Preston, William Ballard

Secretary of the Navy (Taylor), authored 1861 Virginia secession resolution

Price: $75.00

Description:
(1805-1862) Virginia politician, Secretary of the Navy 1849-50 (Taylor-Fillmore). Whig lawyer, Virginia Delegate, during 1830-31 session, took an active part in the campaign to abolish slavery. There followed an 8-year hiatus in his political activities during which he returned to the practice of law. He served in the state Senate 1840-44, before returning to the House of Delegates. In 1846, he was elected to Congress. In March 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed him Secretary of the Navy. During his tenure, the Navy acquired new duties in America's westward expansion and acquisition of California. Trade and commerce in the Pacific Ocean beckoned, and Navy ships sailed in Chinese waters, while Japan, then unopened to the west, presented a tantalizing possibility for trade. The Navy also changing from sails to steam propulsion, with improvements in gunnery and naval ordnance. Upon the death of President Taylor, President Fillmore reorganized the Cabinet and Preston retired from office and from politics and public life. He was sent to France in 1858 to negotiate the establishment of a line of commercial steamers to operate between Norfolk and le Havre, a project which appeared promising until brought to naught by the Civil War. On Feb. 13, 1861, a secession convention met in Richmond with Preston a delegate. A special delegation, composed of Preston, Alexander H. H. Stuart, and George w. Randolph went to Washington and met President Lincoln on April 12. Finding Lincoln firm in his resolve to hold Federal forts in the South, they returned to Richmond April 15. After the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, conservative and moderate strength in the secessionist convention dissolved. On April 16, convinced that secession was inevitable, Preston submitted, in secret session, an ordinance of secession. Supported 88-55, the Preston Resolution passed, and Virginia left the Union. He served as a CSA Senator until his death in 1862. Clipped signature on light lined paper, mounted to near same-size 1 1/2 x 4 light card.

Condition: Good, unevenly trimmed at top with "W" of 1st name very slightly cropped at top; tiny spot at bottom
Type:Signature






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