|Gov. Henry A. Wise of Virginia, favored secession|
There was a hum of excitement, but also an air of dread as, 150 years ago today, delegates to the Virginia State Convention gathered to consider whether or not to break away from the United States of America.
At first, there was every reason to believe they would not.
... [Governor Wise] and the other radicals called for a vote and on April 4 were soundly whipped. The first secession attempt was defeated 90 to 45.
But that was to change only eight days later. On April 12, Confederate batteries in Charleston opened fire on Fort Sumter, forcing the evacuation of federal forces. Though no one was killed, the country was suddenly at war.
Still desperate for peace, the convention on April 15 sent a three-member delegation to meet with Lincoln. He was curt with them, and no wonder. He was about to call up 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion, including recruits from still-loyal border states.
That did it. White southerners against white southerners? The delegates to the convention – still in session – stampeded to the secessionist side."