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John W. Davis to his Brother, March 3, 1861

MSS 1393
Special Collections Department, University of Virginia

University of Virginia
March 3rd 1861

Dear Brother

Your letter of the 24th was received on last Wednesday. You seem to be greatly put out with the thought that Virginia will not secede. The Convention in act have a majority of what you appropriately call "time servers". It is well however that we can give them no worse a name, such as "Submissionists", for I don't think that they have by any means a majority of Submissionists. I think that they will pass an ordinance of secession before very long now, as I don't think that a majority will agree to the cheat of the Peace Conference, & besides that cheat even can't pass Congress. Their waiting thus long before seceding will give their decision great weight with the people; whereas if they had passed the ordinance soon after assembling. It is very doubtful whether it would have been ratified by the people. Lincoln's inaugural which will occur tomorrow will decide the Convention one way or another. If they should decide not to secede, since "nearly all the ladies & young men are in favor of secession". (As Mr. Holcombe, who is on a visit home, told us when we serenaded him last night with a Brass Band), it won't be long before Public sentiment will change sufficiently to call another Convention & then secede. In the election for the Convention, the most popular secession men in each county ought to have run, & then the election would have resulted differently. Uncle Richard would have been elected if he had run. Wouldn't he? All those who think of moving out of the state if she does not secede, had better wait until they are certain that she will not; for their moving out will greatly weaken the secession party & thus make the chance of seceding much less. The speech of Preston's you speak of was first rate. He was in Charlottesville the other day to visit a sister of his but I did not see him. Goode of Bedford has also made a fine speech in the Convention. The 22nd passed off here very pleasantly. The society was addressed by A. Weddell of Petersburg in a tolerable speech. We had fine weather & the Hall was crowded. Father, in passing between some of his appointments passed by here & spent an hour or two with me yesterday. They were all well at home when he left. Wilbur has been expecting to come up for the last week or two, but has not yet done so. He must have a fine time attending the Convention.

There is scarcely any studying at all done here nowadays, & there is some talk of the Visitors suspending lectures at their meeting next wednesday, though I expect that it will be nothing more than talk. Our two companies now number about 80 apiece, & are getting to be pretty well drilled, as we drill 1 & 1/4 hours every evening. Students are still leaving fast, I doubt whether there are as many as 400 here now. A great many students left yesterday & this morning for Washington, to see the place before it is distroyed, hear the Inaugural, & see & probably partake in the anticipated fight. They were all well armed with pistols. I think it would have been better for them to have remained where they were. As I have had the headache all day you must excuse me from writing any more at present. Give my best love to All. Has Gertrude forgot Cousin John at the "Ounousty"? You did not tell me how they were getting on at (illegible) nowadays. Write soon to your brother.

John W. Davis