On Tuesday, 23 April 1861, the Virginia Secession Convention was briefly addressed by Major General Robert Edward Lee, to whom, the day before, it had commended the command of the provisional army and naval forces of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
After a flowery introduction by the President of the Convention, Major General Lee rose to speak.
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 had your choice fallen on an abler man. Trusting in Almighty God, an approving conscience, and the aid of my fellow-citizens, I devote myself to the service of my native State, in whose behalf alone will I ever again draw my sword.
Which short statement was attended by boisterous applause.