FORMATION OF WEST VIRGINIA.
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CAUSES LEADING TO THE FORMATION OF WEST VIRGINIA.
Perhaps there is in no other State in the Union whose people have endured more extreme hardships or have labored under greater disadvantages than did the early settlers who lived within the present boundaries of West Virginia. For nearly a half century following the earliest settlements by the whites, the lives of her people were never wholly immune from Indian depredations ; and during the whole time of the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars the pioneers suffered, not only from savage inroads, but from European invasions as well. Then, from the beginning till the formation of West Virginia from the mother State, there were many antagonistic elements in the way of the former's progress. These were due, mainly to the unfriendly relations between eastern and western Virginia with reference to commerce, education, politics, and the habits of the people.
In these differences, all fair minded people who are familiar with the history of Virginia must concede that the people of the west were in the right, and their eastern brethren wrong. Patronizing after the fashion of the British government, the eastern part of Virginia assumed that it was the only part worthy of consideration. A mountain barrier separated the humble, frugal toilers on the west from the State capital and the aristocratic slave-holders that hovered thereabouts on the east. The latter were ambitious that Richmond should rival and surpass Baltimore as a trade center. But fortunately for western Virginia and unfortunately for eastern Virginia, the latter was stronger in political than business acumen, and in spite of the selfish purpose of the mother State to prevent the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from extending its line to Wheeling, the long-headed business men of Maryland saw the great future possibilities of the west, and built not only one line, but three to the Ohio River one going to Pittsburgh, another to Wheeling, and still another to Parkersburg, and later on to the far west.
Politicians tell us that large sums of money were expended for so-called internal improvements such as turn pikes, canals, etc.; "but," say Miller and Maxwell in "History of West Virginia", "these began everywhere and ended nowhere. They criss crossed the region around and contiguous to the State capital. They reached the base of the western mountains. They afforded easy means of travel and line driveways on which Virginia gentlemen could exercise their blooded horses. But they opened little territory whose trade was not already tributary to Virginia towns on tide water. The improvements were constructed with borrowed money. Debts were piled up far beyond the power of honest revenue to pay.
Though practically none of the improvements were of value to people west of the mountains, long after the separation of the two sections, suits were carried to the court of last resort in an effort to compel West Virginia to pay for over one third of Virginia's foolish efforts to build up a commercial center to rival Baltimore. Previous to the Civil War, Virginia was notoriously backward in the matter of educational facilities. In the early days the Shenandoah Valley was the western frontier. The people of this region came largely from the north, where education was popular. They were of a different type from those on tide-water Virginia—the Black belt. The rich slave owners south of James River were generally of aristocratic character and considered themselves superior to the "poor white trash". They believed in educating their own children, but regarded the other whites very much as they did their own slaves, in the matter of education. Many of the wealthy planters provided private teachers for their children, while others were sent to England and France to be educated.
The poor or middle class could not afford these advantages. Such a popular demand was made for schools that a fund was eventually provided, but was regarded as a charity fund to which the people were not entitled, and was begrudgingly doled out accordingly. When settlements were made west of the Alleghenies, they were composed largely of people from the Shenandoah Valley, who carried with them their educational ideas. The hostility of the eastern slaveholders to popular education pursued them thither, and but little of the educational fund found its way to the new settlements, and only those who were able to hire teachers or send their children to a "select" school were in a position to educate their children.
The habits of the people of eastern and western Virginia were never homogeneous. Their tastes and temperaments were different. They were of a different ancestry. Their habits, manners and modes of life were not the same. The people who first settled in the Shenandoah Valley and along its tributaries were largely from Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They were of the Yankee element, and held nothing in common with the aristocratic population of eastern Virginia. The real Virginian is, was and always has been an aristocrat by nature. He doted on his blood, and took as much pride in tracing his pedigree as did the French cavalryman his war horse. Socially, the poor whites were beneath the black slave.
Many of the notions that obtained under the old feudal system, when the baron built a castle and walled himself in from the vulgar contact of the plebeian and put on great pomp and ceremony, seemed to have been imparted to Virginia. The lordly owner of a Virginia plantation surrounded himself with slaves and established himself in a mansion that was as inaccessible to the common herd. Nor were his personal dignity and self-esteem less exalted than that of a feudal lord's. He had a knightly chivalry that would brook no trifling with his dignity. The slightest insinuation against his dignity or honor subjected the offender to the alternative of responding to a challenge to a duel or being branded as a coward.
Yet, notwithstanding these egotistical, absurd and even foolish traits of character, this type of Virginian possessed many qualities that appealed to those moving in his social circle Of the Virginian, W. P. Willey has to say In his own home he dispensed a princely hospitality. He was fond of society. He was the ideal gentleman in dress and manners ceremonious, but big hearted. He loved his friends, but hated his enemies. He had leisure and liked to talk. His tastes ran to blooded horses and politics, and his leisure gave him opportunity to study both. He knew much of party politics and public questions, and his convictions on such matters were as fixed and unalterable as a rule of mathematics. He was loyal to his party friends and meant extermination to his political foes. His choleric temperament and profound convictions made him a natural orator. When he went upon the hustling during a political campaign, he gave an entertaining performance, even to those who disagreed with him. Few better specimens of the highest style of the orator have ever been heard than some who have grown up from the Virginia soil.
