previous next

Doc. 25.-Inaugural of Gov. Pierpont.

On June 20, Mr. Pierpont was inaugurated Governor of Virginia by the Convention in session at Wheeling. He made the following address:--

gentlemen of the Convention: I return to you my sincere thanks for this mark of your confidence, in placing me in the most critical and trying position in which any man could be placed at the present time.

This day and this event mark a period in the history of constitutional liberty. They mark a period in American history. For more than three-quarters of a century our Government has proceeded, in all the States and in all the Territories upon which our fathers erected it — namely, upon the intelligence of the people; and that in the people resides all power, and that from them all power must emanate.

A new doctrine has been introduced by those who are at the head of the revolution in our Southern States--that the people are not the source of all power. Those promulgating this doctrine have tried to divide the people into two classes: the one they call the laboring class, the other the capital class. They have for several years been industriously propagating the idea that the capital of the country ought to represent the legislation of the country, and guide it and direct it; maintaining that it is dangerous for the labor of the country to enter into the legislation of the country. This, gentlemen, is the principle that has characterized the revolution that has been inaugurated in the South; they maintaining that those who are to have the privilege of voting ought to be of the educated class, and that the legislation ought not to be represented by the laboring classes.

We in Western Virginia, and, as I suppose, in the whole of Virginia, adopted the great doctrine of the fathers of the Republic, that in the people resides all power; and that embraced all people. This revolution has been inaugurated with a view of making a distinction upon the principles that I have indicated. We of Western Virginia have not been consulted upon that subject. The large body of your citizens in the eastern part of the State have not been consulted upon that subject.

American institutions lie near to the heart of the masses of the people, all over this country, from one end of it to the other, though not as nearly perhaps in Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas, as in some of the Western and Northern States.

This idea has been covertly advanced only in portions of Virginia. She has stood firm by the doctrines of the fathers of the Revolution up to within a very short period. Its propagators have attempted to force it upon us by terror and at the point of the bayonet. We have been driven into the position we occupy to-day, by the usurpers at the South, who have inaugurated this war upon the soil of Virginia, and have made it the great Crimea of this contest. We, representing the loyal citizens of Virginia, have been bound to assume the position we have assumed to-day, for the protection of ourselves, our wives, our children, and our property. We, I repeat, have been driven to assume this position; and now we are but recurring to the great fundamental principle of our fathers, that to the loyal people of a State belongs the law-making power of that State. The loyal people are entitled to the government and governmental authority of the State. And, fellow-citizens, it is the assumption of that authority upon which we are now about to enter.

It will be for us by firmness, and by prudence, by wisdom, by discretion, in all our acts, to inaugurate every step we take for the purpose of restoring law and order to this ancient Commonwealth; to mark well our steps, and to implore the Divine wisdom and direction of Him that ruleth above, who has every hair of our heads numbered, and who suffereth not a sparrow to fall unnoticed to the ground, and His guidance and direction in enabling us to carry out the great work we have undertaken here, in humility, but with decision and determination.

With these remarks I thank you again for the honor you have conferred upon me, and promise you that I will do the best I can in [154] administering your wishes, and in trying to carry out the great object we have been working for here, and for which we expect to work for some time to come. I thank you, gentlemen. (Great applause.)

The following is the oath taken by the newly-elected State officers:

I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance thereof, as the supreme law of the land, any thing in the Constitution and laws of the State of Virginia, or in the ordinances of the Convention which assembled in Richmond on the 13th day of February last, to the contrary notwithstanding, and that I will uphold and defend the Government of Virginia as vindicated and restored by the Convention which assembled in Wheeling on the 11th day of June, 1861.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Francis H. Pierpont (2)
Doc (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 11th, 1861 AD (1)
June 20th (1)
February 13th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: