Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 01.djvu/68
Southern Historical Society Papers.
as we have seen, the right of each one of these States to consult her own welfare and withdraw or remain in the Union in obedience to its dictates and the judgment of her own people. So they sent commissioners to Washington to propose a settlement, the Confederate States offering to assume their quota of the debt of the United States, and asking for their share of the common property. This was refused.
In the meantime Virginia assembled her people in grand council too; but she refused to come near the Confederate States in their councils. She had laid the corner-stone of the Union, her sons were its chief architects; and though she felt that she and her sister States had been wronged without cause, and had reason, good and sufficient, for withdrawing from a political association which no longer afforded domestic tranquility, or promoted the general welfare, or answered its purposes, yet her love for the Union and the Constitution was strong, and the idea of pulling down, without having first exhausted all her persuasives, and tried all means to save what had cost her so much, was intolerable. She thought the time for separation had not come, and waited first to try her own "mode and measure of redress"; she considered that it should not be such as the Confederate States had adopted. Moreover, by standing firm she hoped to heal the breach, as she had done on several occasions before. She asked all the States to meet her in a peace congress. They did so, and the North being largely in the majority, threw out Southern propositions and rejected all the efforts of Virginia at conciliation. North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas all remained in the Union, awaiting the action of our State, who urged the Washington Government not to attempt to coerce the seceded States, or force them with sword and bayonet back into the Union — a thing, she held, which the charter that created the Government gave it no authority to do.Regardless of these wise counsels and of all her rightful powers, the North mustered an army to come against the South; whereupon, seeing the time had come, and claiming the right which she had especially reserved not only for herself, but for all the States, to withdraw from the Union, the grand old Commonwealth did not hesitate to use it. She prepared to meet the emergency. Her people had already been assembled in convention, and they, in the persons of their representatives, passed the Ordinacne of Secession, which separated her from the North and South, and left her alone, again a free, sovereign and independent State. This