The Convention, was opened with prayer by Rev. Gordon Battelle, a member of the Convention.
The journal having been read and approved,
MR. BATTELLE. I ask the indulgence of the house a moment to make a personal explanation which I deem due to myself and to the Chairman explanation which I judge will give pain to nobody.
It will be remembered that some few days ago when the Chair stated, as a matter of order, that a gentleman offering a resolution or amendment or proposition was not thereby of necessity entitled to the floor above others. I took occasion at that time to express very decided dissent from the opinion of the Chair. Subsequent reflection, however, has convinced me that the Chair was right and I was wrong; and I wish as a matter of justice both to the Chair and myself to make the correction of my mistake as publicly as the error was made. I suppose I had in mind what has been the custom here when I expressed myself decidedly. That dissent was erroneous and in the point made by the Chair that a member offering a proposition or resolution was not of necessity entitled to the floor above others I wish to express my acquiesence, and having differed with the Chair I wish to correct the error in the same public way that the error was committed.
THE PRESIDENT. When the Convention adjourned it had under consideration the Report of the Committee on Taxation and Finance, the 6th section and the amendment offered by the gentleman from Doddridge. The question is on the adoption of that amendment.
MR. DERING. Mr. President, I ask that the Clerk may read the motion.
THE SECRETARY. Mr. Stuart of Doddridge moved to strike out "corporation or person," from the 27th line.
MR. DERING. Mr. President, I deem it my duty to oppose the motion of the gentleman from Doddridge. I am constrained to do so, on this occasion. My colleague is absent and my voice is the only one that can be raised in behalf of Monongalia on this subject It is not that I expect to enlighten the Convention or influence or control a single vote on this floor, but merely to give an expression to opinions and the reasons why I cannot favor that motion. What is it proposed to do, sir? I hold, sir, that this amendment to this section would be infinitely worse in its bearings and results than the amendment proposed to the section we have just passed. It would be ruinous to the State if we should agree to strike out "corporations or person" in this section and thereby authorize the legislature to loan the credit of the State to corporations or individuals. What is a corporation? A soulless thing organized to make money for its projectors without regard to any other purpose. The gentleman from Doddridge and other gentlemen here want to lend and pledge the credit of the State to these soulless corporations, to cities and towns, corporations and persons. He proposes to incorporate in our organic law an invitation for all time to come for adventurers and cheats and companies organized for all sorts of questionable purposes throughout the whole country to come in and lay siege to our treasury and empty its coffers. The public invitation is to be inserted if these words are stricken out in our organic law, saying to companies and persons the world over. Come in, gentlemen; we are here pledged in the Constitution of our State to lend you our credit. How long do you think the State would have any credit worth lending? This very offer to scatter our obligations around to anybody that wanted them for any purpose would destroy their value. But it would destroy their value for good purposes as well as bad; and when we wanted money for some beneficial and really necessary purpose, capitalists would not entertain our application. What is the basis of our credit to start with? With the State not yet in existence, we are in the midst of an internecine war, with a bleeding country all around us, dependent for any possibility of State existence on the success of the national arms. When the rebellion is put down and the government re-established, our State admitted and recognized, we start with a load of debt as our heritage from the parent state as heavy as we can bear for the next generation. With very limited revenues in times of peace, we have to take up this burden with a disorganized state of finances which at the utmost can barely provide for interest and ordinary expenses. Yet we will have many extraordinary expenses to meet, such as the need of public buildings, even if we do not add a dollar to the debt we have to assume. I ask the members of the Convention if in such a state of facts, they are prepared to put out people into the hands of the adventurers who will quickly gather around your legislature to take advantage of this deplorable folly if perpetrated as now proposed? I tell you gentlemen we have no credit to barter; no credit to offer to these soulless corporations and companies. I listened Saturday evening to the remarks of the gentleman from Kanawha with the anxious desire to hear from him some good reason why we should thus place this public invitation in the Constitution, but I listened in vain for a single reason with which I could go to my people as a reason for assenting to such a provision.
I ask the Convention to pause before they pledge the credit of the State to these companies who will be quick to come in to use and abuse it. The gentleman from Logan was very modest, very humble, very thankful that they would be permitted to build a mud turnpike. Put this permission in your Constitution and in digging for mud turnpikes he would find railroads under them, and he would get up railroad, salt and oil companies and all the various companies you could imagine, and he would find ways to convince the legislature these should have some state bonds to lubricate their machinery. Gentlemen from all parts of the country might with equal success form themselves into companies to improve us with all sorts of schemes and go to the capital for their share of the credit of the State. Are you willing to inaugurate that kind of a reign of recklessness and bankruptcy? I tell you the proposition to disembowel this section is infinitely worse than the other that the Convention refused to permit.
MR. RUFFNER. I do not intend to transgress on this house; but I cannot refrain from making an observation or two in reference to the course of this Convention on subjects similar to the one under consideration. It will be remembered, sir, that the new State proposed to be made is not fully represented here. There is a minority you may say that undertake without knowing what may be the sense of a majority when the time is fully ripe to curb the action of the representatives of the people in all time to come from such measures as may be deemed good for that majority. Will this Convention undertake to restrict from doing that which shall be their will? Will these gentlemen here who represent a particular feeling on the subject undertake to put such restrictions on the legislature and on the people? I warn them that this Convention may make a constitution that the people will not sanction; and what then will be the effect upon those who have been so urgent for the formation of a new State? Their great object will have been defeated, and it is only on the ground that we might establish a state that I yielded my opposition undertaking the formation of a new State at this time; and I caution them that they are not secure in the grounds they have taken. They may carry this measure of restraining the legislature too far to meet the approbation of the people we represent; and I raise my voice against any such restrictions here as are attempted to be imposed on the legislation of the State.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. There was the case of the member from Fayette referred to the Committee on Credentials. I think it is due to Fayette county that the case should be determined before we determine the rights of the people. I desire to hear a report from the committee.
MR. SINSEL. Mr. President, the committee had a meeting this morning and determined upon what they would report. We have not had time to make up the report as yet. We will report in the afternoon session, unless you will take a verbal report.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I would as soon have a verbal report as a written one. I think it is due to the gentleman and to his county that we should act and should not go on and determine questions and then admit the member afterwards.
MR. SINSEL. If the Convention desires the verbal report I can do it just now.
THE PRESIDENT. I suppose the report could be short and might be received - the substance of it, if there is no objection.
MR. DERING. I should prefer that we should have a specific written report in this case. It is a very important case and the facts ought to be made a matter of record. I desire to do justice, and I want all the facts spread before the Convention in reference to the admission of delegates that we can get. It will be but a short time to wait when we can get a specific detailed report.
MR. LAMB. I rather understand from what has been stated by the gentleman from Taylor that it was the understanding of the committee that no report would be made except a written one.
MR. SINSEL. Would be made by the afternoon.
MR. LAMB. Of course, it would not be proper in that state of the case for one of the members of the committee, contrary to their understanding in the committee to submit a verbal report.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I would simply remark that there is nothing in the world in the report; that the chairman of the committee can report it in three or four words. I know so far as the minority report is concerned, there is no difficulty about that, and all the facts are before the Convention.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I move the Convention take up the subject and determine it at once.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I should like to know, if we are to receive a report, what it is. I want to know before receiving it as a question that might have something to do with receiving the report. I have no objections to vote after that that the gentlemen have leave to make it if he chooses to do so. To vote without receiving it is another question.
THE PRESIDENT. It is moved the chairman of the committee have leave to make the report now.
MR. SINSEL. Mr. President, we had a meeting this morning and through a misunderstanding, one of our members was not present. There was just four present. Two of the members of the committee think that the gentleman should not be received upon the petition submitted before them and the Convention should issue a writ of election to supply the vacancy of the member who resigned. The other two are in favor of admitting him right at once. That was the agreement they came to.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. The chairman of the committee has correctly reported the facts. One of the members was not present through mistake, and that member was opposed to the admission of the member from Fayette. So it is distinctly understood that the majority report against receiving the member and the other two would report in favor.
MR. SINSEL. Mr. President, the majority - though I do not report as a majority, myself and the gentleman from Preston were opposed to admission at this time and would respectfully recommend to the Convention the issuing of a writ of election to fill the vacancy as being the usual mode in such cases. We see no reason why we should deviate from a well-established principle in this particular case.
MR. BROWN of Preston. As a member of that committee, I desire that there may be no unfairness in this thing. The chairman of the committee has stated that a member of the committee was not present at the meeting. In addition to what he has stated, I am apprised of the fact that that member had no notice of the meeting. He was notified that there would be a meeting here on Saturday evening and he came out here to meet the committee and could not find it. So I think really there is unfairness towards a member of the committee. When a committee is to meet, all the members should have notice. If they do not attend then, there may be a majority of the committee present and they can proceed to their business. But I hold it is necessary that every member of the committee should have notice of the time and place of meeting. The committee has had no opportunity to investigate this matter, and so far as I am concerned, I have not had a single particle of evidence from anybody except what has been before the Convention. Now, it does seem to me the committee ought at least to take time to investigate this matter or hear evidence from some source if it can be obtained; and certainly the absent member ought at least to have had notice of the meeting of the committee before any action on his part.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. These are the facts. It was admitted that this gentleman came on to fill the seat of Mr. Cassady and also recommended by Mr. Cassady, and came on with 13 petitioners. It was a stated fact that they were citizens of Fayette and Union men. What is the use of running around and investigating any further about it? I believe the gentleman from Taylor admits himself that these are the facts. It seems to me it is right and proper that this thing should be settled at once.
MR. VAN WINKLE. It seems to me this Convention should have enough respect for itself, for its dignity, not to be trifled with in this way. I move this matter be referred back to the Committee on Credentials, with instructions to ascertain whether this petition was circulated in Fayette county; whether it was presented to other than these thirteen and whether any to whom it was presented refused to sign. There is nothing here to show whether any effort was made to obtain another signature, that a majority of the citizens did not refuse to sign; nothing but the bare fact that thirteen signed the paper, nor whether those persons were in Fayette county at the time. Ascertain and report all the facts.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I move to amend by disagreeing with the report of the committee, and that the member from Fayette be permitted to take his seat.
MR. LAMB. Mr. President, I would also be glad before this matter is acted upon to know whether the people of Fayette county have had any notice whatever of this proceeding. I take it that this Convention have not a right to elect a member from Fayette county, at least without their having some sort of notice of what is being done and expressing their sentiments in regard to the matter. The papers which are here presented are conclusive that the citizens of Fayette know nothing about this matter. The resignation of Mr. Cassady is dated 28th of January, some three days before this appointment is presented here, only four or five days ago does this resignation bear date, and immediately a paper is presented here signed by 13 individuals whose signatures have been obtained in a different part of the commonwealth without any date whatever; and it appears those signatures were not obtained in Fayette county. Now, under such circumstances we are asked to make this gentleman a representative of Fayette county in this body. I have no objection whatever to the individual, to his being a Union man and to these signers being Union men. Whilst that may be true, is this the way in which a representative of the people of Fayette county can be appointed? There is a white population in Fayette of 5700; and here some 13 persons - true Union men they may be, 13 out of 5700 whose signatures have been obtained in a distant part of the country, assume to appoint the representative from Fayette without the people there knowing anything about it.
The ordinance under which this body is constituted requires an election. We have dispensed with that ordinance in one case, and only one case, in which it was proper to do so. At least as to the other cases it is at least doubtful whether it was within our power and our right to dispense with it. In the case of the member who was received here from Calhoun it was distinctly shown to this Convention by affidavit that it had been impossible to hold an election in Calhoun at the time designated; that there was signatures here to a memorial appointing him far exceeding in number the whole vote of Calhoun county against the ordinance of secession; that those signatures were the signatures of citizens of Calhoun; that they in fact comprised a large majority of all the Union men in the county. Under such circumstances, accepting that fact distinctly shown here that it was impossible to hold the election in that county, it was proper perhaps and right that we should dispense with the formality which had been required by the ordinance and admit the party claiming it to a seat. But in the case before us, is there any principle whatever which regulates the right of the people to representation under which you can claim that Mr. Ryan is entitled to a seat here to represent the people of Fayette county? There is no evidence before this Convention that since the 28th of January there would be any impossibility of holding an election in Fayette county. None whatever, and I take it the fact is not so. There is not a secession soldier anywheres in the county of Fayette, as I understand it, at present, and there would be no difficulty in holding an election, giving the people fair notice and having their will and wishes in the election of a proper representative to this body. Is there any evidence that these 13 men constitute all or a majority of the Union men in Fayette county, and can this Convention undertake to say that if notice was given to the people of Fayette of this proceeding that there may not be, not 13 but a hundred Union men in Fayette that would prefer somebody else? It may be that every Union man in Fayette would desire Mr. Ryan to be their representative, but they have not had any opportunity of expressing their wishes in regard to the matter; and if Mr. Ryan is appointed to his seat here it will be this Convention appointing the representative of Fayette county, not the Union men of that county, for they have had no opportunity of expressing their wishes to us. I hope the motion will be carried and that the committee will report specially on these points whether the people of Fayette have had any notice of this proceeding since the 28th of January when this proceeding had date, and whether this paper does express the will of the majority of the Union men of Fayette county. Under the circumstances in which it comes here, under the facts which are apparent, I say we have no right to constitute this gentleman the representative of Fayette county in this Convention.
MR. RUFFNER. Mr. Ryan came here some time ago with a petition from some seventy, perhaps more, citizens of Fayette recommending him to the legislature and setting forth his Union sentiments and all that sort of thing. The legislature could not, of course, receive him as a member, but that petition may be received as an endorsement of that gentleman by numerous citizens of Fayette.
MR. SIMMONS. How many male citizens?
MR. RUFFNER. I am not able to say. There was some ten or a dozen females who signed it (Laughter).
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I should be very sorry, Mr. President, at this time and day if this Convention should refuse this member a seat under the circumstances surrounding us. Why we should change our course from what has been pursued at this particular time and occasion is something I cannot understand. This is his case here. Endorsed, it is true, by but a few citizens of Fayette, but those men by whom he is endorsed are now this day fighting the battles of the country. I understand there are but few men in that county, and what few there are and most of them driven off, the most of them in the Union army. It would be exceedingly difficult even there this day to hold an election; and I doubt whether even if the gentleman from Ohio had the leisure to do so and he were delegated down there to hold an election whether he would be willing to risk himself to do it. I know I count myself pretty brave, but I doubt very much whether there could be any inducement held out to me this day to go down to Fayette and hold an election for a member to sit in this Convention. Then, sir, this man comes here endorsed not only by the Union men of Fayette but by men who are this day shouldering their muskets in defense of their country. And you are saying to Fayette, you shall be disfranchised; and if it is done this morning it is done under peculiar circumstances and one which I feel sorry for, I assure you. I hope the Convention will not pursue this course.
MR. DERING. I desire to do justice to this gentleman. I have no doubt of his loyalty and Unionism, because it seems he had been endorsed not only by the gentlemen but by the ladies; and anything the ladies would do would certainly be right.
MR. STUART. I understand there are no ladies on the petition.
MR. DERING. It has been so stated by a member of this Convention.
MR. RUFFNER. I understand only two.
MR. DERING. Very well; it is worth a great deal to have the approval of a couple of ladies. Although they are not entitled to vote, perhaps we will incorporate a provision that will entitle them to the right of suffrage. Let these credentials be referred to the Committee on Credentials. A half day will not make much difference I presume. Let us have the facts and vote understandingly.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Consistency is a jewel. I must confess more than ordinary surprise at the manifestations of the Convention here this morning. What have we seen in this Convention? A Convention purporting to represent the people of the several counties numbering 44, proposing to form the organic law and determine the future destiny and the inalienable rights of a free people. We have seen this Convention adopting a principle recognized by the government that called us into existence; recognized by the government of the nation; the only principle on which we can stand here justified before God or man: and that is that men who are loyal to the country and exhibit that loyalty shall make no exhibition of their wishes in selecting the representatives who shall reorganize and maintain the principles of the government that they adhered to as the fundamental law by which we are to be guided. And in the execution of that principle we have seen a Convention assembled in this city altogether by the suffrages of about one-fifth of the people of the commonwealth assuming to act for the whole; we have seen this Convention assembled here, representing a voting population of perhaps 30,000having been chosen by some 15,000we have seen when members come into this Convention upon written papers, sent and delegated by a few people in several counties and asking that they may be permitted to represent them as their representative in forming the organic law that is proposed to be the government of the State, we have seen them admitted to fellowship, to all the rights and authorities of this Convention; we have seen the case of Mr. Cassady, who was the first man that presented himself upon a petition of about 23 members, we have seen him admitted here and go on to perform and discharge the duties upon that authority until other calls the calls of his country, the mandates of the law and the powers that be, have kept him from our midst. We have seen the gentleman from Wyoming who came with him at the same time and who was admitted in the same way, received as a representative in this Convention of those people. We have seen the case of the gentleman from Nicholas; precisely similar circumstances; the case of the gentleman from Calhoun in precisely similar situation. And now for a gentleman to undertake to make a special plea to distinguish between the evidence on which one case rests and the others, when there is no doubt of the true facts in both cases, it is impossible for gentlemen to stand up here and intimate it. The facts are equally clear of the truth of the case as presented. We have seen the gentleman from Logan also; and now at a very peculiar juncture of time we find the gentleman from Fayette here. And what is more, sir, while these gentlemen are questioning the very fact of the representative of the people of Fayette and the citizenship of those who have selected and appointed this delegate, they are the identical men in part who appointed the first delegate upon whose suffrages you have acted. The man stands here endorsed by the declarations of members of this Convention as a man who is above suspicion. As to signatures he has not only the men but the wives and daughters of perhaps the very men who are driven from their homes by the foe, perhaps battling in defense of their country's cause for the rights of their very homes they cannot stand there to defend, while here it is pretended by gentlemen to legislate for a free people and manacle the limbs of that people by constitutional provisions they abhor, while they exclude their representative from a participation in the very act. And that, too, on a principle which is violated at every step - a departure from that consistency which has been practiced in every solitary instance until the present. Go home and tell your constituents that when there was no question or controversy before the Convention these other delegates were admitted to represent their people without question; but that now at the moment when a question is before the Convention in which they are vitally interested this representative who comes here on just the same footing is refused admittance, sent home with a writ of election which cannot be executed till the constitutional question in which his people are concerned is settled and fixed. Then you are to present this Constitution to these people of Fayette, and though they vote unitedly against it, you say a majority shall fix this Constitution on their necks for all time to come, nolens volens, for weal or woe. Endorse that principle, gentlemen, and my word for it the Constitution is not worth the paper it is written on; and if you ever enforce it over any people whom you disfranchise you will have to do it at the point of the bayonet and at the cannon's mouth; for if anything on earth were here to rouse the eternal hostility of that people, it will be the monstrous injustice attempted to be practiced on them in the refusal to receive their representatives. I wish to see then whether gentlemen will depart from everything that has been voted heretofore. I want to know whether the people of Fayette will have any more confidence in the gentleman that comes here or the Convention that seeks to vote him home when making a constitution for Fayette. Isn't it alike, the same constitution for the people of Fayette county as for the city of Wheeling? I want to know if they have not as full an interest in it as you have who are representing the people of these counties? No, sir, the people of my county and the people of Fayette as well as the people of every other county in this proposed new State which you are proposing to adopt and enforce on them, have a right to a voice in the making of it.
Now, gentlemen, I wish to say to this Convention, once for all, I feel very firmly a deep interest in this subject, and I do hope I may not have it to say when I go back to my people that the most glaring and monstrous injustice that was ever attempted to be perpetrated has been perpetrated on a portion of the people with whom I am eternally allied. I leave the question with you to determine it.
MR. LAMB. It is certainly a very extraordinary address we have had from the gentleman from Kanawha - a very extraordinary one. It is perfectly apparent from the papers that are here presented - and the gentleman does not pretend anything to the contrary - that the people of Fayette county have had no notice of this procedure whatever as it stands. On the face of these papers they have never had any notice and no opportunity to express their views or wishes further than the sentiments of these 13 are concerned. Yet it is denounced here as a perfect outrage of the rights of the people of Fayette that this Convention does not admit Mr. Ryan to a seat, without even the decent formality of having his credentials examined and reported on by the committee constituted to pass on the credentials of all the members of this body! This Convention is to be carried away by an appeal of that kind - perhaps I should say denunciation and threat - founded on such facts as these!
I do not think I ought to say anything more in regard to this matter. I will say, however, that a harangue of that kind made to this Convention is an outrage on its members. I have no reference, Mr. President, to any personal matter at all, but I have a right to speak of his argument and appeal as I think it ought to be spoken of.
This is the basis on which this appeal is made. These are the facts; and upon this it is to go forth that we are here to perpetrate an infamous outrage on the people of Fayette county! I am astonished, respecting the gentleman from Kanawha as I have hitherto respected him, that he can stand up before this Convention and make an argument or appeal of that kind. I want Fayette county represented here. The former member had the signatures of 42 - not 23, as represented by the gentleman from Kanawha of the Union men of that county; and it certainly was not apparent on the face of the papers in that case, as it is here, that the people of Fayette knew nothing of the proceeding. We had a right in that case to presume that they knew what was going on when they sent Mr. Cassady here. But at any rate, however that may be the question of consistency affects not me, for I voted for none of these admissions except the gentleman from Calhoun, whose credentials I think are abundantly sufficient.
MR. SINSEL. It seems to me the gentleman from Kanawha has overlooked a great deal that this Convention has done in admitting members here irregularly. Judging by the tone of the gentleman's remarks he considers that one section of the state is now about to commit a great outrage on the other section. He forgets that all these members who have been allowed to take seats in this body the most responsible and important that can ever be held in a statewho have come here wholly without any recognized authority, and in some cases with very little backing of any kind, have been from his section of the state. And it would seem the only effect this generosity has had on the gentleman has been to stimulate him to inspire and organize a sectional feeling in his part of the state, of which he has just made such a violent display.
Now what are the facts? When we assembled here on the 26th of November, we found 44 members duly elected and certified to this body. Two or three gentlemen from the other extreme part of the state applied here on petitions. These were referred to the Committee on Credentials, who on examining them did not feel at liberty to take the responsibility of recommending them to seats in the Convention. They referred the matter to the Convention. The Convention, looking at all the surroundings, the difficulty they would have to encounter in holding elections, thought it prudent to admit them to seats, without a dissenting voice, I think. All the members who now seem to the gentleman to be perpetrating this outrage voted to admit those applicants. Well, the Convention supposed the thing would end there. But during the recess of the Convention it seems the news got out into those counties that had no representatives, and here comes in three or four others. One came first: he was admitted without a dissenting voice. Then comes the gentleman from Logan, and he was admitted. All these coming from the same section of the State. Then at a more particular crisis than ever, when the Convention was excited to the very highest pitch over the basis of representation, comes two more right from the same section, and what did the Convention do? They admitted them without a word. And now, because members ask to have the proper committee examine the claims of this applicant to represent Fayette county, the member whose course seems to suggest sectionalism in this Convention denounces it as a great outrage on Fayette county. I think no people ever did act with more liberality in the world than the members from this end of the state, and I was glad to see it. What are the facts in the case that now arises here? They are altogether different. A member of this Convention resigned his position. Before his resignation is handed in, it is all arranged that he is to have a successor appointed in his place. I say it is irregular. Whenever a vacancy occurs, it is the business of this Convention to issue a writ of election and require that people send a man here of their choice. And I think that thing ought to be done without any imputation on our motives. I have acted from the purest motives and with the best feelings toward the southern end of this state and did what I thought right for them, and expect to do it to the bitter end; but I don't like to hear such imputations as those, intimating that we are doing it for political purposes, that must be the inference and nothing else. I disclaim any such intention.
MR. PARKER. I had the honor to be placed on the Committee on Credentials; and I have been governed so far in our investigations, in looking at the ordinance of the Convention that prescribes a certain way that the Convention shall be composed, that the delegates shall be elected. But the extraordinary difficulties in the way of carrying that out strictly soon presented itself to my mind and others on the committee; that it was impossible, in fact, in the state of the country to conform strictly to the regulations as there pointed out; and in the various cases that have come before the committee the rule that has governed me has been this inquiry: whether the gentleman who has presented himself is a man of character to be relied on, a true man and true Union man. When my mind has become satisfied of these facts, the next question is, is it the wish of the real Union men of the county that he comes here as the representative of that Union sentiment, the Union portion of that county. Wherever I have been satisfied that is the case, I have felt it my duty to admit him.
Touching the right of the Convention to hold an election, my impression is the Convention would have the power to do it but that it cannot be executed. I would rather vote here directly on the question of admission.
MR. SHEETS. I do not know that any gentleman who has had anything to say on this subject doubts for a moment the character of the applicant. All who have spoken in regard to him testify to his high character and his loyalty. But the question is on the petition presented here, whether it is genuine. I do not consider it so and I hope this Convention will not. When this Convention reassembled I was requested by a gentleman from Morgan to present a petition for him. He stated that he had been elected a member of the June convention - which I knew was a fact - but before setting off for the Convention he was driven from home by rebels and left and went across the river into Maryland and consequently was not able to come here to attend that convention having lost his credentials. When this Convention assembled he was in the city of Wheeling, and I could have presented a petition signed by a hundred good loyal men but I told the gentleman I could not present his petition unless he went to the county of Morgan and had it signed there by the loyal men in that county. He could not do it and consequently I could not present the petition. I am as much in favor of having every county represented on this floor as any other man but I want to see it done, not on a petition signed by ten or a dozen men, when the ordinance provided that an election should be held.
MR. SMITH. I have forborne, occupying the position I do in this house, speaking on this subject; but upon reflection I have come to the conclusion that if this amendment is not adopted it is equivalent to voting me out of the house. I have understood I was voted in on a petition on just the same course that is now being taken in this case; and if they reverse the principle now on which I was admitted I do not think in justice to myself that I ought to continue in this house. I was voted in on a petition, and I believe that petition was signed in Kanawha. I understand from the gentleman from Wyoming that he attempted to get into the county of Logan and he dare not go there. If he went there with anything in his pocket he endangered his life, if it were carried through the county of Logan, such is the state of feeling there that a man who was caught with it on his person would have been hung up on the spot; and such is the state of feeling in Fayette. I tell the gentleman from Wheeling he would when he got into the borders of Fayette find a community filled with bandits where they have been during the whole season. You know nothing of the terrorism that prevails there. I have gone up there twice but I took care to keep on the north side of the river. I would not trust myself going up even to the border of Fayette and keep on the south side of the river.
MR. LAMB. Are not General Cox's forces in Fayette now?
MR. SMITH. I do not know but his forces may be there; but his pickets are daily shot, and the whole country is infested with that sort of warfare that endangers the life of every one. They are scouting about through the woods like an Indian hunter; and worse and more cruel than an Indian; war going on continually. The soldiers cannot arrest that system of plunder and slaughter and murder that is going on there every day; and I imagine if you were to take the petition under which I have a seat here very few would sign it in the county of Logan. They dare not sign it there, and it must come from the county of Logan. They came from Logan to Kanawha to sign the petition; they showed their interest by coming there. I tell you that is the worst section of the war, and I only want to express my astonishment at the gentleman for not offering that petition, if it has two hundred subscribers from Morgan. It was a total misconception of his duty; and if he had come here and presented it, and given his opinion against it, I could have voted for it. The very fact that it was signed out of the county is its greatest recommendation. It is signed by those who are driven from home, and although driven from it they ask a representation of their county; and if they go from their counties and sign a petition they evince the greater interest in the matter and greater desire. But if you vote this out, the very same principle puts me out. It puts the gentleman from Wyoming out and it puts others out, I understand, who came in without any reference to the committee. It is an equivalent to reversing the votes that admitted us, and I say we could not with self-respect stay in this house after this vote.
MR. DERING. We don't want to vote you out.
MR. SMITH. But you are reversing the vote that admitted me as a member here, and I stand here then condemned by a reversal action of this house. Is not that the fact? It is a pleasure to represent the people who ask me to represent them and while I am here and can with self-respect occupy a place on this floor I will do it and do them justice to the utmost of my ability, and I want to have the people of Fayette, where there are yet a few loyal men left come in and maintain their interests. I ask why, sir, refer this matter to a committee? How can they bring in any new light here to enlighten us? Must you go through the forms? Because your father traveled along a road in the olden time, must you travel the same road without the slightest increase of light? What do you want it for? It is to delay it. Do you intend to vote for it when it comes in? I ask the gentlemen from Ohio and Wood what course they took when others were voted in here, and why at this particular critical juncture of the affairs of this house make this exception? Why is to be postponed when the most important, the most vital, measure that can affect the interests of the State are under discussion and Fayette is not here represented? And why is it that they should take the most active and zealous interest in defeating that which I think involves the great interest of the State, that they at this particular juncture make this particular special objection to the admission of the member? I impugn no man's motives. As the story goes, it looks like a certain thing to a man "up a tree." I impugn no man's motives; it is not my practice; but I tell gentlemen who take this course that they subject themselves to imputation. However honorable they may be it does subject them to imputation that interest, the great absorbing question of interest, is involved and controls and rides over their judgment.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I was absent from the Convention the afternoon the case of the gentleman from Logan came up and was acted on, and I know nothing of the facts and circumstances connected with it. I therefore, of course, in any remarks I shall make have no reference to that case. I cannot say now, or attempt to repeat the evidence that was before the Convention in the former cases. It has always been with me merely a question of evidence. It is now nothing more. The resolution pending does not propose that a writ of election shall be issued. That may remain a subject for after consideration. What it does propose is that this shall go back to the committee to have them report the facts in the case. I have no other idea of the functions of a Committee on Credentials except that, with such recommendation as they feel themselves authorized to give. But in this case we have the individual opinion simply of the members of the committee without any additional evidence to that furnished by the petition and of course entitled only to the same weight as that of any other gentleman in the Convention.
Now, sir, in reference to the first case from Fayette. I voted most cheerfully for the admission of that gentleman. I said then after hearing the evidence we had in that case, and the fact was palpable to every member of the Convention, that these counties were overrun at that time by an army. That I believed to be the best evidence the circumstances of the case admitted of that an election could not be held and that the petition did give us the will of that people and that an election, if it could be held, could do no more. I was willing then, sir, not to be tied down by the strict rendering of the law. I believe that where a law is made to effect a certain purpose and cannot effect the purpose but that the purpose can be effected in another manner, the latter ought to be considered as acting strictly according to law. But, sir, the case of the first application from Fayette, the gentleman was here with 44 signatures to the petition; and only three of those names are upon the present petition. I do not even know at this moment the name of the gentleman who desires to represent Fayette county here nor anything for or against him but what has been said by members on the floor, but I am satisfied entirely as to the character of the gentleman. I have no objection that this committee shall send for the gentleman from Fayette himself, and I believe it would be perfectly right to do so and take his own statement of this matter; and if any additional evidence can be thrown on it to hear that also and then come back to the Convention, and the Convention will be in a situation to judge what to do. But the Convention ought not to act in a case like this on mere ex parte statements. Let it have some form about it, not merely that members shall state their impressions about it derived from hearsay; but let the committee hear what is to be heard and then upon their report the Convention will be in position to judge.
On another occasion I had the honor of presenting the credentials of the gentleman from Calhoun. I believe previous to that every case had gone to the Committee on Credentials. That case came here under these circumstances. A petition was written and signed by 71 citizens of the county of Calhoun. It set forth facts that they had been unable to hold an election and other facts in connection with it. As I said, it was signed by 71 citizens of that county; and then on the back of it an affidavit stated that the facts set forth were true on the testimony of two respectable gentlemen sworn to and certified by a justice of the peace. I had no particular interest in that case, but I stated that I would have taken the general course of referring it to the committee but as the committee was simply to collect evidence and as we had the whole evidence in the case before us there would be nothing for the committee to act on, and I moved the immediate consideration of the subject. The Convention sustained me in that and in admitting the member. Subsequently, other cases came up; but I did not, I think, vote, and made no opposition to their admission. But I had begun to think the thing was going too far, that the evidence at least ought to be known or imposition might be practiced on the Convention. And, now, sir, I ask in reference to the case before us that we should ascertain whether other citizens of Fayette have had an opportunity of signing this petition. How can we tell that this identical petition may have been presented to other citizens of Fayette county who refused to sign it? How do you know?
MR. HAGAR. I think it never was there.
MR. VAN WINKLE. It ought to have gone there. The gentleman from Ohio has shown you what these dates are. The resignation of Mr. Cassady was dated January 28. On the 31st this applicant was here. I do not care if all the citizens of Fayette are driven out of that county, whether they cannot be heard else, or that they are all in the army, or anything of that kind. But let us have it as a fact and not as a mere inference.
Now, I think I have asked nothing, sir, to subject me to those terrible imputations which have been made. We have asked nothing more than the simple facts laid before this Convention. I have reserved my right to vote according as those facts shall appear. Let the committee obtain the facts from all sources within their reach and lay them before the Convention in authoritative' form and then we will be prepared to vote.
MR. HALL of Mason (Mr. Battelle in the chair). I believe it is customary to let the applicant's side be heard in defense of their claim. I would therefore move that the gentleman from Fayette be heard on the floor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The gentleman from Mason moves that the gentleman from Fayette be heard on his application.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I am willing to hear the gentleman from Fayette after this committee have reported. Let us have the report and it may not be necessary.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. We have now spent more time than the money it will take to pay the member if admitted. We have all the facts that the committee can have. Let us settle the question at once.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I believe in one case that I could mention the member took his place on the floor and performed the duties of a member while the controversy is going on before the committee, and it has finally voted against his right to vote. Now it is a very different position by which we exclude first and then send the question to the committee.
MR. SMITH. In all cases where the admission of a member is contested, the universal rule, so far as I know, is for the member to take his seat and his credentials then be submitted. Admit the member and then commit his credentials to the committee. They will report, and when they do, he is here on the floor ready to be heard. But as Mr. Brown has justly said, we have reversed the rule as practiced in every other legislative assembly. We exclude the member altogether. You have pronounced by your previous action that such election as is presented here is legitimate and such as you will receive. On that past action the people of Fayette have acted and he is according to the rule a member of this house entitled on that petition to a seat here, and then you may present it to a committee. But in the meantime he is a member of the body until he is excluded.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I should like to call the attention of the gentleman to what is going on at this time. Mr. Upton of Alexandria, Mr. Segur from another district, and Mr. Foster from a district of North Carolina presented themselves at the House of Representatives for admission there at the beginning of the session, and I believe neither of them has been admitted to a seat; but their cases are in charge of the committee. The rule is very different from what has been stated. When a member goes there with a prima facie case, the certificate with the broad seal of the state, as in the case of New Jersey, he has the right to take his seat.
MR. SMITH. Is not Mr. Segur now a member of Congress?
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. How is it we see the speeches of Mr. Upton in the debates there reported? I have seen them from the beginning, his speeches in this very controversy.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Then, if that is so, they have gone there with prima facie credentials. They went there bringing something that purported to be a credential and on that were admitted to seats. But now, look at it. One-half the cases that arise before Congress are contested cases. The gentleman doesn't mean to say that both are allowed to take their seats and vote and draw pay and mileage? It is only those who go with credentials in due form. In a late case of contest before Congress the house gave permission to a certain gentleman, I forget his name, and he addressed them on the subject of his claims. Perhaps it was in the case of the senator from Indiana. But not until after the committee had acted on it.
Now, I do assure gentlemen it can make no difference whether this case is disposed of this morning or this evening. If the committee can sit in the recess and give us the facts, we can vote understandingly. If we have not such facts, we may be constrained to vote against admission.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I want to insist on this Convention not to send this back to the committee. The motion is to receive this gentleman, and the objection of the gentleman from Wood is that he is willing to hear him after the committee reports. Let me appeal to that gentleman and say that committee have reported everything they can. Let us not delay this thing. We have got it up now and let us settle it. We have got to settle it.
MR. DERING. I do not see any necessity in reference to hearing the gentleman from Fayette. Why, sir, he can appear before the committee and be heard there, and we can all hear him after the report of the committee is made. The gentleman from Doddridge says we have the report. We have a partial report only. Only four members were present, the other not having been notified of the meeting. Irregular reports are made. They are neither official nor conclusive. It is important that the committee make a report. Let the committee meet at recess; let the gentleman from Fayette appear before them, and if it be the pleasure of the Convention, after hearing the report of the committee to hear from the applicant, I shall not object at all.
In reference to this whole question, we have consumed a good deal of time. It is pretty nearly recess time. I am willing to; hold in abeyance any vote on the "vital question" the gentleman from Logan alluded to until we shall have tested the right of this claimant to a seat in this Convention. It seems to me to be due the Convention that we should have the report of the whole committee. The gentleman from Doddridge assumes to himself prescience in saying there will be no other facts before that committee. We do not know what facts might be presented to them during the recess. There may be other facts there, on which they may make a report entirely different. The mind of the gentleman from Doddridge then might be changed. It is due to the Convention - for its own self-respect, its dignity, that we should not act with such hot haste, even to promote the objects of the gentleman from Doddridge and his friends from the southwest in this so important a matter. And then we might hear the gentleman from Fayette also. We have no disposition to press these gentlemen out of the Convention; but we must not assert any principle here not founded on the principles of justice and right. We do not want to lose the members from that section of the country at all, sir. Let us hear all the facts and act understandingly, as dignified men who are doing the business of the people, and then, sir, I have no doubt we will do right.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. We have had a partial report from the majority of the committee and a minority report which the house, by a vote announced by its officer, has received, and the motion is to recommit.
MR. VAN WINKLE. The motion was mine, that the committee have leave to make a report. That is all the action on it.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I understand the report was made. It was received. The gentleman from Monongalia suggested we might have our minds changed, the inference was by the introduction of testimony. Now, the claimant states, and his friends state they have nothing new to propose; they have stated in the Convention just what they would have to state before the committee, and to have it re-stated back to the Convention again cannot give it any more strength; for if the Convention do not believe the declarations of the members in the house, they would not believe it if the committee was to receive it in the committee room and re-endorse them. Therefore there can be nothing gained by the reference, as the gentleman from Doddridge urges, for all that is before the committee has already been before the Convention. I hope therefore it will be the pleasure of the house to act at once.
MR. PARKER. Everything except the statement of the gentleman from Fayette is already before the Convention. It is in a form which is unexceptionable as I understand it comes from a gentleman whose word is pledged. It seems to me the statement of Mr. Ryan to the whole Convention will be much more satisfactory than for him to make it in the committee room. I hope the motion of the gentleman from Mason will prevail.
MR. HERVEY. There is nothing in the world to prevent this committee from reporting. It is bound to report. It cannot make a report which is half and half. That committee is composed of five members. Three is a majority of five. If that commission is in session it can report. If one of the members chooses to absent himself or will not attend, of course, it cannot possibly make a report; but I presume the committee is able to discharge its duties, and I am in favor of requiring them to do that.
Mr. Hall's motion to permit Mr. Ryan to be heard before the Convention was put and agreed to.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I hope there will be no motion on my amendment until the motion just adopted is carried out.
MR. VAN WINKLE. No; there must be a vote on my motion before the gentleman can be heard.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I understand the object of the gentleman from Mason is that before my motion is put the gentleman be heard by the Convention.
MR. HALL of Mason. It was my object that the gentleman from Fayette be heard in a statement of his claim, replying to all interrogatories that might be put to him by members before the vote is taken on his admission. My motion was not an amendment to the motion of the gentleman from Doddridge.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I will withdraw any objections to it; but the Chair stated it as an amendment to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Doddridge.
MR. HALL of Mason. The object was simply this. I became satisfied many members here wanted to hear the applicant's own statement before they voted. I was also aware that it was customary to give members who were applicants for a seat such privilege. I had seen it done again and again; and it is very often the case if a good show is made to a seat, though the body choose to refer the credentials to admit him to a seat while the committee is investigating his right.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair then understands it to be the sense of the Convention that the proposition adopted is to be executed, independent of the other two; that this entitles the gentleman to be heard and be subject to the same rules governing the body. If there is no disagreement that will be the understanding of the Chair. The question recurring on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Doddridge.
MR. RYAN appeared within the bar of the Convention and said:
"I have of course been considerably interested while the discussion of my case has been going on. I have sometimes been somewhat amused at their ideas. I have felt rather sympathetic, especially when my character as a loyal man has been called into question. I do not know whether I would have time to relate all the circumstances in the ten minutes, but I will say what I can in that length of time.
"On the day of the election in our county it is well known that there was a great apathy against those men in favor of the Union who voted against the ordinance of secession. I was at the head of a body of voters that went to the polls and voted at the precinct where I was present; had kept up, or nearly so, with those on the other side of the question. I was told while there that there was a bucket of tar and feathers ready to be put on me; but with all that it was not done. Since that time I know I have been a loyal man; I have ever been a lover of the Union. I admire the stars and stripes of America; and it has ever been my principle to promote the interests of the cause of the Union.
"I was down at Wheeling on business in the forepart of the winter some time. I went back home again and gave out the appointment that I would speak on a certain day in the neighborhood where I live. I had some apprehensions in reference to the consequences; but there was a large concourse of people. They knew I had been at Wheeling and had heard a great deal in reference to the new State. There cannot be much news about anything there: no mail routes, and people were not able to arrive at the real facts of the case. They came out on. that day and I made a speech in favor of the government. And the Union people immediately after that speech was closed got up a petition and petitioned the house of delegates to receive me as a member, knowing they were represented in the Convention by Mr. Cassady. Well, they, of course, had to be very brief about it. It was known if it had been found out they would hang me. It was secretly done as brief as possible, and the very next day I was started to Wheeling. I came around and presented the petition. I knew it was the wish of the loyal men of that county. I was not received. Then I was told by members of the Convention that Mr. Cassady would not be able to get here and requested me to get his resignation and return again and take his seat during the rest of the session of the Convention. I called to see Mr. Cassady, and I acknowledge I was afraid to go into the county where I had been raised to request them to petition. And I thought if anybody in the world ought to be heard it ought to be those standing under the streaming banner of our country. I was told by Captain Cassady it was not necessary to go into the county; that those men would be honest and loyal. A gentleman told me he would take a petition and go around and get the names, and I would get it and take Captain Cassady's resignation and go up to Wheeling and there would be no difficulty whatever. Because I was afraid to go into the county. Not because I was afraid I would not have got the voice of the people. I believe I would have got every name but one. And I would be far from practicing an intrigue on this Convention by endeavoring to get a seat here unless I thought it was due to me and my constituents. I live among as loyal men as any in Virginia or anywhere else in the "United States of America; and if I did not believe so I would not ask for a seat in this noble body.
"I took the petition and came back and presented it. I do not know whether there are any defects on the part of the petition or not. Another gentleman drew it and Captain Cassady thought it would be sufficient, and I could come and represent the people. So I came round.
"These are the facts in the case and I am before you to be disposed of. I am sorry to have caused so much discussion."
Mr. Stuart's motion to admit Mr. Ryan to a seat in the Convention was then put and agreed to; and he came forward to the Secretary's table and took the oath of office.
