Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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Election of Delegates

Union or Secession
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  • William A. Burwell to Christoper Yancy Thomas, January 22, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Are you a Union Man?"
  • Samuel J. Mullins to Christopher Yancy Thomas, January 25, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Coolness and calmness and moderation"
  • Excerpt from John Minor Botts's announcement in the <em>Richmond Daily Whig</em>, January 28, 1861.,
    "I shall never despair of the Republic."
  • Benjamin Franklin Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, January 28, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Sober and discreet men"
  • Two undated items from the Lewisburg <em>Greenbrier Independent</em> printed in the <em>Staunton Spectator</em>, January 29, 1861.,
    Patriots Awake! Stir Your Stumps!
  • Richmond City Election Return, February 6, 1861, Virginia Convention (1861: Richmond), Records, 1861–1961, Acc. 40586, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 93, Library of Virginia.,
    Richmond City Election
  • "Virginia, Frederick County, Ticket. . . .," 1861, Broadside, 1861 .V8 BOX, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.,
    Frederick County Election
  • "To the Citizens of Frederick County," 1861, Broadside, 1861 .M36 BOX, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.,
    To the Citizens of Frederick County
  • Editorial in the <em>Abingdon Democrat</em>, February 8, 1861.,
    Election in Washington County
  • Report from the Norfolk <em>Argus</em> printed in the Richmond <em>Daily Dispatch</em>, February 15, 1861.,
    Excitement in Accomack
  • Peyton B. Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, February 19, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    Henry County secessionists
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Election of Delegates

On February 4, 1861, Virginia voters elected 152 delegates to the convention called to consider secession. They also voted to hold a popular referendum on the issue if the convention decided that Virginia should secede from the Union. Most supporters of secession wanted swift action and opposed the referendum proposal, but opponents of secession generally favored requiring the ratification referendum. Voters in the central and southeastern counties, which had the largest concentrations of enslaved people in Virginia, elected more delegates who favored secession than did voters in other areas of the state where slavery was less important, and no more than one-third of the elected delegates favored immediate secession. Likewise, voters in the areas with the largest population of enslaved people also cast more votes against requiring the referendum than did voters in areas with fewer enslaved people. Overall, about two-thirds of Virginia's voters favored requiring the referendum, suggesting the relative weakness of secession sentiment in the state at that time. Most Virginia voters did not become secessionists during the winter of 1860–1861, which surprised the prosecession editor of an Abingdon Democratic newspaper who wrote, "the immediate secession candidates have been badly whipped—in fact, have been almost annihilated,—and the gentlemen representing the 'wait-a-bit' ticket triumphantly elected."

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