Friday, October 28, 2016

Zeb Vance: from Unionist to Secessionist

Most of us have heard the Vance anecdote - about how he was in the process of delivering a speech for the Union when word arrived of the firing on of Fort Sumter. Vance stated that he was "canvassing for the Union with all my strength; I was addressing a large and excited crowd, large numbers of whom were armed, and literally had my hand extended upward pleading for peace and the Union of our Fathers, when the telegraphic news was announced of the firing on Sumter and the President's call for75,000 volunteers. When my hand came down from this impassioned gesticulation, it fell slowly and sadly by the side of a Secessionist. " (Dowd, Life of Vance, 441-442.)

This supposedly took place in Madison County, or, according to Tucker, in Bakersville in Mitchell County.

Yet I have found another version of Vance's change from a Unionist to a Secessionist.  An article written by "T. D.," in The Daily Confederate (April 12, 1864) states, "why did [Governor Vance] take it in one night in Asheville; having retired to bed a warm Union man, for he had said so in a strong speech that day--he awoke the next morning a 'fizzing hot secessionist.'"

The first account was written many years afte
r the war. The second, while the battles still raged. What version do you think is correct?

1 comment:

PastorCreig said...

Both perhaps. In Dowds account it is related that his hand came down and he was a secessionist which to me pertains to his inner thoughts while the article from 1864 would be from the outside looking in. It would be the view of the public.