The Convention resumed consideration of the report of the Committee on Taxation and Finance, the question being on the 6th section and Mr. Stuart's amendment to it.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I merely -want to state the object of the motion. If the word "corporation" is not stricken out, the State cannot vote any aid to any corporation which has for its object the building of roads of any kind through our State. I understand if these words are stricken out the effect of this section will be that the State cannot vote any aid whatever to any corporation which has for its object the building of roads through our State. Now, gentlemen, I just only want to call your attention to what has heretofore been the action of our present state government. If it had not been for this three-fifths principle - the State giving so much and the citizens giving so much we would not have had hardly a solitary turnpike road in our country. A patch here and a patch there cleared out, would have been living on parched corn without any bread whatever. Now, I hold that the improvements we have had has been through state aid - at least most of our roads; and I believe roads in the county of Monongalia have been voted by the state aid on the three-fifths principle, and that if the state had not done that the gentleman would this day be without a road. I say, sir, in my state that the state has appropriated money, what is called the three-fifths principle; that we have built roads - what is called the Sistersville Road, the West Union & Weston Road, and many other roads, on that principle. Had it not been that the state gives that aid, we would this day be there without any road. I say there is no private corporation that could have built these roads. And now, Mr. President, with the state taxes for the purpose of carrying on this government I do think it is right we should look to the State in cases of necessity for aid. If that doesn't get it we may never have it. I admit my county is checkered up in this way, and I have very little interest in this; but I feel a general interest for the welfare of the entire new State and if we pursue this policy will be forever locked up and we will never have another improvement, another road; and I understand many of these counties that are within the boundary of the State of West Virginia are situated now just as my county was some 15 years ago; and I know if this section is not voted they will remain as they are, and the gentleman from Tucker who is now asking appropriations before the legislature to improve a road there in order that he may be able to get out of those mountains in. Tucker would be forever debarred hereafter, and he will never get a dollar to make that road. You lock yourselves up; you are there and there you will have to remain. I can get out, but I know the situation of many of those counties is such that they cannot. And it will be hereafter and forever more. We will never have any improvements. Our State must remain as it is. Emigration must be kept up, because everybody when they emigrate to a country inquires as to the facilities of getting to a market; and I understand we are going to build a wall up here that will deter everybody from coming. We will not improve ourselves nor let anybody else do it. I hope it will be the pleasure of the Convention to strike out those words.
MR. HERVEY. There are two propositions before this Convention either of which is far preferable to this. They have voted them down, and I presume this will share the fate of its illustrious predecessors. I would indeed be surprised if it did not. This Convention has said that the State shall not be a stockholder in these works; that the State shall not invest its means in these works; that that was a dangerous policy, an imprudent and improper policy; they have profited thus far by the example of other states. Now what is proposed? Why that the State shall endorse every improvement perhaps that may be sought to be entered upon or accomplished by the new State. It will become a general endorser for everybody. When this question was first raised the gentleman from Doddridge said that he was opposed to the State going in debt one dollar for works of internal improvement; he did not ask it. Now he is not only willing the State shall go in debt but that she shall endorse for corporations when she owns no stock in them. I hold that a man's bond makes him liable the moment he gives it.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I was opposed to the State going in debt largely; but if they appropriate one year - but I did not want the debt too great, but on their paying the next year.
MR. HERVEY. That he was opposed to the State going in debt for works of internal improvement on her own account. But now, sir, he is willing that the State shall endorse ad infinitum; go in debt when she doesn't own any stock. Now, sir, if that is not acting in conflict with his professed position, I don't know anything about it. What matters it to me or to you whether you have borrowed money or not if you have given your bond for it. You are bound. Your obligation is out and you have nothing to show for it. This policy, proposing that the State of West Virginia shall commence and go into a general system of endorsing for all mankind within the new State, in the discretion of the legislature. Well, now, I take it we are not prepared to do any such thing; that the people are not prepared for any such step as that. They expect if they pay their debts it will be about as much as they are prepared to accomplish. I went up into my county last Saturday evening. There is not a man in the county of Brooke that would approve such a policy; not one. They would have regarded the proposition of Saturday as a great public departure; but, sir, for the State to step in and become general endorser for all companies, they would regard as a death-blow to the interests of the new State. I shall not repeat any of the arguments which were used on another occasion for this proposition before the body on Saturday, but simply remark, sir, that by all odds it is the most dangerous proposition that has yet been before the Convention, and which I am satisfied the people of this new State would never tolerate.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I have not yet said anything on this and did not intend to. I was under the impression that the matter was well understood by the Convention, but the remarks of the gentleman from Doddridge have shown me it is not, and though they have been answered by the gentleman from Brooke, still I wish to add some comment to his.
The burden of the argument of the gentleman from Doddridge was that the State was depriving its people of any power to aid internal improvements in any way. Now, there is nothing here to prevent the State from appropriating money if it has it to aid any work of internal improvement nor in any way prevent the State levying taxes to raise that money. Here is where we contend is the great safety for the people. When a thing of that kind is done, it is to be accompanied by the taxes, unless there should be an accumulation in the treasury which is appropriated for such purpose. But if the legislature has to levy an extra tax to pay it every time it makes an appropriation to some such scheme it will make them very careful how they make such appropriations. But they can do it if they have the money to pay or if they are willing to levy taxes and raise the money.
The section on which we have already acted prohibits by its terms the legislature from borrowing money for the purpose of building internal improvements and from plunging the State into debt for the benefit of a particular section. When one work of internal improvement is to be built promises are made to build others, or they are all pooled together, the friends of one agreeing to support the others, so that by mutual support all are carried through. It is this corrupt system, called log-rolling, that has constituted the great evil attending all work of this kind when entrusted to the discretion of the legislature. No legislature has ever been. found to withstand the temptation of it. Gentlemen here who were in the June convention may remember the member from Randolph telling what had been done in the neighborhood of Richmond. He showed wherever there was one railroad there were two; that in every direction running out of the city of Richmond, there were two competing roads running nearly side by side in both of which the state was a stockholder, and that I think he said in every case. We all know there are two roads running from Richmond to Washington; there is the Central running to Covington, and the Lynchburg road running to some place. That is the way in which this thing is abused. Instead of being satisfied with one road they have two roads everywhere within a few miles of each other. It is to prevent abuses of this kind that this section has been drawn. Gentlemen must not say I am sectional in my views or ascribe anything of that kind to me. Whatever has been the question before this house I have opposed with all my force anything which makes the legislature a sort of bargain shop; which is to introduce these private solicitations of members. And I am justified in it by the Constitution which requires a three-fifths vote to carry any of these appropriations.
Now, sir, this section simply proposes that the credit of the State shall not be lent, and to make it utterly impossible, that you shall endorse the bonds of a company; and I say if there is any bad way in which the State could get into debt - any way worse than others - it is this. The State has no control as when the debt is redeemable; it is not expected to provide for the interest unless the company fails to do so; the State does not know when her interest, or principal either, is coming on her. When the company fails to meet this interest, the whole debt is due. When the State could guarantee a million dollars and that company should fall through, then suddenly the State is called on to raise that million. Gentlemen have all felt the folly of endorsing even for their friends. They know those obligations come on them in an hour when least expected; and while their property is sufficient yet coming suddenly it is very apt to ruin the endorser, who thought he was doing a good thing for his friend. Now, sir, this is what is sought to be prevented in. another section which we have not yet reached. The State is prohibited from becoming a stockholder; but in this section there is nothing to prohibit the State, if she has the money from making any of these works of internal improvement. The only thing is that the money has got to be raised by taxation or paid from surplus on hand if there is any. She cannot go into debt to raise it, nor aid in the construction by guaranteeing the credit of the company. If the Convention have properly refused to make an exception of corporations in the 5th section, then I think there is ten times more reason to reject the amendment now offered. The gentleman proposes simply to strike out "corporation or person." Then you would leave the State precluded from aiding a county, city or town within its borders and make this exception in favor of corporations in which other parties are interested. The county, the city or town is an integral part of the State. You forbid the State to, lend its credit to them but you permit it to a corporation composed of individuals. There are existing guaranties of the State now which it will have to pay and which may come upon it suddenly, even if it was in a situation to meet it. We are now endeavoring to protect our new State; and one of the things that meet it in the very beginning - the thing that is to be more fatal to it perhaps than anything else if we do not meet with success - which is to hang on us like a dead rot if we do meet with success for years and the most favorable circumstances that can be - is this debt of the State of Virginia, or our portion of it, so improvidently contracted. And gentlemen here are asked, with that example before them, with the example of other states that have fallen into the same trap, gentlemen are asked to perpetuate in this new State the very evil which this whole movement is a life and death struggle to get away from. Here with a debt of some $44,000,000 at least $30,000,000 of it for internal improvements and without hardly any of it being of any use or likely to be useful, showing that under all circumstances the money was improvidently squandered; showing that it was partially appropriated, for they all know - that of all the $30,000,000 or $40,000,000 spent for this purpose not one dollar has fallen this side of the Allegheny mountains, and one-fourth of this whole state is left without one dollar of appropriations and $30,000,000 spent, mostly in the valley. And we are asked to perpetuate such a policy as this!
Now, I submit it to members whether if they would be even inclined to reconsider their vote and insert the exception in favor of corporations in the 5th section, I would ask them not by this amendment to give the legislature power to make an uncertain debt which may distress the people of the State infinitely more than a debt deliberately contracted by itself. I would call upon members by all that they hold dear to themselves and their families to vote down this proposition at least.
Mr. Dering called for the yeas and nays and the call was seconded.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. The gentleman from Wood as I understood him declares they are asked to re-establish here in the west that policy of which we have complained as practiced in the east. He has characterized the policy of internal improvements as adopted by Virginia as improvident. I must take issue with the gentleman there. I maintain that the internal improvement policy adopted by the State of Virginia was both wise and patriotic.
MR. VAN WINKLE. It was the application of it that I alluded to.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Its application; that I have complained of. I do not wish to abandon that policy in the west. I only wish - it is one of the great motives that impel our people to this separation that application of a just, wise and patriotic policy that has been endorsed by the noblest spirits of the land, inaugurated by the father of his country and carried out by others, is only that the application of that policy may be just and equal; that the errors of its application may be created, corrected in the new as we have seen by experience its errors in the old. We ask no injustice in its application. All we ask is that the Constitution shall not be tied up in such way that when the case commends itself to the representatives of the people as a wise and politic measure and that two-thirds of the representatives of the people shall endorse by their votes, the policy, its application and execution, that they shall find there are no constitutional barriers to prevent them from acting. That is all we ask. We ask no injustice, no inequality. We propose nothing of the kind. We have sustained the provision in the Constitution that every appropriation shall receive the sanction of two-thirds of the members or a majority at least - if I recollect aright - a majority of the whole delegation of the State placed on the record before the bill can pass. Well, sir, all that we ask is that if a majority of the representatives shall come up and fully, carefully and deliberately for a measure, and see and approve it, that the representatives of the people shall not find their hands tied and have to go back to their constituents and say, we could have done this for the prosperity of our people and yours and the development of the resources of the State, but we found ourselves tied by that constitutional convention that assembled in Wheeling that prohibited us from doing the very thing you want and which we say is wise and proper. We ask nothing more and will not with my consent take anything less.
MR. SMITH. I desire to repeat here that there has been a very unwise policy pursued by Virginia and that large amounts of money have been squandered and erroneously voted to works of improvement. Now, in my section of country I am not aware of any of that system of logrolling which is referred to. I do not think we ever got a dirt road by any system of logrolling at all and I had always heard there was a great deal of it. I always opposed it. I always insisted that the state would act most wisely to take the leading permanent roads, complete them and then engage in reimbursing herself out of their proceeds. I did not know until we got to discussing this question where that system of logrolling came from. We have had it clearly enunciated in this house by the gentleman from Monongalia. When I charged them with having all they desired, every road they wished, all that would satisfy them to the utmost, well, says he, how did we get it? Why, sir, we would vote three millions to old Virginia and get a dirt road. That is the way he says we got it. We would vote them large amounts there and get a dirt road here. Now this immense debt that has been contracted, and by contracting this immense debt of the state they have got all they want and now say, having inaugurated the system and carried it out in this extravagant mode - paid such immense sums for it - now we will stop it. We inaugurated the system; we know its evils, though it has been a blessing to us, for we have got all we wanted, the poor favor of a dirt road, three millions to old Virginia, and now, gentlemen, you who did not engage in this system of internal improvement, who did not inaugurate this system of logrolling; got your roads without that system at all; but we never engaged in it; we will prevent you from logrolling. We have experienced its evils, for we have tried it ourselves very successfully so far as we are concerned and very unsuccessfully for the other portion of western Virginia; and now to prevent it in the future we will not allow you the privilege of improving the country. I do not think those who have encouraged that miserable system ought to come in here and complain of it when they have got all they demanded of it, when we must pay our proportion of this very three millions. I do not think it is a very good argument coming from that side of the house. But here, where there is danger of logrolling, all northwest Virginia have got all they want. They do not desire any more. They are all saturated with the blood of the state; and it will become a question of the northern part of the state and the southern part; it will come up; we of our part of the state will resist you and will not need your vote; for it is not logrolling, it is a trial of strength before the legislature.
Now, I do desire to preserve in this Constitution a feature that will at least permit the construction of these humble works of internal improvement; and I say from what I have seen even in the gentleman's county, the progress of improvement, even these dirt roads, that it is actual policy if the roads never return one cent, to construct them. Even these dirt roads enhance the value of property in the country they pass through to a very large extent, and then they are valued and taxes are paid upon them; and the increased taxes on the land will perhaps treble the amount of interest involved by the State. It will pay, for the increase of taxes will pay interest and reduce the debt besides returning to the country an immense amount of wealth among the farming interest and inviting population and improvements and progress of the State. And this State, being a new State, ought to encourage that with a determination to improve the State, not to manacle its hands and say we shall not improve anything, but it ought to be done prudently. I don't believe for four or five years there ought to be a dollar voted for works of internal improvement. The State ought to be well established and its funds and credit established. Then we ought to engage prudently in a course of improvement; and the first thing that ought to be done would be to build roads that will enable one portion of it to get out some thoroughfare wherever they can go. Here you have got the great Ohio river; you have this railroad and a railroad from Parkersburg; and all this section of country is supplied and checkered over with dirt roads leading to these thoroughfares, and you may well say; I want no more. But you have contracted a debt to the State of Virginia in getting them and you have magnified that debt by giving too much for it to old Virginia, our portion of which we have to assume. You have got all the benefit; we none; and you say we shall not in any future time have any benefit for it. And I ask you is it justice to deal with the southern portion of the state in that way? Where they need it; where it will enhance the value of property and increase population and give such distinct advantages to the country, you tie your hands and say you shall not do it.
