Counties whose delegates voted pro-union are blue; pro-secession are grey.
Click each county to view demographic information as well as whether the county ultimately seceded.
Secessionists from the Tidewater and Piedmont tried three times to pass an ordinance of secession. Unionists delayed the first, on March 8, on procedural grounds. On April 4, as Unionist delegate John Baldwin met with Abraham Lincoln in Washington to discuss how war might be averted, the convention voted a second ordinance of secession down by a two-thirds majority. On April 17, after troops in South Carolina fired on Ft. Sumter and Lincoln called for troops to suppress the rebellion, delegates from Virginia voted to secede from the United States, 88 to 55.
The two votes for secession followed striking geographic patterns. Most delegates west of the Blue Ridge mountains voted to stay in the Union on April 4. Of the western delegates who voted to secede, most represented one of a number of contiguous counties west of the New River. Many more secessionist delegates called the Piedmont and Tidewater home, though delegates from counties closest to Virginia’s northern border tended to vote against an ordinance that, by then, was certain to hasten civil war.
By April 17, very few delegates east of the Blue Ridge mountains voted against secession. Delegates from heavily enslaved Piedmont counties along the North Carolina border switched their votes and joined the secessionist movement, as did a number of delegates from tobacco-producing Tidewater counties. Most delegates whose counties bordered Washington, DC and Maryland continued to vote against secession, as did the staunchest unionists from the Valley and northwestern Virginia. These votes lay the groundwork for secession and the consequent formation of West Virginia out of the most decidedly Unionist sections of the state.