To the People of
North-Western Virginia

Kingwood Chronicle
May 25, 1861

In obedience to 13th resolution of the Convention, which met in Wheeling, on the 13th inst., we earnestly conjure you to enter actively and immediately upon the great work of preparing your neighbors and friends, as well as yourselves, for the firm, stern and decided stand necessary to be taken and adhered at all hazards, and maintained at any and every cost, if we would preserve to ourselves and transmit to our posterity, that unity of government which constitutes us one people, which we justly regard as the palladium of our liberties and the main pillar in the edifice of our independence. In this way, and this way alone, we can save ourselves from the innumerable evils consequent upon secession and all the horrors of civil war.

Why shall the citizens of North Western Virginia allow themselves to be dragged in the rebellion inaugurated by ambitious and heartless men, who have banded themselves together to destroy a government formed for you by your patriot fathers, and which has secured to you all the liberties consistent with the nature of man, and has, for near three-fourths of a century, sheltered you in sunshine and in storm, made you the admiration of the civilized world, and conferred upon you a title more honored, respected and revered than that of Potentate or King-the title of an American citizen. Will you passively surrender it and submit to be used by the conspirators engaged in this effort to enslave you, as their instruments by which your enslavement is to be effected?

Freemen who would, remain free, must prove themselves worthy to be free, and must themselves first strike the blow.

What is secession? A deed not to be accomplished in the broad glare of a noon day sun, but a deed of darkness, which had to be performed in secret conclave, by the reckless spirits who accomplished it, in contempt of the people, their masters under our form of government, but who the leaders in this work of destruction have determined to enslave.

What is secession? Bankruptcy, ruin, civil war, ending in a military despotism. Prior to the adoption of the Ordinance of Secession in Virginia, and at the passage by the Legislature of the bill calling a Convention, all was peace, and the great business interests of our State were uninterrupted. From the hour that it was proclaimed the Ordinance of Secession had been passed, business of every description has been paralyzed, State, corporation and individual credit is prostrate, and bankruptcy and ruin stare us in the face, and war, civil war, with all its attendant horrors, is upon us. Secession all now see, is war. It is preceded by war, accompanied and sustained by war, ushered into being by war.

Who are to stand the brunt of this contest? Will it be those who have clamored loudest for secession, and who have done the most to bring on the present crisis? These are the first to flee from the very approach of danger. They hurry in every train and by every coach from the anticipated sense of disturbance. Will the disunion majority of the Richmond Convention, come into the ranks and shoulder the musket in the strife which they have inaugurated? They will keep at a respectful distance from danger.- They will fill the lucrative offices and secure the rich appointments which appertain to the new order of things. They will luxuriate on two or three or four hundred dollars per month, with horse, and servants, and rations to match, while the Union-loving people will be called upon, for the honor of Virginia and two shillings per day, to do the fighting and undergo the hardships of war. We are all Virginians, say they, the State must be sustained and right or wrong, we must all fight for Virginia, &c.

What is it to fight for Virginia? What is it to sustain the State? Is it to urge her upon a course which leads to visible and gaping destruction? Is this the way in which we can testify our devotion to the Common wealth? If those feelings which actuated our Revolutionary Fathers be not all dead in us, we shall exhibit our love for Virginia, by repudiating this tyrannical rule which the Richmond Convention has endeavored to impose, and suffer not ourselves to be sold like sheep from the shambles. The people yet hold their destinies in their own hands it is for them to accept or reject tyranny, worse many times, than that from which the war of76 delivered us-not the tyranny of one man, but of many.

