Friday, December 21, 2012
AFE Chapter 6: Virginia's Last Straw
It was a hot late August sun that rose upon the militia men as they quietly went to work shining boots and loading weapons in preparation for the days task, which was something of the likes that had never been attempted in the New World. Commander had said that Henry was to meet with him at noon to strike a compromise about what to do with the CAF, and it was precisely at that time they shall bring him to his knees and drag him into a prison on charges of aiding an enemy of the state. Some men were nervous, others were exciting, but almost all had that same nagging feeling in the back of their minds: what will this possibly do to America? At the time, they felt it was the only way to keep it together.
They day started as usual, but the streets were absent the usual committee members with pamphlets in their hand to get people to oppose the new constitution. Militiamen were also mucking about, which was unusual. Many people felt uncomfortable and some shop owners asked them to return to their barracks. They replied by saying they were “searching for enemies of the state.” However, they all began to gather towards the commander’s office during high noon, just as planned. 5 men gathered near the door, greeting Governor Henry as he stepped into their commander’s office. Quickly, two men grabbed his arms and chained handcuffs on.
“What in the name of-”. The commander interrupted by saying “Welcome Governor. You have been hereby charged with aiding an enemy of the state, which is treason! TREASON, my good fellow. Now, I hope you enjoy your time rotting in jail.
“I hope you enjoy your time fighting off the Virginian people,” he replied with a scowl.
Unfortunately for the militia men, the governor was right. As soon as they saw thier governor being dragged around in chains, they were absolutely infuriated. An angry mob of around 20 or so people began to gather around the soldiers, screaming for them to let him go. One farmer, who was selling a selection of fruits and veggies, threw an apple as hard as he could at one guard. In response, he put his musket to the face of the man. For the Virginian people at that point, they decided enough was enough and attempted to free the governor. They charged the militia with pots, pans and whatever else they could find. In the confusion, one of the militiamen fired, but it only made a hole in a pan of the man charging. The rest of the militiamen did not open fire, not wishing to cause too much conflict. One militiaman, a Virginian, unlocked the handcuffs on the governor. He whispered something inaudible as another militiaman whose loyalties lied somewhere else knocked him unconscious with a smack from the butt of his musket, and smacked the governor with it as well. He yelled in pain as he tenderly touched his left arm. The mob cheered with yet another call of sic semper tyrannis and they placed the governor upon their shoulders and proudly marched back to the capitol.
The governors arm was quickly bandaged so he could address an emergency meeting of the House. His speech would be fondly remembered by Virginians, and made Rhode Island a little less crazy. His speech said that it was the time to declare independence from the US, which was quite the popular opinion with the delegates in the room. A committee was organized as soon as possible to write the Virginian Declaration of Independence.
North of the Ohio, people were in dismay at the declaration. The United States Congress was very much opposed to letting Virginia go, and the fact that Virginia wanted a chunk of the Northwest Territory. There was also the issue of the rest of the southern states. North Carolina was very much under Virginia's wing and would surely leave if Virginia was allowed to do so. The first nation to recognize its independence was Rhode Island, but a big recognition that made the US tremble just a little was from the senile man across the pond: King George III, America's enemy from the revolution. He and his parliament were pleased that their enemy was weakening, and that through the example of America, no other country would revolt.
Arthur St. Clair, who was still confederate President, said that he thought the US needed to leave Virginia alone, so he recognized their independence without the consent of anybody else in the government. Virginians celebrated, but the Congress did not. They voted, by a 70% margin, to remove him from office. In an emergency election conducted by Congress, a large majority asked for George Washington to replace his seat. This was the last straw for most southerners, who now saw him as a traitor to everything he fought for and and somebody who was becoming increasingly more anti-slavery. Secession movements in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina were in full force, and in the north New Hampshire was drifting away from the union as well. It was looking as if the last hours of the United States were upon them.