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Jefferson Davis Uses Wry Humor to Rally Virginia
(Ch. 13. The Bupkis History of THE WAR OF YANKEE AGGRESSION)
by Art Bupkis

And so it was that by the spring of 1861 seven states had left that sorry state of a Union, and were now freely associating as The Confederate States of America. Although initially he had resisted secession, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was chosen as CSA President, and set about preparing for a noble war against the Yankee oppressors he knew would soon be invading to rape and pillage the sacred South.

Paramount on Davis's agenda was prevailing on other bondsmen-accommodating states to join The Confederacy. Here none was more critical than The Commonwealth of Virginia, and with his authorization of the April 12 shelling of that intolerable Yankee-occupied Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Davis increased his lobbying of the Virginia Convention--itself convened specifically to deliberate the matter--to act in a fittingly bold affirmation of liberty. But despite its motto, "Sic semper tyranis", The Old Dominion hesitated.

Somehow Virginia had to find fresh courage--the same kind of courage that had once led it to lead the efforts that freed this land from Old King George--to now evict The Tyrant, Abe. And President Davis thought he knew just where such courage could be found.

There was and is no son of Virginia more respected than George Washington, and despite the fact that Washington chaired the U.S. Constitutional Convention, was the first U.S. President, and was deeply troubled by the institution of slavery, Davis was convinced that Virginia would rally if infused with GW's spirit. Therefore, he asked one of his supporters in The Convention to round up a few critical undecideds and invite them to discuss the matter further over cocktails. To help, Davis sent over a jug of rye whisky that had been distilled and bottled at Washington's very own farm, Mt. Vernon, in 1799, the same year as the great general's death. (It really wasn't that hard to find; Washington sold over 11,000 gallons of rye whisky that year.)

The party went well. Davis's friend reported that two representatives told him they would now vote for secession, while the one holdout had gotten so drunk that he probably wouldn't be able to attend any meetings for days. As a new vote was scheduled for later that very afternoon, there was every reason to hope that Virginia would vote for secession on the first ballot.

Good 'ol Jeff Davis rejoiced at this good news, but resolved not only to endure no matter how long Virginia's resolve to honor might take, but also to always maintain his good humor, no matter what. He sent his friend more jugs of Washington's whisky, along with this note:

"If at First you don't secede, try rye again."

My research indicates that this is the very last report of "Washington's Rye Spirits" anywhere. Virginia is said to have seceded from the United States of American on April 17, 1861…. least that's the date most back then later thought they sorta, mighta remembered.