It was a florid, fervid, inimitable speech that no scholarship or training could bestow. It had a touch of nature that could not be counterfeited. It appealed to a hearer's inner self as only spontaneous speech can. It was unhappily a kind of oratory not often heard in these matter-of-fact political times. The oratorical powers of the Virginian, as described by Mr. Willey, were not characteristic of the average slave owner of that State by any means. They were the exception not the rule. She had her orators, but only one Patrick Henry. Happily, the aristocratic notions of the people of Virginia are dying out as new generations appear. Their children are imbibing higher and better thoughts, and that exclusive, selfish feeling is conspicuous for its absence. But returning to" the early days : In the Mountain region, the people were the very antithesis of the slave owners on the east. They recognized no distinction or strata in society.
They were, by virtue of God's natural law, tree and equal. A man's worth was gauged by his industry and integrity money cut no material figure in a person's standing, socially or otherwise, in a community. They were sociable, friendly, kind and generous, but had no "exclusive sets". They were practical, plain, unpolished, fairly moral, but as a rule, not saintly people. Egotism, false pride, false modesty and silly aristocratic notions were despised by them. The western people were poor, but did not seem to know it, The eastern men were rich and never failed to show it. Western Virginia also had much to complain of in a political way. The politicians and law makers or the eastern part of Virginia seemed to think that the most effective way to keep their western brethren under their feet was by enactment of arbitrary laws, unfair assessment of taxes, and an unequal distribution of official positions. These unhappy conditions were maintained through a voting qualification election law which disfranchised a large number of voters in the west, but was not effective against the property vote of the east. Finally however, conditions became so intolerable that the westerners could no longer endure the high handed methods of the eastern politicians, and the latter, through threatening and emphatic protests by the former, relaxed, in a small measure, her tyrannical grip just enough relaxation to afford a slight breathing spell.
It will, therefore, be seen that four special things commerce, education, habits and politics afforded the cause for dissension, and were, in truth, the prime factors that eventually brought about the separation of West Virginia from the mother State. This separation was but the culmination of efforts which had been going on at intermittent stages for many years. The geographical relationship of the two sections with reference to the intervening mountains was, in itself, sufficient to suggest the natural suitableness of a division of territory. This fact was recognized by both the French and English as far back as 1749 as indicated by the formation of the Ohio Company, and the planting of the leaden plates by Celeron under direction of the Marquis de la Galissoniere, Commandant Gen Walpole, a London banker.
In 1770, the Ohio Company was merged in what was called The Walpole Company so called from Mr. Thomas Walpole, a London banker. After the Revolution, Mr. Walpole and his associates petitioned Congress respecting their lands, called then "Vandalia." This is said to have been the first real project having a definite purpose of founding a state west of the Alleghenies, by dividing Virginia. To this proposed division England appears to have been more strongly opposed than Virginia, but nothing ever came of it. At another time it was proposed to cut Virginia in two along the summit of the mountains and form the State of Transylvania by uniting the western parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the eastern portion of Kentucky, but this movement was likewise aborted.
Subsequently about the time of the adoption of the United States Constitution when the western extension of some of the States was under discussion, it was proposed that the Alleghany mountains should mark the Eastern boundary of Virginia; but finally the Ohio River was settled on instead. In 1822 there was some talk of a separation, but a majority of the western Virginians favored a more liberal State Constitution. They would be satisfied with guaranteeing a Liberal suffrage and more equitable taxation. Finally in 1829, a constitutional convention was called to Richmond, but the results were so unsatisfactory to the westerners that a new State movement was given increased momentum. A proposition was made to divide Virginia by a line east and west from the mouth of the Little Kanawha River to the south west corner of Maryland, and annex to Pennsylvania or Maryland all north of the line, about 8,000 square miles. That south of the line might form a new State or remain with Virginia. With reference to this movement, the "Winchester publican had this to say: The Virginia legislature will convene on Monday To the proceedings of this body we look with intense interest. Matters of great moment will come before it. and the discussions will be as interesting as those of the late convention.
The preservation of the State will, we believe, depend upon the legislature. Dispute the claims of the trans Alleghany counties to what they may deem a proper share of the fund for internal improvements, and a division of the state must follow not immediately, perhaps, but the signal will be given for the rising of the clans, and they will rise. It is not worth while now to speculate on the mode and manner in which the government will be opposed. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. But a crisis is approaching. The northern counties demand to be separated from the state with a view of attaching themselves to Maryland or Pennsylvania; the southwest counties go for a division of the state into two commonwealths.
