The Convention was opened with prayer by Rev. Josiah Simmons, member from Randolph.
MR. BROWN of Preston. I believe the right of petition on all subjects is regarded as a sacred right. I beg leave this morning to present two petitions from my constituents on a subject upon which it is true the Convention has partially acted. Nevertheless I desire to have the petitions read, and laid on the table.
The petitions, signed by citizens of Preston county were accordingly read by the Secretary. They prayed that a provision be inserted in the Constitution forbidding the exercise of the right of suffrage by any person who has not paid the state and county taxes assessed against him.
MR. HAGAR. I hold a paper in my hand containing the resignation of Capt. Cassidy as a member of this body and also a petition soliciting the appointment of E. W. Ryan, in his stead as member from Fayette County.
Letter and petition were read.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I move the reference of that letter of credentials to the Committee on Credentials, as in the case of the gentleman from McDowell and Mercer.
MR. HAGAR. If it would be consistent, I would rather the Convention would act upon it, as they will have the say so in it anyhow, and it is plain, short and small. Mr. Ryan is here ready to take his seat.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I withdraw the proposition. I suppose the first thing will be to accept the resignation of Mr. Cassidy.
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair is under the impression the acceptance is necessary before taking action on the other.
MR. POMEROY. I move it be accepted.
The motion was agreed to.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I shall object to any action being taken on that petition. It does not appear that they cannot hold an election in Fayette county now, and if a new election is ordered to be held in that county, and the return is that they cannot hold it, it is all very well. But this does not allege that no election can be held. It says no election could be held last October. I do not think, sir, there is any use of sending a paper of that kind to the Committee on Credentials. If they wish to have the county represented, the best way would be to take such steps. I do not know why they cannot have an order for a new election to be held in Fayette county. That is all we can do about it.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I think the gentleman should have answered the question he propounds, to have told us how an election can be held in the county of Fayette. I know no law, sir, under which you can hold an election there. The ordinance of June prescribes the mode by which the governor can order elections for house of delegates. Mr. Ryan, the gentleman present, was appointed by the citizens of Fayette - a long list of them - to the house of delegates on account of their inability to hold their election and their delegate to the legislature that was elected in May having gone to Richmond, his petition was referred to the house committee on credentials who reported adversely because they knew no law under which the house could admit any member who had not been elected in the manner prescribed by law; and no election had been or could be held until the Governor issued his proclamation and appointed the officers to hold the election. But the Governor is authorized by no ordinance of this commonwealth to order an election for this Convention. The ordinance which called this Convention together fixed that for itself, and where no election was held or could be held in the manner prescribed by the ordinance there is no power in the State to prescribe any such order. There is no law, ordinance or recognized authority by which it can be done. The whole question, then, is left to this Convention. Here are the people disfranchised by circumstances over which they had no control, who have selected their delegate in the only way that is left and that is the only right that belonged to them - a way that has been recognized and acted on and approved by this Convention; and their delegate is here asking that he be permitted to take his seat in the same way others have done. I confess I cannot perceive any difference between this case and others. The question is then, will this Convention make an example of the people of Fayette and disfranchise them.
MR. HERVEY. I would inquire of the Secretary whether those names are in the same hand-writing?
THE SECRETARY. They are in a different handwriting.
MR. POMEROY. I move that this case be referred to the Committee on Elections. I think it is the proper way. I have not time, and the majority have not, to examine the papers.
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman from Boone moved immediate action.
MR. POMEROY. I move to amend by referring to the Committee on Credentials.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. The question is now before us and all the facts are here. We have delayed a longer time than is necessary to receive this gentleman on the floor. It does seem to me it is very proper that we should act on it at once. I want to see the county of Fayette admitted here. He comes here endorsed by the former member of this Convention who we all know was an honorable gentleman, and I see no propriety in submitting this thing to the Committee on Credentials. The facts are here; let us have the opinion of this Convention at once. I hope it will be the pleasure of the Convention to receive this gentleman from Fayette. He comes here endorsed by the honest citizens. Unless he is received now and at once the county of Fayette will not be represented on this floor. I presume our labors will soon close and I am not for any further delay in this matter.
MR. HAGAR. I hope the amendment will not prevail but that we will at once act on it. We will have to act on it if it goes to the committee and it is a plain, simple case and the county has not been represented in this Convention for three or four weeks.
MR. BROWN of Preston. In a matter of this kind, I at least owe a duty to my constituents and every member on this floor owes a similar duty. That duty is to see that any gentleman who claims a seat in this Convention shall come here by some proper authority. I am aware of the fact that we have been admitting gentlemen on this floor in the mode indicated by the paper read by the Secretary, and, sir, in the two cases in which the Convention last acted a reference was had to the standing committee of this house upon credentials. No member of this Convention has - at least I have not - seen the paper that has been meagerly signed by citizens of Fayette county. It may be all right. The paper may be a genuine paper. I do not know; no member of this house can know anything about this thing. We cannot tell anything about the character of it. We have no evidence on this subject. For what purpose was this committee raised. Why, to inquire into this thing and to hear evidence in reference to cases of this kind to keep this Convention from doing wrong in the premises and having some suitable occasion, through the medium of a committee by which this Convention can form a proper judgment on this case and on every case that is submitted for its consideration. The mode proposed is certainly, sir, very irregular. It is a great departure from the usual custom in bodies of this kind and in bodies that receive their authority by an election of the people. And hence, sir, we should guard this matter with careful regard to our duties in this particular and not voluntarily have a paper forced upon us and grant a gentleman a seat in this Convention without his credentials passing the scrutiny of the committee raised for that purpose. If this Convention will not have some respect for its own dignity and for the integrity of its authority to act for the people of the State we are sent here to represent, how can we expect others to have. We owe it to ourselves as much as to our constituents that no man be allotted a seat within this bar until it has been properly shown that he is entitled to it.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I would simply say that the gentleman from Preston and I are on that committee. So far as I am concerned I am prepared as much now as I will be on that committee. I have all the evidence I expect to have before that committee. If I want to see that paper I will go up there and take a look at it and I am satisfied from the source it came from it is genuine.
MR. HERVEY. This Convention has on previous occasions made a mere reference to this committee which was created for a specific purpose: that is, to inquire into the credentials of persons making application for seats on this floor. Now, I cannot see why there can be any objection in this case more than in other cases which have been referred. This is a peculiar case. This is not a similar case to any that has occurred on this floor. The letter addressed to the President of this Convention states that the former delegate desires that this member may be admitted as his successor. Well, now, sir, what right has a former delegate to indicate who his successor shall be? His right to a seat on this floor is based on that paper, and members of this Convention have not even examined that paper; know nothing about it except as read by the Clerk. There is a committeeVhose business it is to inquire into this thing. Why not send it to that committee and have their report?
MR. STEPHENSON of Clay. I should like to ascertain who the committee is. Do they expect to delay this matter until this is sent back and fore, to hunt up the signatures in order to see whether they are genuine or not? If not, I do not see any necessity for delaying the matter. I expect the Convention are in possession of all the facts that the committee could be.
MR. POMEROY. I would like to know.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I want to rise to a question of order. The gentleman from Monongalia has taken the floor several times. I understand the rule is gentlemen must rise to address the Chair. The gentleman from Hancock has been standing there a half hour.
MR. POMEROY. Then I must have risen.
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman from Hancock and three others all rose at the same time.
MR. POMEROY. I believe it is customary in all bodies of this kind to have a committee on credentials, and I cannot see what a committee of that kind is for if cases of this kind are not referred to it. I have no objection to admitting this gentleman as a member on this floor if the committee after an examination of the case recommend it. Fayette county has a population of five thousand people. Now, it is a singular thing, with a lot of Union soldiers in the county, a man comes here and claims to be a representative on this floor endorsed by a single baker's dozen out of the whole population of the county. Not a solitary name but 13 on that paper. Now, that is a singular thing with all this protection that is afforded by the Union soldiers. I don't know this gentleman at all. He may be a worthy man; but on the principle of admitting members in this loose way into a body of this kind, I do enter my protest; and I want if this vote is reached now to enter my vote, so that my constituents may know that I did not vote to confer the authority and responsibilities of this Convention and increase its expenses upon a petition of this kind. I want to speak plainly on this subject.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I desire to know whether the gentleman voted for the admission of Mr. Smith from the county of Logan on a petition of twelve?
MR. POMEROY. I think I did not. I am not certain.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I would like to know how you voted in the case of the delegate from Nicholas.
MR. POMEROY. Well, sir, I do not remember; but I do remember that the gentleman from Kanawha contends that two wrongs do not make one right and I agree with him. I believe in the case of the gentleman from Logan I did not vote at all, though I did not know the number of petitioners in, his case was so small. I do not know whether the vote was recorded or not, it will show. I contend it is a well established principle that two wrongs do not make a right; and that this is too important a body to be careless about admitting anybody to membership who comes along with no better authority behind him than a petition signed (or purporting to be) by a dozen people whom nobody knows anything about. This is quite as important a body as the Legislature of Virginia, which I believe is generally conceded. Yet this gentleman was not received by that body on much larger petition than he presents here. Why should we accept less credentials than the legislature ? Why should we receive him here on this without even a reference? If we do, why have this committee atall? I am opposed to the admission of a member without the reference of his credentials to the committee.
MR. DERING. I believe it is the rule of all legislative and deliberative bodies that the credentials of every applicant for a seat shall be referred to and reported on by the appropriate committee. It has been said by the gentleman from Kanawha that we admitted members here on a mere petition. Well, sir, I think that was a wrong precedent. Yet I think we see the error of that precedent; and if we did wrong in that instance, shall we persist in doing wrong and keep it up? Well, sir, if we did do wrong, let us retrace our steps and get back to a proper attitude on this subject of introducing delegates. Why, sir, if we resolve ourselves into a mass-meeting, that gentlemen can just come in on a mere petition, gain admission to our body on a mere recommendation from somebody, are we a convention exercising all the highest sovereignty of the people of West Virginia and entrusted with a duty of the most important kind ever entrusted to any deliberative body, or are we a mere mass-meeting masquerading as a Convention, into which anybody may come who can present a letter from anybody else? Are we a regularly constituted deliberative body, regulated by law, the mode and manner of our election prescribed, or are we, sir, a mass-meeting that any gentleman from any part of western Virginia can come in and take a seat and draw his pay from the treasury, without being authorized by any of the forms of law on a mere petition from persons unknown to the Convention, and that even this petition shall not be examined by the proper committee of the Convention? Sir, the gentleman from Fayette may be a loyal, good Union man. I do not doubt that he is; but, sir, shall the request of 13 citizens from a remote county entitle a man to a seat in this body when the law that convened us prescribes the manner of our election?
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I must call the gentleman to order. He is discussing the merits of the case not the motion before the Convention.
MR. DERING. Of course I was arguing on that point. The merits of this case are involved in the motion to refer. It is such a case as to require that the papers, such as they are, must be submitted to the committee before the Convention can with propriety vote on it. Then the Convention can have some basis for its action. It is a course that has been adopted in some cases here recently, and I trust we will not depart from that order of doing business.
MR. HAGAR. I have been acquainted with Mr. Ryan some 12 or 14 years. So far as his Union sentiments are concerned, he is as sound as any of us. He came here with a great many signers to go into the legislature, yet there was no law and he was rejected. He started to go back there and went to Beckley. Capt. Cassidy resigned, could not come, and all the men that were there signed his petition. He returned thinking the recommendations sufficient. I am not particular whether it goes before the committee or not. I say these things to remove the false impression that might be made on the committee in reference to his loyalty. Cassidy is a man of good standing, who has at least sacrificed all his property for the Union. He recommends him just as good as any man can be recommended. He is a loyal man. I have no fears about it. I am not tenacious about it whether it goes before the committee or not; but I want to remove any false impression that might be made on the committee in reference to it.
MR. BRUMFIELD. I would like to know if the gentleman is a resident of Fayette?
MR. HAGAR. He is; born and raised there.
MR. MCCUTCHEN. For the satisfaction of this committee, I would just remark that Mr. Ryan is a resident of Fayette; raised in that county; of good unimpeachable character; a sound Union man; and I have known him ever since he was a boy. As it regards his character and qualifications they are entirely good. There was a move of this kind before I left home in order to send him to the legislature, but that failed in consequence of being informal and he returned and took the course that has been pursued; and as it regards his being a citizen of that county, his loyalty and everything of that kind, there need be no doubt on that subject. I have known him ever since he was a child.
MR. LAMB. No doubt Mr. Ryan is very well worthy of a seat and a very good Union man; but that is not the question here. The question is: is he the representative of the people of Fayette county. It is impossible, of course -
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I understand the question is: shall this be submitted to the committee?
MR. LAMB. It is a very proper consideration in determining that question whether this thing is to be run right through the Convention without consideration or not or whether it shall be regularly and deliberately considered. It is a question that is necessarily involved in the other.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. We will all have our objections after it gets to the Committee on Credentials; but we don't want to have this question argued until it goes to that committee. It is unfair that the thing should take this course at present.
MR. LAMB. Then why did you oppose the reference?
MR. STUART of Doddridge. Why, I thought we would get along without any trouble and save time.
MR. HAGAR. To save time I will withdraw my motion.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Since we have used this much time I am in favor of this Convention settling it now. The gentlemen on the committee may be the most intelligent men in the world, but I have equally high respect for the intelligence of the Convention as a standing committee. But this Convention has adopted a rule different from that and not referring just when it please, and there is no distinction between these cases.
MR. LAMB. I suppose I am entitled to the floor if this question is to be discussed. I had the floor when you arose. If this question is to be discussed, I want the floor. I want distinctly to understand that the objection is withdrawn to the reference of this matter to the committee. If it is, I have nothing further to say. If it is not, I have the floor. This time must not be counted either (Laughter).
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman from Boone withdrew the motion to act upon the credentials immediately; and that dropped the amendment, so that there is really nothing on this subject now before the Convention.
MR. HERVEY. I move the case be referred to the Committee on Credentials.
The motion was agreed to and the application so referred.
THE PRESIDENT. When the Convention adjourned it had under consideration the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha to insert the words "or works of internal improvement."
Mr. Walker offered the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the Committee on Finance make off the account necessary to pay the members of this Convention mileage and present it to the legislature for their action."
MR. VAN WINKLE. I move the indefinite postponement of that resolution. I hope gentlemen of this Convention have more respect for themselves than to go begging to the legislature. I cannot join in any such beggary as that.
The resolution was indefinitely postponed.
