[The Virginia Secession Convention in the Hall of the House of Delegates, Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia, April 23, 1861.]
Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention: Profoundly impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, for which I must say I was not prepared, I accept the position assigned me by your partiality. I would have much preferred that your choice had fallen upon an abler man. Trusting in Almighty God, an approving conscience, and the aid of my fellow-citizens, I devote myself to the services of my native State, in whose behalf alone will I ever again draw my sword.
SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 135