Should the latter be effected, what will be our condition in the valley Infinitely worse than the present. The mere dependency of a government whose interests and whose trade would all go westward, we would be taxed without receiving any equivalent, and instead of being chastised with whip, we would be scourged with scorpions. Of the two projects spoken of, that which would be least injurious to the valley and the state at large would be to part with the northwestern counties. Let them go. Let us get clear of this disaffected population. Then prosecute the improvements called for by the southwest, and that portion of our state, deprived of its northern allies, would give up its desire for a separation At the time the above article appeared, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was under way to Cumberland, which point the non progressive politicians of eastern Virginia hoped would be its final terminus, as they were opposed to any development west of the mountains which might tend to lessen their grip on that part of the state. They feared if the railroad should find its way through the coal fields and vast timber lands of western Virginia, opening up both eastern and western markets, the people of that section would be in a much better position to enforce their rights and desires than if they were kept in an isolated condition.
The convention of 1829-30 having failed to grant the people's petition for relief, steps were again taken, in 1841-2, to secure a call for a constitutional convention and for reapportioning the representation, but these movements were defeated. In the year 1850, eastern Virginia seriously considered secession from the Union, but the people west of the mountains opposed it. The following extract from, the resolutions passed in Mason County, in 1850, expresses some of the reasons why the secession movement was unpopular in western Virginia: As a portion of the people of the fourteenth congressional district, a part of West Augusta on whose mountains Washington contemplated, if driven to extremities, to make his last stand and plant his last banner in defense of the liberties of his country, we are prepared, in conformity with the parting advice of that same Washington, to stand by the Union; and living in the line between slave holding and non slave holding states, which makes it certain that in the event dissolution of the Union, we should be placed in the position of borderers, exposed to the feuds and interminable broils which such a position would inevitably entail upon us, a regard for the safety of our firesides, not less than the high impulses of patriotism, the glorious recollection of the past, and the high anticipation of the future, will induce us to adhere unswervingly to this resolution.
Daniel Webster's prediction of the probable action of the Western Virginians along this line, in 1851, was as follows: Ye men of Western Virginia who occupy the slope from the Alleghenies to the Ohio and Kentucky, what benefit do you propose to yourselves by this-union ? Do you look for the current of the Ohio to change and bring you and your commerce to the tide-waters of eastern rivers? What man in his senses would suppose that you would remain a part and parcel of Virginia a month after Virginia ceased to be a part and parcel of the United States. On the 20th of December, 1860, South Carolina had adopted an Ordinance of Secession, and by February 1st, 1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana had all taken similar action, and the Senators and Representatives of these states resigned their seats in the National Congress and returned to their respective homes to share the fortunes or misfortunes of their people. Three days later, delegates from six of the seceded states assembled at Montgomery, Alabama, and formed a new government, called the Confederate States of America.
On February 8th, Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, was elected Provisional President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, Vice-President. Under the provisions of Virginia's constitution adopted in 1851, the General Assembly held biennial sessions. The period of vacation was in the winter of 1860-61. On November 15, 1860, Governor John Letcher issued a proclamation calling the General Assembly in extra session January 7, 1861. Upon the meeting of that body, the Governor said The proposition for the call of a State Convention, to determine the position which Virginia shall take, in view of passing events, appears to have been received with very general favor. As this subject has been much discussed by the people in their primary meetings, it is not only proper, but it is doubtless expected, that I shall refer to it in this communication.
I have my convictions upon this question, and I give expression to them in declaring my opposition at this time to the call of a State Convention. I see no necessity for it at this time, nor do I now see any good practical result that can be accomplished by it. I do not consider this a propitious time to moot the question, and I apprehend from indications that have been exhibited that serious difficulties and embarrassments will attend the movement. It was soon found that the views of a majority of the members did not harmonize with those of the Governor. On January 8th, the Assembly adopted the following resolutions "1. Resolved by the General Assembly of Virginia, that the Union being formed by the assent of the sovereign states respectively, and being consistent only with freedom and the republican institutions guaranteed to each, cannot and ought not to be maintained by force. "2. That the government of the Union has no power to declare or make war against any of the states which have been its constituent members. "3. Resolved, that when any one or more of the states has determined, or shall determine, under existing circumstances, to withdraw from the Union, we are unalterably opposed to any attempt on the part of the federal government to coerce the same into re-union or submission, and that we will resist the same by all the means in our power.
On January 21, the following resolution was adopted Resolved by the General Assembly of Virginia, That if all efforts to reconcile the unhappy deferrers existing between the two sections of the country shall prove to be abortive, then, in the opinion of the General Assembly, every consideration of honor and interest demands that Virginia shall unite her destiny with the Slaveholding States of the South. On February 13, 1861, a convention was held at the State House at Richmond. The number of Delegates was one hundred and fifty-two, of whom forty-seven were from counties now included in West Virginia. Some of the most prominent men of Virginia were present on that occasion, among whom were Ex-President John Tyler, Henry A. Wise, Ex-Governor of Virginia, etc. In connection with the foregoing, the following is taken from Lewis's "How West Virginia Was Made" A temporary organization was effected by the election of James H. Cox, of Chesterfield County; and he was escorted to the chair by George W. Summers and Spicer Patrick, the delegates from Kanawha County—now in West Virginia.
Then William F. Gordon, clerk of the House of Delegates, was appointed temporary Secretary. A permanent organization was declared to be in order, and John Janney, of Louden County, was elected President. In his address to the Convention, he said I tender you my sincere and cordial thanks for the honor you have conferred upon me, by calling me to preside over the deliberations of the most important Convention that has been assembled in this State since the year 1776. It is not my purpose to indicate the course which this body will probably pursue, or the measures it may be proper to adopt. The opinions of to-day may all be changed to-morrow. Events are thronging upon us, and we must deal with them as they present themselves.
Gentlemen There is a flag which for nearly a century has been borne in triumph through the battle and the breeze, and which now floats over this capital, on which there is a star representing this ancient Commonwealth, and my earnest prayer, in which I know every member of this body will cordially unite, is that it may remain forever; provided always that its luster is untarnished. We demand for our own citizens perfect equality of rights with those of the empire States of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio ; but we ask for nothing that we will not cheerfully concede to those of Delaware and Rhode Island. Gentlemen This is no party Convention. It is our duty on an occasion like this to elevate ourselves into an atmosphere in which part passion and prejudice Cannot exist to conduct all our deliberations Math calmness and wisdom, and to maintain with firmness whatever position we may find it necessary to assume.
When the President finished his address, John L. Eubank, of the City of Richmond, was elected permanent Secretary. A Committee on Federal Relations, consisting of twenty-one members, was appointed February 16, 1861. It consisted of Robert Y. Conrad, of Frederick County; Henry A. Wise, of Princess Anne County; Robert E. Scott, of Fauquier County; William Ballard Preston, of Montgomery County ; Lewis E. Harvey, Amelia and Nottaway Counties ; William H. McFarland, Richmond City; William McComas, Cabell County; Robert Montague, Matthews and Middlesex Counties ; Samuel Price, Greenbrier County; Valentine W. Southall, Albemarle County; Waitman T. Willey, Monongalia County; James C. Bruce, Halifax County; William W. Boyd, Botetourt and Craig Counties James Barbour, Culpepper County ; Samuel C. Williams, Shenandoah County; Timothy Rives, Prince George and Surrey Counties ; Samuel McD. Moore, Rockbridge County; George Blow, Jr., Norfolk City; Peter C. Johnson, Lee and Scott Counties John B. Baldwin, Augusta County; John J. Jackson, Wood County—seventeen from what is now Virginia, and four from what became West Virginia.
On the same day the President appointed the following Committee on Elections, Alpheus F. Haymond, of Marion County; William L. Goggin, of Bedford County; William G. Brown, of Preston County; J. R. Chambliss, of the Greenville-Sussex Delegate District ; Allen T. Caperton, of Monroe County ; William Ambler, of Louisa County; Algernon S. Gray, of Rockingham County ; Eppa Llutton, ofPrince William County; John A. Campbell, of Wythe County; William M. Tredway, of Pittsylvania Comity and Addison Hall, of the Lancaster-Northumberland Delegate District. The business of the Convention was not fairly begun, and resolutions were poured upon the Convention with great rapidity, far the greater number being referred to the Committee on Federal Relations. They were expressive of divers sentiments and conflicting opinions. The Governor was requested to furnish the number of Enrolled Militia and the number and character of arms distributed to volunteer companies.
A select committee of five was appointed \o report speedily whether any movements of arms or men had been made by the Federal government to any fort or arsenal in or bordering on Virginia indicating a preparation for attack or coercion. The 18th day of February was set apart for the reception of the Commissioners appointed by the States of South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi, to the Convention to ask cooperation of Virginia in establishing and maintaining a government in the seceded States. The first speaker was Hon. Fulron Anderson, the Commissioner from Mississippi. He began his remarks by a graceful adulation of Virginia, in attributing to her the honor of leadership in the struggle for independence with the crown of Great Britain. He then rehearsed the action of his own State in her secession from the Union and closed by saying that Virginia held in her hands the destiny of a Southern Confederacy, and that by uniting with her Southern sisters, a revolution would be accomplished, bloodless and peaceful in its character, and no more threats of coercion would be heard. Hon.
Henry L. Benning, from Georgia, was next introduced. He urged separation as the only remedy for existing evils. "What," said he, "shall influence a nation to enter into a treaty with another nation? It is," he urged, "interest—material, social, political and religious interest." A long array of statistics and figures were presented to show how Virginia would be benefited by joining her fortunes with those of the seceding States. Then came Hon. John S. Preston, the Commissioner from South Carolina, who stated that his mission was "to communicate to the people of Virginia the causes which have impelled the people of South Carolina to withdraw from the United States." He believed that the time had come when the slaveholding States should resume the powers hitherto granted to the General Government. He closed with an earnest appeal to Virginia to assume that position which her past greatness indicated, and with her voice hush the storm of war and keep the ancient glory of her name.