THE PRESIDENT. When the Convention adjourned, it had under consideration of the amendment of the gentleman from Ohio to insert the words:
"or erecting public buildings." and the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha to add the words: "or for works of internal improvement."
MR. DERING. I ask the Clerk to read the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha.
The Secretary reported the amendments as follows:
Mr. Lamb's amendment, to insert after the word "revenue."
in the 23rd line of Section 5 the words: "to erect public buildings." in Mr. Brown's amendment, to add to Mr. Lamb's amendment the words: "or for works of internal improvement."
MR. DERING. I am opposed to the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha. That gentleman yesterday evening in addressing the Convention said our new State of West Virginia was without internal improvements. Sir, I acknowledge that to a great extent it is without internal improvements. It seems to me that the circumstances by which we are surrounded forbid any such thing. We are surrounded, sir, by various circumstances which the time allotted to any speaker on this floor will not permit him to go into any detail. He says, Why are we here clamoring for a new state? It is because, said he, they have appropriated our money to internal improvements in the eastern part of the state and left us in this part of the state without any. Well, now, I beg leave most respectfully to differ with my friend from Kanawha upon that subject. Internal improvements, sir - railroads, canals and turnpikes - all sink into utter insignificance, sir, compared with the great principle we are contending for when we ask for a new state. Sir, we are not contending here for internal improvements; we are not contending for dollars and cents to improve our mountains and valleys. We are contending for something higher and nobler and grander than anything like the paltry considerations which the gentleman has intimated we are clamoring for. We all complain, in common, against eastern Virginia for appropriating all our moneys in the old state to improvements in the eastern part of the state. I join in the hue and cry with the gentleman from Kanawha and with all the people from his section. Our people stood as a unit all over western Virginia in denouncing eastern Virginia for her partiality in legislation; but we are here for a higher purpose, to sever the bond that connected us with a nest of rebellious traitors. We are endeavoring to inaugurate a new state for the purpose of perpetuating liberty, of sustaining our glorious Union, and holding up to the world in western Virginia the stars and stripes, that significant emblem of our liberty and nationality. That is what we are "clamoring" for now, sir; and every other incident sinks into insignificance when compared with it. Why, the gentleman says, is this war to last for a lifetime. God only knows. He says we may not have, after this war is over, another war in the lifetime of this generation. We cannot tell, sir. This system of blood has been inaugurated by these southern rebels. Once the tiger tastes blood, there is no opposing or satiating its infernal thirst. We may have wars and rumors of war for years to come; wild border forays and skirmishes while these two republics shall exist if made separate republics. There has been an alienation begotten of this rebellion that will continue longer than the present generation; and I expect to hand down to my children the hereditary hatred of a southern rebel; to inculcate it in his breast and tell him to cherish it while he lives. Sir, I never can forgive those men that have broken up the best government ever instituted on the face of the earth. I cling to it with the tenacity of life and my feelings go along with that sentiment, and I expect to be an enemy to the South if she ever breaks up the government that gives me liberty and protection to me and my family, and to enjoin that duty on those who are to come after me. I am for no compromise in this war, no terms except a total submission of the South to loyalty. They must acknowledge the government under which we live. They must lay down their arms; they must submit to the laws and government that has so long protected us all; nothing else will I ever agee to, and I trust our government will never submit to anything else.
Why sir, is this a time, when rebellion stalks abroad in our land, when even in loyal West Virginia we have traitors in our streets here and all over our loyal West Virginia - is this a time to inaugurate a system of internal improvements, a system that will hinder our progress and check us in our onward march to conquest and victory? I trust that there will be array of sections on this floor. I trust that southwestern Virginia and northwestern Virginia will stand shoulder to shoulder in support of the government and in opposition to the rebellion. I trust we shall have no sectional strifes such as we had between eastern Virginia and western Virginia. I deprecate that feeling. I trust we here will have no sections but that we will be one united and undivided people, with homogeneous interests and with all marching along to the music of the Union. The gentleman from Doddridge yesterday pledged himself to the gentlemen out in the southern section to look well after their interests. Here is an arraying of sections at once upon us. Has that section any interests that are not equally the interests of the whole State - that are to be looked after at the expense of other sections? Sir, I hold my brethren, in southwest Virginia as brethren. I will give them the hand and say to them let us not divide our new State into sections already; let us not create this sectional feeling such as existed between old Virginia and western Virginia; but let us stand as brethren having one country and one destiny and one common government to support. This attitude I think we ought to occupy, and no appeals to sections should be made upon this floor. Let us not begin this war of sections so soon in the history of this young State; but let us all cultivate a spirit of amity; let us all cultivate a spirit of harmony; let us all cultivate a spirit of unity, that we will stand together for weal or woe, let our destinies be what they may.
But, Mr. President, I know that I shall be crippled for time on this subject of internal improvements. It opens up a vast field. If you want to inaugurate a system of internal improvements in West Virginia at such a time, where shall we land? Will we not be admonished by the examples of the states around us who have attempted the same thing? Look at Mississippi. That state (Jeff. Davis') has repudiated and darkened her escutcheon for all time; will never wipe out the stain. She stands as the finger-mark of the world as "repudiating Mississippi." Look at Pennsylvania, who inaugurated a system of internal improvements and was called on to appropriate million upon million until she arrived and had to sell her works to a private corporation on its own terms at the very verge of bankruptcy. Shall we start out, with our proportion of the old Virginia internal improvement debt on our back, and travel this same road to the same ruin? Shall we with such examples staring us in the face inaugurate at this day a system of that kind? Why we are admonished by every consideration that can appeal to sane men to steer clear of any such fatal mistake in the incipient stage of our new government. But I have not time to go into detail on this subject. Why, sir, what stares us in the face? We are starting on an untried voyage with our little state with her sails unfurled; we are endeavoring to put her on the ocean with the stars and stripes at the mast-head, and favored by the popular breezes, sir, I trust she will ride on without any currents to hinder her progress.
The Chair (Mr. Dille in the chair) indicated that time had expired.
MR. HERVEY. It had never occurred to me when I became a member of this Convention that any such proposition as this would be seriously thought of much less endeavored to be enforced here and made part of this Constitution. Why, sir, what has been the soul, the very inspiration of this West Virginia movement? I allege it has been in consequence of the long-continued, the repeated out-cry of western Virginia against this unjust, onerous and oppressive system of expending public funds. Had it not been alleged in every corner of western Virginia that the power of the east was controlling the west; that the fact was they were taking the money out of the pockets of the west to do, what? To build railroads east of the mountains. Tell me, sir, of all the millions that have been paid by western Virginia into the treasury of the State. Where are her works? Not one solitary foot of railroad in West Virginia built by the State of Virginia. And yet, sir, year after year, year after year, this cursed system which was foisted upon us by the superior power of the east and which ground us to the very earth, is now sought to be engrafted on the policy of the new State! Look at the state debt of the Old Dominion - forty-odd millions! Repudiation staring the State in the face! Sir, the man is worse than a visionary who would stand up in the face of day and before an intelligent assembly allege that ever that state debt will be paid. No man expects it. The debt never will be paid. Never! With the division of the Union, the debt is gone. Sir, old Virginia has followed in the wake of Mississippi and Illinois. Her credit is gone. She is bankrupt - utterly bankrupt; and, sir, by means of this very cursed system of partial legislation and taking the money of the people to build roads to suit particular localities. This State is to construct works of internal improvements? What has been the experience of the large states of the Union? The State of Pennsylvania undertook to construct great works of internal improvement. The capitalists of Philadelphia, and the city of Philadelphia alone, brought their power into competition with the great State of Pennsylvania and broke down her works. She constructed her central railroad from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and completely cut the throat of the State works; and, sir, the State was brought to her knees and compelled to sell those works for whatever the company pleased to give her.
Again, sir, who is benefited by these works? Have we been benefited by the works of the State of Virginia? They are partial in their benefit, not general. I do not know how it has been with members of this Convention generally, but in our section of the State we told the people that under the operation of this new state of affairs there would be a reduction of the taxes; there would be a reduction of the state debt. Must I go back to my people and tell them that we have launched upon this old, rotten, exploded system of constructing works of internal improvement by the State? Now, sir, can the thing be practicable? Suppose we undertook to go into it. What is our population? Less than half a million people - much less. What has been the cry in this Convention? We are poor, unable to pay our taxes now. Of what avail then is this system if it should be inaugurated? Almost every member is coming to the fact - which is palpable, known and read of all men - that this new State cannot construct these works. Then, sir, why undertake to enact a solemn farce in the Constitution which must remain inoperative? But the great danger is here. You have seen how these untold millions have been drawn from the people through the legislature - how this enormous taxation has been piled up on the people. Why, sir, the first debt was to procure a small appropriation for that work and this work and for this other work, and the whole half dozen works must be joined in order to secure those appropriations. Very well, the first small sum was secured for each of them. That was an entering wedge - perhaps enough to complete the survey and lay out the route. Then, again, upon the argument that the State had invested $100,000 in this work and $100,000 in that and $100,000 in the other, they must have further appropriations to save what had already been put in. Are you going to lose your investment here? You certainly do not intend to lose all this investment. Now, $200,000 for each of these works must be appropriated - works scarcely begun. Now, $500,000 more. Still the work is not accomplished. It is the last argument, shall these works all fail, all this vast investment be lost, for the lack of a little more? Or shall we throw all the energies of the State into these works, complete them and make them sources of revenue to the State? Why, sir, these works which have penetrated the Allegheny mountains and the Blue Ridge at three different points come out and stop at no point, have just entered on a course in which they are backed by the whole power of the State, the whole force of the internal improvement party of the State, to subordinate the entire State, its entire resources to our purposes and wishes. This is the line of argument along which the Commonwealth was led to the overwhelming ruin that impended when she took her plunge into the rebellion; and who can say that the knowledge of that impending ruin was not a factor in determining the reckless men who had got control of public affairs in Virginia to take that plunge?
Sir, the whole system of internal improvements as heretofore adopted and carried on in Virginia is a false and fraudulent system. They have, in the first place, exacted conditions of these companies; forced them to go where interest did not warrant them. Even where foreign capital was concerned, they by a system of log-rolling and false legislation to accommodate the diverse and different interests of the State, have routed even those works out of their proper channel by a bare majority, when no interest whatever, no real interest of the State, required it, with the result that the whole investment of these untold millions is unproductive.
(Here the President's hammer fell.)
MR. PARKER. This is a question of a good deal of importance to the new State. Is it better, then, for this Convention to forbid for all time the aid of the State to any works of internal improvement however general in beneficial results to the whole State, or to permit the legislature to extend its aid to such works as its wisdom shall deem to be of general concern? That seems to be the question. As the national government has confined its aid to only works of purely national concern, so a state, in my opinion, should extend its aid only to such works as concern the whole state. The work of individual capital and enterprise is inadequate. When any state descends from these matters that are of general state concern to works that are of only private or local benefit, she becomes the sport and victim of individual and local competition, log-rolling and plunder. This has been the peculiar misfortune of Virginia. Washington and his contemporaries stood upon the high state policy when in 1790 they projected the great work of connecting the James with the Ohio river. But they died, and their successors went to log-rolling and have continued log-rolling until they have created a debt of from $35,000,000 to $40,000,000, and instead of any system there is but disjointed breaks of these improvements, as Governor Wise said in 1854, "beginning everywhere and ending nowhere."
Now, the question is whether that is an intrinsic difficulty in the system or whether it is the mismanagement of the officers that have had charge of the state works. That is the question. De Witt Clinton, in 1816 or 1817 projected a great state work, the Erie Canal. He stuck to it and completed it in 1825, solely on state account. At that time western New York was a wilderness; the state's population was only a million and a half. In 1860, it was four million. The city of New York at that day had only 220,000; in 1860, it had over a million. More people in the city of New York, which this Erie Canal has built up than there is in all Virginia today.
So it has been with Pennsylvania. So it has been with Massachusetts; so with Delaware; so with Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Each has been taking hold, in time, and pushing through these great lines of state improvements. All their canal systems, I admit, except the Erie, have been superseded by railroads running along the same lines, quicker than canals. But it was these great canals which gave the impulse to the states, that has pushed them on to the greatness they now hold. It was these early improvements in the form of canals, which have since been superseded by railroads.
Now, I would ask gentlemen here, suppose these states had in 1825 had constitutions with the prohibition the gentlemen here propose to put into ours, where would they have been? Western New York, now peopled with great cities would still have been a wilderness. The arm of great state aid alone could penetrate the wilderness, and connect the waters of the Hudson with the great lakes and the inexhaustible West. I say they would have been - much of them - a wilderness. Western Virginia, rich in all her great resources, has been the victim of log-rolling in the east; letting everybody there roll their logs and she has not had anybody to roll hers. She has been rolling logs for the east; but they have not come over here to help us. Look at the meager improvement on the Kanawha, the Coal, the Guyan; a half million spent on the Covington road, now going to decay: that is all there is. Now, gentlemen, we want no long lines. It is not that we want. The Baltimore & Ohio road, with the Ohio river, opens up the long lines, to the best markets of the world. But we want to penetrate the interior, bring out our forests here, open inexhaustible mines of wealth that is now locked up and will remain so until we penetrate it with suitable outlets. Then it will flow out; it will carry to the farm; it will quicken the great farming interest; it will quicken and give vitality to every city.
This, Mr. President, has been the past. With the experience of all for the last fifty years; experience which is now spread out before us; the experience of all the states for the last fifty years, let our legislature have it. Let them be, as I doubt not they will be, with all this light before them, wise and prudent. Where they can give; where it is a matter of broad state concern, there let the State step forward and give her aid and hand. She is ready to aid and can do it. I aver it is practicable. She can do it without the least risk in the world to herself. She can hold the whole works as security; and unless it is a paying work, then the wisdom of the legislature with the light that is before them and the experience now to guide them, will not embark in it. They should not. The people will not let them.
It seems to me, therefore that we should leave this to the wisdom of the legislators, that shall come after us, and that it is vital to the interest of this new State to let this be done. Let our new State be cut loose from the thralldom of slave labor and she will spring forth into newness of life, with joy and freedom on her wings.
MR. LAMB. It strikes me that the question which is presented to the Convention by the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha has not been correctly stated or understood by the Convention. It has certainly been argued in a manner in which I do not conceive the question fairly exists before this Convention.
It is not the question whether the State shall make internal improvements or not; it is simply the question whether we shall embark in a system for making internal improvements with state bonds. That is the question which is presented. The section prohibits the creation of debt except for specific purposes; and the distinct question presented by the motion of the gentleman from Kanawha is: shall we permit the State to embark in a great system of internal improvements to be made by state bonds?
