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Debates and Proceedings
of the
First Constitutional Convention
of West Virginia

February 13, 1862

*The Convention met at the usual hour.

*See note, Vol. II, page 219.

The session was opened with prayer by Rev. Mr. Pomeroy, member of the Convention.

The journal of yesterday was read and approved.

Mr. Dering, from the special committee appointed on yesterday to take into consideration the 5th, 6th and 8th sections of the report of the Committee on Taxation and Finance, submitted the following Report:

The committee respectfully recommend that the Convention adopt the 5th and 6th sections of the report of the Committee on Finance and Taxation without alteration; and that the 8th section be adopted, with the following amendment:

In line 41st of the report of the Committee on Finance and Taxation, strike out the words "or other association or corporation," and insert "If the State shall become a stockholder in any association or corporation, for purposes of internal improvement, she shall pay for the stock at the time of subscribing, or shall levy a tax for the ensuing year sufficient to pay such subscriptions in full."

Signed by the unanimous order of the committee.

H. Dering, chairman.

And on motion of Mr. Dering, the report was adopted.

The Report of the Committee on Taxation and Finance was then adopted as amended.

And on motion of Mr. Lamb said report was taken up on its second reading.

Mr. McCutchen moved to amend the 10th line by striking out the word "one" and inserting "two," which was disagreed to.

Said report was then adopted.

And on motion of Mr. Lamb, it was referred to the Committee on Revision and Engrossment.

The President then stated that the business before the Convention was the further consideration of the amended report of the Committee on County Organization.

Mr. Hall, of Marion, offered the following substitute for the 10th section of said report, from the beginning to word "area," in the 163d line:

"No new county shall be formed containing a white population of less than 3,300, nor if the white population of any other county be thereby reduced below that number; nor containing an area of less than 200 square miles; nor if any other county be thereby reduced below that area."

Mr. Wilson moved to amend the amendment by limiting the number of square miles to 400, and the number of white inhabitants to 4,000.

A division being called for, the question was put upon striking out, and decided in the negative.

Mr. Hall, of Marion, moved to amend by striking out the words "and fifty," in the 154th line, and upon this question the yeas and nays were demanded, and the demand being sustained, the motion was disagreed to - yeas 21, nays 20.

On motion of Mr. Brown, of Preston, the vote was recorded as follows:

YEAS - Messrs. Brown of Kanawha, Battelle, Caldwell, Carskadon, Dering, Dolly, Hall, Haymond, Hubbs, Hervey, Hoback, Lauck, Parsons, Robinson, Stevenson of Wood, Stephenson of Clay, Sheets, Soper, Trainer, Wilson, John Hall (President) - 21.

NAYS - Messrs. Brown of Preston, Brooks, Chapman, Dille, Hansley, Harrison, Hagar, Irvine, Lamb, Montague, Mahon, McCutchen, O'Brien, Sinsel, Simmons, Stewart of Wirt, Smith, Taylor, Van Winkle, Warder - 20.

Mr. Dolly moved to amend the 159th line by striking out the words "four thousand," and insert "one half the rates of representation in the house of delegates."

And on motion of Mr. Van Winkle said report was adopted, as amended, and referred to the Committee on Revision and Engrossment.

On motion of Mr. Van Winkle, the Committee on the Schedule to the Constitution were granted leave to have their report printed before submitting it to the Convention.

Mr. Pomeroy, of Hancock, suggested that as they now had nothing else before them the vexed question raised by the resolution offered the day before by Mr. Battelle "might be compromised," either by adopting a proposition already written out or by raising a committee of conference representing in about equal number the opposing views, and let them bring in a report, either to adopt the first of the resolutions offered by the gentleman from Ohio and make that part of the Constitution without any separate vote by the people or raise a committee of conference.

I fully concur, Mr. Pomeroy continued, with the remarks of the gentleman from Logan in conversation on this subject that we ought all to desire a new state above everything else and take action which would meet not only the favor of the people but of Congress. I am not prepared to say, from the fact of this business being hurried through which is the best manner to proceed. I cannot conceive any evil that could result from a committee of conference, as I understand they would certainly report in favor of the first of the resolutions offered by the gentleman from Ohio being incorporated in the Constitution: which is that no free negro or slave after the adoption of the Constitution should be imported for permanent residence. So many gentlemen say they would agree to that there could be no difficulty in the committee of conference, for they would certainly report that part and then might take into consideration the other part. I cannot conceive if the committee would meet in the right spirit, any evil would result, and if so it would be my idea to raise the committee now.

