A Confederate Officer Recounts the Virginia Slavery Debate of 1831–1832

by Ron Coddington

Life on the Civil War Research Trail

A presentation requested by Dale Coberly about what could have happened if Virginia had followed suit in freeing the slaves pre-Civil War. A Slavery debate in the 1830s.


In his 1910 memoirs, Randolph Harrison McKim, a Confederate officer who served on the staffs of Stonewall Jackson and George H. Steuart, recalled stopping by the home of Thomas Jefferson Randolph on a January day in 1864. Randolph, grandson of our third President and a Virginia legislator, told McKim about the state’s great slavery debate in 1832 to consider the question of emancipation of enslaved people in Virginia. Here’s McKim’s account of the meeting and his opinions of why it did not pass—and what might have happened if it did.

“Life on the Civil War Research Trail” is hosted by Ronald S. Coddington, Editor and Publisher of Military Images magazine. Learn more about our mission to showcase, interpret and preserve Civil War portrait photography at militaryimagesmagazine.com and shopmilitaryimages.com.

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Image: Library of Congress.

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