I trust, sir, that if any practicable scheme of improving this State can be presented to the Convention it will never find me as one of its opponents; but the system which is now attempted to be engrafted here is, I take it, impracticable. It will not result in accomplishing the object which the gentleman from Kanawha himself would desire to accomplish. Its result, in my view will be unmixed evil. It will result in leaving this State buried beneath such a load of debt that it will be impossible for evermore to re-establish the prosperity of this people. It seems to me that it will utterly fail to accomplish those improvements which are so desirable.
Let us consider this matter for one moment. Suppose we devote our energies exclusively to the establishment of a line from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to the mouth of the Guyandotte, or the mouth of the Kanawha upon state debt. I undertake to say that line, adopt what route you may, must exceed 200 miles in length; that that improvement, adopt what system you may, will cost over $9,000,000. Then $9,000,000 state bonds are to be issued in addition to the portion of the debt which we are to assume from eastern Virginia. Our debt which will then be fastened upon the people of West Virginia cannot be computed at less than $14,000,000. The interest upon that debt will not be less - for you cannot expect to create that debt at even six per cent - than $1,000,000. Now, gentlemen, the whole of your revenues in 1860 from these 44 counties was $490,000. The whole revenue clear, or collectable, rather, before these disturbances existed, according to the auditor's report, for these 44 counties, was $490,000. Under the present circumstances of the country the man would be thought beside himself who would suppose we could now collect in the same district $250,000, or one-half. And yet, here, to accomplish this scheme, you are to load us down with a burden which will involve an annual expenditure for interest alone of a million dollars. You are to go into the market and present your bonds to the capitalists of Wall Street and of Europe, with these facts staring them in the face. You may accomplish something in this way; you may compel the contractors to whom you let the work - if you can let it; if men can be found to take contracts - to take your bonds; but what would be the result of that system which has been heretofore practiced extensively in eastern Virginia? The result of that system would be that you would pay double prices for the work, and your debt in the end, instead of being $9,000,000 on account of these internal improvements if you adopted the scheme of compelling contractors to take the bonds for their work, you would find it would be $18,000,000 or $20,000,000 before you were done.
And this is the sort of system that we are to embark in under the pretext - the sheer pretext - that we are to accomplish the improvements of the State under present circumstances by making these improvements with state debt. If we have means, I am willing to the extent of our ability to go into this work; but I tell you, gentlemen, I tell you now, and the future will establish the truth of my words, you put these words into your Constitution and the credit of West Virginia is gone forever. Put these words into your Constitution and you have prostrated forever the credit of West Virginia and you will be utterly incapable of accomplishing your object or of providing for any necessities which the state of the times may hereafter force upon us.
It is with this view of the subject, gentlemen, and not from any indisposition to improve the State of West Virginia that I am opposed to inserting these words into this clause. If there be any principle which has been established by the experience of the states comprising these United States, I take it this may be considered as the one, the particular one which our experience has established; that it is necessary to guard and curtail the powers of legislatures by constitutional provisions in regard to schemes of constructing works of internal improvements with state bonds. Look at all the states, from Mississippi to Pennsylvania and see to what an untrammeled power if the hands of a legislature has led to. Look at the State of Virginia, embarked in this system, and you will end as they have ended with a parcel of pieces of railroads unfinished and which you are utterly unable to finish, with all your energies cramped and burdened down, with every man's farm covered by mortgage for half its value. Gentlemen, I speak understandingly on this matter. I have seen the effects of it here in the city of Wheeling; and now every man's property in the city of Wheeling is pledged for one-half its value on account of efforts which the city of Wheeling has made to secure these internal improvements to herself by this miserable system of contracting debt. How is it at Pittsburgh and in Allegheny county? Why, gentlemen, I saw a statement not long since comparing the assessed value of property in Pittsburgh and Allegheny county with the debt now resting on the people. The result of this same system was that it showed that the amount of that debt was nearly one-half the whole assessed value of that city and county. You will have, gentlemen of the "rural districts" this system, if you force it upon us in operation, and it will take half the produce of your farms to pay the taxes which will be the necessary result.
(Here the hammer fell.)
MR. SMITH. I have listened with some consideration to the arguments that have been offered on this occasion more than on any other that will arise. Perhaps during this Convention do I desire some day to address the house; but there is so much that I would like to say that it is difficult for me to determine what I shall say out of the abundance of what there is to say. I will first say that every section of this bill has been drawn with a reference to resistance to internal improvements. I look upon the vote that was given yesterday as evincing an indisposition on the part of this house to aid or abet in any way internal improvements. They are not only unwilling to aid it with ordinary revenues of the country but now they come up with a bill forever trammeling the power of the legislature to do anything whatsoever for its improvement. They manacle the State; they plant in this Constitution the principles of the destruction of the State, for they build a Chinese wall around it cutting off all communication with other parts of the world. I regret to see that the opposition to this improvement spirit comes from those who heretofore have been the most clamorous and diligent and active in prosecuting it in old Virginia. This very city of Wheeling to my certain knowledge have been from year to year applicants at the foot of the legislature. They have been asking and demanding time and again for the aid of the legislature to carry out those improvements which they have now.
MR. LAMB. I must correct the gentleman. The city of Wheeling has asked no aid from the legislature and has received none except the guaranty of her bonds; and this guaranty is utterly valueless. The credit of the city of Wheeling is this day worth more in the market than the credit of the guarantor.
MR. SMITH. I am aware of that; but it is not because the city of Wheeling have not made application for it.
MR. LAMB. One word more; that guaranty was only obtained by giving the State abundant collateral security. She granted as a security a property worth fifty times what the guaranty is worth to-day.
MR. SMITH. I say the city of Wheeling has been clamorous in its appeals to the legislature. It was fortunate to be there and I never object to the fact that they did so, and on every application it has been my pleasure when a member of that legislature to give it all the aid I could. I defy that gentleman to show, except on one occasion, a single vote of mine that did not respond to that application. I did not condemn the city of Wheeling then for doing it. She was a new city, small then in numbers, but struggling with energy and vigor to build herself up and come into competition with Pittsburgh. I rendered all the aid I could and the State rendered its aid. I recollect on one occasion when they were struggling to get the property from Harper's Ferry out in this direction they then applied and got a subscription for a million of dollars. I understand from the gentleman through some failure in the execution of the contract on the part of the applicants that was not paid; but they applied and they got it. And if there was a failure, it was their own fault. I do not condemn it. I then living on a central line, I insisted that that part of the State was entitled to aid; and I insist now that it is a narrow policy that after you have filled your own granaries would deny the right of another portion of this new State to come in and have a share of it. All the improvements made here we expect to assume and pay. The gentleman from Monongalia, how many roads has he got to connect himself with this road? How many roads have they got there to connect themselves with this road next to Baltimore. How many has Marion county got? That whole northwestern country is checkered over with roads the payment for which we have to assume. LooK at the poor counties of Braxton, Gilmer, Wirt, Roane, Nicholas, Fayette, McDowell, Raleigh, Boone - all that section of country. What have they got? They have to pay their proportion of the very improvements that you have. You put a principle in the Constitution which forbids any aid to be rendered to that section of the country. There are various counties out in this direction that have received nothing. They are locked up now; with all their wealth, they are locked up and no chance of improving them. There is one with immense resources of wealth, though not improved, on the river. Will you deny the people the right of improving that river? There is the river Guyandotte that runs up into a rich valley of mineral wealth. You lock the hands of the legislature and say they shall not aid and assist.
MR. DERING. Were any appropriations ever made for improvements in your country?
MR. SMITH. We did get them for Coal river and it has improved that country immensely. But you say they shall not have them hereafter. You have got your road. Now, as to this Baltimore road - how did you get this Baltimore road? Baltimore did not want to come here. She didn't desire it; but it was the policy of the legislature that prohibited her from taking the natural route and the one she desired. The move to bring the Baltimore road to the west started in Kanawha. She asks the legislature to grant her the privilege to come up the Valley and cross through the line of the present contemplated Central Railroad. Where were the people here then? Did they vote for it? No, sir; the delegates from the county gentlemen represents, the delegate from Wood and all this upper country resisted it and said they should not have it. They forced Baltimore, they pressed her through an unnatural route through the mountains. I do not regret it, but this is the history of it. Kanawha herself instituted that inquiry into the ability of Baltimore to make a road and she sought it. And she asked for a charter, and had that charter been granted and had you not resisted it, that central part of the State would have had this road completed, and then you would have been calling upon us not to stand in the way of us who have no such improvements. That would have been the course you would have taken. Now, this is history. The representatives from Wood and from this section of country voted against allowing the Baltimore company to go up the Valley. You have got it, and now you say Baltimore has made us and by your action have prevented her from going through the center of the State. We had a corporation that was able to build it. You have taken that corporation from us and now boast of what you have done. You have defeated the natural line, taking the worst line for the road, forced her to make it, and now say inasmuch as that is forced, as we have defeated you and got this road, we will tie up the hands of the State so as to prevent you in all future time from having any improvement whatever. That is the course you are pursuing. I say, gentlemen, this is not liberal. We come up here in good faith to unite with you in forming this new State, but we never contemplated a connection with a people who would put in their Constitution, in their fundamental law a principle prohibiting that State from ever improving her own condition. You are not compelled to introduce any wild scheme of internal improvement. This does not force it upon you; it is left to the legislature; and now you who do not want this road, who do not want competition by running roads the other way, it is idle to talk about it. It is resistance to this through road that will come in competition with mills and mines and other interests that will control you.
(The President's gavel fell.)
MR. VAN WINKLE. Since history has been introduced here it may be well to have the correct history. At any rate the gentleman's recollection of past events may be faulty or at least different from mine. I shall give my version from a pretty attentive perusal of the documents.
In 1829, sir, thirty years ago - now 29 or 30 - permission was given to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to construct their road through to the Ohio river at a point not below the mouth of the Little Kanawha river; so that if there was anything forbidding it to go up the valley, it was previous to that time and before there was any system of internal improvements in this state. I am aware that there was an attempt to carry it up the Valley - to get permission to go up the Valley - but I do not think that was intended to prevent the line going to the Ohio river at a more northern point, and that was reconsidered by the clause in that law that they should not strike the Ohio below the mouth of the Little Kanawha.
Again, sir, in that first bill, the State of Virginia subscribed $1,038,000 to construct the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, not to Wheeling but for the purpose of constructing it to Cumberland, and had put in a condition that it should be finished to Cumberland by a certain time. Difficulties with the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company arose. There was room enough to pass the Point of Rocks without infringing on the privileges of the canal. That question remains open, the company entirely suspending work for three years on the Baltimore road. Then the difficulty was removed and that cause of detention was taken advantage of by the State of Virginia, when no one from reading the act would suppose time was the essence of the contract, not only to withdraw her subscription but withdraw her permission for the road to go to the Ohio fiver anywheres. Now, sir, it was not the people of Wood that did that. That was the interest concerned in the gentleman's own road; and since this is to be a question between Charleston and Wheeling, let us understand precisely where we are.
The Baltimore & Ohio Company again applied to the State of Virginia for the mere naked right-of-way, in the first place, and asked a renewal of the subscription. The right-of-way would have been granted at that first session; but Mr. McLane (?), President of the Baltimore & Ohio Company refused to take it without the subscription. Next year they came in not asking for the renewal of the subscription but simply for the right of way; and the friends of the Central road baffled that measure for some three or four years and prevented the legislature granting even the naked permission to go to the Ohio river. This is their feeling in favor of internal improvements, and the friends of that road have been the opponents of everything that has been asked for. I do not mean the gentleman himself when he was a representative of Kanawha. I believe they acted, certainly, with the friends of the Northwestern road. And the Central road interest has stood in the way of the Baltimore and Ohio ever getting anything and have endeavored to lumber it with restrictions from time to time. This is the history about that matter, and never one dollar has been paid by the state. The city of Wheeling in its negotiations with the Baltimore & Ohio Company came to this point, that the company was willing to do certain things after it was determined the road should go to Wheeling, and nowhere else. The Baltimore & Ohio Company would accept the charter provided Wheeling would subscribe $500,000 stock; and to make that subscription available Wheeling asked the state to guarantee its bonds and pledged the stock - a dividend-paying stock now, and was then expected to be soon - as security for it. And that is the only favor the whole Northwest has ever had in reference to railroads.
MR. LAMB. We gave as collateral some $500,000 of other property in addition to the stock.
MR. VAN WINKLE. So that when favors are asked by this section we have to put up the security or we don't get them.
And, now, sir, I apprehend it is no use introducing the turnpikes into this account. The mileage is equivalent to 80 miles of dirt turnpike or more. The question is not one, however, gentlemen will admit, to make it an issue between one section of the state and another. It is not in that view that we have raised it. Gentlemen, may judge us by themselves; for I know it is a very easy way of getting at another man's motives to know what your own are. But that is not the source of the opposition here. I can tell the gentlemen; we want to build our road, and want a half million of dollars to do it. We want a bridge across the Ohio and money for that. It is not because we have got through, as the gentleman thinks, that we are opposing this bill. The tunnels on the Northwestern road are not finished; our iron is about worn out and we are not in condition to do anything in reference to it. I hope gentlemen will make special provision for us; if this thing is going to be put in, we shall want at least our share.
Now it is very easy to insinuate that gentlemen's motives are so and so; but I profess to stand on this, as on every other question judging as best I can what the interests of the new State will demand; and I should despise myself if I thought I had come into this Convention to enter here into a scramble for the public funds - especially when we have got none to scramble for, only the public credit. But that is what it is asked to do. There is nothing here to prevent the legislature from building roads, if they have the money. The only thing is shall this legislature be restrained from borrowing money for these purposes? But I would ask now; between the improvement of the State, on the one hand and the bankrupting of the State on the other, is there any choice? For I maintain, in the circumstances in which we are at present - the money matters of this State as we all know they will be when we take on us that portion of the debt from which there is no escape; for we owe the whole debt if we separate, and it is only by an arrangement that we can diminish it, if we get it down. I say this State, under present circumstances will have as much as she can stagger under. Now, mark it! The gentleman from Ohio tells us the revenue is $460,000 in good times. How much of that will be collected next year? How much the next? For with the best intentions on the part of the citizens, money is not going to be had as easily as heretofore. We do not know what is coming on us. Things may be a great deal worse than they are. It will depend on how the United States may be able to sustain its credit whether we will have any credit at all; and if our circumstances are such as we all recognize, the only way this thing could be done at all would be for the State to issue and sell its bonds at a price of fifty cents on the dollar at least. If the restriction is put on that you cannot sell the bonds at less than par, you cannot sell a dollar. That day has gone by in Virginia. You cannot sell a railroad bond except the railroad, that has brought par in the market for several years; and you cannot go into the market with railroad bonds, as we did in the case of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad bonds. They have sold at a premium. That is the way the money goes - that is the squandering. Bonds are given direct to contractors and sold by them at far below their value; and works thus made to cost much more than they otherwise would.