The next section is horrible, and I say all it needs in the next section is to put this further clause into it that no individual shall subscribe to a road, and then complete the system of destruction. That is the system that you are introducing in starting out this new State and quoting New York and Ohio and all those other states that have incurred heavy debts and now wish to hold it and have a new principle. We are not in condition to adopt that principle.
MR. DERING. I listened to the gentleman Saturday evening. I have listened to him again this morning. He still harps on the little appropriations made for mud turnpikes in our section of the state. I have to say to the gentleman that these little appropriations for mud turnpikes in my county, this section of the state, were given in return for millions voted away to the east by the controlling cabal in the legislature. It was the only plan we could resort to get anything. We had to go into the logrolling system; and the members of the southwestern section of the state did the same thing. I believe the very innocent and virtuous gentleman who has just addressed us was in the legislature for several years and had his share in it. A comparison of the statistics in the reports of the Auditor of the State of Virginia will show that the southwestern section was as deep in the mud as we in the mire on that subject. Sir, they had their appropriations for Coal river, for the James river and Kanawha Company; and now, sir, with all the humility the gentleman from Logan has exhibited in being thankful for only a turnpike in his section of the state, I am afraid if we would dig down under that turnpike we would find a railroad after a little, if the Convention should strike out "corporation or person" from the section now before us. I call upon the Convention to beware how they do this. These gentlemen, with all their humility, from the southwestern section, will dig down and find railroads under their turnpikes. They will get up companies to develop their salt and oil and make turnpikes and outlets-for the southwestern section, on the credit of the State, if we strike out "corporations" here - provided any credit should survive that action. I put it to this Convention whether they are willing that this State shall become a general endorser for every company that shall choose to come into it and set up business on its own hook; whether our State shall take it on itself, in our present prostrated condition, to endorse for every company that may come into the State and want to set up business? I have a great deal of confidence in the integrity of our legislature, but I am not willing to entrust them with this power and place the people of the country in the hands of such companies as may be formed. We know not what may be the character of the individuals who form them. They may come in and get the endorsement of the State, work their operations a while, get their pockets full of money and leave the country and leave the State to foot the bills. Are you willing to put the whole people of the State on any such venture? I for one, in the name of the people of Monongalia, and of the whole people of this State, protest against any such action. I trust it will be the pleasure of the Convention to vote down the amendment of the gentleman from Doddridge. We do not ask to impose any conditions on our southwestern friends that we will not abide by ourselves. We say hold this thing in abeyance and in a few years if we maintain the credit and good repute of the State, all these matters of development and outlets will take care of themselves; but if this should not prove true, and it should appear after a time that the people of the State can safely entrust this power to the legislature, it is always in their power to amend the Constitution so as to authorize it. I ask nothing more.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. How do you propose to let us know and understand that you will do it then? By putting it in the Constitution that we shall not?
MR. DERING. We put this restriction in the Constitution for the present, until we get able to dispense with it. Then if the people want this system they can ask the legislature for an amendment to the Constitution. When we get the ability to do it, we will do it. But we don't go for bonding the credit of the State in advance. We have not yet got an existence as a state; yet the gentleman before we are born proposes to publish an invitation in our Constitution to shark companies from abroad to come in and prey on our infant credit. Let us wait until we get to be a state and then it will be time to feed these corporations. In the name of consistency, I call upon this Convention to stand fast and vote against striking out this safe-guard.
MR. SMITH. The gentleman from Monongalia does not seem to understand the point to which I intended to give my argument direction. I stated that he had sold three millions of dollars for dirt roads, for fifty thousand dollars. I meant to say that the gentleman from Monongalia must have been a most ardent supporter of internal improvements.
MR. DERING. I am at the proper time.
MR. SMITH. Of the system of internal improvements; and you give us the best evidence of that by showing you would sacrifice the interests of the State to carry it out; and you have a dirt road that would cost $50,000 and would give three millions to old Virginia. Now, how happens it when you say you have all you want that there is such a total revulsion of opinion?
MR. DERING. I did not say we had all we wanted.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I did not say we had all we wanted.
MR. SMITH. But this notion that you have a tissue of roads dirt roads in all your counties
MR. VAN WINKLE. No more than you have in yours.
MR. SMITH. There is none in Logan.
MR. VAN WINKLE. But the gentleman does not live in Logan.
MR. SMITH. None in Wyoming; there is a little one in Raleigh; but that is about all. I don't know but there is one in Mercer. We have no logrolling there; we never had any. You understood it a great deal better than we did; and I have heard you were pretty cute, too, in other respects.
MR. DERING. The gentleman has exhausted his privilege and we will have to reply if he is allowed to go on.
MR. LAMB. Mr. President, I do not intend to discuss this question. The main question is sufficiently well understood by us; but I do wish this question understood. It is persistently misrepresented by the gentleman from Kanawha, and not intentionally, of course, but misrepresented, I take it, entirely by the gentleman from Doddridge. It is to prevent, they say, this State from ever hereafter aiding in the construction of even a dirt road. Now, as I read the section, it prevents no such thing. These dirt roads have not been made by bonding the credit of the State. They have been made by appropriation however those appropriations have been obtained. This section would only prevent the legislature from bonding the credit of the State to private corporations for this purpose or any other. The very roads to which the gentleman from Monongalia refers I take it were never made by lending the credit of the state but by subscriptions of stock which the state paid for as other subscribers did.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. How did the state raise the money that was appropriated but by the sale of her bonds for the very purpose?
MR. LAMB. Where has the state given her bonds for improvements of this character? It is for the construction of these great and gigantic improvements.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I have known but one turnpike that I was present there in Jackson court where the bonds have been issued by the authorities to the company for that very road. I do not know any other way.
MR. LAMB. Where does that turnpike start from?
MR. BROWN. From Ravenswood and Parkersburg, and went to Charleston.
MR. LAMB. Terminated in Kanawha, of course. I do not know what the gentleman from Kanawha may have succeeded in getting the state to do; but I do know what has been the practice here, so far as we have had any dirt roads in this northwest. There is nothing here that would prevent the State from giving any proper aid to such improvements.
In regard to this logrolling system, perhaps it is better for all of us to drop that subject. Certainly if we go to compare notes about that matter, the gentleman from Kanawha and that section of country may be found quite as deep in the mire as the rest of us.
MR. SMITH. No, sir.
MR. LAMB. Yes, sir; the facts are on record. In reference to another matter connected with this I would, however, say one word. It does seem to me singular - most singular the gentlemen here advocating a system which must forever paralyze the prosperity of the new State, and advocating it avowedly on sectional grounds; a system, too, which if they succeed in engrafting it in our Constitution will not only not aid them in accomplishing their object but will put those objects forever out of the power of western Virginia to accomplish. Engraft this system here upon your new State and you overthrow at the outset the credit of the State forever. Operate under that system and you may get a little piece of a railroad finished "ending nowhere"; but as certain as the sun shines you break down the State in the attempt and carry through no great work. It never will be accomplished. The objects for which the gentlemen here are aiming never will be accomplished, unless in the mode in which the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the other great improvements here in the northwest have been done - by the aid of individual capital and individual enterprise. With the aid which may be obtained from that quarter, those works may be secured, may be ultimately carried through. The Baltimore road will be vastly interested in the improvements which the gentlemen from Kanawha want so much - the city of Cincinnati would be vastly benefited by it, and the capitalists there and in other quarters may come to your aid. But embark the State of West Virginia in it, with the miserable result of this system of logrolling, and by the experience we have had and have seen in other states, and you break down the prosperity of West Virginia forever without accomplishing the object you are so anxious to obtain.
MR. HALL of Mason. I have so far taken no part in this debate; but I protest against the manner in which it has been carried on. We have been charged here with raising an issue, with advocating appropriations to internal improvements. There has not been a remark, as I know, in the southern part of the state asking for or advocating one cent as an appropriation to any internal improvement. We have made no such issue with you. We have set up no such claims. The only thing we have asked is that the legislature in the hereinafter be left untrammeled, free to take such action on this subject as they please. The gentleman from Brooke, to my great surprise, charged us with raising a sectional issue, with a sectional purpose. Why, sir, we have made no issue with them. We have sought to put nothing in the Constitution on the subject of internal improvements. We have asked that the Constitution be left free in such connection; that the legislature if in its wisdom hereafter should think it advisable to appropriate to internal improvements should not by action of this Convention be trammeled in the manner my friend from Brooke desires. We have made no application for any improvements; have only insisted that the legislature should not be trammeled in this manner. That is all we south have asked. And yet the question has been continually argued in this house as though we were claiming appropriations for internal improvements that shall ruin the State with indebtedness. We do not anticipate any appropriation shortly being made; we are not demanding it. All we ask is that the legislature in its wisdom be left free to act on that subject. My friend from Monongalia has taken the ground which would seem to say that no man who should succeed him in Monongalia was to be trusted at all. Now, is it possible that we are to come to the conclusion that our successors in the legislature are to have no wisdom? That we are to send fools who are to run wild after all schemes of improvement; that our credit is to be destroyed; our means to be destroyed; that they are to run wild with everything. I protest in the name of the southern part of the state against any charge being made against us as having advocated internal improvements. But we do insist that the necessities of our country, the advantages of any part of it, require the appropriation of a dollar there shall be nothing in the Constitution to prohibit it. That is all we claim.
MR. HERVEY. Very true, sir, that the gentleman from Mason says, that this Convention cannot make one dollar for appropriation. The power of appropriating money does not rest in this Convention. The question is shall the legislature have the power? Upon that there are honest differences of opinion. Past experience in this state has taught us a lesson. Under the effects of that lesson we have been smarting and shall continue to smart until we just tell the corporations we will not supply you. For there is no telling otherwise where it will end. It is against this iniquitous system we have fought and shall continue to fight. We did not make the sectional issue. We have deplored it. We have besought gentlemen on this floor to throw aside those sectional feelings and issues; that this was not a time to be undertaking to get our hands into the treasury of the state; that this is the time to form a Constitution; that we were willing to stand henceforth and forever against conferring any power that is to prostitute the funds of the State and load the people down with burdens they were unable-to bear. That sectional issue was not raised by us.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Raised by representation.
MR. HERVEY. The first man who made the appeal on a sectional basis was the gentleman from Doddridge. Now, sir, it is too late in this controversy to turn round and charge us with having made that sectional issue. I deny that is any necessity for a sectional issue.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I did not want the southwest to be charged with anything the northwest can be guilty of. I live in the northwest.
MR. HERVEY. The point is this; that our party did not make that sectional issue. That is the point. Why lick up these people they say? The gentleman from Kanawha and the gentleman from Logan both take the same position. There has certainly, Mr. President, come to be a wonderful scum over their eyes somehow or other of members in discussing this question. They charge one section with having received all the benefits heretofore and now that they are willing to play quit, whereas the statistics show that is not the fact. Did not the gentleman from Harrison show on Saturday that certain sections of the southwest had been benefited largely? It is not denied. It has not been denied that so far as the stock of the State is concerned, the southern part of this proposed State has received dollar for dollar as much as the other part of the State. Why talk about the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad? Why about Parkersburg? Were they built by the state? They were built on precisely the plan which is sought to be incorporated in this Constitution; by private enterprise. Why, sir, did the people of the northwest build this road for the purpose of crippling the southwest? One would think so to listen to the speeches from southwestern members. They didn't build it at all. The state didn't build it. The state never put a dollar into it. It was built by a foreign company; built because the needs of trade demanded it. I hope the gentlemen from Kanawha and all other gentlemen who need them may have the same kind of roads built in the same way.
The same old cat-in-the-meal-tub has come up again this morning. The member who last addressed us disclaims with much indignation the charge (which nobody has made) that his party is seeking to appropriate money for internal improvements. Oh, no. They are only asking this Convention to leave the door open so they can appropriate it at a future time. Not even that; for to appropriate money, they would first have to raise it by taxation, and that would be too honest and severe a process. But they want the bars left down so they can appropriate the State's credits; which is a far more dangerous and fatal process.
It is a proposition to endorse bonds. They understand that to mean precisely the same thing as the appropriation of money, without the trouble of procuring it. It means the payment of money by the State. That is the true, the correct interpretation, sir: the payment of money by the State account for these works. The Convention has said the State shall not become a stockholder. It is now asked that she shall untie her restrictions and scatter her money broadcast, shall have no repayment, no interest on her investment, but throw it out promiscuously.
Again they assume that the southwest is to be damaged by this section as reported, by a refusal to strike out "corporations." Why? Because the legislature, they say, can be trusted to act wisely hereafter. The gentleman from Kanawha says the previous internal improvement policy in Virginia was wise and beneficial. Well, the gentleman from Kanawha is a good-humored fellow; but, upon my soul, I believe he was joking that time; for that is the first endorsement from a gentleman coming from such a high position, of such fine talents and vast observation who thought the previous policy of this state was wise and beneficial. What has the gentleman from Logan been complaining about, if it has been wise and beneficial; country has not been benefited? Now, sir, I understand exactly what the gentleman from Logan understands by a wise and beneficial system: that is to say, that if we inaugurate the old and exploded system which has broken us down we will have a wise and beneficial system from the standpoint of those who hope to use it for their particular purposes. With that view it is proposed to be re-inaugurated.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair would inquire whether the gentleman from Brooke has spoken before to this question?
MR. HERVEY. Once before.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. He has occupied his time.
MR. HALL of Mason. Is this Convention acquainted with the application to Baltimore under which that road was made - how we of the Kanawha valley were treated in that case? I happen to have some acquaintance with that matter. My friend from Logan had something to do with it. We both had votes on that subject. The history of that concern is this:
Baltimore applied, first for the right-of-way up the valley of Virginia, through Winchester, to Covington; thence to the Ohio river at the mouth of the great Kanawha. That delegation was before the legislature. I see a gentleman here from Preston who perhaps knows something of it. When presented to the Virginia legislature upon that application, every member along the line of this road voted no. Every man. Every man above the county of Wood voted no; and in Wood. Well, we lost it. We only got 42 out of a house of 150 for it. They said, you will ruin Richmond; Richmond must be built up. Northwestern men made speeches advocating the great necessity of voting against that; and did vote against us. We lost our application. Application then came for this railroad with the restriction that it should not strike the Ohio river lower than Moundsville, or perhaps Fishing creek. Then what did we do in the Kanawha valley? We came to your rescue. I voted for it as a member of the house of delegates. The gentleman before me (Mr. Smith) voted for it as a senator. We got you the votes. It was made. And now, how do you expect to treat us in return? We are not here applying for an appropriation to make a road. No such thing. We are only applying that you shall not tie our hands and send us home, hands tied forever upon that subject.
