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Posts Tagged ‘War Between The States’

One hundred and fifty years ago today, delegates from around the Virginia voted to withdraw the state from the United States of America.

Now, unlike the states of the Deep South, Virginia did not leave the Union once Abraham Lincoln was elected President.  Instead, it first sought a nonviolent solution to the disagreements plaguing the nation through the Peace Conference of 1861.  However, the conference proved to be a failure, as it did not satisfy hardliners in either the North or the South.

Although it might come as surprising news, the first time Virginia delegates met to consider the question of secession, on April 4th, 1861, the idea failed by a vote of 45 in favor with 90 opposed.  Later events changed public opinion.  With the capture of Fort Sumter on April 13th, Lincoln called for troops from each loyal state to crush the rebellion.  According to D.C., Virginia’s commitment to the war effort was to be 2,340 men, but Governor Letcher refused to honor this request/demand.  Taking in mind these new developments, by a vote of 88 to 55, state delegates adopted the ordinance of secession.  On May 23rd of that same year, Virginia voters overwhelming approved the idea with 132,201 in favor and 37,451 against.

Although Virginia did not choose to withdraw from the Union in late 1860 or early 1861, they clearly recognized the right of their southern brethren to do so.  Only when asked to take up arms against the states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, did they finally reject the Union.  Although we are free to argue about the motives of Virginians, perhaps they realized that a nation tyrannically held together through the force of arms destroyed the concepts of the Republic, the freedoms they cherished, and the original purpose of the war of independence from Great Britain.

With the anniversary of this document, I believe it would serve all Virginians to reflect upon it.  Not only should one pause to consider the causes of secession, but also the causes and terrible costs of the resulting war.

This copy currently hangs in the Capitol Building in Richmond, VA

Given that the original is a bit difficult to read here, the text is as follows:

AN ORDINANCE

To Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This Ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia

JNO. L. EUBANK,
Sec’y of Convention.

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One of the most frustrating aspects of being a Virginian, a conservative, and a Southerner is the persistent and mistaken notion that we are nothing more than a bunch of backwards racists who long for a return to the days of slavery and keeping minorities “in their place”.  However, for a great many of us nothing could be farther from the truth.  To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I believe that a person ought to be judged by the content of his or her character, not the color of his or her skin.  Therefore, regardless of whether it would benefit or hinder me, I strongly oppose using race to determine rights, employment, or political representation.

Although I would be nothing short of a boldfaced liar if I were to say that racists and racism did not exist in the South, I have found that it is no more a widespread epidemic in my adventures in the region than it is in either the Northeast or Southwest.

And yet, due in part to the chivalrous and false notion that the Civil War (or more accurately called the War Between the States) was fought entirely over slavery, some of those in the North to this day hold the erroneous viewpoint that they are more civilized and righteous than their barbarous neighbors to the South.  For that reason along with the memory of “southern” Jim Crow laws (which existed decades before I was born and manifest themselves in some facet in most states in the Union), so much of the South, Virginia included, is penalized to this very day.

As you can see, a vast majority of Virginia is under electoral supervision.

The Justice Department requires us to create gerrymandered districts like the 3rd congressional district of Virginia due to supposed racial prejudice.

So is Virginia a heavily segregated state?  Recently, one of my friends shared a Salon article that listed the 10 most segregated urban areas in America.  Guess how many were in the South.  That’s right.  Zero (or one, if you count the state of Missouri).  Counting from ten to one we have:  Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, New York, and Milwaukee.   But really, what does it matter?  If a government were segregating people, I would clearly object to such a practice.  On the other hand, if a person of his or her own free will chooses to live in communities of primarily one race or another, should the government take an active role to correct this supposed problem?  Absolutely not.

De jure segregation, like “separate but equal”, is a blight upon humanity.  De facto segregation, either done consciously or unconsciously, is just people exercising their rights to live where they choose.  Now to change this issue, should the city, state, or feds forcibly uproot families and individuals from Milwaukee and the surrounding counties and mix them together to create more racially diverse communities?  I would dread to see a government with such a grotesque amount of power.

Of course, maybe my opinions are in the minority here.  After all, according to the above map, I’m from the “racially enlightened” Shenandoah Valley.  That must explain it.  We all know that a majority of Virginians are just plain ignorant and hostile when it comes to race.  But thanks to the Voting Rights Act, these huge pockets of racists are not only separated from the rest of the nation, but also treated unequally under the law.  But it’s OK because we just can’t trust the rest of the Virginians outside the specially designated zones!

Although I firmly believe skin color should not be a defining characteristic, for those who consider Southerners horrible racists, need I remind you that Virginia was the first state to elect a black Governor?  Just for fun let’s compare Virginia to our neighboring state to the west that until his recent death kept electing a Senator who was once a member of the KKK.  As West Virginia isn’t under the same burden as our Commonwealth, that must mean that by comparison Byrd was never a racist nor were any of the people who put him in office!

Anyway, with the 150th anniversary of the war fast approaching, I wanted to share with you a recent video from Jack Hunter addressing this issue.  Enjoy!

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