This question is one that we ought to take up as a broad statesmanlike question. It is not a question whether Kanawha has asked for a railroad or not, or whether Wheeling has asked for a railroad or not; that is not the question at all. The question is whether we shall risk ruining the credit of the State by leaving it in the power of the legislature to borrow money ad libitum to be spent on railroads in the conditions that exist now, with a dozen unfinished railroads in Virginia without connections at either end and not more than two or three of them professing to pay dividends. I say our legislature ought to be prevented from doing it. As I mentioned the other day, there is not one of these in a finished condition. If you will take up the report of the Board of Public Works, you will find that where there are three cross-ties on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad there is but one on those Virginia railroads. If you could take up one road and finish it, and confine it to that, all very good. If, as I say, you could make a road down through the center of this State, I would not hesitate to allow an exception to be made in favor of that. But can you do it? No, sir. So soon as a proposition comes into the legislature to build that road, the counties that lie to one side will demand they must have something too; and then you have the very thing that has occurred in all these states where the legislature has gone into this system; where, in order to get a railroad to every man's door, about twice as much money is expended as would have built the principal railroad which ought to have satisfied them all.
(Here the hammer fell.)
MR. SMITH. The gentleman seems to question the accuracy of my history. I said it was Kanawha that instituted that effort to get the Baltimore people to carry a road to the Ohio. I say so still. A complication was made, and a motion was made at Parkersburg to prohibits from striking the Ohio river below Parkersburg and that carried and defeated it. I am right. It was the action of the people of Parkersburg and above that prevented Baltimore from going, where she desired to go; and I said in consequence of this, while the Baltimore people wanted to make the road up through the Valley and through by Charleston, you got them to take the northern route through the votes of every man in the legislature from your quarter of the state. Well, I don't blame you for it. It was a fair competition. The only time I ever voted against an application from Wheeling - and those applications were legion in number - was when there was a conflict between Wheeling and Parkersburg as bitter as any conflict I ever knew, and it was a painful obligation imposed on me to vote in that contest for Parkersburg. In seven years in the legislature that was the only time I ever voted against Wheeling. Now, the very first thrust that is given at the other section of the State comes from Parkersburg and Wheeling, who now lie in the same bed together. There comes the response. And look at this committee. How many of them are from the southwest? They have had no representative there. They have themselves in and have manacled the southwest. They have got the Baltimore road. They denied it to us and took it themselves, and now they say we will manacle the hands of the legislature, that at no time hereafter shall they have any improvements in that country. Why, sir, all their talk is that the legislature is not to be trusted; they are not worthy of the confidence of the people; they will squander the money and they give instances of squandering by other legislatures. Why, sir, you may as well revolt against the stomach because sometimes you eat more than you ought to eat. You might as well because there is a vicious member in the church repudiate the whole church. I care not what you engage in there are wrongs committed and it only imposes the higher obligation on the people to restrain their action. These are worthy examples pointing to a more prudent course of conduct. That is all there is of it. But you are seizing it now - you who have got all you want. You come in now and say we will not feed the body because it will over-feed itself. You are well fed and now you say we will allow no other portion of the State to have anything. Don't want that central road you speak of; don't desire that road brought down to the Greenbrier river. I want a road to connect with the Baltimore & Ohio through that section of country. Now, we have no sort of way of reaching markets. I want to be placed on an equality with you. I want the transverse trade. We have no cross trade in this country.
MR. DERING. How much will that cost?
MR. SMITH. I don't know. The legislature will consider that, and if it is not worth building, they will not build it. Shall not contract a single debt for any such purpose. I want to ride through that section of country, somewhere, wherever the wisdom of the legislature may point out.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Don't you know that personally I am in favor of that identical road?
MR. SMITH. I judged from your actions here that you were very much opposed to it.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Your friends know it, that I am very much in favor of it.
MR. SMITH. That is a fact I am very grateful to learn.
MR. RAYMOND. As I was a member of that committee and the gentleman from Logan has alluded to it I think it necessary to state the course that I shall pursue. And in the first place, I will say to this Convention that on this question I alone differed with the committee. I will say to the gentleman from Logan and members from the southwest that I am here to stand by them.
MR. HAGAR. Bully for you.
MR. HAYMOND. I am for internal improvements. I think when a man buys a farm he should improve it. We have laid off a large farm, and we are partners. I think we should improve it. The gentleman from Monongalia has told us he is here for higher and nobler purposes than internal improvements. He tells us he is here to cut loose from the rebels. I tell the gentleman from Monongalia I am not here for this purpose. I am here for higher and nobler purposes than that. I am here to form a constitution for West Virginia and I am here not to cut loose from rebels but to crush them by the force of arms. That is my doctrine, sir. Sir, we expect to have a seat of government either at Grafton, Clarksburg or Weston. We want a great road through that country. It is a road, sir, which I have always been in favor of.
MR. SMITH. Don't drop Braxton, the center.
MR. HAYMOND. Well, I think it will be the center. I have always been in favor of a railroad connecting with the Pennsylvania road at Uniontown leading to Clarksburg, Weston and Charleston and going on south to the Pacific. That is my idea, sir, passing through the new State by the seat of government. It would enhance the value of lands in this new State one hundred per cent. Sirs, and this is not all. We have the Baltimore & Ohio road now and that is charging us a tremendous tax for the transportation of our cattle. This is a great grazing country. In my region of country, we send out cattle by the railroad to Baltimore. They charge us $60 to $80 a car. If we had a railroad connecting with the Pennsylvania road we could send our cattle to Philadelphia cheaper than to Baltimore, and the price of beef is always a dollar a hundred higher than in Baltimore, and by this means we would save an immense sum to West Virginia - enough to build the railroad. The gentleman from Logan told us the county of Marion was dotted with turnpikes and she had a railroad. The gentleman is right. I am now offering to stand by him, to aid in making railroads through the southwestern country. They must have them. We never can make this country without roads. This State is full of minerals, and to make it a great state we must improve it; we must build up manufactures; and what are manufactures worth unless you have some way to market? Sirs, I will tell this Convention that we must not fold our arms and say that we are cutting loose from the rebels. No, sir, we must go to work and improve this great State and become a powerful people. That is the only way to get along. Why, you think you will have nothing to do when you get a new State, I suppose. I will tell you that is when you will have to go to work and build up your greatness; build up this State to be one of the most powerful states in the Union - for she has got the mineral that is calculated to make her such. A good deal has been said about Wheeling. What has built up Wheeling? Her National road; the Ohio river. Sir, I was in Wheeling in 1829. It was but a small place. I could have bought the lot where the Northwestern Bank is located for $60, and if I had had the money I would have done it. The Northwestern Bank, I believe, gave $10,000. And how she has been built up by this National road and other improvements. She has the Baltimore & Ohio road now and all the advantages. And I ask Wheeling to come to the rescue of this noble State and follow us to the mountains and help us open the mines that are in the mountains.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I believe I cannot on this question go to vote without expressing in very few words my disapprobation of the amendment of my friend from Kanawha. It seems to me that in this whole discussion there is little difference of opinion among gentlemen who have taken different sides in regard to the importance of public improvements; in regard to the importance and necessity of developing the great natural wealth that is to be found within the limits of this new State of West Virginia. On that question, I say, there is no difference of opinion amongst the members of the Convention. And, for one, sir, permit me to say that if I could be satisfied in my own mind that the plan proposed by the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha was the plan that would effect the construction and successful working of these internal improvements and the development of this natural wealth in this new State, I would be one of the warmest advocates it would have on this floor. So far as the little influence I can exert it would go. We all agree on the desirability of the construction as soon as possible of these great works of internal improvement. We differ as to the means by which that can be successfully done. I think it cannot be denied that this plan of extending the credit of the State, or allowing the State itself to become a joint owner in these improvements, or to certify the bonds of parties who do, has in no instance, or if in any, in very few instances accomplished the purpose which the authorities of that state and the parties interested supposed it would. I take it that a true argument of that kind is worth more than all the abstract opinions that can be urged in favor of these measures on this floor or elsewhere. The fact has been alluded to here that in this State of Virginia of ours where it was thought this principle suggested by the amendment of my friend from Kanawha would accomplish these great purposes, has failed in that respect and has left the people of this State with a burden of tax from which probably they will never be able to escape. Look at the State of Ohio after she had traveled through the same process just proposed here by this amendment, becoming interested in those public improvements or becoming indebted for the construction of them. When she formed her last constitution, some ten years ago, she incorporated a provision essentially the same, but more in detail, as this proposed in the report of this committee. Because, sir, the thing had not worked as the friends of internal improvements anticipated it would in that state. Look at the other states. Pennsylvania has been referred to. She constructed the main line and branches of her public improvements at a cost of some $40,000,000, and she sunk some forty millions more in the hopeless effort to make them pay her people and then sold them for $8,000,000 and gave the Pennsylvania Railroad forty years to pay for it without interest. The state has incorporated in her constitution the same principle that it is proposed to incorporate in ours, not by constitutional convention but by action of the legislature in submitting an amendment which was adopted almost unanimously by the people of the state. These people had gone through this process of trying to make public improvements on the credit of the state as is now proposed here. I say these facts in the history of internal improvements are worth more than all that can be said, if you are to talk for hours in favor of this amendment.
Now, here is the point. I say that while I am just as much in favor of having internal improvements as any gentleman on this floor can be, and wish to see the prosperity of this State built up by the development of her raw material as speedily as any gentleman can wish, yet I say you defeat that very object if you adopt this amendment. That has been proved here, it seems to me. The condition of the state credit is not such and cannot be for years to come as will allow the legislature to pledge her credit for the construction or working of these internal improvements. Well, now, what can be done? I will tell you. If we have such vast beds of minerals in our valleys and in the bowels of our mountains and oil beneath the surface of the earth, and timber "on a thousand hills," and it is so valuable as gentlemen have said it is, let me tell you that private enterprise and the money of men who will enter into that without the State becoming interested in it will develop that wealth and give it shape and value and thus enrich your State, more speedily than under the other process - were that within the range of possibility. There is my argument. Make a good constitution, under which capital will feel safe, under which capital and enterprise will be encouraged and protected, omitting all this wild folly of trying to use the credit of the State to build railroads into a country that can offer them no business until it has been created; carefully preserving whatever credit the State may be able to command under the adverse circumstances of her inheritance from Virginia; profiting by the experience and avoiding the calamitous results that Virginia and other states have suffered - and depend upon it enterprising and moneyed men will come into your State, build roads into it and develop its raw material of wealth just as fast as your resources will justify, and much more rapidly and surely than it could be done under state patronage even if you had the money or the credit to do it. You can reach these results more speedily, more effectually, without impoverishing the people and without bankrupting the State, by leaving this work to private capital and enterprise. This is, in sober truth, the only way it can be done. You may resort to the fallacies and follies that others have resorted to, who were too impatient to wait for the natural and legitimate process, but you will only have for your pains the same ruinous result they have found; all the surer in our case because we have no resources or credit to start with as they had.
But there is nothing in the provision in this report that prevents the legislature entering on internal improvements if she has the money to do it. I do not understand that by this section the State is prevented from appropriating money for the purpose of constructing any particular public improvement. I do not understand that the State may not set apart a fund and let that fund accumulate for any purpose the legislature deems advisable; but the restriction is that she shall not incur a debt except for certain specified imperative purposes.
Let me ask gentlemen here what particular improvement there is, or is likely to be, needed in this new State that private capital and private enterprise will not enter upon and accomplish as speedily, or more speedily than the State would do it. Why, sir, what are the businesses in which, capital would be invested here? In mining, in manufacturing, in building railroads, in making slack-water improvements, in making turnpikes, and so on. All these kinds of business are peculiarly adapted to private enterprise and associated capital amongst a number of individuals. They will go into that business and you may rest assured that just the moment that capital is invested and all branches of industry become prosperous and a line of transportation, short or long, is demanded, capital will be enlisted and the line will be built, more speedily by that process than any other you can adopt. And just as certain as you adopt the other, proposed in this amendment, I tell you - I am no prophet nor the son of a prophet - but I predict .that before ten or twenty years every bankrupt railroad company will have its arms up to the elbows in the treasury of this State and will keep them there till every dollar is exhausted and these public improvements prostrated completely and the industry of the State paralyzed as long as that state of things continues. That has been the history of public improvements attempted in this way everywhere, as I have shown, and it will be so, I am just as well satisfied as I am of my existence in this State if this principle is voted here.
(Here the hammer fell.)
MR. BROWN of Preston. I am opposed, sir, to the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha because it proposes to introduce into the legislature of our State that damnable system of log-rolling that has cursed the State of Virginia and destroyed her credit. That system, sir, has prevailed ever since the state engaged in works of internal improvement; and the result of it has been that a great number of improvements have been inaugurated in the state and as has been remarked by the gentleman from Cabell, who quoted Gov. Wise, "beginning everywhere and ending nowhere." Why, sir, if you look over the map of old Virginia you will find railroads running parallel with each other and destroying each other. And yet in these works, sir, the state was investing her capital, and the capital of posterity - pledging her credit for .the vast debt that now weighs upon this people. I hold, moreover, sir, that if the State of Virginia had not pursued the policy she did pursue we would not be in the position we now occupy. Virginia would not have seceded from this Union. Never! If this system had not prevailed, it would still be the Virginia of olden times, the Virginia of Washington. It was said by John Randolph in the convention of 1829-1830 that no people who were desperately indebted could bear a regular and sober government; that the partisans of Caesar were in debt, that the fellow-conspirators of Catiline were in debt; and Virginia, overwhelmed with debt as she was, could not "bear a regular and sober government" any longer. She had run into debt and destroyed her reputation and credit in the world, and went into secession - a treason, sir, more damnable than the conspiracy of Catiline against the liberties of Rome.
But, sir, how do we expect to obtain credit? How do we expect to occupy a position in the world ? How do we expect to take our place among the states of this Union, if we shall happily do so? We must maintain our credit; we must act on honorable principles.
