Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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Lincoln Calls out the Militia

Union or Secession
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  • James C. Taylor to Governor John Letcher, April 15, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    "Never fight our southern breathren"
  • Editorial in Fredericksburg <em>News</em>, April 16, 1861.,
    "Virginia will not submit"
  • Wheeling <em>Daily Intelligencer</em>, April 16, 1861.,
    "Union Meeting"
  • "To Arms! To Arms! To Arms! Defend Your Homes and Firesides," 1861, Broadside, 1861 .T62 FF, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.,
    "To Arms!"
  • Francis G. Taylor to Governor John Letcher, April 17, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    "Submission or war"
  • Benjamin Franklin Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, April 19, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "Resistance to Lincolns war policy"
  • Extract from an editorial in the <em>Lynchburg Daily Virginian</em>, May 2, 1861.,
    "The President's infamous Proclamation"
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« Return to Surrender of Fort Sumter and Lincoln's Call for Troops

Lincoln Calls out the Militia

After the surrender of Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, President Abraham Lincoln called up 75,000 militiamen to put down what he described as a rebellion against the authority of the federal government. On April 15, Lincoln's secretary of war sent a request to Virginia's governor for the state to furnish three regiments totaling 2,340 militiamen and officers. The following day Governor John Letcher refused to send troops "to subjugate the Southern States."

The surrender of Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for volunteers radically changed the political situation in Virginia. The question that Virginians, including members of the convention, then faced was no longer whether secession was legal or wise or in the state's interest. The new question once the war began was which side to take, whether to fight with the United States against the Confederate states or with the Confederacy against the United States.

Featured Biographies:

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  • John Minor Botts (1802-1869)
  • John Letcher (1813-1884)
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