4 APRIL 1914, Page 14



SIB,—Your suggestion of a Referendum in Ulster to ascertain whether or not a defined area shall "be and remain" in the Union has an historic analogy in the case of the Western part of the State of Virginia (as it was in 1861). This State, the oldest of all the States, and perhaps the most English of all in descent, tradition, and feelings, on February 13th, 1861 passed an "ordinance of secession" from the Union in a Convention at Richmond, Virginia. This ordinance was submitted to the people of the State by Referendum, and was ratified by a vote of 128,884 to 32,734. On November 26th, 1861, a Convention of delegates from forty-four counties in the Western part of the. State assembled at Wheeling, Virginia, and adopted a written Constitution based upon the declaration that their area "shall be and remain one of the United States" (i.e., in the Union), which provided for a Referendum upon this Constitution (so based), not only in the area of the forty-four counties, but in the area of seven other counties, mentioned in the Constitution. with the further provision that if the Referendum should show that in the area of four of these seven counties (naming them) there was a majority of votes in favour of the Constitution, that area should be attached to the forty-four, and if it should show that in the area of the other three counties there was a majority of votes in favour, that area should. also be so attached.

The Referendum was taken on April 3rd, 1862, and the returns showed that in the area comprising the fifty-ono counties there were 28,321 votes in favour of the Constitution (and therefore to stay in the Union) against 572 in opposition (and therefore, presumedly, in favour of secession). The returns also showed a majority in favour, both in the forty- four counties and in the first of the two other areas, and I infer that they also showed a majority in favour in two of the three counties composing the second area, because two of these three were thereupon attached to the forty- four, while the other (the county of Frederick) remained attached to the parent State of Virginia, to which it has ever since belonged. I regret that the precise figures of these county-Referendums are not available. The fifty counties which thus, by their Referendum votes (cast on one and the same day—April 3rd, 1862), elected to remain in the Union of States became and are still the State of West Virginia, in respect of which Abraham Lincoln used the memorable words which have been quoted by the Spectator on more than one occasion.—I am, Sir, &e., S. R. H.

[We are told that the Poll of the People or Referendum is a hateful and foreign thing, unknown to the English kin, and, contrary to all their instincts and traditions. And yet such intensely English communities as the original American Colonies have been depending upon the Referendum as a. means of settling vital issues for the past hundred years or more.—En. Spectator.]