And, now, sir, the principle on which this system of internal improvements is based is fallacious. It is wrong ab initio extrema; and consequently it has cursed the country. Why, sir, if trade and commerce seek outlets, private capital Will find those outlets. Money will accomplish the purpose in the hands of private enterprise. Trade will seek an outlet just as surely as water will seek a level. There is that mobility about it. If, sir, we inaugurate this system, we will most assuredly ruin our credit. We must have credit. We cannot always expect to rely on the resources of our State to meet our liabilities and we must have credit for some purposes. We need then to be very careful how we incorporate a principle into our Constitution that will prevent our borrowing a single dollar for any honest purpose - that will destroy our credit. But gentlemen tell us - we constantly hear it repeated - that these improvements will pay after while. Why, sir, who ever heard of an improvement in the State of Virginia paying? Who ever heard of an improvement reimbursing the treasury for the indebtedness incurred in its behalf? If these parallel lines of road made in Virginia, from this town to that town and the other, all over the country, whose representatives have been bought up to secure their own interests - if ever they happen to pay from three to five dollars over an amount necessary to keep these improvements in operation, that money instead of returning to the treasury and aiding in the payment of the debt incurred for the improvement, has been added to the salary of some superintendent or president of these roads; and men there to-day are receiving salaries of $3000 to $5000, and every dollar of the earnings of these improvements are devoted in this way instead of being legitimately devoted to the purpose of reimbursing the treasury. Must we see enacted in the halls of our legislature that same cursed system we have witnessed in Virginia for the last 20 years? No, sir; never! My people have been against it, and they will continue to oppose it. It is not because I am opposed to internal improvements, but let us make these improvements on honest principles, like honest men. Let us when we are able devote our energies and our capital to making those improvements, when we are able to pay for them; if we have the money to pay for them. And if that cannot be done, sir; if there be coal in our mountains, if timber on our hills, if there be resources not yet developed, rest assured, sir, the time will soon come when private capital will develop those resources. This is the honest principle; there is care and prudence in the expenditure of money. It is all folly to talk about the inability of private capitalists to develop these resources or make these improvements. It is denied in the great road that leads to Baltimore; it is controverted, sir, as false by the improvement from Grafton to Parkersburg. Not a dollar of the money required for these great improvements but was furnished by private companies. I am utterly opposed to rushing rashly, foolishly, madly into debt, destroying the credit of the State, destroying all the hopes we have now or hereafter by permitting the legislature to issue bonds of the State for internal improvements; for the same men will occupy the halls of our legislature here that occupied them in the city of Richmond; and the same influences will control legislation in this direction if permitted that controlled it there. They can be bought up to subserve their own interests. Let us put a stop to that and base our improvements on solid principles, and act wisely. I am opposed, sir, now, here and everywhere, to this system.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I don't understand that the motion of the gentleman from Kanawha is inaugurating immediately a system of internal improvements. It is simply leaving this matter to the discretion of the legislature to adopt whatever plan they choose. If they see cause to negotiate a loan for such purpose, they have the privilege of doing it. We do not know what circumstances may arise; what may be appropriate for the legislature to do in the future. Gentlemen seem to think if we have this amendment we will never have any state credit. I would ask them what would we want with credit if we expect only to obtain credit for carrying on our ordinary expenses I suppose we will never need any. Surely we will be able to carry on the ordinary expenses of the government without any credit, and we can do it. We ought to be looking to some system that will put us in position in which we can carry on State business or ordinary expenses by our revenue. If we are only to have credit for the purpose of preventing rebellion or meeting a war, I would say that this is the best system in the world to avoid that necessary expense. There can be no expense in the world that can be adopted that would make us effect a purpose of this kind better than the internal improvement system. Look at the internal improvement system of eastern Virginia. Now it has been made impregnable almost. And what would give more value to us now than some internal improvements in northwestern Virginia to assist the general government. What money could be more properly expended if we could do it in time to meet the necessities of the case at present? Suppose we were in the situation now that eastern Virginia is with our internal improvements - we had a communication down to the southwest and could throw our armies there when we pleased, what would be our position to what it is at present. We would be invulnerable to their attacks as they are now to ours. They are fixed so that they can throw their force at any point and even hold the general government in abeyance. Then it may become necessary in future legislation to complete these improvements; to build us a road looking to various points of our State for our public defense; and if it should be necessary in the opinion of our future legislators to do a thing of this kind, you are going to insert a provision in this Constitution to peremptorily deprive them of that thing - peremptorily, I say, taking the 3rd section of the report with the 5th section where is proposed by this committee that it fairly deprives the State legislature from ever embarking in anything like an internal improvement system; ever appropriating one cent of money for that purpose. That I saw when I moved an amendment; when I moved an amendment to the 3rd section yesterday. The 3rd section looks to nothing but the ordinary expenses; and when I asked if the paying of $100,000 for the purpose of making a railroad would be considered an ordinary expense, he said, no. Then I say adopt the section as reported, with this third section already adopted and the legislature will never be enabled to appropriate one dollar.
As I said, I have not one selfish feeling in this matter. My section of country needs no internal improvements. We have all that we ever expect to ask. But, sir, if the same policy had been pursued by other states, we in the northwest here would never have had these improvements. If Maryland had held her hands from these improvements and the city of Baltimore, we never would have held them. Other states have been cited - Pennsylvania and Ohio. It is true Pennsylvania has incurred large debts for the purpose of internal improvements. They have enhanced the value of property there five-fold. Although the State of Pennsylvania has expended some forty or fifty millions on her internal improvements she has been paid and repaid one hundred-fold. What would be the State of Pennsylvania if it was not for her improvement system. Blot out her railroad, taken from her, and the forty millions of dollars she has expended, paid back, in remuneration, would she be willing to receive it? Although she sold her State improvements for $8,000,000 would she do without them now if she was offered five hundred millions and be deprived of them?
We must keep our credit simply for the purpose of carrying on the ordinary expenses, provided in the 3rd section. If we cannot carry on the ordinary expenses of our government we ought to quit trying to get up a state here. If we have got to look for credit to carry on these things we ought to stop now. Who is the beneficiary party in these internal improvements if it should be effected by the state legislature? We enhance the value of our property every dollar. Would not the State collect that much more revenue from that property? Then if she is the beneficiary party, are we going to tie her hands up and say she shall not participate in these things? I stand here to-day condemning the action of the State of Virginia in not appropriating money to take an interest in this Baltimore & Ohio railroad. We ought to have control or a word of say so in it. But it has been the open policy of the State of Virginia to not have a voice in the direction of that road. But now, sir, we find the city of Wheeling and my friend from Parkersburg standing here fighting against the principle that has made them. It cannot be denied for one moment that if the policy that is sought to be engrafted here had been engrafted on that constitution of Maryland and other states, we would not have enjoyed the benefit of those roads.
(The hammer fell.)
MR. HARRISON. Mr. President, it seems to me in the course of this discussion the true object of this section has pretty generally been left out of view, particularly by our friends from the southern counties. It strikes me the object of this section is not to prevent the construction of works of internal improvement by the State at all. That is not the design of the section at all. But it is to provide that they shall be made on the most economical plan. Those who are acquainted with our railroad system of making internal improvements in this State heretofore have told us that it always costs a great deal more than it appears to because they go on the credit system. Their bonds are put into the market and will not bring their face value and consequently we have really to pay much more than we supposed. Now the object of this section is to prevent that; that if we want to make any work of internal improvement by expenditure on the part of the State we shall provide the money by direct taxation for the payment of it at once - payment in cash. If you want to make a turnpike road through any of these counties that will cost ten thousand dollars you must levy the tax for it at once to meet the whole thing. That is the policy that is sought to be introduced into the new State, to pay as you go; let no great state debt accumulate upon us. Now look at the past history of Virginia; look at the debt resting upon us now. When will we get rid of our share of that? I hear a gentleman say "when we pay it, 30 years hence." What will we want 30 years hence? We will want the money to pay on this public debt then. It won't be paid then. Are you willing to keep adding on to this debt for the next thirty years, and still have it hanging over you? I think not, sir.
There is another question I will propose for our delegates from the southern counties. The gentleman from Logan calls upon the southern counties to stand by him in this proposition to amend by inserting that you may create a debt for works of internal improvement. Well, now, what work of internal improvement in the state has had the largest finger in creating this public debt. If I recollect aright it is the James river and Kanawha improvement, the very thing these Kanawha gentlemen have been advocating ever since the thing first started. If I mistake not the gentlemen along the Kanawha river and from Logan all have been the strong est advocate for this James river & Kanawha improvement. . They have been increasing its debt on us; and has it ever paid anything back to us? Why, sir, I believe the legislature was convened in special session to sell out the whole thing to the French Emperor recently; and I suppose if it had not been for this secession of the state it would have been sold; perhaps it is. I do not know what has become of it. But these very gentlemen have been the strongest advocates for the creation of that very debt; and up in our country, when a man is a candidate for the legislature he strikes at that improvement and he tells us it is a great singing fund of our State; that the money has all been sunk.
I want to notice one argument of the gentleman from Doddridge. I don't know whether he expects to represent Doddridge county or not. Perhaps he will. He says he is satisfied, have all they want; and he is going to help his neighbors in the southwest, be very liberal. Well, I know some people in Doddridge, and I am not so sure they are going to endorse his policy if they find out when he goes home that has been his policy, that he is willing to tax Doddridge for the benefit of people elsewhere. They may not send him to the legislature any more and may take up a man who will not be quite so liberal. There is some force in his argument that great advantage will be derived from railroad facilities all over the State, and that the rebellion derived great advantages from the railroad system in Virginia. Another view of that matter, and I cannot feel the same satisfaction in it as the gentleman from Doddridge manifests, is that those roads were built largely at our expense and that we have been thus made to contribute to the strength of secession, to our double injury. If there is any argument in that as applicable to the present question, it is against the gentleman. The gentleman undertakes to give the State of Maryland the credit of building the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. I don't understand that the State of Maryland had anything to do with it. It was the project of a joint stock company that thought they saw profit to be derived from it. I think if any other railroads are to be made through this portion of the State - if there is enough promise of profit to make it worth while for anybody, we will find private companies ready to step forward with the money to build them. We will be at no expense at all, but enjoy the benefits. It has been already said, and we know, that internal improvements in Virginia have never paid anything. Perhaps one or two small roads have paid small returns; but the great mass of those roads have not paid one dollar into the treasury and never will.
This debt keeps accumulating upon us. We will have to shoulder our share of the Virginia debt, and it cannot be less than $6,000,000, and at the lowest rate it will take at least $360,000 a year interest to carry it. The United States is levying a direct tax on us of $200,000 more; and we want some day to get our share of this debt paid and we must put on an additional one per cent for a sinking fund to accomplish this. Allowing the annual tax for carrying on this new State at $200,000, and that is a low estimate, we find the annual demand on us will be $820,000; to be laid on a people who in their best days have been able to pay only $490,000 a year.
(The hammer fell.)
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. The gentleman from Harrison seems to have forgotten a very fundamental fact in connection with this question, and that is the improvement in the value of property resulting from internal improvements. As markets are brought within reach there will be an increased demand for farm products and consequent rise in the value of all farm property. This with development of mining and manufacturing enterprises, giving large values to other kind of property, will greatly increase the assessed valuation of the State and correspondingly increase the revenues available for interest and other public purposes.
Gentlemen argue that we are attempting to embark on a system of internal improvements - inaugurating a system. Is that true? Do we say one word on the subject of internal improvements? Don't they come forward with a clause to prohibit forever the State from investing anything in it? One gentleman comes up here and tells us they are very willing the legislature shall appropriate any money they have - all the money they are willing to raise by taxation - for the purposes of internal improvement, but shall not incur a debt for such purposes. He denounced it as the most direful evil that ever cursed the country. Let me ask the gentleman what does this internal improvement, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, save himself and his neighbors? How could the government have been there in time to have driven off those who gathered around Grafton to fix the manacles on his limbs but for the facilities furnished by this Baltimore road? I say further had we had that same improvement up the Kanawha valley, or even if it was there connecting with the Tennessee and Virginia road, how easily could this government have immediately transported its armies back up to the very backbone of the rebellion and cut off the finest transit in the Union. That Tennessee railroad, which enables this Confederacy now with only some million and a half of men to hold in check some twenty-five millions of the Union and its armies. Once tear up that railroad and the Confederacy is gone. But you have got no such improvement; and how can you ever get it without calling on the State for that aid? I say, sir, your own every interest demands, both public and private; and gentlemen all acknowledge these are public improvements; that they all demand that we should embark in this work.
I wish in parting to commend the gentleman from Marion.
MR. DERING. I desire to say to this Convention before the vote is taken, that we are about, if this amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha passes, about opening books of credit for the new State that I verily believe will land her in bankruptcy. Why, sir, what all have we upon our shoulders? We will assume an equitable portion of the debt of the State of Virginia, which will amount to $8,000,000 or $10,000,000. We will have to pay that debt, sir, and the interest on it annually for many years to come. Because it is impossible in the present state of things that we should pay any part of the principal. We will have to provide public buildings, that will cost an immense amount of money. We must have a capitol and a penitentiary, asylums for the blind and deaf and various other necessary public buildings that we will have to incur the expense of. We will have to keep our government in motion and it will require money to do it. And are you going to press down this people with the burdens of taxation and thus scare away immigration from our new and rising State? Sir, our policy should be on the cash basis of pay as we go. We will be enough in debt without opening books for new debts without this system the gentlemen from the southwest wish to put upon us. The gentleman from Logan says we have got all we want and now we seek to throw them off. I will tell the gentleman if you go into statistics you will find the northwest whenever she got a turnpike had to give millions to get that few thousands. That is the only kind of improvements ever made in this section by the state. What railroads we have were built by private enterprise, in spite of the state rather than with its aid or even favor. The region of whose neglect these Kanawha gentlemen complain has had far greater favors from the state than ever we have had. Look at their Kanawha improvement, and the improvement of other rivers there on which vast sums were expended. The southwest can get railroads the same way the northwest got them; by inviting and making it the interest of outside capital to come in and build them. But gentlemen of the southwest, just wait until the baby gets on its feet before you ask us to run our State into debt and forever bankrupt her. Let this system be in abeyance a few years, and then if help is still needed we will come up to the help of the gentlemen from the southwest. We need improvements all over this part of the state, sir. We are locked up as well as they. We don't seek to impose any burden on others; we don't ask any favors at the hands of the State, and as I have said we never have had any. But we are not disposed to run our State into debt before it gets out of its baby clothes to contribute to our internal improvements. Immigration will not come in where people are taxed to death, and immigration is our greatest need. We are here asking to be developed by outside capital. If we begin by piling up new debt for wild-cat schemes we repel all this. Start on a cash basis and show that we intend to be prudent and business-like, and we invite it. As internal lines of transport are needed, they will be built by private capital. All we have to do is to hold out inducements for it to come in and be willing to wait a little. The world was not made in a day; a great state cannot be built up in a day. I beg the gentlemen, then, in this, the infancy of our State, to beware how they vote for a policy that will engulf us in ruin and bankruptcy.
