Sectional Strife 1830-1850
BEFORE THE ECHOES of her Constitutional Convention of 1829-1830 had ceased to be heard, Virginia was rent by another sectional controversy which assumed threatening aspects. Negro slavery was the subject of discussion, and the proposals made for dealing with it ranged all the way from immediate abolition to an unqualified endorsement of the institution as a positive good. In the face of the silence heretofore maintained on the subject, the frankness and freedom used on this occasion astounded and confounded the members of the assembly, as well as their neighbors both in the North and in the South.1
This controversy was precipitated by the Nat Turner Insurrection, which occurred in Southampton County, Virginia, August 22-23, 1831, and resulted in the death of sixty-one white persons, most of them women and children. When the general assembly of 1831-1832 met, it was flooded with petitions from all sections of the state, asking that action be taken regarding the slave and Negro problems. Some of these petitions requested that the state undertake the immediate emancipation of all slaves and that all freedmen be deported, others asked for Federal aid to accomplish these ends, and still others urged that a plan for gradual emancipation and deportation be provided.
Fearing that discussion might abet the Abolitionist movement, then____________________