Richmond elected Randolph to the Virginia Convention of 1861 as a secessionist. He urged that the state withdraw from the Union as soon as practicable in order to capitalize on its military preparedness and to avoid war. During the convention he was named to a three-man commission to go to Washington, D.C., and learn President Lincoln's intentions. On 13 April the president reiterated his inaugural pledges to hold federal installations, to repel force with force, and not to invade any southern states. After hostilities began at Fort Sumter and Lincoln called for troops to suppress rebellion, Randolph told the convention, "You have got to fight" and posed the question, "which side will you fight with?"
George Green Shackelford, "Randolph, George Wythe," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00820.html.