THE PRESIDENT. The chair will be vacated until half-past three.
The Convention reassembled at the appointed hour and the Chair stated the business before the body.
MR. HERVEY. When this question was opened up last evening the gentleman from Doddridge made a sectional appeal to this Convention. He told the gentlemen from the southwest to stand up to this amendment; that their rights, and interests were involved in it; to come up to it as one man, and that he would stand by them. Now, sir, I thought the day of sectionalism had passed. There is nothing to be gained, I hope, by tactics of this kind. Members of the Convention will not take that view. But, sir, if they unfortunately should inaugurate this system, it is a two-edged sword. It cuts both ways. If they first weave this web, it will be "Will you walk into my parlor, said the spider to the fly?" If an appeal to sectionalism is made, those who have appealed must rely on their strength against the stronger. Without the annexation of these Baltimore & Ohio counties where would the power of the southwest be? It is the last question that ought to be raised at this early stage of the progress; and, sir, not twenty minutes elapsed after this question was raised, although no appropriations were being asked until that appeal had been made in this Convention.
Now, sir, what will be the result of bringing this question before the legislature? Why, sir, if in the discussion of this question here, we have seen this sectional issue so promptly raised, the day it comes before the legislature, if it ever does, we shall have the city of Wheeling arrayed against the city of Parkersburg; Parkersburg against Wheeling; both against Charleston; Charleston against both; all these old scores brought up to be fought over; all these old sores re-opened.
A convincing argument against this sectional policy was, perhaps unconsciously to the speaker, contained the address of my very worthy and distinguished friend from Logan, who detailed how the southwest was euchred out of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; how they tried to have it run up the valley of Virginia and then across the mountains and down through Kanawha, but failed. Why advocate a system by which he acknowledges they were cheated out of a great public improvement? I do not say he pronounced on the merits of the case, but I say that is the view of the gentleman himself.
Again, sir, another gentleman placed it on different grounds. He says, why turn us out of doors without protection? Give our poor neighbor ten dollars. Well, now, sir, that is just what I supposed it was, what I expected it was; taking from one section and giving to another. Once inaugurated, this interest will be like the horse-leech's daughter, crying "give, give!"
Again, sir, no attack has been made on internal improvements by any one on this floor. I presume we are all internal improvement men. We all want to see the country served with good roads, bridges, railroads, canals - every facility for travel and transportation; the very great value and pressing need of which we all realize and appreciate. There is no difference of opinion about that. The difference is upon the manner of obtaining them. Shall they be constructed on state account, or shall we leave it to private enterprise?
MR. SOPER. I hope no gentleman in this house is influenced by sectional party views in relation to any vote he may give in the formation of this Constitution. The question now before us is one of the utmost importance and I think the experience of legislation throughout the state has satisfied us that we ought to be extremely cautious how we give the power of jeopardizing the credit of this new State. Public improvements by the state or by lending its credit has in almost every instance proved injurious, and the result many companies have gone down and the state has been left heavily in debt. In view of the difficulties that are staring us in the face in the peculiar condition, of affairs, I submit to the Convention whether or no the provision as reported by the committee on this subject is not a safe and prudent one. For my own part, sir, I am satisfied that we are acting carefully and cautiously by rejecting this amendment. It is impossible for us to tell, sir, but one thing I think we may safely assume; that if we adopt or assume to pay what could be considered an "equitable proportion" of the debts of the State of Virginia, and if we shall be prepared to meet whatever demands the general government may impose upon us, we shall so burden our people with taxation that many of them will be scarcely able to bear up under it.
Now, sir, I am not one who is opposed to internal improvements, I am in favor of them; but I want it upon a fair, safe and wholesome basis. I would rather proceed slowly with it, sir, and surely even if I had to wait for years to come before the beneficial results of it should be demonstrated. I would say to the gentlemen who are urging this improvement policy and who talk so much about leaving this matter to the legislature, that there is a provision already adopted in the Constitution which will protect them safely. Gentlemen will bear in recollection that here is a provision for the amendment of the Constitution. Now, if we shall be able to dispose of these taxes and burdens that are to be laid upon us; if they shall prove less than we expect and we can meet them easier than we now think then if it is deemed the wishes of the people that this State should contribute aid in order to make internal improvements, it can be done under this clause which provides for amendment. And this is a safe clause. What is the objection to leaving this whole matter to the legislature? Why; you hear about what they call "logrolling." You hear one of the gentlemen say he has been at the city of Richmond session after session to present the advantages to be derived from the chartering of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and of the difficulties encountered. Any gentleman who has experience in legislative matters knows that this system of logrolling, or other influences which are brought to bear on a legislature are to say the least dangerous and injurious in their consequences. Under this provision for amendments, no amendment can be made until it has been twice brought before the people; their attention shall be called to it, so that they may vote intelligently. It would be a safe provision, if we were here ready to start with the determination to grant the credit of the State in aid of these companies to say that no debt for that purpose should be contracted until submitted once or twice to the people. If an amendment is proposed in the legislature to change the Constitution to permit it to lend its credit or engage in the construction of some public work, and after two legislatures have approved the scheme the people authorize it by popular vote, then if it did not turn out well they would have nobody to blame but themselves. This process will always be open to those who believe works of this kind ought to be undertaken by the State; and that is as far as we ought to go here. When I vote against this amendment, it is not because I am opposed to internal improvements. I take it we all want them. The difference is as to the means and method of effecting them. I want the State improved on such basis that as the work progresses it will enhance the credit of the State, not destroy it. I am therefore clearly of the opinion that the only safe and prudent course for us now is to lay aside this amendment. Gentlemen need not go home and tell their constituents there is no provision made for this in the Constitution; because they can at any time, in the manner I have told you, get an expression of all the people of the State and if the people want it can accomplish the object in two or three years from the time the movement is commenced. I would not now authorize giving the credit of the State for works of internal improvement; I would not have the State become a shareholder in any company for such purpose. I should be willing to require these companies to become incorporated and take and extend a certain amount of their corporate funds towards the completion of the improvement; and when they had made beneficial improvements in a certain proportion the amount should be aided by the credit of the State.
MR. LAMB. I would not have troubled the Convention again on this subject but for the frequent references to the city of Wheeling.
The city of Wheeling has had nothing from the state treasury for her improvements - nothing whatever. She has been frequently before the legislature, and has troubled the legislature a great deal in reference to these subjects; but she has been brought there as a defendant to oppose plans which she supposed prejudicial to her interests and the interests of her people. This has been her share in this matter. The improvements in which we have been interested have been built by private capital, not by state capital. We have not had our hands into the treasury for the purpose of benefiting this section of the country; and such improvements as they have been enabled to build, with a load of debt occasioned on the people of this city, I believe now the people of this city would be perfectly willing to dispense with every advantage they have received from those improvements if they could be placed clear and free of the debt. But I want the members of this Convention to understand that for the purpose of making our improvements here we have not had our grasp on the public treasury. The State of Virginia has not made them for us.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I would ask if the bonds of the city of Wheeling were not guaranteed?
MR. LAMB. There is not a bond shaver in the whole country that ever made a harder bargain to a man that applied for a loan that the State of Virginia did with us when we applied to get a guaranty. That is the fact in regard to that matter. She required the credit of every parcel of corporate property and received that independent of the pledge of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad stock itself. And what is that guaranty worth, in comparison even with the credit of the city of Wheeling? Yes, sir, we got that guaranty; and we got it on those terms; and that is the aid we have had from the state in making our improvements.
It is a fortunate thing perhaps that this motion is connected with a motion to allow the erection of public buildings; for I do think if a stranger - a reasonable man - was here hearing the debates of this Convention and understanding that we were now gravely considering the propriety of putting an enormous debt for these purposes on the State of West Virginia he would see the necessity of very speedily having a lunatic asylum erected within our commonwealth (Laughter). Under these circumstances, in the present situation of the country, when we know not what is to come, except that come what may we must be subject to immense taxation to carry on this government; except that whenever we assume our portion of the debt of the state and undertake to pay interest on it we do know the resources of the people of western Virginia will be strained to the utmost - under such circumstances, we are gravely considering the propriety of taking an additional burden of nine millions of debt upon our shoulders, with a revenue of $490,000.
MR. HAYMOND. Mr. President, it is argued, on the other side of the question, that we are about to assume a powerful debt, which belongs to the Old Dominion, that we are to settle with them and that we are to be involved in debt, ruined. Sirs, I desire that we shall have a settlement with them, and if we owe them anything we are able to pay them. But, sirs, it is argued by a number of men throughout the country that on a fair settlement they will be in debt to us instead of us to them. We are further told that we are inaugurating a set of internal improvements which is to involve this country in an immense debt of some fifteen or twenty millions. Where do they get their arguments? I tell them they are mistaken. We are here telling this Convention that we are for the liberties of this country; that we are only asking to have the right to do that which we want to do; to have the right to say that if we want to improve this State of West Virginia we shall do it. That is what we ask. We are asking for the liberties of the country, and that is what people want and nothing short of that will satisfy them. I heard it said since I left this house that the people whom I represent would condemn the course I am taking. I have the pleasure to say to this Convention that I know the feelings of Marion county. I had the pleasure of seeing at the McLure last night some of my friends from that county who waited upon me and told me that an oyster supper was in waiting for me on my return home for the noble course I had pursued in this Convention (Laughter). Did that look like tearing me down? No, sir. I told them that if my feeble efforts were entitled to their respect it would be the happiest day of my life to meet them at the oyster supper (Laughter).
Now, Mr. President, the gentleman from Harrison, I was astonished to hear him oppose this measure. We are fixing our plans and carrying them out, to make his very town the seat of government. We are going to build -
MR. HARRISON. Who is?
MR. HAYMOND. I am not talking about who. We desire, when we get our public buildings erected to build a great railroad through this State and that point was to be on it and be the seat of government. We once had a railroad meeting in Fairmont. It was attended by about a thousand from the different parts of the country. We had a delegation from Pennsylvania; and who was in that delegation? Sirs, we had Honorable Andrew Stewart there, who addressed that Convention. It had met there for the purpose of fixing on a plan for this contemplated railroad leading from the Pennsylvania line to the Kentucky, and thus pointing its way to the Pacific. Sirs, the Honorable Andrew Stewart was there in all his might and power. He addressed that convention amidst the shouts of that people and told them to go on with their improvement and Pennsylvania will meet you at the line and beat you there!
MR. DILLE. I have not intended to participate in this discussion nor neither do I now desire to engage, as I feel very much as though we had discussed it and consumed time enough. But, really, I have come now to the conclusion in reference at least to some of the gentlemen who favor this proposition - 1 have ascertained why and where they have got their visions. My worthy and esteemed friend from Marion has revealed the secret, the great secret. The visionary "Tariff Andy," from the county of Fayette, has convinced him that it is the work of a day, almost the work of an hour to construct magnificent railroads; and really that gentleman has it in his mind that the legislature of the new State of West Virginia has nothing to do but to pass an act of incorporation and a great and magnificent railroad starts at the Pennsylvania line, or at the Northwestern road, or at the Baltimore & Ohio, and never stops until the cars are riding beautifully down to Kanawha, to the Ohio, and off towards the Pacific! Now, really, if that gentleman will only look for a single moment, if he will consider for a single instant, he will see that all his visions inspired by "Tariff Andy" are for naught. If he will only look around him and ascertain what is the population of this new State, what are her resources, her prospects of population, he must come to the conclusion that he may advocate these wild and visionary theories until his head turns gray and his children after him, and no railroad can be constructed by the citizens. And were we to inaugurate or attempt the system that is proposed here, which shows upon its very face that it is impracticable, that it cannot be carried out - why, sir, if he will only take the present resources of the State, the present wealth of the State, as a criterion and look forward to the best prospect, he will realize that for the next twenty years we may not be able to pay the interest on the debt which naturally, legally and justly will fall to us for our share and pay the ordinary expenses of the government. What is the use of us investigating a theory when we look at the facts, when we attempt to carry it into practice and we all become gray and our children become gray before that provision can be in good effect further than to harass and embarrass the State, which we look forward to in the future as a State to which we can cling with pride. Why, sir, if we will only come down to the facts we will find that the best estimate we can place on the revenues of the State, with a taxation of 40 cents to the $100, will not yield us sufficient to pay what I suppose will be our just proportion of the state debt, laying aside our current expenses; and if they will only recollect that we need a state house, a governor's house, a house for each department of the government; that we have no asylums for the blind and deaf, that these things must be provided for if we expect to prosper, if we expect to acquire a reputation as a state among the states of the Union. But go a little farther; I fear, and what has aroused me here, is that very state of things. I fear if you engraft a provision in your Constitution by which the State may engage in works of internal improvement, you thereby engraft a principle in your organic law which will produce a state of things which we have all regarded, all lamented, and which we have all attempted to discountenance in this whole region of country - and that is a species of logrolling. "You go for my work of internal improvement, and I will go for yours, and we will carry both." Why, sir, we have had that thing here exemplified to-day. We want works of internal improvement in the southern part of the State. You go for this scheme and I will stand by you, and then we will expect you to help put the capital in our locality. Why, sir, gentlemen, this is only a part and parcel of a common system which well-nigh ruined the good old commonwealth. It has, I verily believe, contributed more to corrupt the people of the old state, the mother of states and statesmen, than all other causes combined. It has produced recklessness.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. As the gentleman has made remarks that rather impugn the actions of some members of this Convention, I desire to know of the gentleman as I have been advocating the amendment whether he has any allusion to me.
MR. DILLE. None at all.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I think the gentleman should state distinctly who he does allude to. He has reference to some gentleman and I wish to reply to it.
MR. DILLE. I have no objections to your replying to it, so far as I am personally concerned. I have seen exemplified here the system that I want to discourage and dishearten. I will refer particularly here to the sentiment uttered by my friend from Doddridge in regard to the objects of the southwest. Why, sir, that is the very sentiment that has ruined Virginia.
