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the people rejected them, so that Virginia is now in a condition of revolution, and in alliance with the Confederate government so long as the war may last, but at its termination is entirely free of all connection with them, if their independence shall be established, in which event she will legally be standing alone, free to form whatever future associations she may think fit.
THE RATIFICATION OF THE ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.
But to return. My own case will illustrate the condition of things in Richmond. I had resolved to cast my vote against the ordinance if it were the last I should ever be permitted to give. For the first time in my life I had armed myself to repel any rudeness or indecorum that might be exhibited toward me. When a number of my friends appealed to me in the most forcible manner not to go to the polls, that they did not believe it would be safe for me to do so, I replied that, let the danger be what it might, I was resolved to vote, and that I would not hesitate to shoot down any man who might dare to show me indignity, they said, if I did vote they would stand by me, as my friends generally would, but it would probably involve the whole city in a scene of bloodshed ever to be deplored. I finally suffered myself to be dissuaded from exercising my right as a citizen of Virginia, which I have regretted and been ashamed of to this day. The truth is, the vote throughout the state, with the exception of some few counties bordering on the Potomac and in the northwest, was a perfect farce. Thousands voted for it who were as much opposed to it at heart as I was, through fear of the consequences; tens of thousands did not vote at all, while others, again, very naturally inquired, what is the use of voting against it, when we are in actual war, and can not get out of it by any vote we can give? That there was a large majority of the votes polled in favor of the ordinance, I suppose there can be no doubt, but that is all we have been permitted to know about it; what proportion of the vote of the state was given, and what withheld, is known only to those who have chosen to keep it to themselves.* I do not suspect the authorities here of having done quite as bad as they did in Louisiana, where the vote was actually falsified, and declared to have been in favor of the ordinance, while, in truth, as was afterward ascertained, it was against it; but still, the studied concealment shows there was something wrong about it that the authorities did not care to have
* March, 1866.--I find, by reference to M‘Pherson's History of the Rebellion, the vote is reported as one hundred and twenty-eight thousand eight hundred and eighty-four for secession, and thirty-two thousand one hundred and thirty-four against it, making an aggregate of one hundred and sixty-one thousand and eighteen; but where this vote came from, except from the army that had been introduced into the state, it would be difficult to tell. The largest vote ever given in Virginia was in the Presidential election in 1860, when there were four candidates, and then one hundred and sixty-seven thousand four hundred and three votes were polled, while the vote on secession was very generally looked upon as a farce; and it would not be hazardous to say that there were from seventyfive to one hundred thousand votes in the state not given. I recollect very well that for a few days the vote was published as it came in; and from a small number of counties in the northwestern portion of the state bordering on Maryland and Pennsylvania, where the vote was more numerous than in any other part, the vote fell short from six to ten thousand; while in the city of Richmond, that could have given some fifteen hundred against secession, only two votes were given against the ordinance; and in Norfolk, where large bodies of troops were stationed, one regiment, commanded by the then Colonel Roger A. Pryor, was said to have been dismissed from the service because it was found they were voting against the ordinance. What a contemptible farce on free suffrage it was!
disclosed. If any one outside of the official circles has ever been able to ascertain the vote, I have been so unfortunate as never to have found him.
And now, if another outrage so flagitious has ever been practiced upon a people claiming or professing to be free, if another instance of such gross abuse of power can be presented, or that has been so tamely and weakly submitted to, I would be thankful to have it pointed out, for there is nothing within my knowledge that will stand in comparison with it.
MR. BOTTS'S EFFORTS TO PREVENT CIVIL WAR.
Finding that the labor of my life had been spent in vain, and that the South had been plunged into hopeless and inextricable ruin unless the hostilities between the parties could be speedily checked, and believing it would terminate in one of the most bloody and ferocious contests that history had recorded, I immediately set to work in an earnest endeavor to bring about a peaceful solution of this difficulty. I at once opened a correspondence with the Attorney General of the United States, Mr. Bates, urging him, with all the force and persuasion I could command, to exert his influence with Mr. Lincoln to recommend at once the call of a national convention to amend the Constitution, so as to give to those states that did not want to remain in the Union leave to withdraw. I would not have had the general government, under any condition of circumstances that could have arisen, to recognize the right of secession, because that would at once have annihilated all hope of ever establishing another permanent, enduring government on this continent again, but to give them leave to withdraw, and thereby save all the Border States, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, and North Carolina to the old government, and confining the withdrawal to the Cotton States, which states had produced all the mischief; and then, if there was to be a war growing out of the navigation of the Mississippi River or any other cause, it would have been a foreign and not a civil war, in which it would have been impossible for any Border State to have participated with the Gulf or foreign States without a confession of treason; and if they did not speedily repent of their folly, and seek admission into the Union, then to administer a little of their favorite medicine in the form of a pill from the “Ostend Manifesto" or a bolus taken from the Monroe doctrine.
But this proposition gave satisfaction to neither party; it led to quite an angry correspondence with Mr. Bates; and the Southern extremists were extreme in their denunciation of the suggestions, because in my first letter (which at the carnest entreaty of some of my friends I permitted to be published) I admitted the superiority of the Federal gorernment in all the appliances of war, which they were by no means prepared to concede; and some of their papers were silly enough to charge me with giving information to the United States government of its own power and strength, as if I was not indebted to the statistics furnished by them for all the information I had on the subject, and under this ridiculous accusation a vast deal of violent excitement was created against me. As a mere sample of the feeling existing, I select one extract from the Richmond Whig published about that time; and from this miserable specimen of bad taste and worse judgment, of weak, absurd, and childish braggadocio, may be inferred the general feeling that pervaded all classes at that day, for this bombast was regarded as an unmistakable indication of true manliness and elevated patriotism.
“ The vaunts and threats of the Yankees to invade and
subjugate us have been widely proclaimed, and are known. to all the world. They can not eat their words without adding a new infamy to the Yankee name. They are already justly reputed to be bigoted, Puritanic, hypocritical, penurious, envious, and cross-grained, but we were willing to accord them a vulgar brute courage. They will lose this
. if they don't fight. But fight they must, for the credit of the American name. They have blustered and bullied too much to be permitted to beat a retreat now. They have a Virginia general to plan their campaigns and marshal their forces, and, if they let him alone, he will lead them where they will be peppered; but they must not raise the cry of treachery against him by way of pretext for dodging the fight. We tell them frankly and candidly they must fight, they shall fight; there is no other escape from unutterable shame."
This was the feeling that existed at the beginning of the war; how sadly this tune will be changed, and how they will sue and pray for peace before it ends, you and I nay live to see.
But as another specimen of the madness of the hour, and to show what desperate and despicable means were resorted to for the purpose of enforcing the gag on all men's mouths, I select one from the Richmond Dispatch at that time:
66 Tories and Traitors. We have heard, though we can scarcely credit the statement, that there are men in some parts of Virginia who are endeavoring to paralyze the war spirit of the state by circulating slanders as infamous as that gotten up at the beginning of the troubles about the $16 tax on Carolina negroes. Among other things, they recklessly assert that there was no fleet sent to Charleston for the purpose of re-enforcing Fort Sumter, and that therefore the attack upon that fort was wholly unnecessary.