Gilmer Free Press
CIVIL WAR JOURNAL: The Parkersburg Resolutions
New Year’s Day of 1861 saw the largest gathering ever to take place in the city of Parkersburg or Wood County.
The county courthouse was filled with western Virginians who opposed secession.
The group appointed a committee with General John Jackson, Sr. acting as chairman.
The committee submitted what would come to be called “The Parkersburg Resolutions.”
The resolutions declared that secession had no constitutional basis and was therefore “revolution,” stating, “…our national prosperity, our hopes of happiness and future security, depend upon preserving the Union as it is, and we see nothing in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States—as much as we may have desired the election of another—as affording any just or reasonable cause for the abandonment of what we regard as the best Government ever yet devised.” The resolutions also called for a Virginia legislative convention to consider the state’s stand upon the revolutionary movement of South Carolina as “but a Southern ruse.”
In addition to General Jackson, prominent anti-secessionists who spoke to the assembly included his son John J. Jackson, Jr. as well as the future first governor of West Virginia, Arthur I. Boreman, and former member of the General Assembly, James M. Stephenson.
General Jackson was the grandson of George Jackson, a revolutionary army colonel and delegate to Virginia’s convention to ratify the constitution. After serving on the staff of Gen. Andrew Jackson, he represented Wood County as a prosecuting attorney and as a member of the state legislature. Less than a year later his son would be nominated as a federal judge by President Abraham Lincoln.
On the national level, just days before the meeting in Parkersburg, President James Buchanan lost yet another cabinet member. Secretary of War John B. Floyd, of Virginia, resigned December 29. Floyd opposed the president’s decision against reversing action by Major Robert Anderson in South Carolina. Major Anderson had transferred his garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter on December 26. South Carolina considered this a violation of the president’s agreement not to make military changes in the state. On Dec. 30 the Federal Arsenal in Charleston was commandeered by South Carolinians, leaving Fort Sumter as the last piece of property under federal control in state.
Civil War Journal is produced by the Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation and Historic Beverly Preservation in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. For more information, please visit www.richmountain.org.