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August 13 , 2009

Unionists in Virginia

Politics, Secession and Their Plan to Prevent Civil War


Whether the Civil War was preventable is a debate that began shortly after Appomattox and continues today. But even earlier, in 1861, a group of Union-loyal Virginians—led by George Summers, John Brown Baldwin, John Janney and Jubal Early—felt war was avoidable. In the statewide election for delegates to the Secession Convention that same spring, the Unionists defeated the Southern Rights Democrats with a huge majority of the votes across the state. These heroic men unsuccessfully negotiated with Secretary of State William Henry Seward to prevent the national tragedy that would ensue. Author and historian Lawrence M. Denton traces this remarkable story of Virginians working against all odds in a failed attempt to save a nation from war.

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