The Commissioners were representative men of their respective States, and the addresses of all were resplendent with rhetorical flourish and literary excellence. All portrayed the danger to Virginia of remaining longer in the Union, and held up to view a new government of a new nation of which Virginia, should she pass an Ordinance of Secession, would become the chief corner stone. The effect produced by this visit of the Commissioners was indeed powerful. By resolution, each Commissioner was requested to furnish the manuscript of his address and three thousand copies were ordered printed for the use of the Convention. The citizens of many of the eastern counties, in convention assembled, urged the Convention to immediate action. At a meeting in Bedford County, March 6, 1861, the following was adopted :
"BE IT RESOLVED, That we will resist any and every attempt at coercion, and respectfully request our delegates in the Convention to use every means in their power to dissolve the connection of Virginia with the Federal Government. At a meeting of the citizens of the County, at their Court House, March 9, 1861, they adopted the following: Resolved, That the honor, the duty, and the interest of Virginia imperatively demand that she should immediately resume all her rightful sovereignty and stand prepared for war. On the 6th of March, Alpheus F. Haymond, Chairman of the Committee on Elections, reported to the Convention that returns from the election held on the 4th of the preceding February had been received from all the counties of the State except Buchanan, Cabell, Elizabeth City, Greene, Logan, McDowell and Wise), and that the total number of votes cast was 145,697, of which 100,536 were in favor of referring the action of the Convention to the people for ratification and 45,161 against referring" to the people.
On Saturday, April 13th, it was reported in Richmond that the South Carolina forces had attacked Fort Sumter, and Governor Letcher sent a telegram to Governor Pickens of that State, making inquiry as to whether the report was true. To this the latter replied, saying: "It is true, and it still continues. No damage to any on our side or to our works. Great damage to Fort Sumter." Later in the day Governor Pickens sent another telegram, saying: Fort Sumter was bombarded all day yesterday. The war has commenced. Please let me know what Virginia will do To this, Governor Letcher replied by saying: "The Convention now in session will determine what Virginia will do.This determination by the Convention was soon reached, as Governor Letcher said it would be. Henceforth there was much confusion, and excited discussions continued until April 16th, when, with the Convention in secret session, William Ballard Preston reported from the Committee on Federal Relations the following Ordinance AN ORDINANCE TO REPEAL THE RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, BY THE STATE OF VIRGINIA, AND TO RESUME ALL THE RIGHTS AND POWERS GRANTED UNDER SAID CONSTITUTION.
The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed when so ever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injured of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain. That the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified and all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.
And do further declare, That said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.
"This Ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day, when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereinafter to be enacted. The next day, Wednesday, April 17th, 1861, was the most eventful one in the annals of Virginia. At 1 :30 P. M. a vote taken and the Ordinance of Secession was adopted yeas 88; nays 55 a majority of 33. The crisis had been reached and passed, but the result was not known until the next day. Upon its announcement all East Virginia was wild with excitement. That evening a great mass meeting was held at the Metropolitan Hotel in the City of Richmond, and the following resolutions unanimously adopted :
"RESOLVED, UNANIMOUSLY, That the thanks of this convention be cordially tendered to the State Convention for the noble act of patriotic duty which they have just performed and forgetting all past dissensions, we will rally with united hearts and hands in defense of the honor, safety and independence of Virginia, and the Confederate States. Resolved unanimously, That the members of this convention do here, in the presence of the Almighty God and of each other, pledge themselves and each other, their fortunes and sacred honors, in defense of their native soil. The same evening. Col. S. Bassett French, "with a heart too full for utterance", enclosed copies of these resolutions to the President of the Convention, stating that they had been adopted by the people under the deepest ense of their responsibility to Almighty God and their beloved State. That night bonfires illuminated the public squares in Petersburg and Fredericksburg", and at interior towns the booming of cannon fired in celebration of the event, died away in prolonged echoes along the eastern base of the Blue Ridge. From the mountains to the sea all was enthusiasm.
