1861 ILLUSIONAL DELEGATES

ILLUSION – defined – an erroneous perception of reality; the state or condition of being deceived by such perceptions and beliefs. THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE [1979], page 656.

The grocery list of illusions held by the secessionist-advocating county delegates, at the 1861 North Carolina Secession Convention, is provided, in part, by Beaufort County delegate Richard Spaight Donnell in his 31 July 1863 letter to THE RALEIGH STANDARD (newspaper).
Another illusion advocated by secessionist delegates at the Convention, that he does not mention, was the notion that if the county delegates voted unananmiously for secession and joining the Confederacy, the Union government in Washington, DC would be deterred from starting a war to prevent their secession. The heart of Mr. Donnell’s list is provided at this site under “1863 ANGUISH AND WAR.”

A second, crucial illusion is that a Confederation of states, south of the Mason-Dixon line, had the resources and capacities equal to and/or superior to those of the United States of America. Wake County delegate, President of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1879 – 1891), and a historian, Kemp Plummer Battle, in his final writing on the perceptions of the county delegates that led them to secede and join the Confederacy, concludes that they were largely uninformed on the resources and power of the United States of America. This deficit in knowledge contributed to the delegates being more daring and less careful in their decisions. The relative assets and liabilities of the two countries, one existing, the other aspiring, was not an issue considered or debated at the 1861 Secession Convention. Also, the delegates did not discuss the Confederacy’s prospects of success if an extended war occurred, rather than a short one.

COUNTIES and DELEGATES AT THE 1861 NORTH CAROLINA SECESSION CONVENTION

Posted: 25 January 2011

Comments:

A majority of the county delegates were irreconcilable secessionist (at the time, some referred to them as “fire-eaters”) before the gavel rang down at 11 A.M. opening the North Carolina Secession Convention on 20 May 1861 in the House of Commons at Raleigh, NC. In all of the seceded Southern states, as North Carolina began its convention, their conventions had been simply a device used for secession. It was central for the secessionist to have the state legislature make the conventions political bodies with final authority on secession. By the time of North Carolina’s Convention met this method for secession had been refined into an efficient instrument of separation. Judah Benjamin, from his post on the Confederate cabinet and as an advisor to Jeff Davis, had a hand in writing the secession ordinance considered and passed by the North Carolina Convention. Mr. Benjamin sent his draft to Governor Ellis who called upon Burton Craige, the floor leader of the secessionist at the Convention and fellow resident of Rowan County, submitted the motion for a vote on 20 May 1861, the first day of the proceeding.

On the two most important issues, secession and joining the Confederacy, both agreed to on 20 May 1861, the North Carolina Convention was not a deliberative body. Secession had been predetermined by a political group, working in concert, including: [1] the secessionist leaders in the North Carolina legislature (comprised of 85% slave owners), [2] committed separatist delegates, [3] Confederate officials, especially Judah Benjamin, and [4] secessionist Governor John W. Ellis. Governor Ellis, with the cooperation of the legislature, was creating armed forces and the necessary production processes required to arm and fight a war, PRIOR to the first meeting of the 1861 Secessionist Convention.

The first agenda item, the selection of a Convention president reveals the overwhelming dominance of delegates committed to secession. Weldon Edwards, of Warren County, easily defeated William A. Graham, of Orange County, by a vote of 65 to 48. By a comfortable margin of seventeen votes, even if challenged, the hard shell secessionist had the votes to take North Carolina out of the Union. The forty eight votes, Mr. Edwards did not receive were not those of irreconcilable Union men. Rather, they were moderate-leaning secessionist easily pushed to vote for separation by the combination of [1] the formation of the Republican Party; [2] John Brown’s raid raising the specter of a slave insurrection, [3] Lincoln’s election and 15 April 1861 call for troops to put down the rebellion, and [4] sympathies with other Southern states who had already withdrawn from the Union. Only in a few mountain counties, like Madison County, was Unionism strong enough to form unshakable loyalties, like those found in Eastern Tennessee.

The iron commitment of Weldon Edwards to secession was well known. He had been elected President of the 1861 Goldsboro Convention, when many North Carolina counties gather to form a strategy for secession. It was clear, to all the county delegates, voting for President of the Convention that a vote for Edwards was a vote for secession.

On 21 May 1861, Rowan County delegate and Secessionist floor leader at the Convention, Burton Craige, offered that which has been agreed to by the county delegates:

“Resolved, That the President of the Convention cause a certified copy of the ordinance adopted by this Convention, on the 20th day of May, 1861, severing the connection of the State of North Carolina with the government of the late United States of America; and likewise a certified copy of the ordinance adopted on the same day, ratifying the Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States, to be transmitted to the President of the Confederate States of America.” [from page 26 of the Convention’s JOURNAL]

SYMBOLS and THEIR MEANING LISTED BELOW:

* County delegates present and voting for secession and joining the Confederacy on the first day of the Convention – 20 May 1861. One hundred and fifteen county delegates voted for secession and joining the Confederacy. These men are responsible for the intended and unintended consequences of their decisions.

+ County delegates present and voting, or stating how they would have voted if they had been present on the first day, on 21 March 1861. One hundered and twenty county delegates sign the parchment Secession Ordinance on this day. These men are responsible for the intended and unintended consequences of their decisions.

# Other men who served as county delegates after 21 March 1861, but who did not vote during the first two days of the Convention. Their role was primarily to work on the implementation of fighting a successful war against the United States of America. These men are responsible for the intended and unintended consequences of their decisions.

* DELEGATES PRESENT ON 20 MAY 1861
WHO VOTED FOR SECESSION AND
JOINING THE CONFEDERACY, ON THAT DAY

ALAMANCE COUNTY
*Thomas Ruffin [Edwards]
+Giles Mebane
[missed the first day votes on secession and joining the Confederacy; appear the following day 21 May 1861, requested that his vote for secession and joining the Confederacy be accepted; the body accepted his votes; signed the parchment Secession Ordinance on 21 May 1861; obviously, due to his subsequent voting at the Convention, he was a secure vote for Edwards at President of the Convention, if he had been present]

ALEXANDER COUNTY
*Azariah C. Stewart [Edwards]
#Alexander M. Bogle

ALLEGHANY AND ASHE COUNTIES
*Joel E. Foster [Graham]

ANSON COUNTY
*Albert Myers [Edwards]
+James A. Leak
[arrived on 21 May 1861, a day late, he requested, & the body accepted to read into the record that if he had been present on 20 May 1861, he would have voted for the Ordinance of Secession.

BEAUFORT COUNTY
*William J. Ellison [Graham]
*Edward J. Warren [Graham]
#Richard Spaight Donnell

BERTIE COUNTY
*Samuel B. Spruill [Graham]
*James Bond [Graham]

BLADEN COUNTY
*Thomas D. McDowell [Edwards]
#Neill Kelly

BRUNSWICK COUNTY
*Thomas D. Meares [Edwards]

BUNCOMBE COUNTY
*Nicholas W. Woodfin [Graham]

BURKE COUNTY
*John C. McDowell [Edwards]

CABARRUS COUNTY
*Caleb Phifer [Edwards]

CALDWELL COUNTY
*Edmund Walter Jones [Graham]

CAMDEN COUNTY
*Dennis D. Ferebee [Graham]

CARTERET COUNTY
*Charles R. Thomas [Graham]

CASWELL COUNTY
*Bedford Brown [Edwards]
*John A. Graves [Edwards]
#James E. Williamson

CATAWBA COUNTY
*Polycarp C. Henkel [Edwards]
#George Sitzer

CHATHAM COUNTY
*James H. Headen [Graham]
*John Manning, Jr. [Graham]
*Leonidas J. Merritt [Graham]

CHEROKEE COUNTY
*Allen T. Davidson [Graham]
#J. H. Bryson

CHOWAN COUNTY
+Richard Dillard
[arrives late on 21 March 1861, is seated and Delegate Dillard had it read into the record that if he had been present on 20 May 1861, he would have voted for the Ordinance of Secession.

CLEVELAND COUNTY
*WIlliam J. T. Miller [Edwards]
*James W. Tracy [Edwards]

COLUMBUS COUNTY
*Richard Wooten [Edwards]

CRAVEN COUNTY
*George Green [Edwards]
*John D. Whitford [Edwards]

CUMBERLAND COUNTY
*David McNeill [Edwards]
*Warren Winslow [Edwards]
#M. J. McDuffie

CURRITUCK COUNTY
*Henry H. Shaw [Edwards]
#John B. Jones
#Daniel M. Lindsay

DAVIDSON COUNTY
*Benton C. Douthitt [Graham]
*Benjamin A. Kittrell [Graham]

DAVIE COUNTY
*Robert Sprouse [Graham]

DUPLIN COUNTY
*William J. Houston [Edwards]
*James T. Rhodes [Edwards]
#James Dickson

EDGECOMBE [also representing WILSON COUNTY]
*William Smith Battle [Edwards]
*George Howard, Jr. [Edwards]

FORSYTH COUNTY
*Rufus L. Patterson [Graham]
*Thomas J. Wilson [Graham]
#Darius H. Starbuck

FRANKLIN COUNTY
*Archibald D. Williams [Edwards]

GASTON COUNTY
*Sidney X. Johnston [Edwards]

GATES COUNTY
*Alfred J. Walton [Graham]

GRANVILLE COUNTY
*Tazewell L. Hargrove [Edwards]
*Abraham W. Venable [Edwards]
*Stephen S. Royster [Edwards]
#Thomas B. Lyon

GREENE COUNTY
*William A. Darden, Sr. [Edwards]

GUILFORD COUNTY
*John A. Gilmer [Graham]
*Robert P. Dick [Graham]
+Ralph Gorrell
[seated as a delegate on 21 May1861] Delegate Gorrell had it read into the record that if he had been present on 20 May 1861, he would have voted for the Ordinance of Secession.

HALIFAX COUNTY
*Richard H. Smith [Edwards]
*Charles J. Gee [Edwards]; replaced, on 21 May 1861, by L. W. Batchelor;
+Littleberry W. Batchelor
had it read into the record that if he had been present on 20 May 1861, he would have voted for the Ordinance of Secession.

HARNETT COUNTY
*Archibald S. McNeill [Graham]

HAYWOOD COUNTY
*William Hicks [Edwards]

HENDERSON COUNTY
*William M. Shipp [Graham]

HERTFORD COUNTY
*Kenneth Rayner [Edwards]

HYDE COUNTY
*Edward L. Mann [Graham]

IREDELL COUNTY
*Anderson Mitchell [Graham]
*Thomas A. Allison [Graham]

JACKSON COUNTY
*William H. Thomas [Graham]

JOHNSTON COUNTY
*Claudius B. Sanders [Graham]
*William A. Smith [Graham]

JONES COUNTY
*William Foy [Edwards]

LENIOR COUNTY
*John C. Washington [Edwards]

LINCOLN COUNTY
*William Lander [Edwards]
#David Schenck

MACON COUNTY
*Conrad D. Smith [Graham]

MADISON COUNTY
*Joseph A. McDowell [Edwards]

MARTIN COUNTY
*Asa Biggs [Edwards]
*Warren Bagley [1801 – 1878]

McDOWELL COUNTY
*James H. Greenlee [Edwards]

MECKLENBURG COUNTY
*William Johnston [Edwards]
*James W. Osborne [Edwards]
#Pinckney Cotesworth Caldwell [2 Aug 1802 – 26 Jan 1865] – hard schell secessionist.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY
*Samuel H. Christian [Graham]

MOORE COUNTY
*Hector Turner [Graham]

NASH COUNTY
*Archibald Hunter Arrington [Edwards]
#Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Battle [22 Feb 1830 – 10 May 1897]

NEW HANOVER COUNTY
*William S. Ashe [Edwards]
*Robert H. Cowan [Edwards]
#Robert Strange [27 July 1823 – 24 June 1877]
#John L. Holmes [4 Nov 1826 – 20 Sept 1886]

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY
*David A. Barnes [Graham]
*John M. Moody [Edwards]

ONSLOW COUNTY
*Edward W. Ward [Edwards]
#Andrew Jackson Murrill [20 May 1819 – 4 July 1889]

ORANGE COUNTY
*William A. Graham [Present, Not Voting]
*John Berry [Graham]

PASQUOTANK
*Rufus K. Speed [Graham]

PERQUIMANS
*Joseph S. Cannon [Graham]

PERSON COUNTY
* John W. Cunningham [Edwards]

PITT COUNTY
*Bryan Grimes, Jr. [Edwards]
*Fenner B. Satterthwaite [Edwards]
#Peyton A. Atkinson

RANDOLPH COUNTY
*William J. Long [Graham]
*Alfred G. Foster [Graham]

RICHMOND COUNTY
*Walter F. Leak
[Edwards, in fact, he nominated Edwards for Convention President]

ROBESON COUNTY
*John P. Fuller [Edwards]
*John C. Sutherland [Edwards]

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY
*David S. Reid [Edwards]
*Edward T. Broadax [Edwards]

ROWAN COUNTY
*Burton Craige [Edwards]
*Hamilton C. Jones [Graham]
#Richard A. Caldwell [24 Aug 1827 – 10 July 1882]

RUTHERFORD COUNTY and POLK COUNTY
*Jason H. Carson [Edwards]
*Micajah Durham [Edwards]
#George Washington Michal [9 Oct 1825 – 11 Jan 1892]

SAMPSON COUNTY
*Thomas Bunting [Edwards]
*Robert A. Moseley [Edwards]

STANLY COUNTY
*Eben Hearne [Graham]

STOKES COUNTY
*John Hill [Edwards]
#Alexander Hamilton Joyce [23 Feb 1827 – ]

SURRY COUNTY
*Thomas V. HAMLIN [Edwards]

TYRRELL COUNTY
*Eli Spruill [Graham]

UNION COUNTY
*Hugh M. Houston [Edwards]

WAKE COUNTY
*George E. Badger [Graham]
, on 21 May 1861, Delegate Badger had it read into the record that if he had been present on 20 May 1861, he would have voted for the Ordinance of Secession.
*Kemp Plummer Battle [Graham]
*William W. Holden [Graham]

WARREN COUNTY
*Francis A. Thornton [Edwards]
*Weldon Edwards [Present, not voting]

WASHINGTON COUNTY
*William S. Pettigrew [Graham]

WATAUGA COUNTY
*James W. Councill [Graham]

WAYNE COUNTY
*George V. Strong [Edwards]
*Ervin A. Thompson [Edwards]

WILKES COUNTY
*James Calloway [Graham]
*Peter Eller [Graham]

YADKIN COUNTY
*Robert F. Armfield [Graham]

YANCEY COUNTY
*Milton P. Penland [Edwards]

All correspondence, including additions and corrections, should be emailed to: civilwar.nash.wilson.counties@gmail.com

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