Craig M. Simpson, A Good Southerner: The Life of Henry A. Wise of Virginia (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 219.
If Wise was not wholly committed to secession, neither did his decision result from disentanglement in the “relentless, horribly logical meshing of ears within” the political mechanism that “dictated an almost certain outcome” during the winter of 1860-61. To be sure, Wise’s maneuverability was diminished as a result of changes in the political structure. But as Barrington Moore, Jr., writes, “The uncertainty of all actors is one of the most significant and neglected aspects of historical crises, great and small.” Options remained open and potential outcomes appeared hazardous and unclear until very late. Secession startled and surprised him.