DIDJA’ KNOW “OUR MAN IN THE STATE HOUSE”
During the months leading into the Civil War, it became obvious that the exceptional prosperity, that Richmond had enjoyed, was disappearing under the strain of the political situation. Manufactories began to close down, throwing hundreds out of work as business and trade activity slowed and the banks suspended specie payment. The city’s streets were filled with its own unemployed and multiplied by large numbers of vagrants from the North.
Wyndham Robertson is listed as one of the founding members of the First Independent Christian Church of Richmond. His family descended through the old Virginia planter aristocracy, educated and expected to serve in political office. Robertson was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia on March 31, 1836 and when Governor Tazewell resigned, he became Governor of Virginia until the term ended in 1837. He continued to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates and was a member of the Convention, as they debated the issues concerning secession. Robertson referred to himself as a “friend to peace and the Union” and he opposed South Carolina’s call for a Southern Convention in 1859. After South Carolina and several other states seceded in the winter of 1860 and ’61, he continued to advocate that Virginia stand firm with the Union.
The weather was bitterly cold and starvation threatened Richmond’s citizenry to the degree that subscriptions had to be initiated to supply them with food. The situation throughout the whole state became so grave that the Governor designated January 4th (1861) as a day of fasting and prayer and the Legislature was called into session.
As the political controversy became more critical, Robertson’s resolution, (Jan 07, 1861) known as the “Anti-Coercion Resolution” was adopted. Secession was to be rejected with the stipulation that, if the Federal Government used coercion against the seceded states, Virginia would join the fight. On the morning of Friday, April 12, 1861, the Convention was called to order at 10 o’clock, with a prayer by the Rev. Mr. Bosserman of the Universalist Church, to continue the debate. President Lincoln called for troops on April 15, 1861 and Virginia seceded. Once secession was affected Wyndham Robertson, dedicated to the defense of his state, continued to serve in his elected office.
As a footnote: During Reconstruction, Wyndham Robertson served on the Committee of Nine, led by Alexander H.H. Stuart, seeking to fulfill the requirements for Virginia’s readmission to the Union.