State of West Virgina,
In the Virginia Secession Convention the members from the western or mountainous districts were nearly all Unionists
Before the adjournment of that convention the inhabitants of the mountain region had met at various places to consult upon public affairs.
At the first of these, at Clarksburg
, April 22, 1861, John S. Carlile
, a member of the convention, offered a series of resolutions calling an assembly of delegates of the people at Wheeling
, on May 13.
They were adopted.
At a meeting at Kingwood, in Preston county
(May 4), it was declared that the separation of western from eastern Virginia
was essential to the maintenance of their liberties.
They also resolved to so far defy the Confederate
authorities of the State
as to elect a representative in the national Congress.
Similar sentiments were expressed at other meetings.
The convention of delegates met at Wheeling
on the appointed day. A large number of counties were represented by almost 400 delegates.
The chief topic discussed in the convention was the division of the State
and the formation of a new one, composed of the forty or fifty counties of the mountain region, the inhabitants of which owned very few slaves, and were enterprising and thrifty.
These counties were controlled by, and for the interests of, the great slave-holding region in eastern Virginia
There was remarkable unanimity of sentiment in the convention against longer submitting to this control, and in love for the Union
The convention was too informal to take action on the momentous question of the dismemberment of the State
By resolution, it condemned the ordinance of secession, and called a provisional convention to assemble at the same place on June 11 following, if the ordinance should be ratified by the people.
A central committee was appointed, who issued (May 22) an address to the people of northwestern Virginia
The Confederates were thoroughly alarmed by these proceedings.
Expecting an armed revolt in that section, the governor (Letcher
) sent orders to the commander of State troops at Grafton
to seize arms at Wheeling
, arm such men as might rally to his camp, and cut off telegraphic communication between Wheeling
He was ordered to destroy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad if troops from Ohio
should attempt to pass over it.
The convention met June 11, with Arthur J. Boreman
A committee was appointed to draw up a bill of rights
All allegiance to the Southern Confederacy was totally denied, and it was declared that all officers in Virginia
who adhered to it were suspended and their offices vacated.
They condemned the ordinance of secession, and called upon all citizens who had taken up arms for the Confederacy
to lay them down.
Measures were adopted for a provisional government and for the election of officers for a period of six months. This was not secession from Virginia
, but purely revolutionary.
On June 17 a declaration of independence
of the old government of Virginia
was adopted, and was signed by the fifty-six members present.
On the 20th there was a unanimous vote in favor of the separation of western from eastern Virginia
, and on that day the provisional government was organized by the appointment of
Francis H. Pierpont
, of Marion county
, governor; Daniel Polsley
, of Mason county
; and an executive council of five members.
The governor immediately notified the President
of the United States
of insurrection in western Virginia
, and asked aid to suppress it. He raised $12,000 for the public use, pledging his own private fortune for the amount.
A legislature was elected and met at Wheeling
, on July 1, and John S. Carlile
and Waitman T. Willey
were chosen to represent the “restored commonwealth” in the Senate of the United States.
The convention reassembled on Aug. 20, and passed an ordinance for a new State, which was submitted to the people, and by them ratified.
At a session of the convention on Nov. 27, the name of West Virginia
was given to the new State.
A new constitution was
framed, which the people ratified on May 3, 1862.
On the same day the legislature approved all of the proceedings in the matter, and established a new commonwealth.
On July 20, 1863, West Virginia
was admitted into the Union
as a State, by act of Congress, which had been approved by the President
, Dec. 31, 1862.
A State seal, with an appropriate device, was adopted, inscribed, “State of West Virginia
Montani Semper Liber
” (mountaineers are always free), and the new commonwealth took its place as the thirty-fifth State of the Union
, covering an area of 23,000 square miles.
Populalation in 1890, 762,794; in 1900, 958,800. See United States, West Virginia
, in vol.