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GEORGIA'S SECESSION DEBATED AGAIN
by scottbthompsonsr
 Pieces of Our Past
Jan 23, 2011 | 2499 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
R.Toombs,A.H.Stephens,Pvt. Baldwin Blues,H.V.Johnson,G.Crawford,T.R.R. Cobb
R.Toombs,A.H.Stephens,Pvt. Baldwin Blues,H.V.Johnson,G.Crawford,T.R.R. Cobb
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Rusty Henderson (Robert Toombs) leads procession through the capital gates.
Rusty Henderson (Robert Toombs) leads procession through the capital gates.
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Robert Toombs (Rusty Henderson)
Robert Toombs (Rusty Henderson)
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Herschel Johnson, George Crawford, and Robert Toombs discuss secession.
Herschel Johnson, George Crawford, and Robert Toombs discuss secession.
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Robert Toombs escorts Alexander Stephens into chamber.
Robert Toombs escorts Alexander Stephens into chamber.
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Toombs urges secession.
Toombs urges secession.
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Old soldier taking a break
Old soldier taking a break
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Confederate bagpiper
Confederate bagpiper
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Long gray line
Long gray line
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Milledgeville, GA. January 22, 2011. One hundred and fifty years ago, the greatest political minds gathered in the state capitol building in Milledgeville to subscribe their names to the Ordinance of Secession. The vote, while not close, was not indicative of the deep division between the citizens of Georgia on the issue of whether the State of Georgia should leave the Union. Unionist or Cooperationist leaders Alexander Hamilton Stephens and Herschel V. Johnson urged caution or no secession at all, while other Georgians led by Howell Cobb, T.R.R. Cobb and Robert Toombs urged immediate and unconditional secession.

 

This past Saturday the culmination of the divisive Secession Convention was re-enacted in a performance sponsored by the Old Capital Society in the reconstructed Georgia state capitol building in Milledgeville. The final performance was staged in the connection with the annual Sons of Confederate Veterans parade and salute to Gen. Robert E. Lee.

More than one hundred reenactors dressed in Civil War area costumes, carried Confederate and American flags, rifles, bagpipes, and other accouterments as they marched from the Old Governor’s mansion to the Old State Capitol building on the campus of Georgia Military College. The procession was led through the gates of the capitol grounds by Dublin’s Rusty Henderson, who portrayed United States Senator Robert Toombs, who resigned his seat two weeks after the ordinance of secession was adopted. A packed house looked on with interest as one delegate after another rose to speak in opposition to or in favor of the motion to leave the United States.

Henderson, portraying the red-haired Toombs, was the first to speak in favor of secession. The fire eater secessionist was challenged by former Georgia governor and unsuccessful 1860 vice-presidential candidate Herschel V. Johnson, of Louisville. Johnson, who later became the Judge of the Superior Courts of Johnson and Washington counties, was portrayed by Lt. Col. David Wells of Milledgeville. Then came the political giant Alexander Hamilton Stephens, who soon became the first and only vice-president of the Confederate States of America. Stephens, a five-foot nine-inch man who weighed less than a hundred pounds and suffered from frequent disabilities, plead with his cane in the air for the delegation to resist any quick, unreasonable, and unconstitutional actions. Playing the role of Stephens was GCSU’s Dr. Mark Pelton, a veteran of many fine stage performances. Rising to end the debate was John Geist, a Milledgeville actor who assumed the role of Thomas R.R. Cobb, a fiery secessionist who died in battle at Fredericksburg in December 1862. Rick Joslyn, in portraying assembly chairman George Crawford, called for the final vote. As Toombs and Cobb marched out in triumph, Johnson and Stephens, threw their pens into the fireplace as they left in disgust and sorrow.

The event is the first of many commemorating the beginning of the Civil War by Georgia’s Old Capital Museum Society. For more information about the State Capitol and its programs featuring the sesquicentennial of the Civil War go to www.oldcapitalmuseum.org.

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