But, people of North Western Virginia, why should we thus permit ourselves to be tyrannized over, and made slaves of, by the haughty arrogance and wicked machinations of would-be Eastern Depots. Are we submissionists, craven cowards, who will yield to daring ambition, the rich legacy of Freedom, which we have inherited from our fathers, or are we men who know our rights, and knowing, dare maintain them? If we are, we will resist the usurpers and drive from our midst the rebellion sought to be forced upon us. We will, in the strength of our cause, resolutely and determinedly stand by our rights and our liberties secured to us by the struggles of our Revolutionary Fathers, and the authors of the Constitution under which we have grown and prospered beyond all precedent in the worlds history. We will maintain, protect and defend the Constitution and the Union and all our strength, and with all our powers, ever remembers that Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. We utterly repudiate the war sought to be forced upon us without and against the consent and earnest protestations of the people who have, we regret to say, thus offered no resistance, but have submitted to the filling up of armies and the quartering of troops in their midst; taking for the purpose our young men who had, in a time of peace, and with no expectation of ever being called upon to aid in a rebellion, attached themselves to the volunteer corps of our state. The people, stunned by the magnitude of the crime, have, for a time, offered no resistance, but as returning reason enables them to perceive distinctly the objects and purposes of the vile perpetrators of this deed, their hearts swell within them, and already the cry has gone up from our mountains and our vallies, Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

Let us urge you then, that our resistance may be effectual, to act in the spirit of the Resolutions here appended, adopted by the Convention, whose Committee we are. Let all our ends be directed to the creation of an organized resistance to the despotism of the tyrants, who have been in session in Richmond, and who are soon to re-assemble, that we may maintain our position in the Union under the flag of our common country, which has for so many years waved gracefully and protectingly over us, and which, when we behold upon it s ample folds the stripes and the stars of Freedom, causes our bosoms to glow with patriotic heat, and our hearts to swell with honest love of country. That this flag the symbol of our might, challenges our admiration, and justly claims our every effort against those who have dared to desecrate and dishonor it, we all admit. Let us then see that we take the proper measures to make effectual those efforts. The Convention to assemble on the 11th proximo, is looked to organize our action. Its importance, its necessity, will at once strike your minds; take immediate steps therefore to secure for your representatives in the Convention, your most determined, resolute, temperate and wisest then. We have already detained you too long, the time for action, prompt, firm and decided has come. In the hope that our section will be that of a united people, we take leave of you, confidently calculating that you will give your body, soul, strength, mind, and all the energies of your nature to the work of saving your country from becoming the theater of a bloody war, brought upon you without your consent and against your will. Let us show Mr. Ex-Secretary Cobb, now President of the Montgomery Congress, that we are not willing to recognize the transfer of us made by the Richmond Convention nor do we intend to allow our borders as he says they will be, to be made the theater of this war.

Fellow citizens, we ask you to read and ponder well the passage from Mr. Cobbs Speech we recite:

The people of the Gulf States need have no apprehension; they might go on with their planting and their other business as usual, the war would not come to their sections its THEATER WOULD BE ALONG THE BORDERS OF THE OHIO RIVER AND IN VIRGINIA.

The Convention between Virginia and the confederate States, by which the control of all military operations is placed in the hands of President Davis, insures this result.

Fellow-citizens these are times when we must not stop to count sacrifices and costs, where honor and character, and self-preservation are put in issue. The patriot and sage, Daniel Webster, in a speech delivered at Washington, in 1851, at the laying of thee corner stone of the addition to the Capitol, spoke as follows:

Ye men of the Blue Ridge, many thousands of whom are nearer to this capitol than the seat of Government of your own State, what do you think of breaking up this great association into fragments of States and of people? I know that some of you; and I believe that you all, would be almost as much shocked at the announcement of such a catastrophe, as if you were informed that the Blue Ridge itself would soon totter from the base-and ye men of Western Virginia, who occupy the slope from the Alleghenies to Ohio to yourselves by disunion? If you secede, what do you secede from; and what do you accede to? Do you look for the current of the Ohio to change and to bring you and your commerce to the tide waters of Eastern rivers? What man in his senses can suppose that you would remain part and parcel of Virginia a month after Virginia had ceased to be a part and parcel of the United States.

Fellow-citizens of North Western Virginia, the issue is with you. Your destiny is in your own hands. If you are worthy descendants of worthy sirs you will ralley to the defense of your liberties, and the Constitution which has protected and blessed you will still extend over you its protecting Regis. If you hesitate or falter all of it lost, and you and your children to the latest posterity are destined to perpetual slavery.


Chapter Six: Ratification of the Ordinance of Secession

A State of Convenience

West Virginia Archives and History