On May 23, 1861, voters in a Virginia convention ratify an ordinance for the state's secession from the Union as a divided nation lurched toward all-out war.
South Carolina had been the first state to secede in December 1860. It was followed afterward by six other Southern slave-holding states, including North Carolina on May 20.
Virginia initially was among the states seeking a way out of the crisis, and state delegates initially opposed secession in February 1861. But the Confederate artillery attack on federal troops at Fort Sumter in April joins other developments in shifting the mood on the political landscape.
In late May, Richmond replaces Montgomery, Ala., as the capital of the Confederacy and its president, Jefferson Davis, arrived there to great fanfare on May 29, 1861.
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Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina secede this month, bringing to 11 the number of Southern states forming the Confederacy.