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Augusta County: L. M. Powell to Alexander H. H. Stuart, 19 January 1861

Powell, at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, proposes to Stuart that Virginia call on the United States Congress to demand a constitutional convention to end the secession crisis.

L. M. Powell (Annapolis) to AHHS, 1861 Jan 19

January 19th 1861


My dear Secretary,

I am here grinding out future naval heroes for national wars which I fear they will never have occasion to fight: already some from the South have left, and I hear of one of these chaps who is promoted to 1st Lieutenant in the Navy of the State of S. Carolina, and said to be spoiling for a fight.

You have a higher duty, "firing up the Southern heart &c." for a general conflict with any and every body.

I watch the progress of your body with the utmost interest, and at times greatly fear that our old state will submit to the destiny cut out for her by another [] further south: and not venture to follow the conservative and wise instincts of her wise and moderate people. I see that my kinsman Charles Conrad has gone off with a // full head of steam, but I think I know that is more from motives of state policy, than through sympathy with the prevalent revolutionary spirit. Dr[?] you know, that I have looked with amazement on the leaders and legislatures of the Southern states. they seem to fall upon every method but the plain demand of the constitutional provision which points to a speedy and effectual means of meeting a crisis like the present, and affords the remedy. Why dont you do it in Virginia? Why not propose a resolution to call on Congress, for a national convention to consider amendments, say on the basis of Mr Crittenden's. there is no doubt that the legislatures of two thirds of the states would follow your example instanter[?]. There is still time, and the feeling of the country approaching unamity. The extreme men will oppose, but what of that, they are but a fraction.//

If you will press such a measure through the legislature, the example would be followed almost by all the states and leave your convention little more to do. Maryland would hail it as the solution of her present perplexities and the govr. would feel safe in calling the legislature, which he does not now.

We shall conclude our labours here on Saturday and then I shall go home, to Washington and help our people to organize their forces to thrash the wide awakes or the minute men either, who may meditate a raid on the city.

I left my wife well on the 3rd and very unhappy at the aspect of affairs.

"God is great and Mahomet is his prophet," as the Turk says when at his wits end. I feel just like him. Adieu my dear Secretary and think me as ever faithfully yours

L M Powell

Al. H H Stuart

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