, who will yield to daring ambition, the rich legacy of Freedom which we have inherited from our fathers, or are we men who know our rights and knowing, dare maintain them? If we are, we will resist the usurpers and drive from our midst the rebellion sought to be forced upon us. We will, in the strength of our cause, resolutely and determinedly stand by our rights and our liberties secured to us by the struggles of our Revolutionary Fathers, and the authors of the Constitution under which we have grown and prospered beyond all precedent in the world's history. We will maintain, protect and
defend that Constitution and the Union with all our strength, and with all our powers, ever remembering that "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."