Well, now after while the county of Wood applied for right-of- way. Wheeling fought it and fought her with extreme industry. Everything from this portion of the state voted against the application for the Northwestern Virginia Railroad except the gentleman from Tyler, Mr. Stephenson. I have a vote to have this line. But not one man above the line of that road except Jim Stephenson of Wood county. We again came to the rescue and voted for Parkersburg to get the road.
These are facts that the journals will prove. And now they propose to put a section in the Constitution that would prevent the State from endorsing our bonds or giving one dollar of relief no odds under how favorable circumstances. That policy is advocated by gentlemen from this part of the State and, to my surprise, by the gentleman from Wood too, because we protest against that going into the Constitution the gentleman from the county of Brooke insists that if we don't take the affront we are making a sectional issue. I hope it will be the pleasure of the Convention not to put the restrictive feature in our Constitution.
MR. VAN WINKLE. The gentlemen have got two railroad charters this year, with the aid of the county of Wood, I believe. So that account is balanced.
The hour for it having arrived, the Convention took a recess.
The Convention re-assembled at the appointed hour and resumed consideration of the 6th section of the report on taxation and finance, the immediate question being on the motion of Mr. Stuart of Doddridge to strike out of line 27 the words "corporations or."
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I think it is a public duty which I owe to the county which I have the honor to represent in part to give some of the reasons for the vote which I intend to cast on this amendment. In doing so, sir, I can assure the gentlemen of the Convention that I am actuated by no local or county feeling whatever. If I were, sirif I could act in cases of this kind from motives of that character, I believe I would favor the amendment now pending, for I believe in the general scramble which will take place under a provision of that kind for the public money my own county would fare at least as well as any other. And let me say, sir, that I think every member of this Convention should take a broader view of this question, should look, if he can, beyond the narrow horizon of his own county or his own district: for, sir, in making a constitution for the entire people of this new State it seems to me that that policy which will induce members of this Convention to act purely in regard to their own locality is about as narrow as the neck of a vinegar bottle.
Now, sir, it has been asserted so very positively - and I believe only by the gentlemen who favor this amendment - that if you allow this prohibitory provision to remain in the Constitution as reported by the committee you give "a stab" at the best interests of the new State. Let me say, sir, that we who differ with those gentlemen and who believe that prohibitory clause ought to stand as reported by the committee would say just as emphatically and I believe with much stronger reasons that if you strike out that provision from the report of the committee, you have inflicted a fatal stab on the best interests of this new State, both for the present and for the future. Gentlemen tell us that unless the State is allowed to lend her credit to these corporations, not to make mud turnpikes alone but to every conceivable kind of internal improvement that may be projected by the interests of speculators, it will keep back the growth of the State. Sir, we say with equal interest and, I believe, much more cogent reasoning, at least it so strikes my mind, that if you do allow the State thus to abuse her credit and the credit of her people, it will produce the very result which these gentlemen suppose the opposite course would produce. Now, sir, where is the difference between us? It has been established in this Convention and not disputed within my memory at least, established as clearly as any fact can be by arithmetic that the credit of this State is such and our finances are such now and must be for many years in the future, as to render it impossible that the State can lend its credit to these public works without proving a want of faith to the creditors who have the prior claim on all her resources, and a want of faith to the best interests of its own people. It has been here proved again and again, and it has been admitted, too, that this same curse of lending the credit of the state has worked the financial ruin and bankruptcy not only of the corporations in many cases to which this credit was loaned but to the people of the state generally. And there has not, I believe, been an exception; and the gentlemen admit this. And yet they tell us in the same breath that after all, the public in these states were benefited by these public improvements. Let me say, sir, that there is a fallacy in that argument, which has the appearance of soundness at first sight but is not sound in reality. Gentlemen tell us these states have grown rich and powerful notwithstanding the financial misfortunes and bankruptcy which has overtaken them in consequence of their extended credit to these corporations, and that the property in these states has increased from ten to a hundred-fold. Let us grant it all. Do you pretend to say that increase in the value of property, the wealth and prosperity of these states is to be attributed to the fact that they entered on a system of internal improvements or loaned their credit to others who did so? Why, sir, for one dollar that has been invested judiciously in internal improvements in these states by the state there has been $1000 invested in enterprises by private undertakings, and it is attributable mainly to that fact that these states have gained their wealth and have become so populous and powerful in every department of trade and industry within their limits. It is rather in spite of mismanagement of their internal affairs by the authorities of the state that they have grown thus rich, not because the state entered on these public improvements. Let me tell you, sir, another fact in the history of these states and it is this, and the gentlemen forgot to mention it: that in consequence of the enormous burdens of taxation imposed upon the people of these states and upon the capital of these states wherever it can be found within their limits, in consequence of the state becoming involved either directly or indirectly in these public improvements, hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars of active capital has been driven out of these states into others to escape ruinous taxation. That will be the result in this new State if we enter on this same policy.
My argument the other day was this, and gentlemen have not fairly answered it; perhaps it was not worth their attention. But I will repeat it and ask its consideration by my friends from those other counties that are filled up on this question of improvements. I tell you, gentlemen, that if you incorporate the policy that is proposed by this amendment in this Constitution that it will not accomplish the purposes which these gentlemen tell you it will accomplish. Just the moment you strike out this prohibitory provision, you open up an artery that will bleed this new State to death.
MR. SOPER. I hope there are no gentlemen in this Convention influenced by sectional feelings and that the question now before us will be approached with soberness and a determination to exercise our best judgment as to the vote we are to give. We have been told that the states around us, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have now got constitutions containing a provision very similar to the one we have under consideration. We have been told that the State of Virginia has gone on appropriating money very extravagantly for internal improvements, but I have not heard any gentleman say that this money has been distributed and applied in an economical and proper manner. The gentleman from Kanawha spoke of the State of New York, its great canal, the energy and perseverence that accomplished the work; and remarked that even that work met with opposition in the state. So it did, sir. I recollect well about it. The result was this. All along the North river were flourishing farms. When they came in competition with the west, their produce was depreciated in value; their lands consequently depreciated, and not a man had gained but had incurred debts expecting to realize out of the produce shipped by the canal money enough to pay out. In many instances they became ruined. When you went into the interior of the state where turnpikes had been constructed, along each there was a continual throng of teams and there towns and villages were growing up. Whenever that canal went into operation those towns and villages depreciated, went down; those men engaged in transportation and otherwise using the roads, the farms around them from which they had been in the habit of supplying those towns with produce, all met with great loss in their business and in their property. This, sir, created a very great opposition to the canal.
Gentlemen, the Erie Canal was a great work - not so much for the State of New York as for this western country. Had that canal disarranged all the commerce and values in produce in the State of New York, it would still have been recognized as a great public benefaction. For the City of New York was built up by it. There is immense capital, and every part of the Union is benefited by the growth and concentration of capital in this great metropolis. So that the Erie Canal was really, in its scope and effect, more a national work than a state improvement. The whole western country was benefited, for it opened a short and cheap route to carry their produce to the seaboard. But, sir, in time the people in the interior of the state, who were hurt for a time, by the disarrangement of their business and values, were pacified in time. They were told lateral canals should be built to carry their produce to the main canal, and they settled down in that expectation. Some half dozen lateral canals were projected immediately and in several counties were put in construction; but, sir, every one of these lateral canals proved to be a dead letter; the incomes from them never was sufficient to sustain them.
Well, sir, I want to apply the lesson of that here. We have heard that our present legislature have granted a charter for a railroad from the Northwestern Virginia Road to Charleston. Let me say a railroad like that never will do business enough to keep it in repair; that the whole capital and accumulating interest upon it year after year will be a dead loss. It does not lead into a country that can give it business; it will not be a link, as the Erie Canal is, in a natural thoroughfare of commerce thousands of miles long. The commerce of this country moves mainly east and west and must do so for a long time to come. Such a line would connect with no business at the southern terminus. Because it gives no promise of success, foreign capital cannot be enlisted in such a work; and the capital identified with the Baltimore road cannot, because it is plain the produce to be transported over a road from Charleston to the Northwestern road would not bring revenue enough to keep the road in repair. Yet it would bring to the Baltimore road some travel which would pass over its entire length, and that may make it an object to the people having an interest in the Baltimore road; and that is the only way it can ever be constructed.
The State of New York went on with the lateral canals, and after that with railroads and plank roads until she found herself millions in debt. After thirty years experimenting in this way, the people rose up and demanded an amended constitution and instructed a majority of their representatives to incorporate in that constitution a prohibition against lending the credit of the state to construct any works at the expense of the state.
Sir, if the people of Virginia this day could look at their true situation and could profit by the experience of other states, that is what they would do. They would demand a convention, just as they did in New York; they would prohibit the legislature from continuing the contraction of these debts. That, sir, is the voice of experience. You heard it from Pennsylvania and Ohio, wherever the experiment has been made. It is a very good rule to pay as we go; a safe way of getting along. Be careful not to contract a debt unless we can see to a reasonable certainty the means of meeting it when it becomes due. Now this is no truer doctrine in relation to individuals than it is to every department of public affairs, state, county, town - everything. I don't care where you go with it, the rule is universal.
Now, what course ought we to pursue in western Virginia? Every man cannot have a river-bottom farm. A large portion of our population must go upon the hills, and these have got to work hard and save, persevere and accumulate. Every acre they clear and fence is adding so much to wealth of the country and themselves. In the process of time, they will have the means within themselves of accomplishing the advantages they want. Not, I grant you in the construction of railroads, but in the building of these turnpikes; and whenever a county increases in population, industry, and wealth in that proportion will its means increase for neighborhood accommodation and afford reason for outside capital to penetrate the country with railroads. Whenever you have got any surplus moneys, you can take and give them to those new counties that are struggling to get along and aid and assist them in their neighborhood accommodations. It ought to be done; and I trust there will never be a legislature in this State but what will be willing to extend to any portion of the State where the people are representing themselves in that way. But let it be a donation. Is there any return from the turnpikes to the state for money expended? Not a dollar. It is all gone; and that is the way it would be under the new State, because the money would be given at once and the country would be benefited by it and there would be the end of it.
The vote on Mr. Stuart's motion was then taken and it was rejected by the following vote:
YEAS - Messrs. John Hall (President), Brown of Kanawha, Chapman, Cook, Dolly, Hansley, Hoback, Hagar, Irvine, Montague, McCutchen, Parker, Robinson, Ruffner, Ryan, Sinsel, Stephenson of Clay, Smith, Taylor, Walker, Warder - 21.
NAYS - Messrs. Brown of Preston, Brooks, Brumfield, Battelle, Dering, Dille, Haymond, Harrison, Hubbs, Hervey, Lamb, Mahon, O'Brien, Parsons, Paxton, Simmons, Stevenson of Wood, Stewart of Wirt, Sheets, Soper, Van Winkle, Wilson - 22.
MR. HAYMOND. I have a substitute which I will offer now for section 6:
"Resolved, that the Legislature of West Virginia shall have the right and power to borrow from time to time as may be wanted for internal improvements the sum of $4,000,000; which sum is not to be exceeded at any time except in time of war or insurrection; but no loan shall be made until five years after the admittance of the State into the Union."
MR. HERVEY. I would inquire whether that four millions shall be the aggregate of all the State debt?
MR. HAYMOND. Of all we have the right to borrow.
MR. SOPER. I will offer an amendment, to add: "nor until a vote of the people shall authorize it."
MR. HERVEY. I propose an amendment to the amendment: "that said four millions shall include the proper portion of the State debt of West Virginia."
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would have some doubts about the propriety of this last motion. The substitute is only an amendment. The Chair would suggest that if the other carries or falls it can be followed by the further amendment if the gentleman desires.
The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Tyler.
MR. SOPER. I hope there will be no amendment offered here with a view of authorizing the contraction of a State debt, unless that can receive before it is done the sanction of the people. It is in point of fact a mortgage on the estates of the people. They will have to furnish the money. I am unwilling that my constituents shall be placed in any position by which it will be in the power of the legislature, without having authority from them, to encumber them with debt that will last all their lives, and probably posterity for several generations after. Now, we all of us profess to be governed by the wishes and will of the people, and why ought we not before we engage in a matter of this importance which is to settle a debt on the people receive from them an approval ? It appears to me it is absolutely necessary that it should be so. If this money is ever to be raised off the people the people ought also to have the direction of its obligation - when, where and to whom and for what purposes; and I would not leave this matter to the legislature. Not that I call in question the integrity of the legislature; not that, but I have heard gentlemen talking about "logrolling"; we have heard them tell about the extravagant legislation of former days; and it is to prevent anything of this kind in a hasty manner, and let the people understand it beforehand so that they can vote understandingly. In Richmond there was some three or four millions of dollars appropriated for railroad purposes. Well there were a few thousand voted for turnpikes. And I suppose that of the moneys expended on this side of the Allegheny mountains for turnpikes the people are paying three dollars for every dollar they got put into turnpikes.
Now, sir, if this thing must be forced upon us; if we must involve this State in ruinous debt, let it be done by the people themselves. Let them understand what they are called on to authorize their legislators to do before ever they act in the premises. I will not give my sanction to any power whatever in any legislature to incur a debt which shall be binding on the State and people until they have had an expression from the people to that effect. I hope therefore, sir, that the amendment I have offered will prevail.
MR. HAYMOND. I am opposed to the amendment. I am for giving the legislature some power. We have provided for one; and it was entirely unnecessary to have a legislature unless we are willing to give them some power. I am opposed to the amendment on the ground that they could not make a single appropriation without calling on the people for votes to repair a bridge or anything of the kind. Why, we should have an election almost every day.
The amendment offered by Mr. Soper was agreed to.
MR. SMITH. I move a reconsideration of that vote. I voted under a mistake and several of us did. I thought it was Mr. Haymond's amendment I was voting on.
The motion to reconsider was agreed to.
