"This Conference must act"
Excerpts from speech of George William Summers in the national Peace Conference in Washington, D.C., on February 19, 1861, printed in L. E. Chittenden, A Report of the Debates and Proceedings in the Secret Sessions of the Conference Convention, for Proposing Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, Held at Washington, D.C., in February, A.D. 1861 (New York, 1864), 151, 153–154.
George William Summers, of Kanawha County, was one of five Virginia representatives in the national Peace Conference that met in Washington, D.C., from February 4, through February 27, 1861. A strong opponent of secession, Summers acknowledged that the incoming administration of Abraham Lincoln alarmed many people in Virginia. "The people of that State are full of anxiety," he told the other delegates on February 19. "They fear that the new administration has designs which it will carry into execution, fatal to their rights and interests. They are for the Union, provided their rights can be secured; provided, they can have proper and honorable guarantees."