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Letter of Zebulon B. Vance to William Dickson, December 11, 1860


Letter of Zebulon B. Vance to William Dickson, December 11, 1860


Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894) was a senator for North Carolina and a member of the Democratic thirty-fifth and sixth congress. Before North Carolina seceded from the Union, Zebulon feared that secession was a hasty decision that could not be changed once it was made. He was also worried that they would lose a "heritage" that they may never be able to get back. Later, Zebulon served in the Confederate Army, was arrested for Confederate Activities, and became governor of North Carolina.


Zebulon B. Vance


Zebulon B Vance to William Dickson, December 11, 1860, quoted in "North Carolinians Debate Secession," North Carolina Digital History, accessed on January 18, 2012,






North Carolina
1860, North Carolina

Original Format



Zebulon B. Vance

To William Dickson, December 11, 1860

"The Whole Southern mind is inflamed to the highest pitch and the leaders in the disunion move are scorning every suggestion of compromise and rushing everything with ruinous and indecent haste that would seem to imply that they were absolute fools — Yet they are acting wisely for their ends — they are “precipitating” the people into a revolution without giving them time to think — They fear lest the people shall think… But the people must think, and when they do begin to think and hear the matter properly discussed they will consider long and soberly before they tear down this noble fabric and invite anarchy and confusion, carnage, civil war, and financial ruin with the breathless hurry of men flying from pestilence.… If we go out now we cant take the army and the navy with us, and Lincoln could as easily employ them to force us back as he could to prevent our going out.… We have everything to gain and nothing on earth to lose by delay, but by too hasty action we may take a fatal step that we never can retrace — may lose a heritage that we can never recover ‘though we seek it earnestly and with tears.’


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Zebulon B. Vance, Letter of Zebulon B. Vance to William Dickson, December 11, 1860, Civil War Era NC, accessed March 22, 2018,