Mr. Lamb called for the yeas and nays on Mr. Soper's amendment and they were ordered and taken and the amendment rejected by the following vote:
YEAS - Messrs. Brumfield, Battelle, Cook, Dering, Dille, Harrison, Hubbs, Hervey, Lamb, Mahon, O'Brien, Parsons, Paxton, Simmons, Stevenson of Wood, Stewart of Wirt, Soper, Van Winkle, Wilson - 19.
NAYS - Messrs. John Hall (President), Brown of Preston, Brown of Kanawha, Brooks, Chapman, Dolly, Hansley, Haymond, Hoback, Hagar, Irvine, Montague, McCutchen, Parker, Robinson, Ryan, Sinsel, Stephenson of Clay, Stuart of Doddridge, Sheets, Smith, Taylor, Walker, Warder - 24.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I offer the following amendment, sir:
"The amount so borrowed shall be expended in equal sums in the several senatorial districts of the State."
If the amendment of the gentleman from Marion is to be adopted, then the one I have offered is most certainly a proper one to go with it. With my experience in reference to these appropriations for internal improvements, their unequal distribution, I believe that is the great burden of complaint in the west on that subject and therefore I think something like the amendment proposed by me should go with it if it is to be adopted. It would be almost impossible to confine it to the counties because you could not perhaps in all cases confine a road to one county; but the senatorial districts embrace a large and nearly equally populous territory, all of whom might possibly be accommodated by the leading roads.
I would suggest to the gentleman from Marion that the language of his resolution is a little obscure. It does not say whether the debt he proposes to authorize is never to exceed four millions, or whether the whole debt of the State is never to exceed that. He leaves it to be inferred. I think there cannot be a fairer proposition than this I have offered for an equitable distribution of this appropriation if the proposition of the gentleman from Marion is to be adopted.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I rise for explanation. It will be recollected in the last vote - it did not occur to me at the time that I had paired off with the gentleman from Hancock.
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would suggest to the gentleman that a change of his vote would not alter the result.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. The amendment offered by the gentleman from Wood is more objectionable than all the other amendments and propositions that I have seen come before this body, and if it was not that I know that gentleman would not be guilty of making a buncombe amendment and speeches I should think he was not serious. Here is an amendment offered by the gentleman from Marion limiting the legislature to four million of dollars that may hereafter be expended in internal improvements; not to exceed that amount. The gentleman from Wood comes up here with an amendment that this amount shall be equally expended among the different senatorial districts. The gentleman seems to consider that we have no common interest at all, no interest in the State at large, but it must be confined to the senatorial districts. Now, if it becomes necessary in future legislation to appropriate, say, $100,000 to build an improvement necessary to the State at large that appropriation cannot be made unless there is a similar appropriation made for every senatorial district; and he says if the people are to be taxed he wants uniformity. I understand it is expected the State of West Virginia will be compelled to pay her equal quota of the public debt of Virginia; and it might be said here that other districts of this State should turn round to the gentleman from Wood and say, you have received more than any of the other senatorial districts, and should be made to pay a greater proportion of this public debt. If it works one way, it ought to work the other. We see two of the largest improvements ever made in northwestern Virginia center in the town of Parkersburg. We see the northwestern railroad, which was diverted from its proper channel and the northwestern turnpike road located there at an expense amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars; and then the Staunton and Parkersburg centering there. I would say not less than a half million dollars has been expended looking to the improvement of Parkersburg directly, sir. Then, sirs, you ought to account for all this amount if it is necessary you should receive an equal portion of the money that may be appropriated, because if you want to equalize this matter the debt ought to be equalized as well as the money that should be hereafter appropriated. Now, we might want to macadamize a road from some point on the northwestern road some place running down to the southwest - to Charleston. We might want that road macadamized. And it is hardly equalled by a railroad, let me say to gentlemen; the northwestern turnpike, which was built at enormous expense to the state; cost almost as much as a railroad. A great many people are under the impression to this day that we would have been better there with that road without the railroad. Then, sirs, we have improvements run through our country which cost our State hundreds of thousands of dollars; but if it does become necessary to appropriate money for the purpose of improving some other part of our State, I do not think there should be a restriction put here that there should be then appropriated as much to my senatorial district as you appropriate to where they have no roads at all. I hope it will be the pleasure of the Convention to vote down this amendment even if you vote down the substitute of the gentleman from Marion. With the amendment of the gentleman from Wood tacked on to it, it would be totally worthless. I say there is no legislature that ever existed that would appropriate a hundred thousand dollars for building some road where the State necessities required it when at the same time it required them to appropriate the same amount - for every senatorial district when there was no necessities requiring it there. And it is virtually saying, sir, that the State of West Virginia shall never engage in any internal improvement system at all and never appropriate one dollar of money for building up a road or any improvement of the kind. I have seen from the onset that the gentleman is utterly opposed to the appropriation of one dollar to the State, and this amendment is in line with that purpose. You may as well just say in so many words that the state legislature shall never hereafter appropriate one dollar of money to any internal improvement as to adopt the amendment of the gentleman from Wood now. For common reason teaches us that that must be the effect of it.
MR. HAYMOND. I discover that my vote was counted. I might possibly have said "aye," but I meant "no." If it can be altered I would rather have it done.
MR. PAXTON. I understand the gentleman from Doddridge to say those on this floor who have been sustaining this report are opposed to an appropriation for works of internal improvement. Now, I am not aware that any gentleman on this floor has indicated any opposition to works of internal improvement. On the contrary, every gentleman so far as I have heard an expression has expressed himself as decidedly friendly to such works. I do recollect, however, distinctly that the gentleman from Doddridge when a section here was under consideration said that he was a friend of internal improvements but he was utterly opposed to the State ever contracting a debt for this purpose. All that this section proposes is to prevent the State from contracting a debt for internal improvements. It proposes to do the very thing that the gentleman has contended for and says he is friendly to; simply prevents the State from contracting debts for internal improvements but does not prevent the appropriation of any amount of money to that purpose. I am therefore unable to comprehend precisely the position of the gentleman from Doddridge. It seems to me this question has been discussed here by gentlemen who have differed from the committee as if works of internal improvement never could be made and never had been made except on State account. I beg to inquire of gentlemen how the great network of railroads that cover the great states of this Union have been made? If by the states I should like to have them point out. Who made the great network of railroads in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois? Not one of them made on state account; invariably made by private enterprise with individual capital. And I contend now, and I refer to the history of these matters to carry me out in it that individual capital and enterprise will always be found ready whenever it can be shown that any work will be profitable; that the demands of commerce require it. Whenever that is the case, I say individual enterprise and capital will always be ready and forthcoming. I say further that when the demands of commerce will not require it, it will result in financial disaster to whoever undertakes a work of that character, whether it be state or individual.
Now, sir, I would just make one further remark: I hope this Convention, after the expression they gave on section 5 against the creating of state debt for works of internal improvement will maintain their consistency and carry this principle through, and that we shall not have adopted in this State what has been universally condemned wherever it has been tried; that we shall inaugurate in this State a credit and rotten system of internal improvement on State account. Because it has proved itself so wherever it has been undertaken. Debt is piled on debt, and debt piled on debt, no one caring for the amount provided he can secure for himself some share of the spoils or for his particular section for his personal advantage in politics.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I do not know how far the gentleman is correct in his history of this plan of legislating. I do not think that has been the character of our people. I don't believe our people have ever been so reckless of their means. A great many assertions have been made here about the corruption of this system of logrolling. I was never in the legislature; never had any hand in it. I don't believe the declarations in respect to it are correct, and I believe the Legislature of Virginia have been as pure and upright and correct a legislature as ever sat in any state or countrymen who are just as far above corruption as this body or any other; who had the interests of the people as much at stake, who were as saving of money as the most economical; who knew the ability of their constituents to pay. Now, sir, I don't believe the Legislature of Virginia would even have been affected with ignorance about matters that concerned it. A legislature better knows the people's needs. That our state has a debt is nothing new nor strange. It is just what every business and enterprising people would have in just precisely the same situation. That we now find ourselves in a revolution, and prostration because of that revolution an attempted separation and dismemberment of the state because of that revolution, not because of that debt, has no reference whatever nor does it impinge in the slightest degree on the correctness and proper course pursued by the state prior to this thing sprung on us - having no connection whatever with the system of internal improvements. Now, one of the difficulties, it is said, with the internal improvements by Virginia was that they were unprofitable. That is not true as to these that are completed. I venture to say nowhere in the United States internal improvements made by the state are more profitably developed or have returned to the treasury more net profits than the railroads in the State of Virginia that are completed. She has embarked on a large system, for she is a large state and has had difficulties and obstacles to overcome that no other state has had to overcome. Why, sir, when you go into one of these Western states it is a very different matter from contending with mountain barriers, and it only is the public interest that is able to overcome these obstacles. If you could sweep away these mountain barriers and make a plain out of this rolling country, then you would not need the state to accomplish this great object; but the Creator has reared them there and it is the part of man in a compact state to remove them; and it is because these works of improvement have not been completed that so many of them are unprofitable. When they are completed they will be profitable. So there is no objection to the system and the gentleman wholly fails to show any. The gentleman from Wood now proposes to distribute this fund equally. But if the legislature wants to make an appropriation to some object that is not local in interest that is confined however to a limited territory, to make an equal distribution as he proposes, if the appropriation at all it would have to be duplicated for each senatorial district. In some of these districts are three or four counties; in some six or eight; one a little state; the other a garden patch. If you act on that principle there is no need of a state at all. Have as many states as there are senatorial districts. But I am not certain the people would be satisfied in their districts; because they will then legislate in reference to their peculiar interest. But is not that the logrolling system carried out to destruction? In order to do it you must appropriate nine dollars more in order to appropriate the one dollar that you wish to and thus encumber the State with an unnecessary debt nine times greater than is needed, and pay the interest on it until you are able to redeem the whole. Is not that the inevitable result? Is not that ten times worse than leaving the discretion? Whenever the gentleman adopts that plan he ought to bring in these senatorial districts into a hotchpotch and credit those that have received. Now, let us carry this thing fairly. Leave it to the people. If the people's representatives say it is right and proper do not tie their hands. If it is not right and proper they will be condemned and turned out and other people put in will manage the people's affairs better.
MR. BROOKS. I seldom have a reason that I am unwilling to give. It is not that I am opposed to internal improvements. To tell the truth about it I feel very anxious in some respects. We need a good road up through our own country. I would be glad to see it right through our county and on out through some southern counties from our section. I would be glad to see a railroad from some point on the northwestern road to Charleston and on to Kentucky. But my desires must not overrun the present aspect of things; hence I say I am influenced in my views by the barrenness of our country and our present perilous condition.
I have not been able in reading this report to discover anything that would hinder the legislature of the proposed new State whenever they were a mind to appropriate for a public improvement or an internal improvement from making such appropriation. Therefore I have favored it, believing that if our State be improved, not one or two districts of it, I would like to see it. But to talk about loaning the credit of our State before it comes into being and in our present condition, when we have no credit, seems to me worse than vain. Where is our credit? What kind of credit can we have if organized into a new State? From our connection with the old state, a heavy debt rests upon us, and we know that we must bear our part of that debt. This we cannot repudiate, but as honest men must shoulder the responsibility and take our part of that public debt and pay it. Well, this is not going to be accomplished in five years as the substitute contemplates; not, I fear, in twice that.
When we look at the present condition of our country, what is it? It is almost a perfect desolation. Here are facts that have been controlling to me; and when we have been talking about our credit and prosperity I could not refrain from reflecting upon those facts that some of our best counties have been praying the legislature to exempt them from taxation; not able to pay their taxes in consequence of the disasters that have fallen on us. If our best counties are not able to pay taxes, and we just going into business with such a weight of public business on us, such a load of public debt to assume, where is the prospect of a credit? Who would credit people in this condition? Whence would we borrow money when we are not able to pay our taxes to keep up the government at home?
These are some of the considerations that I have been governed by. And while I see the country prostrate and wounded and bleeding at every pore, I shall be contented to vote to support the report of the committee. And though it has been intimated to me that my constituents would frown on me, yet if I cannot set myself right on that principle they ought to frown on me. But when I go home and tell them I voted not to permit the legislature to lend the credit of the State to corporations for internal improvement purposes, they will say: "You did right."
These are my reasons; this is my judgment. If I am wrong I cannot help it. I follow my judgment, for it is the best guide I have. I shall vote against the amendment; against the substitute; for the report of the committee as it is.
MR. HAYMOND. The gentleman is mistaken when he takes up the idea that we are going to pay this foreign debt in five years. It is considered by some that on a fair settlement with eastern Virginia we will not owe them one dollar, and I do not think, sir, we will owe them a single dollar. Some suppose if we settle on certain conditions we may owe five or six millions of dollars. Now, I will say to the gentleman that if we owe this much the bondholders will jump at our bonds of 34 years, and he need not expect to have to pay them in five years. The bond-holders will beg them, be glad of the chance. But I don't think on a fair settlement we shall owe them one dollar. Sir, these appropriations for the improvements made in eastern Virginia have been taken off of us all. The farm has been improved east of the mountains and they shall pay for the improvements.
MR. LAMB. After the remarks which have been made by the gentleman from Upshur - who has really embodied in his remarks the substance of pretty much everything that has been said on this side of the house, it would be unnecessary for me to say anything further. But upon the special question which is here presented of authorizing the State to contract a debt of four millions, I want to say a word or two. The gentleman who offers the substitute bases it upon the supposition that we are to pay no portion of the debt now due by the State. The substitute itself carries that on the face of it. No man looking upon the present conditions in this State will suppose for one moment that you can raise for many a year to come over $240,000 of the revenue that is paid in the State of Virginia. The whole revenue, already estimated last year before the commencement of these troubles was about twice that amount. But certainly you will not be able hereafter in the condition of things to which we have been subject to raise one-half as much as heretofore. Suppose your revenue be $240,000, which I think is the very outside, that is six per cent interest on a debt of four millions, and supposing you can borrow at six per cent would just take the whole of it. This is the proposition just submitted by the gentleman from Marion. Under such circumstances, in our condition, can gentlemen really expect to accomplish their objects by the aid of State credit? Must they not see that these objects, if accomplished at all, must be accomplished by individual credit and enterprise? And let me tell you that when the prosperity of this State is restored - if such should be the ease - with the immense wealth that is awaiting development, individual credit and capital and enterprise will seek it; and from this source these improvements, as everywhere made throughout this vast country, which has really worked and proved beneficial to the world, which has really worked a great improvement in the people - from this source alone you must receive it. The gentleman from Kanawha has told us the internal improvements of Virginia were so profitable. I believe this state has invested something like thirty millions of dollars in these improvements. I know the auditor at Richmond has reported that for purposes of taxation on the first of January last the public debt of the State was $35,800,000, and that there was then resting liabilities upon the treasury of this state to the amount of further $7,500,000 on account of appropriations during the last session. This will make something like $43,000,000 or $44,000,000 of debt, of which not less than thirty millions has been invested in these internal improvements besides the amount which has been expended on them out of the taxes collected and the amount of interest which has been paid. And, now, gentlemen, what has been the revenues of the state from these internal improvements? In the same statement we have the receipts from internal improvements. Not one dollar in dividends from any of these works; but the immense sum of $35,000 estimated as the produce of the tax of one mill per mile on the railroad and canal travel and one-half of one per cent on the gross amount received by the state. Not one cent to the state and $35,000 from the product of this tax. And this is the profitable character of the Virginia improvements in which the property of this state has been invested in a debt for which every man's farm and horse is mortgaged and may be sold.