On the 18th of April, the Convention adopted the following: Resolved, That the Governor of this Commonwealth be requested to communicate immediately to the President of the Confederate States the fact that this Convention, on yesterday adopted an Ordinance resuming the powers delegated by Virginia to the Federal Government, and to express to the said President the earnest desire of Virginia to enter into an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the said Confederate States. The next day Governor Letcher complied with the request in this resolution, and in reply thereto, received a telegram from the President of the Confederate States in relation to an alliance between them and the Commonwealth of Virginia :
"To His Excellency, John Letcher, Governor of the State of Virginia, Sir: In response to your communication, conveying to me on behalf of the State of Virginia, the expression of the earnest desire of that Commonwealth to enter into an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the Confederate States, and being animated by a sincere wish to unite and bind together our respective countries by friendly ties. I have appointed Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, as special commissioner of the Confederate States to the Government of Virginia and I have now the honor to introduce him to you, and to ask for him a reception and treatment corresponding to his station, and to the purposes for which he is sent. Those purposes he will more particularly explain to you. "Hoping that through his agency these may be accomplished, I avail myself of this occasion to offer to you the assurance of my distinguished consideration. Jefferson Davis. Montgomery, April 19, 1861." Following is a copy of Alexander H. Stephens's Commission
to Treat with Virginia :
"TO ALL WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL CONCERN, GREETING:
"Know ye, that for the purpose of establishing friendly relations between the Confederate States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia ; and reposing special trust and confidence in the integrity, prudence and ability of Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States and Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Virginia, I have invested him with full and all manner of power, and authority for, and in the name of the Confederate States, to meet and confer with any person or persons authorized by the Government of Virginia, being furnished with like power and authority and with him or them to agree, treat, consult and negotiate of and concerning all matters and subjects interesting to both republics and to conclude a treaty or treaties, convention or conventions, touching the premises; transmitting the same to the President of the Confederate States for his final ratification, by and with the advice and consent of the Congress of the Confederate States.
In testimony whereof, I have caused the. seal of the Confederate States to be hereunto affixed. Given under my hand, at the City of Montgomery, this nineteenth day of April, A. D. 1861. By the President : JEFFERSON DAVIS. "Robert Toombs, ."Secretary of State." In compliance with a resolution adopted on April 22nd, Ex-President John Tyler, William Ballard Preston, Samuel Moore, James P. Holcombc, James C. Bruce and Lewis E. Harvie were appointed a committee to confer with Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Commissioner from the Confederate States, to arrange with him the terms of union or alliance between Virginia and said Confederate States. On April 24th Ex-President Tyler, Chairman of the Committee, reported to the Convention for its consideration a "temporary convention and agreement with said States for the purpose of meeting pressing exigencies affecting the common rights, interest and safety of said Commonwealth
This agreement was duly ratified by the Convention till following day, and on the same day the following ordinance was adopted An ORDINANCE for the adoption of the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, in convention assembled, solemnly impressed with the perils which surround the Commonwealth, and appealing to the searcher of hearts for the rectitude of our intentions in assuming the grave responsibility of this act, do, by this ordinance, adopt and ratify the constitution of the provisional government of the Confederate States of America, ordained and established at Montgomery, Alabama, on the eighth day of February, eighteen hundred and sixty-one; provided, that this ordinance shall cease to have any legal operation or if the people of this Commonwealth, upon the vote directed to be taken on the ordinance of secession passed by this convention on the seventeenth day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, shall reject the same.
Organization of Provisional Army and Capture of Government Property. General Headquarters, Adjutant-General's Office, April 17, 1861.
Brigadier-General James H. Carson, 16th Brigade, Frederick Count Virginia. Sir: You will issue orders to the volunteer force of our
brigade to hold itself in readiness for service at a moment's warning, and support any movement that may be made by the State troops upon the arsenal and works at Harper's Ferry. They will probably be joined by the volunteers of Augusta and Rockingham, If necessary, you will assume the command of the entire force.
By order of the Commander-in-Chief, M. H. RICHARDSON, A. G. General Headquarters, Adjutant-General's Office, April 18, 1861.
General Thomas Haymond, Commanding 3rd Division: The Governor directs that you give orders to the volunteer corps in your Division to be ready for service at a moment's notice, and to the Brigadier-Generals to be prepared for service. That you take measures effectually to prevent the passage of the Federal or any other troops from the west, eastward on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The Brigadier-Generals of your Division are Buckner Fairfax, of Preston County, 10th Brigade; James H. Carson, Frederick County, the 16th ; James Boggs, Pendleton County, 18th; C. B. Conrad, Gilmer County, 20th; John J. Jackson, Wood County, 23rd ; and Bushrod W. Price, Marshall County, 24th ; and to them your orders should be addressed promptly. By Command. WM. H. RICHARDSON, A. G. April 19th, Major-General Kenton Harper, commanding at Harper's Ferry, telegraphed Adjutant-General Richardson: 'T am forwarding to Winchester, with all dispatch possible. the arms and machinery at this place, retaining only such of the arms which are complete and rescued from the burning', as are thought necessary to equip the troops, imperfectly armed, as they come in.
There are now about thirteen hundred men here, and I expect reinforcements to the number of five hundred in a few hours, and I have information of about a thousand now on the way. April 21st—Flag Officer French Forest took possession of the Norfolk and Gosport Navy Yards, together with vessels, steam engines, machinery, tools, supplies, and other property valued at $2,497,130.92; together with the old and new custom houses at Norfolk, valued at $207,000.00. The same day on which the movement was made on Harper's Ferry (April 17) the Convention provided for a State Military force. This was done by the adoption of An Ordinance to call the volunteers into the service of the State and for other purposes.
