Lawrence M. Denton speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia about "Unionists in Virginia"  on May 10, 2016, at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C.

Questions and answers follow the presentation.
A copy of the PowerPoint to his presentation is available at

About the Topic:
Whether the Civil War was preventable is a debate that began shortly after Appomattox and continues today. But even earlier, in 1861, a group of Union-loyal Virginians—led by George Summers, John Brown Baldwin, John Janney and Jubal Early—felt war was avoidable. In the statewide election for delegates to the Secession Convention that same spring, the Unionists defeated the Southern Rights Democrats with a huge majority of the votes across the state. These heroic men unsuccessfully negotiated with Secretary of State William Henry Seward to prevent the national tragedy that would ensue.

Author and historian Lawrence M. Denton traces this remarkable story of Virginians working against all odds in a failed attempt to save a nation from war.  He will: (1) describe as a backdrop the period before and after election of Abraham Lincoln as Deep South moves toward secession; (2) discuss how President James Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln prepared approached their political duties (including explaining how Lincoln was inexperienced at a national political level, knew few key players and lacked information from Washington); (3) introduce William Henry Seward with an emphasis on his influence and power in Washington and his connections to national leadership; (4) explain Seward’s plan to divide the South by offering a compromise to upper South Unionists; and (5) speculate on possible outcomes if Seward had been elected President.

(Reprinted/edited from and

About Our Speaker: 
Lawrence M. Denton is a direct descendant of many Maryland families who have been in this country before the American Revolutionary War, including the Denton/Lusby families with sons who fought in the Army of Northern Virginia and in the 7th Maryland Infantry present at Appomattox. 

Mr. Denton, a graduate of Towson High School and Western Maryland College, received a Masters degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University, where his career would lead him to serve as a Dean of Admission at the school and oversee an effort to establish merit scholarships. In 1978, Mr. Denton accepted a Presidential appointment to serve as special assistant to the Associate Administrator of NOAA, where he helped collocate NOAA facilities on university campuses. He has also served as a senior consultant to major firms involved in environmental science and, from 1993-2004, represented the Weather Channel and was instrumental in the production of "Forecast Earth."

Mr. Denton is an authority on the secession crisis and the author of A Southern Star for Maryland: Maryland, published in 1995, and the Secession Crisis and William Henry Seward and the Secession Crisis: The Effort to Prevent Civil War, published in 2009.


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