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In Their Own Words

February 15, 1861

Secession Questioned in Letter to Governor

Not all Georgians were enthusiastic about secession. And, unless the question of secession was placed before the voters in a general referendum, a few Georgians talked about seceding from the state, as evidenced in this letter to Gov. Joseph E. Brown from James W. Aiken of Walker County:

“We, the people of Walker County and Dade County, Georgia, Dekalb County, do not intend to submit to decision of the secession movement which has been taken out of the hands of the people and fallen into the hands of demagogues and office-seekers, pick-pockets and vagrants about towns and cities and railroads and depots that has not got anything at stake, only a deck of cards, a quart of rot gut, [and] cigar stuck in their mouths… .

“If southern Georgia want[s] to leave the Union, let her go. But, we, the people of Cherokee, want to stay in the Union. So I hope you will let us go in peace and we will set up for ourselves and still remain in the Union. If not, we will try what virtue there is in flint and steel. We have 2500 volunteers now, their names enroll[ed]. They are sworn to stand to each other, their lives, their property and all we have, to support each other. We want Chattahoochee to be [the] line North and South, and if we cannot get it one way we know how we can get it at the point of bayonet and the muzzle of the musket. We are just as willing as you ever seen mountain boys. We know we have some that will be against us. We know how to manage them. We have the right to leave the South as much as the state has to rebel against the Union. If the people of Georgia will vote to go out of the Union, we will submit to it as cheerful as every you seen. And if it is not brought back to the people, we will fight it as long as there are men to fight… .Let the people have a vote on it. If they say so, we will go [but] not until then. I hope you will consider well what we have written to you.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 139-140.