MR. SMITH of Logan. If there is a proposition of this sort proposed I would like for it to be read and if it meets our approbation, I would like for it to be adopted at once without a committee of conference if it can be. If it is thought probable it will not be, let us refer it to a committee of conference. But I would prefer the proposition being read as acceptable to myself and others who act with me. We may as well vote on it at once. I am willing, in a spirit of compromise, to concede anything I can properly concede; and I would prefer hearing the proposition that is proposed to be offered. I understand there is a gentleman who has a proposition, and I would like to have it read and then determine what to do with it, and if it is going to produce any excitement here I would prefer to have it sent to a committee of compromise.

MR. BATTELLE. I regret, for one, that this subject is named now. A gentleman on the other side came to see me this morning, and inquired whether this topic would probably be up this morning. I, of course, could not speak authoritatively but thought it would not; and I pledged him, so far as I was concerned, that there should be no action on this question in his absence. I want no action here that shall be a vote one way or the other without the fair presence and concurrence of gentlemen interested in both ways. I want, if I am defeated in my particular opinions on this subject, to have it fairly done; and if I succeed in my views I wish it fairly done; and for that reason, especially that I pledged myself to the gentleman who is absent, that nothing should be done here without his presence. I would regret that anything more be done at least than what was indicated by my friend from Hancock, the appointment of the committee. I would not wish to go into the discussion of the question in the absence of this gentleman.

MR. DERING. How would it do to make it an order of the day for three o'clock?

MR. BATTELLE. I suppose the appointment of a committee would be no infraction of that understanding?

MR. DILLE. I have for some time had more trouble in reference to this question than perhaps any other that might be brought up before this Convention in any manner; and I have felt that something like this provision would harmonize and conciliate and do everything consistent to bring about a perfect harmony upon this, of all others, the most vexed question in our country. And I suppose, really, that we ought in the spirit of compromise come to some definite conclusion without any discussion or agitation upon this subject. And I suggest this morning upon my own responsibility, without even consulting with the friends of the proposition that was laid on the table yesterday, to inquire of the mover whether the first clause of the proposition laid on the table yesterday would probably as a compromise be acceptable to those favoring the motion to lay the original proposition on the table. With the frankness and good feeling characteristic of the gentleman from Logan, he intimated to me that he had no doubt the first clause would be acceptable to those entertaining views adverse to this proposition. I then intimated and I am willing to say that if this Convention can be reconciled upon that first proposition, and that proposition can be inserted in the Constitution with the cordial approbation of the friends of the proposition and those who may be adverse to the whole proposition, that I think we ought to accept it. I look upon a new State in West Virginia as a matter above and higher than all other considerations combined; and I think we bring about a state of feeling that will contribute more to the success - that will concede to the feelings and prejudices of our people and to the feelings and prejudices of those to whom we must look if we expect admission as a state into the Union. And if I can have the assurance that that proposition will meet with the approbation of this Convention, it will afford me great pleasure to present it; and having been accepted by those who oppose the whole proposition, I will say to them that as one individual I will oppose any action being taken on the latter clause of the proposition. I think it is right; I think it is due to members of the Convention, that we should make mutual concessions on this subject.

MR. POMEROY. I will now move, to test the sense of the house, as there are a number of gentlemen present on both sides, that a committee of eight be appointed. I see no evil that can result from this committee of conference. They would certainly report on the first part. Whether they do or not, it will be open to the Convention afterwards. And I want to say, Mr. President, that I hope all these things will be met in a spirit of conciliation and good feeling - no undue excitement on this subject at all. The committee will certainly report this first proposition, which the gentleman from Preston says he is in favor of; and I also am favorable to it, because we do not want any free negroes here.

MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I have just learned definitely of the proposition of the gentleman from Preston and his declaration; and I am very ready to say that I will meet him half-way with the right-hand of fellowship and adopt his proposition at once as a full settlement of this matter. And I believe, sir, it will give peace and quiet to our people; it will do justice to all, and it will compromise the rights of none; and when so great and good an object can be done, I shall be one of the first to accept and sustain it. I hope it will be the pleasure of every gentleman in the house to do the same thing.

