The Library of Virginia announces the launch of "Union or Secession: Virginians Decide," an online resource that explores Virginia's secession crisis as it unfolded between the 1860 presidential campaign and the First Battle of Manassas in July 1861. "Union or Secession" may be viewed under the "Online Classroom" section of Virginia Memory at:
Drawn primarily from the collections of the Library of Virginia, "Union or Secession: Virginians Decide" presents approximately 225 private letters, newspaper extracts, public debates, and other records that allow Virginians from the Eastern Shore to the Ohio River who experienced the crisis to explain their thoughts, fears, and decisions in their own words. "Union or Secession" also contains the life stories of forty Virginians who experienced slavery, the sectional tensions of the 1850s, the secession crisis, and the split of their state into two. Follow the story through the narrative of Virginians Decide, or explore the people and documents in chronological sequence, by geographic region, or by topic to learn how the crisis affected free and enslaved residents of Virginia and how they made their decisions and sometimes changed their minds.
An additional feature is Callie's Mailbag, which includes a selection of about two dozen letters from the Library of Virginia's collection of Anthony Family Papers (1785-1952). We present these letters from the perspective of their recipient, a young woman of Campbell County who in 1860 had recently left school and who was in frequent correspondence with family and friends, some of them in northern Mississippi . We have imagined this well-informed young woman commenting on current events and sharing information through a social-networking site between December
1859 and July 1861.
This online source complements the Library's exhibitions "Union or Secession: Virginia's Decide," open 6 December 2010 through 29 October 2011, and "The Struggle to Decide: Virginia's Secession Crisis" at the Virginia State Capitol from 13 December 2010 through 29 October 2011.
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