The very moment that blood is shed, Old Virginia will make common cause with her sisters of the South. Pryor, it seems, was right about everything except the efficient workings of the Shrewsbury clock. The parade then snaked its way to the offices of the Richmond Enquirer, whose fire-eating editor delivered an impromptu address to the throng.
They got him, but they could not have been pleased. Long a union man, the thin, bald, bespectacled John Letcher — whose wife and he were, ironically, at that moment hosting Sara Pryor, the wife of Roger, who was still in Charleston, basking in the afterglow of victory with his sword — stepped outside and sternly instructed the crowd to go put the cannons back where they found them. Denied a bravura ending to the evening by the governor, the crowd devised one of its own.
- Peoria Speech, October 16, 1854.
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They stormed the capitol building and scaled its roof, where they raised the confederate flag. After more boisterous singing and speechmaking, the crowd drifted off. Simply put, the secessionist faction had determined that regardless of what the convention voted to do, Virginia was going to join the Confederacy. Led by Henry Wise, the former governor, whose fierce eyes and scowling mouth suggest the visage of an eagle, secessionists plotted the usurpation of Letcher.
Wise felt no such scruples, and commanded that the facilities be taken on the morrow. The blithe willingness of Ashby and his fellow plotters to jettison the niceties of democratic elections and help turn Henry Wise into a Julius Caesar-like dictator never had to withstand much of a challenge. The very next morning, before the session of convention where secession would again be considered, Wise notified Letcher that a plan was afoot to seize the armory, and Letcher yielded in the face of the fait accompli.
Shortly thereafter, at the Secession Convention, Wise was recognized. Despite the fact that what he said was untrue — the armory would not be taken for another few days, and then only after federal troops had torched it — the appearance of a pistol and the announcement of imminent hostilities shocked the delegates.
A few continued to object, but it was all for naught.
Historical Author Bob O'Connor – Author, Historian, and Speaker
Events were in the saddle, and Virginians needed to back Virginians. By a vote of 88 to 55, the convention reversed its earlier decision and seceded from the United States, with many a brokenhearted union man providing the margin of victory. At a public rally that evening, the former president John Tyler stood with Governor de jure Letcher and Governor de facto Wise and sanctified the decision. Now the federal capital sits across the Potomac from a belligerent Virginia, under the gaze of an ominous Arlington heights, defended by perhaps 1, men.
There is a rumor that President Davis is en route from Montgomery at the head of a mighty Confederate army, but the Confederate army has no troops. He has, however, urged Gov. Pickens to send some of the many South Carolina militia brigades in Charleston north to capture Washington, but Pickens believes such an act should be undertaken by men from Virginia and Maryland.
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