MR. CALDWELL. I hope after the remarks we have all heard from my friend from Kanawha county that the gentleman from Hancock will see the impropriety of prolonging this matter any further and of the absence of any necessity for appointing a committee. I think this house now is in a position in which this proposition can be adopted, calmly and coolly, and almost unanimously adopted; and I hope my friend from Hancock will withdraw his motion for a committee, and I trust we will pass it unanimously.

MR. HERVEY. I am very much pleased to hear the proposition made by the gentleman from Preston. I have had some conference with a number of gentlemen who opposed the motion to lay on the table yesterday. We have great confidence in the discretion and forecast of the gentleman from Preston, and I confess, sir, that I have no fears at all. I believe it is bound to be a free state; and I have no doubt that as this seems to be the only exception by the persons from both sides that we better just vote that proposition as it stands without the committee.

A member asked what the precise proposition was. The Secretary reported the first clause of Mr. Battelle's proposition as follows:

"No slave shall be brought or free person of color come into this State for permament residence after this Constitution goes into operation."

MR. DILLE. I hope it will be the pleasure of the gentleman from Hancock to withdraw his proposition. And I hope further, with the feeling that I see around me on this subject that this proposition may be inserted in the Constitution by an unanimous vote. I do not want a dissenting voice on that subject; and I want the whole matter to end there, I think we might spare a good day's work and a day's work that will tell upon the future of the new State of West Virginia.

THE PRESIDENT. The Chair is of the opinion that if the disposition to compromise this question exists in the Convention - and it seems to exist there - that it would be certainly inadvisable to appoint a committee; that after what has occurred, it might carry the idea abroad that there was a division here; that what we did we were forced to do through a committee of compromise. The Chair would therefore suggest to the Convention that if there is that unanimity which the Chair hopes there is, then it is better to dispense with the committee.

MR. POMEROY. The mover of the motion will very cordially withdraw it if the Convention is ready to vote. I can very cordially vote for that proposition and I thought the committee could do no harm.

MR. BATTELLE. I wish to say at this point that in view of the considerations before stated by myself I should prefer that action be not taken this morning on this question; and if anything is done I should prefer the direction intimated by the gentleman from Han- cock. As I said before, I know there are gentlemen absent on both sides of this question, but I speak especially of gentlemen I know to be absent on the other side who before leaving came to me and intimated their desire that the question be not brought up this morning. As far as I am personally concerned, I expressed my own preference that it should not come up, and that if it did they should be notified thereof. I feel that my honor is involved in this point and if the question is to come up for final action here, it is but right that they should be present. I will add, further, that personally I would prefer to have more time for reflection on this subject. The idea of incorporating this single provision is a new proposition to me, and I do not think it can interfere with the harmony and good feeling that prevails here this morning to either refer or allow the vote to be taken to-morrow morning. I should prefer that direction to the taking of the vote now and I think it would be the fairest on all sides if we could understand it that the vote was to be taken then and everybody could be present.

MR. RAYMOND. I am in hopes the gentleman from Hancock will withdraw. I think the resolution of the gentleman from Preston is the very thing, sir, that I wanted when I came here.

THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman has withdrawn his motion.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I was going to make this suggestion - or if necessary make a motion - as there are a number of gentlemen absent on both sides of this question, that they should have an opportunity of recording their votes on this subject if they thought proper, either to-day or to-morrow.


THE PRESIDENT. It will be considered as the sense of the Convention.

MR. POMEROY. I hope it will be the unanimous consent of the Convention that the vote be recorded on this, the yeas and nays.

MR. PARKER. If I understand, this is on the first clause.

The Secretary read the first clause of the propositions submitted yesterday by Mr. Battelle.

MR. PARKER. No one would be more gratified than myself if the whole question could be entirely ignored. The only question in my mind - and the question has been there for some time is whether we can get through Congress - whether we can consummate our end. If we could do this without touching the question at all, it is my desire and has been all the time. Now the question arises in my mind whether the adoption of what now seems to be pretty generally conceded - if that is to be satisfactory and enough, I am for it - that is, if it is necessary. But whether it goes far enough to meet what will be necessary, to ensure us admission - the approval of Congress and admission - that is the question. And it is a vital question, it seems to me. I would therefore, Mr. President - because I don't believe discussion on a question of this kind is going to do any good - 1 should hope that the matter might be referred to a committee fairly representing both parties here - say of eight - and that they investigate the whole matter and report what in their judgment the Convention ought to do to secure us success. Because unless we meet with that success there, why then the whole thing here is a stupendous and expensive abortion, not to say disgrace; and its projectors and conductors, including ourselves, would be the object of universal derision.