April 19th, the office of Major-General of the Military and Naval forces of the State was created, and on April 22nd Governor Letcher nominated Robert E. Lee for this office, which was promptly confirmed by the Convention. An ordinance for the Enlistment in the Provisional Army was adopted on April 27th, which provided that "all free, able bodied, effective men between the ages of eighteen and forty five might be enlisted, and the enlistment should be binding on minors, provided they be allowed four days to reconsider and retract their enlistment.
On the 29th of April, five Congressmen were elected to represent Virginia in the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States, about to assemble at Montgomery, Alabama. These were Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, of Essex County; William C. Rives, of Albemarle County; Hon. John W. Brockenborough, of Rockbridge County ; Walter R. Staples, of Montgomery County ; and Judge Gideon D. Camden, of Harrison County; but Camden never appeared to take his seat. On May 1st the Convention adopted an ordinance to release the officers, civil and military, from all obligations to support the Constitution of the late Confederacy, known as the United States of America. A resolution adopted by the Congress of the Provisional Government ratified the terms of alliance entered into on the 24th of the preceding April, by and between Alexander H. Stephens, the Confederate Commissioner, and the Commissioners of Virginia, and the old Commonwealth was thus formally admitted into the Confederate States of America
May 7th, 1861. During all these movements on the part of the Eastern Virginians, looking to a separation from the Union, the Western
Virginians, a great majority of whom were opposed to secession, were not idle. Some were in favor of taking immediate steps to form a new State. Others preferred to wait a while and see what the slaveholding section would do. At last, when Virginia had actually cast her lot with the Southern Confederacy, the Western Virginians went to work with a will and in the midst of shot and shell the new State of West Virginia took her place and cast her lot with the Union on June 20th, 1863, details of which important event will appear in another chapter.
FORMATION OF WEST VIRGINIA.
A preponderance of sentiment in Western Virginia was favorable to the perpetuation of the Federal Union. The people west of the mountains generally regarded secession from the Union as ruinous, and resolved that if that part dominated by the slaveholders chose to go with the Confederate States, they would endeavor to preserve the western section to the Federal Union. They first desired to hold Virginia in the Union, but if the}- failed in this, then the)' would seek a division of the State, and proceeded to act accordingly. On November 12, 1860, a public meeting was held at the Court House in Preston County for the purpose of an exchange of views on the important events then agitating the whole country, and to discuss certain questions in which Western Virginia, in particular, was so vitally interested.
hotly contested election had been held six days previous, but men of all parties, irrespective of past affiliations, were present and took some part in the important matters which brought them together. It was soon ascertained that practically every one present was opposed to secession, and strong resolutions were passed to that effect. On November 24th—four days after South Carolina adopted an Ordinance of Secession—a meeting was held in Harrison County and resolutions were adopted to the effect that the people would first exhaust all constitutional remedies for redress before resorting to more heroic measures that the ballot box was the only Constitutional remedy and to it they would appeal that it was the duty of all citizens to uphold and support the lawfully constituted authorities.
On November 26th a meeting of the people was held at the Court House in Morgantown, Monongalia County, headed by the local leaders of both political parties. They resolved The people inhabiting that portion of Virginia known as West Virginia did, by the Convention in the city of Wheeling on the 26th of November, 1861, frame for themselves a Constitution with a view of becoming a separate and independent State and WHEREAS, At a general election held in 'the counties composing the territory aforesaid on the third day of May last, the said Constitution was approved and adopted by the qualified voters of the proposed State and WHEREAS, The Legislature of Virginia by an act passed on the thirteenth day of May, 1862, did give its consent to the formation of a new State within the jurisdiction of the State of Virginia, to be known by the name of West Virginia, and to embrace the following named counties, to-wit : Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Taylor, Pleasants, Tyler, Ritchie, Doddridge, Harrison, Wood, Jackson, Wirt, Roane, Calhoun, Gilmer, Barbour, Tucker, Lewis, Braxton, Upshur, Randolph, Mason, Putnam, Kanawha, Clay, Nicholas, Cabell, Wayne, Boone, Logan, Wyoming, Mercer, McDowell, Webster, Pocahontas, Fayette, Raleigh, Greenbrier, Monroe, Pendleton, Hardy, Hampshire, and Morgan and WHEREAS, Both the Convention and the Legislature aforesaid have requested that the new State should be admitted into the Union, and the Constitution aforesaid being republican in form, Congress does hereby consent that the said forty-eight counties may be formed into a separate and independent State.
Therefore Sec. L Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.
