Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/81
'/'/,, Vindication qf the Soittk. 73
the Republican party from rupture. The whole thing was gottrn up against my judgment and advice, and will end in thin smoke. Still, I hope as a matter of courtesy to some of our erring brethren, that you will send the delegates.
Truly your friend,
X. VV. CHANDI.KR. His Excellency, Austin Blair.
P. S. Some of the manufacturing States think that a fight would be awful. Without a little blood-letting, this Union will not, in my estimation, be worth a rush."
It may not be amiss to quote at this point from the declarations of Robert E. Lee, made in January, 1861, as the sentiment of the lead- ing Virginian of his time. Referring to Washington, he wrote:
" How his spirit would be grieved, could he see the wreck of his mighty labors. I wiH> not, however, permit myself to believe, until all ground for hope has gone, that the fruit of his noble deeds will be destroyed, and that his precious advice and virtuous example will be so soon forgotten by his countrymen. As far as I can judge from the papers, we are between a state of anarchy and civil war. May God avert both of these evils from us. ' '
In the same month he again wrote: " I shall mourn for my coun- try, and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved, and the government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and save in defence will I draw my sword on none."
Thus at this momentous crisis Virginia furnished the "neutral ground between the embattled legions " and declared in the words of her great son, " Save in defence will I draw my sword on none."
VIRGINIA CONVENTION OF l86l.
The same legislature which called the Peace Congress passed an act providing a popular convention of the people to consider what should be the course of Virginia in the crisis with which she was confronted. By the terms of the act the people were not only to select delegates to a convention, but they were to declare by a sepa-