Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Library posts ‘Virginia in Crisis’ video

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If you’re like me, you may have missed WCVE’s recent TV broadcast of part of Virginia’s secession debates (OK, a re-creation of part of them).

But you needn’t miss it–and this show makes for terrific theater, though the events it depicts were all-too real.

The Library of Virginia just posted the program on YouTube here.

It includes a reenactment of speeches made as Virginia’s leaders–who initially voted against withdrawing from the Union–argued over the question of whether secession was wise, legal, necessary or in the commonwealth’s interest.

Historian William W. Freehling, author of two of the seminal books on the subject, discusses the Richmond debates and the significance of the Virginia Convention of 1861. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire country watched  and waited to see what Virginia would decide.

Freehling took part in a similar program, “Years of Anguish: The Coming Storm,” last Nov. 20 at Fredericksburg Baptist Church as part of the region’s commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

And, for the record, Professor Freehling is the father of Bill Freehling, a business writer and blogger extraordinaire at The Free Lance-Star.

“The Crisis in the Commonwealth: The Virginia Secession Debates” was

broadcast live on WCVE, a PBS station, on Sunday, April 17, 2011.

The video is being presented as a part of the Library of Virginia’s public programs supporting its “Union or Secession: Virginians Decide” exhibition, which is well worth making a trip to the state capital to see.

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