MR. SINSEL. If we are to debar the legislature from making any improvements within our border, I cannot see any particular good that would result from our having a new State. The great complaint has always been with us that we were paying money to improve other localities while the west was hemmed in and almost impossible to get out - that is in many parts of West Virginia. It does seem to me the object of government is by a combination in that way to overcome these natural barriers; for the whole people combined to open these outlets that nature has seemed to indicate for the good of the whole. Now, what sort of benefit will the large majority of the people living in many counties of West Virginia receive from a government here entirely shut up with no outlet whatever? They will probably find no communication with any person only the tax commissioner. He will come around for what purpose? It does seem to me if we want to make this State anything we must at least give the legislature the privilege of constructing turnpikes, or a railroad if necessary, and such other improvements as will develop the resources of the State. Now, a gentleman from Preston in the forenoon remarked that if it had not been for these improvements, the State of Virginia never would have seceded. Now, just look at the facts of the case. Take all lying on the Ohio river, the counties lying along the border there, where they have a communication with all the world and the rest of mankind, and along these two railroads, the Northwestern and the Baltimore & Ohio where they have a like communication - and what do you find? You find the people loyal almost to a man. Go back into the mountain counties, where they were cut off from any communication, and what do you find there? Nothing but a nest of secessionists (Laughter). Who was it that invaded the soil of Taylor county, as the first rebel soldiers? Why, sir, they were from these mountain counties; and if they had had the same means to receive intelligence that they had along these railroads I have no doubt they would have been as loyal as we were.
I hope the amendment of the gentleman from Kanawha may prevail, but it seems to me I wish to add at the close of the section when it shall be prudent to do so, a limitation to these works of internal improvement so far as railroads are concerned. I would add at the end of the section something like this: "The legislature may aid in the construction of a railroad from some point on the Northwestern Virginia railroad to the Kentucky line but shall not aid in the construction of any other railroad within the State." (Laughter.) Now, it does seem to me that the people ought to have communication through to put us on a par and level with the balance of the State. I live in a county where we have three railroads coming in altogether and checkered with turnpikes. All this northwest is checkered with them. And here we are to leave all these mountain counties closed up without turnpikes. It is bad enough to deprive them of railroads and much worse to deprive them of turnpikes.
MR. PAXTON. I had expected to say a few words on this question, and being absent I do not know what has been said and what positions have been assumed. I have no doubt, however, from my knowledge of the ability of this body that the ground has been very well covered. I shall therefore only refer to a memorandum I find in my pocket of statistics on this question, and I wish to call attention to it for a single moment.
I find in looking at the constitutions of various states that the states I will now name have restrictions on this subject of state debt: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Oregon, Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey and Louisiana. All those states have restrictions of some sort in regard to the contraction of state debt. Some are absolute; some qualified.
THE PRESIDENT. Virginia has.
MR. PAXTON. Virginia also; I omitted Virginia. Now, sir, what I especially desire to call attention to is this: It will be seen from this that all the newer states have restrictions on this subject generally, many of them absolute prohibitions; that these new states have had the wisdom to profit by the experience - the sad experience, I may say - of some of the older states on this subject, and have avoided that great source of evil, state debt. It will be further observed that the states that have heretofore engaged generally in works of internal improvement contracted enormous debts when there was no prohibition in their constitutions, and have since been compelled, and have attested the folly of their course, by adopting in their later constitutions or by amendments to the old, absolute restrictions against the contraction of debt. I refer especially to Ohio and Pennsylvania, our nearest neighbors. Both have attested to the folly of this system of internal improvement on state account. And having attested it, they have been compelled finally after involving themselves in almost financial ruin, to adopt the other system which we now propose to incorporate in this Constitution.
Now, I ask gentlemen if they could have any stronger evidence against the system this amendment proposes to incorporate in this Constitution? We have the testimony of these states that have tried it. They attest that it has failed, and they condemn it. We have also the evidence of the newer states on this subject. They have provided against it in advance.
I will make but a single further remark, and it is this: That all works of internal improvement must of necessity be partial in character in benefits. It is utterly impossible for any state to undertake a system of internal improvements that will equally and alike benefit all parts of the state and all the people of the state. Now, the question which I wish to put in view of that fact - I apprehend it will not be denied that it is a fact - is it right, is it proper, is it legitimate for a state to collect taxes from all the people of the state and appropriate them to the benefit of a few? That is the inevitable consequence of a system of internal improvements on state account. It always has been, it always must be, so. I do not myself believe it is legitimate for a general government to undertake works of internal improvement. I mean I do not believe it is right; that the government has a right to do it. In the first place, I don't think it is one of the objects for which governments are instituted. I assume that a government is instituted for the purpose of promoting social order and protection to the person, the well being and property of the citizen. If I am right in that presumption, it follows that legitimate taxation must be confined to these purposes - for the purposes of promoting social order, for the protection of person, life and property of the citizen. And therefore the State has no right to tax the citizen for the purpose of engaging in any speculation - for it is a mere speculation. If I am right in this assumption, a state has no right to tax its citizens to engage in any incidental speculation or any other purpose foreign to the object for which the government is created. Even if the abstract right to do this did exist, even if it does exist, it cannot be exercised without a violation of all correct principles and without perpetrating great injustice on one portion or the other of the state; for, as I remarked, it is utterly impossible under any system to make an improvement that will, benefit all the people equally. Consequently it is not right to tax all for the benefit of comparatively few, or tax the whole state for the benefit of a particular section. That is the very thing of which we in western Virginia have complained; the thing which probably more than anything else is the cause of this movement for a separation. And yet it is proposed now, while we are in the midst of the work of seeking a remedy for that evil, to fasten on us the same system under which that evil must inevitably be repeated and perpetuated. I hope we shall provide now, in the beginning, by the adoption of the section reported here, against this source of evil, of ruin to states and state credit.
Mr. Dering demanded the yeas and nays and they were ordered, and the vote being taken on Mr. Brown's amendment, it was rejected by the following vote:
YEAS - Messrs. John Hall (President), Brown of Kanawha, Chapman, Carskadon, Cook, Dolly, Hansley, Raymond, Hoback, Hagar, Irvine, Montague, McCutchen, Parker, Robinson, Ruffner, Sinsel, Stephenson of Clay, Stuart of Doddridge, Smith, Taylor, Walker, Warder - 23.
NAYS - Messrs. Brown of Preston, Brooks, Brumfield, Battelle, Galdwell, Dering, Dille, Harrison, Hubbs, Hervey, Lamb, Lauck, Mahon, O'Brien, Parsons, Paxton, Pomeroy, Simmons, Stevenson of Wood, Stewart of Wirt, Sheets, Soper, Trainer, Van Winkle, Wilson - 25.
The question recurred on Mr. Lamb's motion to authorize the legislature to incur debt if necessary for the erection of public buildings.
MR. SMITH. I wonder if it is intended to build any other public buildings than institutions for the deaf and blind. The gentleman from Ohio was talking about the need of a hospital for the insane, but has made no provision for it (Laughter).
MR. LAMB. The vote of the Convention just recorded indicates that the need of one is not so urgent as it seemed a few minutes ago.
I think, Mr. President, as we cannot give a definition to the words "public buildings" in this section with the necessary brevity, perhaps I had better withdraw the amendment for the present at least. Afterwards it can be put into such form as will be unobjectionable, including insane hospital, as the need of one seems to weigh on the gentleman from Logan.
MR. SMITH. I am satisfied to build an insane hospital, if he or his constituents want it.
MR. LAMB. They don't need it. It should be located in the southwest.
MR. PAXTON. Is that amendment withdrawn?
MR. LAMB. I would prefer to withdraw it for the present at least with the consent of the Convention.
MR. SINSEL. Then I will offer an amendment.
THE PRESIDENT. We have to pass over this report a second time and we have had a long hitch here over it. The Chair would suggest you consult over this and wait till we pass over the report next time.
MR. BATTELLE. Allow me one word in answer to the inquiry of the gentlemen from Logan to say that the report of the Committee on Education as it passed does not provide for the erection of public buildings for the insane but for their education.
MR. SMITH. It recommended the fostering of such institutions but there is no authority to build public buildings. I don't want them myself and if we have no internal improvements I don't care about these things.
MR. SINSEL. I wish to offer this amendment: to insert after the word "revenue"
"but the legislature may aid the construction of a railroad from some point on the Northwestern Virginia Railroad to the Kentucky line, but shall not aid in the construction of any other railroad within the State."
MR. HERVEY. I would like to offer an amendment to that amendment: to add "and also a railroad leading from Wheeling to Wellsburg" (Laughter).
MR. SMITH. I shall vote with great pleasure for the amendment (Laughter).
MR. STUART of Doddridge. Just one moment, sir. I do not know that I can support the amendment of the gentleman from Taylor; but I should like to say to this Convention that I fear after the vote we have just taken on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Kanawha has been the most fatal stab that has been yet given to the prospects of our new State. I hope the Convention will reflect and consider it. I hope the gentleman from Taylor will withdraw his amendment. I think I understand the feeling of a large portion of the people of the State of Virginia. If this provision is voted it will drive them from the new State. You are getting up an opposition to it you are little aware of at present, and this body had better reflect before they come to a determined decision.
MR. HARRISON. I must call the gentleman to order.
MR. STUART. I hope the gentleman from Taylor will withdraw it.
MR. HERVEY. Do you call this standing by your friends in the southwest?
MR. SINSEL. I will withdraw it for the present.
MR. HERVEY. I will withdraw mine, but with great reluctance (Laughter).
The Secretary read the section as originally reported.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I move to strike out "corporation."
MR. HERVEY. There is no "corporation" in this section.
MR. STUART. I thought it was the 6th section.
The Chair put the question on the adoption of the section.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I move to strike out the words "to meet casual deficiencies" - in fact to strike out all the section providing that any debt may be contracted by this State for anything at all.
MR. HERVEY. I shall support that proposition (Laughter).
MR. PAXTON. The vote was being taken; the question had been put and the ayes had voted before the amendment was proposed. I think the amendment, therefore, is entirely out of order.
MR. BROWN. I rose as quickly as I could get the opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair considers it a very unfortunate state of things when amendments come in so late. But I believe before the result of the vote is announced we may object.
MR. VAN WINKLE. The rule relates to discussions but I do not know that an amendment can be offered at that stage of the game.
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would not be so certain about it.
MR. VAN WINKLE. The reason of the rule is this: that every gentleman who wishes to vote in the negative may give a reason for his vote. Even that is forbidden on the yeas and nays; but on an ordinary vote, I understand he may before he votes in the negative. In this case the gentleman has his opportunity to offer his amendment on the second reading.
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would prefer that course should be taken.
MR. BROWN. To save any further difficulty, I will withdraw the amendment.
The question was put and the 5th section adopted as originally reported.
Section 6 was reported by the Secretary as follows:
"6. The credit of the State shall not be granted to, or in aid of any county, city, town, township, corporation or person whatever; nor shall the State ever assume or become responsible for the debts or liabilities of any county, city, town, township, corporation or person, unless incurred in time of war or insurrection for the benefit of the State."
MR. PAXTON. I am willing to submit that section without any debate on it, I believe, on my part. It follows almost as a necessary sequence to the preceding section, which has just been adopted.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I now move to strike out the words "corporation or person," in line 27.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. We have had much said here about the effect of works of internal improvements and aid rendered by the State, even in the direct or indirect form to corporations. And we have had a number of states instanced to indicate wherein the policy had been ruinous to them. I wish to call the attention of this Convention to some facts because unless we're different from all other men, I am utterly at a loss to know why some causes that produce certain results among other people-shall not operate to produce similar effects among us. It has been urged here that the State of Pennsylvania and the State of Ohio having embarked on this system got themselves ruinously in debt and sold out their improvements at a sacrifice to the injury of the state. Now, I wish to call the attention of gentlemen to the fact that while the state may have lost a few dollars in the difference between what the works cost and what they sold for in the market, the wealth of the state was enhanced a hundred-fold by the operation of the works. Take the State of New York. Will any man who will candidly and carefully sit down and look at New York and the expenditures shown in digging the Erie Canal and other works there - but you need go no further than that single one, and it has added more to the wealth of New York than all the taxes she has paid from the time she began to the present day. It has raised her from a second or third-rate state that was far below Virginia until she is equal to three or four of it. It has turned into her heart and cities the commerce of the western world, and she has reaped the rewards from the tolls on that canal sufficient almost to relieve her from taxation. At the very time she entered on that work, George Washington, with that foresight that characterized that great and wise man foresaw the results that similar works in Virginia would do for her, his native state that he loved so well, and he planned to put it in operation; and it has been a Virginia policy and idea to connect the Atlantic and Ohio from that day to this in the execution of it; and the same results have not followed only because the work has not been completed to do what was done by De Witt Clinton in New York. Men raised the hue and cry in New York and attempted to break down that great man; and did for a time; but he finally carried it through. Identically the same principle there is the same principle here, and it ill becomes those who have reaped the rewards of internal improvements to raise a hue and cry against the system. As to Pennsylvania, it is true she went in debt forty millions and sold out for eight; but with the wealth thus given her by those improvements, likely more than eight hundred millions, her people are able to pay the debt, and pay without feeling it. Enough to buy all your picayune cities in the market. The same principle in Ohio out-strips Virginia but for this same principle of internal improvement that she inaugurated and carried out until she put it into operation; and although it involves her in debt, it enables her to pay it ten thousand times over. The same thing in Virginia. And, sir, but for this rebellion, this debt was nothing in the commonwealth. The bonds sold for 91 and 92, and a few years ago sold for five dollars above par in the markets of New York. Why, then, you talk about Virginia with the whole country developed. She is now rich in all the wealth of an agricultural district, brought about by operation and by virtue of those internal improvements - that is to say made by the debt now saddled on the state. We complained in cases of the system because they used all the money on their side of the house.
We ask that this State be allowed to extend aid to corporations as the wisdom of the legislature and the interests of the State shall determine at the time; that the representatives of the people shall be the judges of the necessity and that wisdom; and I now stand here to denounce with every word and feeling of my nature this attempt to say that West Virginia shall never aid any corporation or any other institution that it may establish to carry on and conduct a work of internal improvement on which the wealth and prosperity and future glory of the State may depend. Why shall you tie yourselves? Are you afraid of yourselves? Are you slaves that you are afraid to trust your own men and your own minds? Whenever I feel that I have no confidence in myself then I will ask for an appropriation for an asylum and ask that I be sent there.