I have repeated, perhaps often enough, but I say again, gentlemen; give them all they want and they can only accomplish the ruin of West Virginia by loading her down with debt; they cannot accomplish the object they are aiming at. If that is to be accomplished it must be because the wants of commerce demand it. If the wealth is there to be developed, individual capital and individual enterprise will seek it and develop it. But do not, for a purpose which you cannot accomplish, don't load down the energies of this commonwealth. Leave her untrammeled; don't load down our people with taxation by an enormous debt. Then you may expect capital and wealth and population to be brought into the State. In the city of Wheeling the great difficulty we are laboring under now is just the onerous taxation to which we are subjected on account of the debts which we contracted in our delusion. Don't, gentlemen, be deluded as we have been. This day, if that taxation were off of us, the energies of this people - for they have energy - would accomplish more for the improvement of this city in a year even under the present state of things than we can expect for ten years to come.
MR. SMITH. I didn't like to disturb the gentleman, but it did strike me the whole of his argument was out of order. I understand the question now to be the amendment of the gentleman from Wood to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Marion; whether this money should be equally distributed among the senatorial districts. An argument to show that it ought not to be divided is the whole question at issue and the argument of the gentleman has been entirely confined to the propriety of the amendment itself, whether the four millions should be loaned or not.
MR. LAMB. In considering the propriety of amending a resolution, the propriety of the resolution is necessarily at issue.
MR. SMITH. That is, admitting the amendment of the gentleman from Marion to exist, ought it not then to be amended by this amendment.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Is the gentleman discussing a question of order?
MR. SMITH. I am only giving my opinion of the course of this argument - that it is irregular. The question is on this amendment offered by the gentleman from Wood to be attached to the amendment of the gentleman from Marion. I say it ought not. It is incongruous. They cannot exist together; they are in conflict with each other. The amendment of the gentleman from Marion is that the legislature shall have power to borrow from time to time, as may be wanted, four million dollars. The gentleman says that must be divided amongst the districts. Well, some districts do not want it. It is to be borrowed from time to time as wanted, and then you cannot borrow at all if some of it is not wanted. I therefore say the amendment is wholly defective. I imagine my friend from Wood, who knows as much about legislation as most men, has heard of such a thing as offering an amendment to cripple the original, so that the whole would become so obnoxious that you cannot maintain it when amended. Now, I think there is a question raised determining the proposition whether any sum shall ever be expended for internal improvement or not. Why cripple it with this obnoxious amendment? It is to be borrowed as it is wanted; it must be wanted by every district, and when all the districts concur in desiring it then it is wanted and not till then. It is divided equally from time to time. The question now is the amendment to the amendment and I have nothing more to say about it. What has been said by the gentleman from Kanawha, I am willing to rest this. I look upon it as an effort to defeat the main amendment and prevent a fair expression of opinion on it without having it so obnoxious that no one can take it; to engraft an obnoxious amendment and then ask the house to vote on it. Take the amendment as it is; take the sense of the Convention on that amendment, and don't occupy our time with crippling this amendment. It is defeating it by inches and by indirection.
MR. HERVEY. The gentleman from Logan never thought about that point of order when the gentleman from Kanawha was making a strong internal improvement argument.
MR. SMITH. The gentleman from Kanawha undertook to show that the thing was incompatible with this amendment.
MR. HERVEY. The gentleman from Kanawha undertook an argument in favor of these systems of internal improvements and cited the case of New York and others and alleged they abandoned these works of internal improvement when these had made them rich; from those alleged facts argued that we should follow in their wake until we got rich and then we could abandon it. In reply to that I have to say that the State of Virginia has followed in the wake of those states, but not until she has got rich - until she has become bankrupt. And it is proposed to continue that system here and get rich by lending our credit. I voted for the amendment of the gentleman from Tyler. I shall vote for this and then shall vote against the whole of it. I shall vote for what I consider and believe to be the best in the event, we should unfortunately adopt the original proposition.
Now, sir, it has been shown clearly by the gentleman from Ohio that the existing debt of thirty millions is onerous and oppressive, and when we come to adopt and take our portion of that debt we will have a debt of four to six millions of dollars. Now we are asked to add to that four millions of dollars for the benefit of corporations that have schemes they wish to promote at the public expense. Let us profit a little by the experience and example of some of these other states. What did Ohio do after she dropped this system? She put a provision in her constitution that that state, with three millions of people, cannot contract a debt over $750,000 except to redeem a pre-existing liability of the state, or in case of insurrection or invasion. Now, sir, there is the great State of Ohio numbering three millions of people has prohibited the State of Ohio, their representatives, from contracting a debt exceeding this sum. Yet with a population, numbering scarcely one- tenth, we are asked to open the flood-gates of our State's credit to the policy Ohio has abandoned and fortified against. Sir, this proposition to leave this whole question to the people was defeated a little while ago. That is where we proposed to put it. Now, sir, I do not intend to allege anything against the morals of Virginia's system. The gentleman from Kanawha has great admiration for it. He says it is pure and patriotic. I don't intend to make any attack on that feature of it. But take the fruits of it. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Take the results of that pure and patriotic and admirable policy. Is it such as we should follow here. I care not about impugning motives except thus far; that there has been - no man pretends to deny - a system of logrolling in the legislature by which certain great sectional interests have been combined to put appropriations through which could not have been passed except by such combination of rival interests. Who denies that? Will anybody pretend that that is not dishonest and corrupt, dangerous to public interests and public morals?
I shall vote for the proposition of the gentleman from Wood and then vote against the original proposition.
MR. HAYMOND. I understand from the gentleman still that we are certainly to have a foreign debt of some five or six or seven million dollars, and that at the end of five years we are certain to add four millions more. That is not correct. We are just telling the people that after five years they shall have the right to do as they please. That is all we are asking for; asking that the legislature the people - in five years shall do just what they please to do and have the liberty to do it. It is no more than right, and we should ask nothing more. It is right for the people of the country to have their liberties and they intend to do it. I tell you, gentlemen of the southwest, now is the time. Hear from the northwest. I tell you now is the time to stand by the people. I am not here as a member of this Convention alone from the county of Marion. I am here as a citizen of the contemplated State of West Virginia. In a great question of this kind, I never look to county or town. I am looking to the whole State. We never can build up a great State here if we put everything in one section. We must look over the whole. And, sirs, you must go south, east and sometimes combine here all up together. We must clear out her hills; make her roads, invite capitalists from abroad to come and dig the minerals from our hills. That is what you want, and you never can get them to come and clear your farms and make your roads. No, sir, no. You ought not to ask them. We ought to do that much for ourselves. If we cannot do it, we ought never, never to have a road or anything else. I say let us make the roads and clear the farms and invite capital to come amongst us and take the mineral from the hills. Our hills are full. Sir, there is mineral enough in West Virginia to make this the most powerful and wealthy state in this country. I ask the gentlemen from the southwest to stand by this call. I am from the north, but I can look abroad. I never will look to the counties or towns. Gentlemen said my people would not sustain me here. Gentlemen, I know the people of Marion. They are as liberal a set of people as ever lived. They have railroads and turnpikes and they know what their convenience is. They know that their lands have gone up, doubled or more in value. They know that these lands are increasing the taxes of your State. Make railroads and turnpikes throughout the southwest, what will be the result? Why, your taxes in Wheeling will come down. Their lands will increase in value and it will increase the revenue to the State. It is all nonsense about not improving this farm of ours that we are just cutting loose from eastern Virginia. Sirs, I wanted to cut loose from her for many years that we might improve the farm, and I now go for improving it. Sirs, it is idle to talk about not improving this great farm of ours; idle talk to say, let us wait for capital. We have been waiting for men of capital to come in and have got poor. You must improve your farm yourself and make your roads. Then capital will come among you and take your mineral from your hills, and when they do that, sirs, we will be a great and mighty people; when manufactures spring up in every valley and on every hill then you will see the great State of West Virginia coming out.
I call upon the southwestern men to stand by me here today and let us carry this point. Sir, I did not come here to represent the little county of Marion, I came here as a member of this Convention to form a constitution for West Virginia; and, so help me God, sir, if I don't intend to do it!
MR. VAN WINKLE. I do not contend that my amendment is perfectly congruous with the substitute of the gentleman from Marion. He proposes to borrow money from time to time, or in any other way. My amendment simply says that if it should develop that one senatorial district has got its proportion, then they stop appropriating to that senatorial district. That is all. Then it is as ambulatory as the substitute of the gentleman from Marion. That money may be borrowed as wanted and fed to this district or that; but when one has got its fair share then it stops. I think these imputations on a, gentleman's motives and what they do and all that are very apt in making the old saying applicable, that when the devil was sick the devil a monk would be; but when the devil got well the devil a monk was he. We are all apt to resent these things when they pinch us a little. This amendment I profess to have offered in good faith. If the substitute of the gentleman from Marion should carry, then I want something of this kind connected with it. I am not in favor of the substitute, because I am in favor of the report as it stands and think the interests of the State would be protected by it. But I have a right to try by amendment to make the proposition of the gentleman from Marion less objectionable to me than it is in the original form.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I must say it strikes me the amendment is for the purpose of killing the substitute; and if you will watch the argument of my friend from Ohio you will see what the object is. Instead of arguing for the amendment the gentleman from Wood argued against the substitute, knowing that if his amendment was adopted, that was as good a way as any of killing the substitute.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Well, sir, if the gentleman from Doddridge has the power of entering into my breast to tell what my motive is, he knows more than I may know myself. It is usual in parliamentary bodies that when a gentleman disclaims a thing, his disclaimer is accepted as true.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I merely meant that the gentleman misconstrues his amendment. That amendment distributes the money equally.
MR. VAN WINKLE. The gentleman said in so many words that I had offered the amendment for the purpose of killing the substitute.
The vote was taken on Mr. Van Winkle's amendment and it was rejected by the following vote:
YEAS - Messrs. Battelle, Dering, Dille, Harrison, Hubbs, Hervey, Lamb, Parsons, Paxton, Simmons, Stevenson of Wood, Stewart of Wirt, Sheets, Soper, Trainer, Van Winkle - 16.
NAYS - Messrs. John Hall (President), Brown of Preston, Brown of Kanawha, Brooks, Brumfield, Chapman, Caldwell, Carskadon, Cook, Dolly, Hansley, Haymond, Hagar, Hoback, Irvine, Montague, McCutchen, O'Brien, Powell, Parker, Robinson, Ryan, Sinsel, Smith, Taylor, Walker, Warder, Wilson - 28.
MR. HARRISON. I consider this virtually the same thing we voted on Saturday; and when I reflect on the large public debt that is already hanging over us and the fact that if we can pay that off in a reasonable time we can then go to work and make these internal improvements. I shall continue to record my vote against any change in the section as reported by the committee.
The whole argument on this matter appears to be predicated on the fact that we are making appropriation now for internal improvements. It seems the entire argument of the gentleman from Ohio was based on the presumption. I want to disabuse the minds of the gentlemen of the Convention of that impression. I know we all understand that is not the case, but it is so frequently argued here and repeated over and over again. We are not proposing to appropriate one dollar of money. It is only leaving this question with the legislature. We are largely in debt; forty million dollars. Well, we don't propose to make it one dollar more. There is not a member of this Convention I suppose that would be willing to vote for ten dollars. There is not a member that is advocating this principle that would vote to appropriate ten dollars. To my friend from Upshur: I would like to have his attention a moment. I am just down from the legislature. I find that Upshur there is appealing to our present legislature for ten thousand dollars to finish macadamizing their road from Clarksburg to Buckhannon.
MR. BROOKS. Not through me.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. They make it appear there is a great necessity - military necessity; that they are there in the mud up to their chins, and that if there is not something done for poor Upshur she will be swamped and never get out of it. Well, sir, the legislature reflected that although the necessity of Upshur was so great, under the circumstances, with that debt hanging over us, the legislature wanted to see its way out first. They refused your appropriation.
MR. BROOKS. That was right.
MR. STUART. Just so; but the time may come round when it will not be right. I am not a clairvoyant that can see into the future what may be the necessities, but these gentlemen seem to look ahead a great deal farther than I can; but I would say if I was a legislator, as I am at present, I would avoid most any appropriation here in West Virginia until we can see our way clear, and I take it for granted that will be the course of our future legislators. We are a little State. You can almost ride across it in a day. Our interests are identified with your interests. It is not to be supposed we will appropriate money here unless the necessities of the State require it, and if they do, here we have our hands tied up by a constitutional provision that they cannot do it, although the people may want it. To get the authority to do it they will have to change and tear up their Constitution. How wise and prudent we have got to be. We can see away ahead that the legislature is going to squander our money. It is not ours. It is the State's. I presume these legislators will come directly from the people and know what their wants are; and if they want an improvement it should not be our policy to tie the hands of the legislature.
To the county of Upshur, again: You are dreadfully in the mud; and I really think that before five years rolls around you will want a little appropriation and if I am in the legislature I will recommend them to appropriate it when I see the necessity of it; but, sir, you just say it shall not be done.
MR. LAMB. Amid all this distortion and attempted obscuration of the simple truth, I hope the members of this Convention will not lose sight of the fundamental fact that there is nothing in this section as reported by the Committee on Taxation and Finance to prevent the future legislatures of West Virginia from appropriating money for this or that work if they have got it. We leave the legislature perfect control of all the money that may be in the treasury of the state. All we ask is that they shall be forbidden to contract debt for such purposes.
(At this juncture the gas in the hall went out, and the Convention adjourned.)
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Chapter Eleven: First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia