"Virginia should step forth to-day"
Speech of John Randolph Chambliss in the Virginia Convention, March 4, 1861, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines, Jr., eds., Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:347–348.
At the very hour that Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated president of the United States on March 4, 1861, Delegate John Randolph Chambliss, of Greensville County, urged Virginia to secede from the Union. "Abolition fanaticism," he explained, made it impossible for Virginia slaveowners to live in a country where they could not take their property where they wished, meaning that they could not take slaves into the western territories or into free states without the risk of losing them. Chambliss believed that there was no hope for compromise and denounced the national Peace Conference that had adjourned five days earlier. Wishing to unite Virginia with the other slave states that had already seceded, Chambliss announced that "there is no power on this earth, there is no connection, there is no state of circumstances that will induce me to go into a Convention of any description with the people of the non-slaveholding States upon this question."