[Hat-Tip to Chris Paysinger]
In my last post I briefly referenced the sharp divide between Tidewater Virginians and those living in the western counties along the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Our popular memory tends to run rough shod over important debates that took place within Virginia and the rest of the South surrounding political control on the eve of the Civil War. The debate within Virginia was part of a much longer political dialog that went back at least to the slave debates of 1831. Tidewater planters dominated the state legislature in Richmond and passed legislation that solidified their control and which benefited slaveholders at the expense of non-slaveholders. Perhaps the best example of this was a law which capped the tax on slaves at $300, although the value of a healthy male slave was much higher. Western Virginians cried foul, but there was little they could do about it. Those long-running debates played out for everyone to see when it came time for Virginia to secede. Thanks to Chris for passing this image along.