Ephraim Franklin Morgan was born on a farm near Forksburg, Marion County, a direct descendant of Morgan Morgan, one of the first white settlers in western Virginia. He studied at Fairmont State Normal School and graduated from the West Virginia University law school in 1897. After establishing a law practice in Fairmont, Morgan enlisted in the First West Virginia Infantry during the Spanish-American War. Following the war, he became the Fairmont city attorney. He served as a judge of the Marion County Intermediate Court from 1907 to 1912 and as a member of the West Virginia Public Service Commission from 1915 to 1920.
At the time Morgan became governor, a virtual state of war existed between union coal miners and coal operators. The United Mine Workers union was protesting for the right to organize miners in the southwestern part of the state. In late summer 1921, the governor called upon President Warren G. Harding to dispatch federal troops to end an armed miners' march in Boone and Logan counties. After the conflict ended, Morgan used National Guard troops to discourage miners from again taking up arms. A more detailed discussion of the 1921 armed miners' march and the Battle of Blair Mountain can be found in Clayton D. Laurie's "The United States Army and the Return to Normalcy in Labor Dispute Interventions: The Case of the West Virginia Coal Mine Wars, 1920-1921" in West Virginia History, Volume 50 (1991).
Under Morgan, the legislature created a sinking fund to provide financial assistance to new programs, namely a new road system. He appointed a Capitol Commission to devise a plan for replacing the old state capitol, which was destroyed by fire on January 3, 1921. The west wing of the present state capitol was completed in 1925. One week before leaving office, Ephraim and Alma Morgan became the first residents of the present Governor's Mansion.
After his term as governor, Morgan served as solicitor for the United States Department of Commerce before retiring in Fairmont. In 1940, he was defeated for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate. He died in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1950.
West Virginia's Governors
West Virginia History Center