Skip to main content


Autobiography of Eppa Hunton

Autobiography of Eppa Hunton

During this period, up to 1860, 1 had practiced my profession at Brentsville, with some success. I got a good practice and accumulated property. Excitement sometime before had begun to run very high between the North and the South. The question of slavery was the exciting cause. The North had the largest territory and the greatest population, and became very violent against the South on the question of slavery. Seward, one of the leading statesmen of the North, declared that this Union could not exist one-half slave and the other half free. Scenes of turmoil and violence occurred in both houses of Congress, and the patriotic and peace-loving man looked forward with the utmost dread to the future.

In 1860, the Democratic Party, which had been a unit up to that time and had always managed to hold the balance of power, was divided upon the "free-soil" question. The Party met in convention at Charleston, South Carolina, April 23, 1860, and was divided between Douglas and Breckinridge—Douglas representing the Northern "Free-Soil" wing, and Breckinridge the "States-Right" wing of the Party. Violent scenes occurred in the convention, and finally it was disrupted. Then two conventions were held, one in Baltimore, which nominated Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, and the other in Richmond, which nominated John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky. The old Whig Party in convention nominated John Bell, of Tennessee. The Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois. These candidates were all men of great ability. Lincoln was a rough man, and was called the "Illinois Rail Splitter." He was one of the most vulgar men that ever attained high position in the United States.

It soon became apparent that there was great danger of the election of Abraham Lincoln, owing to the division in the Democratic Party. This increased the intense feeling between the sections. The people in many of the Southern States declared in convention assembled that they would not remain in the Union if the country elected a sectional president. I was elector on the Breckinridge ticket and actively canvassed the State of Virginia in the interest of that wing of the Democratic Party.

At that time my wife became ill. She seemed to be suffering with neuralgia of the liver, and subject to violent attacks of pain. These attacks continued with more or less violence until 1862. They interfered a good deal with my activity in politics. I was very devoted to my wife, and she to me, and when she was ill I wanted to be with her, and she desired my presence. Abraham Lincoln was elected on November 6, 1860. Although he got only a minority of the popular vote he got a majority of the electoral vote. The country from the Potomac to the Rio Grande was at once convulsed with excitement. Several of the "Cotton States" took early action for secession. James Buchanan was the President. He was a good man, but timid. After the "Cotton States" had all withdrawn from the Union they formed the Confederate States government at Montgomery, Alabama, with Jefferson Davis as President, and sent Commissioners to Washington to treat with the Buchanan administration for recognition as a nation. Mr. Buchanan promised time and again that he would recognize them, but his timidity interfered, and he postponed it until his term as President expired.

In the meantime Virginia had not taken any steps. Up to the 1st of January, 1861, she had made no movement towards secession. Soon thereafter the Legislature, then in extra session, passed a law calling for a convention to determine the course of Virginia in the premises. The election was to take place February 4, 1861. I declared myself a candidate for this convention. Mr. Allen Howison, a very estimable Whig gentleman of the county, was a candidate against me. I was for immediate secession. Mr. Howison was unconditionally for the Union. I published a card in which I took the ground that I was for immediate secession for the sake of the Union. Elaborating my position I argued that if  Virginia would go out of the Union, at once, followed by some of the border states, the movement would be so formidable that the United States Government would not make war upon the Confederate States, but that the doctrine which was held by a great many Northern people, to "Let the erring sisters go in peace," would be adopted even by the Lincoln Administration; and that when war was avoided reconstruction would take place between the North and the South on terms satisfactory to both sides, and permanent. Of course my theory was but a theory, but I have always thought that if war could have been avoided by an early secession of all the Southern States, reconstruction would have taken place satisfactory to both sides and permanent. I was elected to the Convention by a large majority over Mr. Howison.

Eppa Hunton, Autobiography of Eppa Hunton (Richmond: The William Byrd Press, 1930), 9-11.


Popular posts from this blog

Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag

Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag

[The facts concerning the origin of the battle flag contained in this article are derived from a speech by General Beauregard before a special meeting of Louisiana Division, Army of Northern Virginia Association, December 6, 1878.—EDITOR.]
This banner, the witness and inspiration of many victories, which was proudly borne on every field from enemy. General Beauregard was momentarily expecting help from the right, and the uncertainty and anxiety of this hour amounted to anguish.
Still the column pressed on. Calling a staff officer, General Beauregard instructed him to go at once to General Johnston, at the Lewis house, and say that the enemy were receiving heavy re-enforcements, that the troops on the plateau were very much scattered, and that he would be compelled to retire to the Lewis house and there reform hoping that the troops ordered up from the right would arrive in time to enable him to establish and hold the new line.
Meanwhile, the unknown t…

Some Truths of History (I) by Thaddeus Kosciusko Oglesby

SOME TRUTHS OF HISTORY:  A Vindication of the South Against the Encyclopedia Britannica and Other Maligners by Thaddeus Kosciusko Oglesby
Since the Evolution days the few thinkers of America born south of Mason and Dixon's line — out-numbered by those belonging to the single State of Massachusetts — have commonly migrated to New York or Boston in search of a university training. In the world of letters, at least, the Southern States have shone by reflected light; nor is it too much to say that mainly by their connection with the North the Carolinas have been saved from sinking to the level of Mexico or the Antilles. Like the Spartan marshaling his helots, the planter lounging among his slaves was made dead to art. It has only flourished freely in a free soil, and for almost all its vitality and aspirations we must turn to New England." — Encyclopedia Britannica {ninth edition), Volume 1, p. 719. 
If the sons and daughters of the South do not themselves uphold the truth of histor…

Confederate & Union Soldiers Had Slaves Compiled by Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery

Confederate & Union Soldiers Had Slaves Compiled by Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery
“They do not tell that General Grant, a slaveholder, was put as leader of the Northern Army and General Lee, who had freed his slaves, as the leader of the Southern Army, but they do say that the war was fought to hold the slaves yet do not tell that only 200,000 slaveholders were in the Southern Army, while 315,000 slaveholders were in the Northern Army.” Mildred Lewis Rutherford, Truths of History: A Fair, Unbiased, Impartial, Unprejudiced and Conscientious Study of History. Object: To Secure a Peaceful Settlement of the Many Perplexing Questions Now Causing Contention Between the North and the South (Athens, Georgia, 1920), iv.

By Fannie Eoline Selph: “The War between the States was not caused by the question of the emancipation of the slaves, nor did it begin with the firing on Fort Sumter. The cause and its declaration centered in the order issued by Abraham Lincoln for 2,400 men and 265 guns for the de…