16 Southern Historical Society Papers.
never of a Massachusettensian. The word somehow does not lend itself to the mouth, any more than the thought to the mind.
But Virginia was strongly attached by sentiment as well as interest to the Union. The birthplace of Washington, the mother of States, as well as of. presidents, "The Old Dominion," as she was called, and fondly loved to call herself, had never been affected by the nulli- fication heresies of South Carolina; and the long line of her eminent public men, though, in 1860, showing marked signs of a deteriora- ting standard, still retained a prominence in the national councils. If John B. Floyd was secretary of war, Winfield Scott was at the head of the army. Torn by conflicting feelings, Virginia, still cling- ing to the nation, was unwilling to sever her connection with it be- cause of the lawful election of an anti-slavery president, even by a distinctly sectional vote. For a time she even stayed the fast flood- ing tide of secession, bringing about a brief but important reaction. Those of us old enough to remember the drear and anxious winter which followed the election and preceded the inauguration of Lincoln, recall vividly the ray of bright hope which, in the midst of its deepest gloom, then came from Virginia. It was in early February. Up to that time the record was unbroken. Beginning with South Carolina on December 20, State after State, meeting in convention, had with significant unanimity passed ordinances of secession. Each succes- sive ordinance was felt to be equivalent to a renewed declaration of war. The outlook was dark indeed, and, amid the fast gathering gloom, all eyes, all thoughts, turned to Virginia. She represented the Border States; her action, it was felt, would largely influence, and might control theirs. John Letcher was then governor a States Rights Democrat, of course; but a Union man. By him the legis- lature of the State was called together in special session, and that legislature, in January, passed what was known as a convention bill. Practically Virginia was to vote on the question at issue. Events moved rapidly. South Carolina had seceded on December 20; Mississippi on January 8; Florida on the loth; Alabama on the nth; Georgia followed on the igth; Louisiana on the 26th, with Texas on February i. The procession seemed unending; the record un- broken. Not without cause might the now thoroughly frightened friends of the Union have exclaimed, with Macbeth
" What ! will the line stretch out to the crack of doom ?> Another yet? A seventh ?"
If at that juncture the Old Dominion by a decisive vote had fol- lowed in the steps of the cotton States, it implied consequences which