"The most enthusiastic joy"
Alexandria Gazette, May 1, 1861.
News of the Virginia Convention's adoption of an Ordinance of Secession on April 17, produced a celebration at Franklin's county seat (later called Rocky Mount). In the February 4, 1861, election of two delegates to the Virginia Convention, voters in Franklin County, in the southern Piedmont, cast 1,536 votes for Jubal A. Early, and 1,527 votes for Peter Saunders, both of whom opposed secession. Their three opponents received 477 votes, 292 votes, and 134 votes, respectively. Early voted against secession on April 4 and again on April 17, but he signed the Ordinance of Secession and later became a general in the Confederate army. Saunders missed most of the convention because of illness. He asked that it be noted in the journal that had he been present on April 4 he would have voted against secession. In June 1861, he, too, signed the Ordinance. On May 23, 1861, in the ratification referendum on the Ordinance of Secession, 1,787 Franklin County men voted for secession, and 3 voted against.