Just in time for the inauguration of West Virginia’s 33rd governor, the State Archives of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History has posted the inaugural addresses of the state’s previous governors on the Internet. The speeches can be accessed at the State Archives link on the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org/history/govinaugural.html. Researchers and history buffs also can link to biographies of each of the governors.
Twenty-eight of the 30 individual governors who have served the state are represented. Daniel D. T. Farnsworth, who only served six days in office as the second governor did not deliver an address, nor did his successor, William E. Stevenson. John J. Jacob, the only man to succeed himself prior to Arch A. Moore, Jr., did so by running as a Democrat for a two-year term and as an independent in 1872 for the first-ever four-year term in West Virginia history, yet he only delivered one inaugural address.
Some of the common themes included in the addresses relate to agriculture, mining, manufacturing, education and transportation. Most governors have stressed maximizing the state’s rich resources and issued calls to the people, regardless of their political affiliation, to work for the good of the state.
Issues of taxation became more frequent in the 20th century as government services expanded. National concerns also became hot topics, including the 1876 presidential election, ratification of the 19th Amendment, World War II and the Cold War.
Particularly striking are the omissions in the speeches of two governors. Henry D. Hatfield, who was elected in the midst of the bitter Paint Creek/Cabin Creek miners’ strike, made no mention of the dispute in his address, but eight days into his term he initiated negotiations between labor and management in an effort to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict. Similarly William D. Marland, who three days after taking office requested passage of a severance tax bill, made no mention of this controversial proposal in his inaugural address.
For more information about the inaugural addresses of West Virginia’s governors or the State Archives, call (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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