THE PRESIDENT. The question is a plain one. Everybody seems to have made up his mind. The object of the Convention is to avoid discussion as far as possible.

MR. STUART of Doddridge (who had just come in). When I vote on this, do I understand that I am voting on it as a compromise measure, and as settling the question?

A MEMBER. Yes, sir.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. Then, sir, I do not want to say one word.

MR. BATTELLE. The gentleman from Doddridge is now in and I wish the Convention to bear me witness that the coming up of this question now is not by my act and that I have redeemed in good faith the promise I made him this morning. I much prefer that this question should not be considered now and especially after the intimations given to it.

And I wish here to say that so far as I am concerned, as an individual, I enter into no arrangement with regard to compromises in this fashion. I expect to vote for what suits me and to vote against what I dislike. I should much prefer if the question did not come up this morning and was willing, so far as I regarded it as violating no understanding with individual members - if it did come up at all, that it be referred to a committee such as indicated by the gentleman from Hancock, of four persons on each side. I should feel myself, if voting for that proposition, bound to at least pay very respectful attention to their report whatever it might be. I am prepared to vote for the pending proposition in good faith; but I wish to say in answer to the question of the gentleman from Doddridge that on my part I do not enter into this arrangement as a matter of compromise; because there has been no arrangement which could give it the dignity of a compromise: I mean no such parliamentary arrangement, for instance, as its reference to a committee.

And I will say, sir, with the indulgence of the Convention while on the floor - and that is the crowning motive impelling me as an individual in all this business - that we should have a new State; and I desire to see such action taken as will most effectually secure that end. I have not had time for reflection to determine in my own mind how far it will go towards securing that end. I should have preferred, if the question must be mooted to-day at all, that it be referred to a committee fairly and properly constituted of gentlemen of different views, that they might report to us to-morrow morning.

The question was taken on Mr. Dille's motion to incorporate the first proposition in the Constitution and it was agreed to, with a single dissenting vote, that of Mr. Brumfield, the vote in detail being as follows:

YEAS - Messrs. Brown of Preston, Brown of Kanawha, Brooks, Battelle, Chapman, Caldwell, Carskadon, Cook, Dering, Dolly, Dille, Hansley, Hall, Haymond, Harrison, Hubbs, Hervey, Hagar, Hoback, Irvine, Lamb, Lauck, Montague, McCutchen, Mahon, O'Brien, Parsons, Powell, Parker, Pomeroy, Robinson, Ruffner, Ryan, Sinsel, Simmons, Stevenson of Wood, Stephenson of Clay, Stewart of Wirt, Stuart of Doddridge, Sheets, Soper, Smith, Taylor, Trainer, Van Winkle, Warder, Wilson, John Hall, (President) - 48.

NAYS - Brumfield - 1.

Several members appealed to Mr. Brumfield to change his vote and make it unanimous.

Mr. Brumfield replied that he didn't "take as much part in the discussions as some of the members," but he always "did his own voting."

The members absent when the vote was taken were: Paxton, Mahon, Willey and Walker.

MR. RAYMOND. I congratulate this house and the country on the vote just taken. If nothing more is said about slavery here, it vnll do more than anything this house can do to cause all opposition to this Constitution and this new State to cease. And I ask my friend from Ohio (Mr. Battelle) never to mention slavery here again.

Mr. Dering moved to adjourn.

MR. BATTELLE. Will the gentleman withdraw his motion a moment?

MR. DERING. Certainly.

MR. BATTELLE. Indulge me a moment while I say that I join in the congratulations of my friend from Marion; except in so far - which I suppose he did not intend - as his remarks imply any reflection on me individually for mooting a subject here which in my judgment as a representative in this Convention I see proper to moot. I hope, however, the gentleman intends no reflection on me personally.

MR. RAYMOND. I intended nothing of the sort.

*Mr. Battelle moved that the said additional section be referred to the Committee on Revision and Engrossment, which was agreed to.

And, on motion of Mr. Dering, the Convention adjourned.

*See note. Vol. II, page 219.

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Chapter Eleven: First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia

A State of Convenience

West Virginia Archives and History