The Richmond Enquirer, February 1, 1861, p. 1, c. 4
To the Voters in Virginia
CONSERVATISM -- WHAT IS IT?
Fellow-citizens:-- In a few days you will be called upon to decide the most momentous question, which has ever been submitted to your judgment. The issues before our fathers in '76 was liberty or death? Before you, it is war or peace?
What is conservatism? A few months ago the question could be answered definitely -- to conserve the value of the States.
But, what is it now? Is it to conserve a union already broken? Is it to conserve a Government, that is making war upon the Southern States -- a Government which is converting the Capitol into a military encampment, to inaugurate a President by force?
Is it to conserve a Union with States who have offered men and money to carry on a war against the slaveholding States? Ohio and Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts have offered hundreds of thousands of men, and millions of money to wage war with you and your sister States of the South. What peace, what happiness could there be in such a union if it could be preserved? But it cannot, except in your subjugation. When we offer terms of compromise they are rejected with disdain. When we present the olive branch, they draw the sword. The disruption of the Union is already accomplished, It cannot be re united while we remain under its power. What, then, is conservatism for Virginia now?
It is to secure a peaceful dissolution. Shall we have peace, or civil war? The answer to the question will be given by you on Monday next. If you so vote as to secure the immediate secession of our State, you will preserve the peace. If we have a united South, the North will not be so mad as to commence a civil war which will be the bloodiest in the history of the world. If you hesitate, the Military government at Washington will probably attack the States which have already seceded. You are pledged to aid you Southern brethren in a war which few of you may live to see the end of.
True conservatism demands: First, that you vote for delegates to the Convention, who are in favor of immediate secession! Second, that you vote against referring the action of the Convention to the people! Such a reference would bring us under the power of the Black Republican Government. May you be guided by wisdom from above, and may God defend the right.
And therefore a Secessionist