That the State of West Virginia be, and is hereby declared to be, one of the United States of America, and admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, and until the next general census shall be entitled to three members in the House of Representatives of the United States; Provided, always, that this act shall not take effect until after the proclamation of the President of the United States hereinafter provided for. It being represented to Congress that since the Convention of the twenty-sixth of November, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, that framed and proposed the Constitution for the said State of West Virginia, the people thereof have expressed a wish to change the seventh section of the eleventh article of said Constitution by striking out the same and inserting the following in its place, The children of slaves born within the limits of this State after the fourth day of July, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, shall be free; and all slaves within the said State who shall, at the time aforesaid, be under the age of ten years shall be free when they arrive at the age of twenty-one years and all slaves over ten and under twenty-one years shall be free when they arrive at the age of twenty-five years and no slave shall be permitted to come into the State for permanent residence therein.
Therefore Sec. 2. Be it further enacted. That whenever the people of West Virginia shall, through their said Convention, and by a vote to be taken at an election to be held within the limits of the said State, at such time as the Convention may provide, make and ratify the change aforesaid, and properly certify the same under the hand of the President of the Convention, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to issue his proclamation stating the fact, and thereupon this act shall take effect and be in force from and after sixty days from the date of said proclamation. "Senate Bill No. 365" was put to vote on July 14th, resulting in 23 yeas and 17 nays; eight members not voting. John S. Carlile of Virginia was one of those voting nay.
On the following day William Hickey, chief clerk of the Senate, appeared at the bar of the House of Representatives, and informed that body that the Senate had passed Senate Bill No. 365, and requested the concurrence of the House therein." But the Bill was held up in the House until December 10th, at which time it was put to a vote, resulting in ninety-six yeas and fifty-five nays. The news of the action of the House was officially conveyed to the Senate by Emerson Ethridge, of Tennessee, clerk of the House of Representatives, on December 11th. The Bill was signed by President Lincoln on December 31st, 1862. The Constitutional Convention was re-asscmbled in the Custom House, in Wheeling, February 12th, 1863, for the purpose of making certain changes in the Constitution of the new State required by Congress. On February 20th the Convention completed the work for which it was assembled and adjourned sine die. On March 26th the people voted upon the adoption of the amended Constitution, the vote resulting For Ratification, 27,749; for Rejection, 572, which result was duly certified to the President of the United States on April 17th, and on April 20th the following Proclamation was issued A PROCLAMATION.
WHEREAS, By the act of Congress approved the 31st day of December last, the State of West Virginia was declared to be one of the United States of America, and was admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatsoever, upon the condition that certain changes should be duly made in the proposed constitution for that State and WHEREAS, proof of a compliance with that condition, as required by the second section of the act aforesaid, has been submitted to me: Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby, in pursuance of the act of Congress aforesaid, declare and proclaim that the said act shall take effect and be in force from and after sixty days from the date hereof. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of April, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President: WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State. On May 28th, 1863, an election was held, and the following officers elected: Arthur I. Boreman, Governor Jacob Edgar Boyers, Secretary of State ; Campbell Tarr, State Treasurer; Samuel Crane, State Auditor; Aquilla B. Caldwell, Attorney-General; for Judges of Supreme Court of Appeals, Ralph L. Berkshire, William A. Harrison and James H, Brown. The following from the Daily Intelligencer of Wheeling, June 22, 1863: Saturday, June 20. That day the period of sixty days mentioned in the proclamation of the President, April 20, 1863, expired and West Virginia entered upon her career as a member of the Federal Union. It was a remarkable one in the history of the Virginias. In Wheeling a vast multitude thronged the streets thousands of flags fluttered in the breeze; the display of bunting was the most attractive ever seen in the 'Western Metropolis.' It threatened rain June showers now all the beauties of a clear sunlight were shown, then a cloud chased all away. There were June showers little ones not enough to drive the people from the streets.
A procession marched through the principal streets and then halted in front of the Linsly Institute. It was filled with people ; the streets were filled with men, women and children, and the yards, windows and roofs were full of eager faces. A large platform had been erected in front of the Institute, and thither the officers officials of two State Governments were conducted as they arrived. Hon. Chester D. Hubbard called the multitude to order. Thirty-five tastefully attired and beautiful little girls, representing the American States all of them sang the 'Star Spangled Banner. Rev. J. T. McClure addressed the Throne of Grace. Then came two Governors Francis H. Pierpont, the head of the Restored Government, and Arthur I. Boreman, Chief Executive of a State just then beginning to be. The first delivered a Valedictory, the second an Inaugural Address. The sovereignty of the Restored Government of Virginia was terminated on the soil of West Virginia. Governor Pierpont retired with the Restored Government to Alexandria on the Potomac, nine miles below Washington City.
Three cheers were given for West Virginia the little girls sang E Pluribus Unum, the band played the 'Star Spangled Banner,' and thus terminated the ceremonies of the inauguration of West Virginia as a free and independent State. The Restored Government of Virginia which left Wheeling on June 20th, 1863, for Alexandria, and in May, 1865, removed to Richmond, is the present Government of Virginia the Government organized at Wheeling, June 20th, continued to be the Government of the State of West Virginia.
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