Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Unionist from Greensboro

During the “Secession Winter” of 1860-1861, Congressman John Adams Gilmer (1805-1868) of Greensboro did all he could to keep North Carolina in the Union. “Ultra men,” particularly those down in South Carolina, had for decades been “conspiring for disunion,” said Gilmer. He made an impassioned speech on the floor of the House, calling for moderation and peace. The Congressman countered secessionist sentiment in his state by mailing, at his own expense, 100,000 pieces of unionist literature to fellow North Carolinians.

Gilmer’s devotion to the Union was such that President-elect Abraham Lincoln offered him a cabinet post! After careful consideration, troubled over Lincoln’s ultimate intentions, Gilmer finally felt he must decline.

On April 15, 1861 Lincoln called up 75,000 troops to crush the seven-state Confederacy. John Adams Gilmer, a delegate to North Carolina’s Convention, now cast his ballot for secession. The vote, taken five months to the day after South Carolina’s, was unanimous. North Carolina spoke as one: There must be no coercion of fellow Americans!

Gilmer was elected to the Second Congress of the Confederate States. His only son and his younger brother joined the Southern army. North Carolina—a state solidly for the Union until the tyrant Lincoln declared war—put 120,000 troops in the field to battle for their liberty.

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