All I ask then is for the people of West Virginia in the Constitution to leave them where their fathers left them, to do as they please with their own money. He who denies them that right is not their friend in my opinion; friends who are very poor friends of the people; who have received as much as they can get and then tell those who have not been so fortunate that they are great advocates of internal improvements.
No, sir; the same rules that applied to other people will apply here; and all we ask in the world is to do as we please with our own. We ask for nobody else's. I hope then it will be the pleasure of the Convention to adopt this amendment of the gentleman from Doddridge to leave the State free to aid a corporation with the credit of the State by the guaranty of its bonds or otherwise.
MR. PAXTON. The part of this section it is proposed to strike out happens to be a part of the present Constitution of Virginia which I will read: "And the general assembly shall not pledge the power of the state, or bond it in any form for the faith or obligations of any company or corporation." I presume, sir, that is probably a sufficient answer to the gentleman from Kanawha. He has stood up for our Constitution as it is, almost uniformly. A question I desire to ask him is this: If it happens that this State should ever engage us largely in works of internal improvement, they having been so immensely beneficial after having tested them, if it is so good a thing as represented by him in other states, why is it that they have condemned the whole system and provided in their constitutions just such restrictions as we provide in this report?
MR. SMITH. I would inquire whether the gentleman voted for or against the amendment extracted from the Constitution of Virginia?
MR. PAXTON. No, sir; I have never stood up here as the special friend and advocate of the present Constitution of Virginia.
MR. BROWN. I have only to say in regard to the Constitution of Virginia, there is much in it that can be better. Unfortunately the gentlemen are trying to strike out the good and retain the ill. Here is an effort made to preserve a feature imposed by the vote already passed.
MR. PAXTON. A provision similar to the one now before this body for its action may be found in the constitutions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the provision I read from the Constitution of Virginia. I think, sir, it will not be amiss for us to profit by the wisdom of the people of those states. I do not mean to say a provision exactly like this, in the precise language, but the same in substance.
THE PRESIDENT. Those provisions are remedied in other places entirely and you are speaking of the constitution of '52.
MR. PAXTON. The later constitutions of the states named.
THE PRESIDENT. We all know that since that period the state has been constantly lending her credit to railroads and there is some clause that enables them to do so. We lent the credit of the state, as you will see, to the Southside Railroad, the Lynchburg, Danville, Petersburg, Norfolk, Central, Manassas Gap and others. There is something else that secures the privilege, because it has been done to my certain knowledge.
MR. CALDWELL. Is this a question of order?
THE PRESIDENT. No, sir; and the Chair apologizes for what it said.
MR. LAMB. I merely want to make a remark or two. The gentleman from Kanawha has referred us particularly to the State of New York and the State of Ohio and the immense benefit which this system of improvements has been to those states. I wish to say in reply to that that the only improvement in the State of New York which was made by the state money is the Erie Canal. That I believe was around the year 1822. In reference to that work, notwithstanding the immense advantage it has certainly been to the people of that state, we find there is a very heavy debt still existing although all that canal was in full operation; was not left an unfinished work but was completed and in operation in 1822. There is still a large debt in the State of New York, and the present debt of the state, I believe, is that canal debt. The benefits conferred by that work was peculiar and the case exceptional. The design was to tap the commerce of the great lakes and bring it to New York City. This was rendered possible and profitable because that city was a seaport and because the canal tapped the eastern water line of an enormous commerce. Perhaps nowhere else in the United States can you find a case where such large results would be possible even with a correspondingly great expenditure. This work was not part of any "system" on the part of the state. It was projected, I believe, and carried out through the energy and persistence of one man, who realized how necessary it was to their great metropolis and seaport.
But if we are to take the example of New York in one particular, why not take its example in another? If they have tested this system, if they have reaped immense advantages from it it has certainly been the result of advantages mainly, however, due to the works that were constructed by individual capital and individual enterprise. But if the internal improvements were made by the state and have been so immensely profitable as the gentleman from Kanawha would have us believe, why have they. found it necessary to adopt this provision in their constitution which we now propose to put in the Constitution of this State? The Constitution of New York contains a provision that the "credit of the state shall not in any manner be given or loaned to or in aid of any individual, association or corporation." This is the result of their experience in regard to the matter. With all these immense advantages which they have found resulting from these improvements, they have found it is better to leave such improvements to be made by private capital and individual enterprise than to adopt this system of making improvements by the state bonds with its necessary accompaniments, the extravagant appropriation of money, the throwing away of the wealth of the people and burdening them with debt; also that other necessary accompaniment which has been so well detailed, the infamous "logrolling" system which it inevitably produces.
We have also been referred to the State of Ohio as specially worthy of our imitation. Ohio made her canal, I believe, from the Ohio river to Lake Erie. What other work has she made? Her improvements with this exception have been the result of individual enterprise employing private capital - the improvements which now tell with such immense effect on the prosperity of the state. She has after her first experience wisely left them where it is wisdom to leave them to the result of individual capital and individual enterprise. But take her experience, too. She has found it necessary to incorporate into her constitution the same provision we now propose to you. The Constitution of Ohio provides that "the credit of the state shall not in any manner be given or loaned to or in aid of any individual, association or corporation whatever; nor shall the state ever hereafter become a joint owner or stockholder in any company or association in this state or elsewhere formed for any purpose whatever." They have tested this system thoroughly and this is the result of their experience.
Sir, you will find this provision, I take it, in the constitution of every prosperous state in this Union. You will find it I know in the constitutions of many of the other states. They have found this provision a necessary restriction upon the legislature. Not that they had not confidence in the people electing a legislature who would truly represent their wishes, but they had seen how this system had operated where improvements were made by the creation and use of state debt; and they wisely adopted in reference to the legislature the injunction: "Lead us not into temptation."
As I have said before, the remark that we have had all we wanted from the state and not wanted others to have nothing, that cannot apply at least to this section; for the improvements in which we are interested and by which we have benefited have been made in the way in which I say any wise system of improvements must be made. They have been made by the capital and enterprise of the parties that were particularly interested in them. They have not been made by the capital of the state. We have not had the aid of the state for these purposes. On the contrary, the only subscription that ever was made by the state to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad she withdrew in the manner mentioned by the gentleman from Wood this morning, taking advantage of the road not being completed to Cumberland in the time specified in. the act; and from that period to the present, the Baltimore road has worked its way, so far as the State of Virginia was concerned, without taxing the treasury of the state.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I must take issue with the gentleman who has just spoken. He cannot name a single prosperous state that has not been made so by this system of internal improvements. Not one that I know. It is useless for me to repeat that I have no direct interest in the motion I have made here; that I am looking to the interest and prosperity of the State and looking to the interest of these people that this policy is going to affect. We are asking the people here in the southwest to cut themselves loose from a certain people and come with us and form a new State; and at the same time you adopt a provision which utterly denies the prospect of having any internal improvements made, to develop their great resources. I am just as well assured as that I stand here that the action that is sought to be carried out here will drive those people from us just as sure as we stand on this floor. They have no other remedy on earth. They have not got capital to build these improvements, and where is it going to come from? If the State will not look after her own, do we expect strangers will come in and doit? A great part of the country south of the Northwestern Virginia road is a wilderness, land worth 50 cents on the dollar. Build a railroad in there and that land will be worth twenty dollars an acre. Fifteen years ago when I emigrated to Doddridge county I could turn around and buy land for 50 cents an acre. The building of the Northwestern road increased it five to ten-fold in value. One year after that road was built land that would not have brought more than fifty cents could not be bought for less than $15 to $20 an acre. This policy will keep our hills for deers and wildcats instead of inducing people to come in and develop the country.
MR. SINSEL. I presume it is known to every member, of this Convention that the State of Virginia had been for many years trying to build the Virginia Central road. I think it is now done as far as Covington. That road is planned to run down the Kanawha valley to the mouth of the Big Sandy. If that road was completed today it would cut off more than half the trade from this Northwestern Virginia Railroad. The trade would come by Norfolk and Richmond instead of Baltimore. It is well known our interests are identified with all our intercourse there, and by adopting this system that you propose you will deprive the Baltimore & Ohio Company in all probability from constructing a railroad from some point on the northwestern Virginia to the Kentucky line to meet that southern freight. You will force the completion of this through road or else trade will be cut off from the Baltimore company whenever you push it. By adopting the amendment it might be the State could give a little aid to the Baltimore or some other company that might engage in this enterprise, to tap the Kentucky line. But if they are to be shut up there, they will, naturally seek an outlet to Richmond. They trade now, I believe, with Cincinnati to a great extent. If that road is completed they would trade with Richmond and Norfolk. If we would now extend a little help to some company, we would divert the freight from Cincinnati here and keep it from going to Richmond and bring it right through our midst.
MR. HERVEY. I presume this new State organization has not been gotten up on the principle that it is to be a charitable institution when organized - something like general commission to ascertain which section or locality is in the rear, and thereupon immediately levy a tax on the balance of the State as a contribution to bring it up to an equality with the rest. I do not understand that this new State is to be gotten up on the principle of Fourierism or anything of that sort. I do not understand, either, that it is to be started on the principle that any man or set of men have been bought up to submit to it or to stay in it. That is, that if you don't vote to push our section with so much money, we will abandon the new State, vote down the Constitution and get out of the country. I, sir, cannot use that argument. I don't think there is a member on this floor who represents a constituency which came into the new State with the purpose of being crammed exclusively at the public crib. There is other work to do in the new State besides putting the hand into the treasury. We have all got to put our shoulders to the wheel and put the State in motion and keep it in motion. And now, sir, in advance, before we have got the organization at all, we have the intimation to the effect that a portion of the new State, because they will not be fed with charities, will withdraw. I am sure there can be no such intention anywhere outside of this Convention. It is alleged that the hands of the people will be "tied." Who will tie their hands? Is not this a convention of the people? Are we not sent here with full powers to judge and execute what we deem the welfare of our people requires? Is not that the work they have entrusted us with? Our work goes to them for approval. If they approve it, it becomes their own act. Who then will tie their hands if these wholesome and necessary restrictions are approved by them, as I have not a moment's doubt they will ? They will tie their own hands, to keep the hands of schemers out of their treasury.
The gentleman from Doddridge has undertaken to unearth the fossilized remains of attempts in certain northern states to improve them by borrowing on state credit. Well I hope he is satisfied with the results of his resurrectionary work. Those old exploded systems have been buried a great many years, but it is still too soon to disinter the remains. They are still offensive.
And, now, sir, I deny emphatically the right of any particular portion of the state to claim that they have the rights of any other section of the state and that therefore the other sections are bound to appropriate the money that belongs to the whole for the benefit of their locality.
MR. HOBACK. I move we adjourn.
The motion was not agreed to.
MR. SMITH. After what has transpired I feel very little inclination to make any remarks on any subject that concerns the action of this Convention. I have myself thought she has defeated - utterly defeated - all hope of good that is to result from it; all hope of acceptance of it by the people. The Convention has incorporated a principle into the fundamental law of the land by which she is prevented from improving her own condition. It would be like a man buying a farm on condition that he shall not improve it; that he shall take the old sage field and briar-patch and live on sage and blackberries. That is exactly the proposition that has been voted on; and I say under these circumstances I feel but little anxiety about anything else that may occur. There is, however, in the proposition offered by the gentleman from Doddridge some little good that may grow out of it. It has been the practice of Virginia - the Virginia constitution is now quoted to grant aid, two-fifths or three-fifths to works of internal improvement. Those subscriptions have generally confined to railroads and macadamized turnpikes; and the motion of the gentleman, if it shall prevail will have the effect of giving power to the State of aiding and assisting in constructing these humbler works which in this country have been so eminently successful. There are counties that I know of - one of which I now represent on this floor - in which there is not a turnpike that can be called a turnpike.
MR. CALDWELL. If he will amend his proposition so as to limit appropriations to these humbler works, I can go for it.
MR. SMITH. Well, we will try that after while. This proposition looks to that. We are a humble people and by permission of this section, we live obedient to their mandates. The old state have been liberal towards them and by improvements they have grown rich and they may lord it over us. I receive it as a boon at their hands. I am glad to hear there is even that much liberality towards that humble portion of the country which I represent; feel gratified that Wheeling and its vicinity are ready to extend to us the humble turnpike whilst it denies us the railroad that you have been blest with and with very little of your own money. Wheeling has a turnpike down the Ohio; one towards Zanesville; one out to Washington; this railroad here; they are verging to a common center. And what is it that has made Wheeling but these improvements? I do not complain that Wheeling has grown great from a humble village, and being a city she owes this strength to these very improvements.
MR. LAMB. The capital and energy of her own people have made Wheeling what she is. These have created business, and the improvements come to those who have business to give them.
MR. SMITH. The gentleman from Ohio on another occasion said she was now indebted and heavily indebted. She is now much abler to pay that debt than she was before. She is wealthy and growing into importance. What does she owe it to? This very spirit of internal improvements that seized her. I hope she will continue to grow; but I hope and trust she will grow more liberal and generous and just towards others who form a portion of this State. I regret to see such a spirit manifested by a city that has grown up and been fostered by the influence of internal improvements.
If you adopt this proposition of the gentleman from Doddridge, the State may be enabled to guarantee some little support to these humble improvements. There has been a great deal said about the constitutions of other states. The constitutional legislation of New York and these other states has no application to the question before us now. When they commenced they were poor; they went on by the aid of the State and constructed works of improvement that have made them rich and they have resources within their own borders competent for every enterprise that may spring up. There is no necessity there now to call for the aid of the State. I know how Ohio state first built her great canal; and I heard a distinguished gentleman from Ohio say he never expected any return in actual tolls over and above the interest on the money expended; and that that canal had given the state a hundred millions of dollars; that wheat was then selling at 25 cents a bushel and it was now 75 cents to a dollar a bushel and all through the influence of that canal. She then received from twenty-five to fifty millions gain each year and in other growth of the agriculture of the state.
MR. VAN WINKLE. As this is Saturday evening, I can quote an eastern precedent that the negroes have holiday Saturday evening. I move we adjourn.
MR. HAYMOND. I wish to offer a resolution.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I withdraw the motion.
Mr. Haymond offered the following:
"Resolved, that the Legislature of West Virginia shall have the power after five years from the admittance of West Virginia into the Union to borrow money to any amount not exceeding ten millions of dollars for the purpose of building a railroad from the Pennsylvania line by way of Morgantown, to Charleston on the Kanawha."
MR. SMITH. I shall vote against that. I will not accept any such boon as that, which seems to be offered in ridicule.
Mr. Van Winkle renewed his motion and the Convention adjourned.
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Chapter Eleven: First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia