Prayer by Rev. James J. Brownson of Presbyterian Church, Washington, Pa.
Journal read and approved.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I have a proposition, sir, that I wish to submit to the tender consideration of the Judiciary Committee. It need not be read, sir; just refer it under the rule.
It was as follows:
"RESOLVED, That the Judiciary Committee inquire into the propriety of providing that every justice of the peace shall have jurisdiction of actions of debt, detinue and trover, when the value in controversy does not exceed one hundred dollars, and of actions on the case, except for defamation, when the damages laid do not exceed that sum, and the defendant resides, or not being a resident of the State is found in the district for which the justice was elected; and of misdemeanors and breaches of the peace occurring therein and punishable by a fine not exceeding five dollars or imprisonment in the county jail for not exceeding thirty days. And also of entitling either party to a civil suit, when the value in controversy or the damages laid exceed twenty dollars, and the defendant in a criminal proceeding when the penalty is imprisonment, to a trial by six duly qualified jurors, with an appeal to the circuit court in all cases which may be tried by jury, and when the value in controversy or the damages proved in a civil case exceeds ten dollars. Each justice to be a conservator of the peace for his county and authorized to take acknowledgments of deeds, &c., and to administer oaths and to discharge all other duties appertaining to his office, except the trial of causes as above, in any part thereof, and to reside or keep an office within his district."
MR. DERING. I have a resolution, I wish to have referred to the same committee:
"RESOLVED, That the Committee on County Organization, take into consideration the propriety of making the high sheriff and his deputies, ineligible after serving one term."
MR. CALDWELL. The Committee on the Executive Department, sir, have instructed me to make a report which I ask to be laid on the table and printed. And I am instructed by the minority of that committee to report a substitute for section nine, and ask that the same disposition be made of it.
The following is the report:
"1. The chief executive power of this Commonwealth shall be vested in a Governor, who shall be elected by the voters qualified to vote for members of the general assembly, and at the time and place to be prescribed by law. He shall hold his office for the term of four years, to commence on such a day as may be designated by the general assembly, and shall be ineligible to that office for four years next succeeding his election, but shall not be eligible for more than eight years, nor to any other office during his term of service.
2. No person shall be eligible to the office of governor, unless he has attained the age of thirty years, is a native citizen of the United States, and has been a citizen of any county, city or town, forming a part of this State, for five years next preceding his election.
3. The governor shall reside at the seat of government, shall receive three thousand dollars for each year of his services, and during his continuance in office, shall receive no other emolument from this State or any other government.
4. The governor shall be commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State, shall have the power to call out the Militia, to repel invasion, to suppress insurrection, and enforce the execution of the laws; conduct in person, or in such manner as may be prescribed by law, all intercourse with other and foreign States; and during the recess of the general assembly, shall fill, pro tempore, all vacancies in those offices for which the Constitution and the laws make no provisions; but appointment to such vacancies shall be by commissions to expire at the end of thirty days after the commencement of the succeeding session of the general assembly. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed; communicate to the general assembly at each session thereof the condition of the Commonwealth; recommend to the consideration of the members such measure as he may deem expedient, and convene the general assembly in extra session when in his opinion the interests of the Commonwealth may require it. He shall have power to remit fines and penalties in such cases and under such regulation as may be prescribed by law; to commute capital punishments; and, except when the prosecution has been carried on by the house of delegates, to grant reprieves and pardons after the conviction; but he shall communicate to the general assembly, at each session, the particulars of every case of fine or penalty remitted, of punishment commuted and of reprieve or pardon granted, with his reasons for remitting commuting or granting the same.
5. The governor may require information in writing from the officers in executive departments upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and also the opinion in writing of the attorney general upon any question of law, pertaining to the business of the executive department.
6. Returns of the elections of governor shall be made in such manner and by such persons as shall be prescribed by the general assembly, to the secretary of the Commonwealth, who shall deliver them to the speaker of the house of delegates, on the first day thereafter of the organization of the general assembly.
The speaker of the house of delegates shall within ten days hereafter in the presence of a majority of the senate and the house of delegates, open the said returns, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the highest number of votes if qualified according to the second section of this article, shall be declared elected, but if two or more shall have the highest and an equal number of votes, one of them shall thereupon be chosen governor by the joint vote of the two houses of the general assembly. Contested elections for Governor shall b6 decided by a like vote, and the mode of proceeding in such cases shall be prescribed by law.
7. A lieutenant-governor shall be elected at the same time, and for the same term as the governor, and his qualification and the manner of his election in all respects shall be the same.
8. In case of the removal of the governor from office, or of his death, failure to qualify within the time that shall be prescribed by law, resignation, removal from the seat of government, or inability to discharge the duties of the office, the said office, with its compensation, power and authority, shall devolve upon the lieutenant-governor, and the general assembly shall provide by law for the discharge of the executive functions in all other necessary cases.
9. A secretary of the Commonwealth, treasurer and an auditor of public accounts shall be elected at the same time and or the same term as the governor, their qualification and the manner of their election in all respects shall be the same, and their compensation and duties shall be prescribed by the general assembly.
10. The general assembly shall have power to establish a land office, whenever it shall be deemed expedient, assign the duties thereof to a proper officer, and prescribe his compensation, term of, and manner of appointment to office.
11. The general assembly shall have authority to vest the management and control of the works of internal improvement of the State, the disposition and investment of the fund arising therefrom, or that may be created for that purpose, in the governor, treasurer, and auditor and to prescribe their duties as a board of public works.
12. The manner of appointing militia officers, the enrollment of the militia, and how it shall be called forth for actual service or drill shall be prescribed by law, but no officer below the rank of brigadier general, shall be appointed by the general assembly.
13. Commissions and grants shall run in the name of the Commonwealth of West Virginia, and bear tests by the governor, with the seal of the Commonwealth annexed."
By order of the committee.
E. H. CALDWELL, Chairman.
The following is the substitute:
"9. A secretary of the Commonwealth, treasurer and an auditor of public accounts, shall be elected by the joint vote of the two houses of the general assembly, and continue in office for the term of four years, unless sooner removed. The secretary shall keep a record of the official acts of the governor, which shall be signed by the governor and attested by the secretary, and when required, he shall lay the same, and any papers, minutes and vouchers, pertaining to his office, before either house of the general assembly, and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law.
The powers and duties of the treasurer and auditor shall be such as may be prescribed by the general assembly of the Commonwealth, and their compensation, as well as that of the secretary of the Commonwealth, shall be fixed by law.
E. H. CALDWELL."
MR. VAN WINKLE. Is there anything before the Convention? If it is necessary for a motion I move that the report of the Committee on Fundamental and General Provisions be taken up and proceeded in.
THE PRESIDENT. The seventh section would be first in order.
The section was reported as follows:
"Sec. 7. In all State, county and municipal elections the mode of voting shall be by viva voce."
MR. POMEROY. I move to amend the seventh section by striking out all after the first two words and insert the following: "elections by the people, the mode of voting shall be by ballot."
MR. SINSEL. It seems to me the Constitution of the United States provides for a different mode of electing electors, and I think that amendment would conflict with the Constitution.
MR. BROWN of Preston. I rise to inquire whether the mode of voting prescribed in the section as it is reported would prevent a dumb person who is entitled to the right of suffrage from voting: I make this inquiry of the chairman of the committee, I am not properly advised as to the force of the section. If that would be the effect, sir, I think there should be an amendment in that particular, which I will propose at the proper time.
MR. VAN WINKLE. There is such a clause in the present Constitution where the voting is viva voce; but it goes on to provide that dumb persons "may vote by ballot; and it seems to me nothing can be more superfluous. If a dumb person votes with an open ticket, with his name written on, that is his mode of speaking; and certainly that is a viva voce vote to all intents and purposes. I would advise the gentleman, however, to retain his motion if he chooses to make it till this main question is disposed of.
MR. POMEROY. Though I have offered this substitute I do not deem it necessary to inflict a speech on this body, as our time is precious; and if the friends of that mode of voting will give it a quiet support and not discuss this matter, I will make no remarks in favor of this plan of voting, but leave it to the body, as they have discussed it freely outside the house, to take the vote on it and proceed to another section.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I do not, sir, think we have anything to lose by a comparison of opinion on this question or any other. I have not the least hesitancy in giving my views on any question that may arise in our Constitution. I am in favor, Mr. President, of the section as it is, although I am not very tenacious about it. I hope the gentleman from Wood will not accuse me of "hankering" after the "flesh-pots" simply because I think the old mode of voting is better than the new mode proposed. In all my experience, Mr. President, I have never seen any good result from voting by ballot. I have been in various States that vote by ballot and I have never yet seen an election held there, with any party vote, that it was not known how men voted. They will use means for the purpose of evading it. I presume it is well known to every member of this Convention that they will get up their tickets in such form. One party will have their blue tickets, the other white or red, or long and short; and I have never yet seen a gentleman cast a vote in our neighboring States that it was not distinctly known how he voted.
I like this independent way of voting - coming up and declaring how we vote. It seems to me it inculcates principles of independence. One illustration is sufficient to satisfy my mind that the section as it now stands is the best. I can only refer gentlemen to our vote last spring. Suppose, sir, we had cast our vote last May, on the ordinance of secession, by ballot; we never would have known who amongst us desired to break down and destroy our government. We could not point them out if it had not been for our mode of voting. Now such another occurrence may never arise, but as I can conceive of no advantage to be derived from this ballot voting, I see no necessity for adopting it; and such another contingency might arise, and then we will be posted and prepared for it. We will know who the enemies of our country are, and who are not. This is a sufficient reason to induce me to vote against the amendment of the gentleman from Hancock.
MR. BROOKS. I have been instructed by my constituents to give my influence to change the system of voting; and while I have no particular objections to offer to the system myself as an individual, yet I feel disposed to do my duty to my constituents; and as experience has been adverted to I suppose it would be nothing amiss for me to give my experience. When I say I have no objections as an individual to the system of viva voce voting, I mean I am willing that everybody should know how I vote and whom and what I vote for. But I know that there is not quite that amount of independence in our country that there should be. I know that every man in our land often has not the fortitude to go under all the circumstances and declare freely and declare calmly his choice of delegates to any legislative department, or officers to fill any department in our government whatever. And while there has been an isolated case in which some advantage might accrue by a proper knowledge of how men vote, there have been numerous cases in which disadvantages have accrued.
I believe the design of voting is to get an expression of our citizens touching their preference in public offices; and I believe that expression should be as much as possible untrammeled and free and independent. And while some men are prepared to give such a vote under any circumstances, others are not. And here I would mention a case or two that I have witnessed myself, that seem to me to declare that our old custom of voting is not the best to get a clear expression of the view or wishes of individuals or our people, touching their representatives or rulers.
It is very frequently the case in the relations of life that a number of individuals are dependent upon one individual; and being dependent upon that individual, that individual becomes a candidate for office; and for the want of that independence that men should possess, those individuals are influenced by their relations to vote men into office that really are not their choice and sometimes would be the last in their choice if they had independence enough to express their preferences, their wishes and desires touching their rulers. For instance, in the history of my travels I have been in one of our back western counties. A few men, perhaps as many as three, were candidates for the legislature. In those counties merchants did a large credit business. One man had the names of a great many voters of that county on his ledger, some of them considerably in debt. As he passed around he made it known amongst those individuals that if any of his debtors should vote against him a suit in law should be the result, and that he would collect in the most hasty process possible. The result was that numbers of them, who expressed themselves to my own knowledge that he was not their choice, but simply from fear of cost and trouble by hasty collections of debt, voted for him, and that man was elected.
Well, now, that threat did intend something I have knowledge of. There was one man of the number to my knowledge, who had fortitude enough under the threat to go to the polls and declare his independent choice; and before ten days had expired a writ was served for debt on that man. I do not go further back than a few weeks or months for other examples. I have been amongst men at the polls and hearing men vote. I remember hearing it remarked, by an individual, such a candidate looked such a one out of his vote today. I then noticed that that candidate named had taken a position near the table where the votes were recorded and would look in the face of every voter aa he came -up; and before the sun had gone down more than one, two or three individuals came to me and told me, I would not have voted for that man but the relation I sustain to him makes it my best policy to do so from the fact that he was there ready to see who voted against him and who for him.
Now I presume if the plan of voting had been for the individual voting to have prepared his ticket, advanced to the ballot box, had his named recorded and his ticket dropped in, that candidate would not have known who voted for and who against him, and thence a different result would have been produced.
With this view of facts, my impression is, sir, that it will, to say the least of it, be as fair if not a fairer way of obtaining a fair and independent expression of men's wishes touching their rulers or legislators, as the present mode of voting. Hence, as instructed, I shall doubtless give my vote for the ballot box. I have seen some elections go off - and been a little more successful than my friend from Doddridge - for I have seen elections by ballot when I could not tell, nor any other individual could tell I conversed with, who voted for this man or that man, and yet there was a man elected. (Laughter) Hence, it is not always ascertained whether men vote for A, B, or C, when they cast their votes at the ballot box.
I am in favor of the ballot box.
MR. PARKER. I agree with the gentleman from Upshur. Whatever may have been our difference of opinion in relation to any condition to the right of voting - whether some of us thought the payment of taxes should be a condition of voting or the contrary - I trust we are agreed that when that party comes to the ballot box that he votes freely whether high or humble. The only question arising seems to be which of the two modes here proposed will be most likely to secure the greatest degree of freedom in voting. Now, I admit, Mr. President, if all the legal voters in our new State could be practically equal in all their surroundings, standing as compeers in all respects, I would go for viva voce voting. That would meet our case then. I should go for it. There is a good deal in it to recommend it, among equals; but, in the nature of things that equality can never exist. It has never existed in any community. It cannot exist. It is impracticable. Then the question is, with all these inequalities and differences in circumstances, which is best? I have had some experience in some of the northern States where capital is aggregated and manufacturing is carried on by large aggregated capital and in those States - in the city of Lowell for instance, where some fifteen thousand operatives are dependent for the support of themselves and families on their employment by these companies; I have seen it - it would be by ballot, open ballot, but never by viva voce - the espionage and dictation was carried to that extent that the agent or overseer would come and stand at the ballot box; and that influence was carried to that extent that the legislature took it in hand in Massachusetts, and made it secret ballot - every man's ballot to be enclosed in an envelope and that envelope sealed - should not carry it open, but it should be in an envelope and that envelope sealed up. Well, in that way they obviated it. If there were two ballots in an envelope, they threw them both out. Well, that cured this difficulty - that, I know.
If every man in our new State owned his farm and was about equal, we could get along very well viva voce. We are making a Constitution that is to reach forward; and let us look for a few minutes at the resources and nature of our new State. We all agree that its great controlling interest that is to give it prominence is manufacturing and mining. Well, now, throughout the country we find that manufacturing and mining, almost all, is carried on by associated capital. The operatives depend for their daily subsistence and that of their families upon what they get from these associated companies of capitalists. That is the state of things that is to take place ahead in our new State. Well, now assuming that these great interests are to be perhaps (and certainly, as I think) the predominant interest of the State, why to leave it viva voce as I have seen it over there in the North it seems to me would be a mere farce. It would be worse than giving whiskey and money to get votes. For that reason, .Mr. President, I shall feel it my imperative duty to go for the amendment.
MR. POMEROY. It was with a view of saying something on this question that I offered this substitute. We are here, as has been said on another question, as the people; we are the representatives of the people; We are here to carry out their wishes on all these matters as far as we have knowledge of their wishes. I am here representing a people that are decidedly in favor of a change in the mode of voting. They desire to vote by ballot. As has been said by the gentleman from Upshur, I believe I have no tenacity myself in regard to it. I would as lief vote with the candidate I was voting against sitting at the table as not; but I imagine all men are not so - I know they are not so. There is an influence brought to bear on these men by this system of voting that prevents them from a fair expression of their opinions through the ballot box. The candidate may be wealthy or may have a great many men dependent upon him for their daily bread at the time of election. He goes there and places himself there to take knowledge of those men as they deposit their ballots. He may even make threats beforehand what he will do in case they go contrary to his wishes.
But there is another great objection, too, in this thing. A man that is acting as a demagogue, wanting to keep down the full expression of the people, goes to the ballot box at a certain hour in the day and then goes out and tells men, sometimes, truthfully and sometimes falsely, that such is the state of the vote and that this man is going to be the successful candidate, the man who will collect your taxes and serve writs on you, and you had better vote for him. And in that way these men are controlled and influenced to vote for the man that they believe will be the successful man although their wishes are the other way. There are numerous examples of this. It was said by my friend from Marion that the attorneys of their county have all gone down to Richmond, expecting to be President of the Confederate States as soon as Jeff. Davis is established. Well, this idea of men being successful has a great influence. They did that because the rebellion would be successful. Well men vote because they think it will be on the strong side.
This system of ballot prevails almost everywhere in the United States. It appears to have worked well. They have by the practical workings of the system proved that it works well. Let me say too in regard to the experience of my friend from Doddridge. He says these politicians get up their tickets in different ways so that men know exactly how a man votes - some tickets long and some short, blue and white, and various colors. I believe that is all true; but when a man goes to vote he has the ticket folded up so in his hand that no man can see his ticket until he places it in the hands of the officer. The officer cannot go out of the house and tell every person how that man voted, and consequently I do not see the weight of his argument. It is not so much matter if it is known after the result is known. But the gentleman uses an argument of this kind, that if we did not vote by ballot we would never have obtained a knowledge of these secessionists. Let me ask if he considers that any very valuable information? (Laughter) I know more about the secessionists than I care about knowing. I do not know all the secessionists in this country, but I think there are more in it now than there will be a few days hence. And I hope the day will come when there will not be any. I would rather not to have known our men in our county to have voted this way than to have known it; I have such feeling of abhorrence against them, I have no special desire to have knowledge of that kind that appears to be so valuable to my friend from Doddridge. But if we had voted by ballot, even I think where there is so much corruption, in the city of Richmond - where after voting for men as Union men and electing two out of three to represent them in the Convention that passed the secession ordinance, yet when they came to vote on the ordinance there were but four men had the firmness to go up and vote against that ordinance. This day there are hundreds in that city, good Union men, but they would not dare to vote under the present system against this ordinance. It is said, that if it had not been for the viva voce plan of voting Virginia would never have voted herself out of the Union. I do not know whether that is true or not. My friend says he believes it, and I have no doubt that is a pretty general belief - that she would not have voted out. They could not come up and vote with the influence and compulsion against them, when under their system every man's vote was known.
As I have already said, I have no tenacity, as it regards myself. I make it a matter of duty and conscience. I vote for a man the best qualified and if the other candidates see fit to mark how I vote, let them do it. But I believe this would give the fairest expression of the opinion of the people. I believe it is the mode adopted perhaps in nearly every state in the whole United States, with a few exceptions; and it is far preferable - it is the wish of the people - it should be so. I understand from members here - with some I have conversed - that they have no particular tenacity about it but that it is the wish of their people. Then if it is the wish of the people, and a better plan than the other I am in favor of adopting it. This is an age of improvement and we ought to make improvements here. There is wide room for some improvement; and I think this is one of the improvements we ought to make, and one of the changes we ought to engraft in the Constitution of West Virginia.
MR. DERING. I rise for the purpose of saying that I am in favor of the amendment, to vote by ballot. So far, sir, as I have heard any expression of opinion on the part of the people of Monongalia county, they are decidedly in favor of that mode; and I think, sir, if we wish the security of the ballot-box, that that is the mode we should select. I think, sir, that in doing so - in making the ballot box pure - we inaugurate a measure which will perpetuate and maintain good government, and that without the purity of the ballot-box, our government will not remain pure, will not be perpetuated. I consider, sir, that voting by ballot is the only way to get a free and independent expression of the electors. By voting by ballot, sir, you leave a man free and untrammeled. He can go up and deposit his vote and no one knows whom he votes for unless he sees proper to disclose the fact. Leave then the citizen untrammeled; let him go to the ballot-box and vote the independent sentiments of heart, and you will preserve the independence of the citizen, and throw around the ballot box a purity that we cannot attain by the viva voce mode.
I, sir, did not rise for the purpose of making a speech, but only for the purpose of indicating the sentiments of the people of Monongalia county so far as I had heard them on this subject, and I think from the general "concurrence" in opinion here that there seems to be on this subject, that there is no need of arguments. They are so plain and potent that they must strike every mind as favorable to this amendment.
MR. PAXTON. I desire merely to say that I concur heartily in the amendment proposed - especially after what has been said here by these gentlemen, and more especially because I believe this Convention is already prepared to settle the question by a vote in its favor. Whilst upon the floor, however, I will state a fact or facts, that may be of some interest and may have some influence in regard to the manner of voting. In the states of Missouri and New Jersey, I am not advised, I presume however the mode is by ballot.
MR. VAN WINKLE. In New Jersey, by ballot.
MR. PAXTON. In the States of Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia and Oregon, the viva voce system is prescribed. In the two latter, their Constitutions although prescribing that mode gives their legislatures authority to change that for the ballot system; and I think it not improbable, although I do not know the fact, that they may have done it. However, in every other state of the thirty- three, the constitution of each state prescribes the ballot system, of voting. We thus have the almost unanimous verdict of the people of the United States in favor of that system; and I hope, sir, in the face of that we shall not now adopt a contrary system, because perhaps (and perhaps only) because having been accustomed to it always, we have natural prejudices in its favor. I hope, sir, we may be allowed to profit by wisdom and experience even though they come from beyond the border of Virginia; for, sir, there is wisdom outside of the limits of our own State, and it is no disparagement of the State to say so.
MR. BATTELLE. I do not intend to say much, sir, but simply this: that I very heartily favor the amendment proposed; in the first place because I believe the people whom I have the honor in part to represent are in favor, of it, and because I believe it is the best mode, and because I am heartily in favor of it myself. I think voting by ballot very greatly contributes to the freedom of elections. It has been already stated that in the various relations of life there will be more or less from various causes a feeling of dependence one upon another; and I have long been satisfied from years of observation indeed, that the present mode of voting here does give an undue power to men of wealth, influence and position - especially to party leaders - to unjustly control the exercise by others of the right of franchise. We may say this ought not to be so, that men ought to vote their real sentiments in the face of all intimidations; but that I judge does not alter the fact that they really do not. It is unquestionably the case, sir, in these very times, perhaps in portions of our own State as well as in other communities; where it would require a great deal of firmness and patriotism and independence - more, perhaps, than most men possess - to go up and squarely in the face of a large employer or prominent party leader, vote directly opposite to what the voter knows to be the sentiments of that individual. There is no question in my mind but that consideration has time and again controlled and ruled the elections of Virginia, as well, sir, as elsewhere where that mode is employed. I am for making this right free, to every citizen to exercise without let or hindrance his own choice, without dictation either expressed or implied.
In reference to the remarks made by my friend from Doddridge, and my friend from Hancock, touching the vote of this State on the ordinance of secession, I think it affords a most admirable illustration of the matter in point, though I would not make exactly the same use of it as the first named gentleman did make. I think it highly probable had the mode been by ballot, Virginia would not have today occupied the position she does occupy. There is no other theory upon which I can account for the sudden transformation from the vote in February to the vote in May except this domineering influence of political leaders, and other influences at the polls, restraining and controlling and dictating that vote. I would take away that temptation.
There is another consideration, however, which has not been mentioned, and it is the comparative expense of the two modes, and comparative speed. I am not familiar enough with the details of voting to give, perhaps, anything like an approximation to the exact proportion; but when you have a long string of candidates to be voted for, say, from six to eight or ten, as is the case in some elections, the voting viva voce is, we all know a very tedious way, and the voting by ballot is simple and expeditious in that regard. It may be indeed that the counting up after the vote is over is longer by the ballot than viva voce; but the taking of the vote is by the ballot method vastly the more expeditious, and very much less expensive. I think, sir, that should this Convention fail to incorporate the principles sought to be incorporated by this proposed amendment, they would fail of one modification most essential and one required by the nature of the case and the known voice of our people.
MR HAGAR. From the past and present only we can judge in reference to the future. As you know, I live in Boone. Some of you know that I live very near the center between Chapmanville and Boone Courthouse. I am very confident from living all my lifetime in that neighborhood, and being acquainted with almost all the people in Boone county; that if the vote had been taken by ballot there would have been at least one hundred or one hundred and fifty votes in favor of staying in the Union. At the Courthouse, as most of you know there was but one vote given for it, that is in favor of the Union, and it was with great difficulty that man got away with his life. It was declared previous to the election that any and all who should vote for the Union should be hung forthwith on the public square. The Union men talked among themselves and agreed, or at least partially agreed, that some forty or fifty would unite and go there and vote anyhow for the Union. But when they found a drunken mob arrayed against them there, their hearts failed them and the treatment the first man received deterred the rest and there was no other vote given for the Union there. Some twenty, perhaps, went off without voting, and the others were forced to vote for secession. These things grew out of the power invested in the hands of a few there. They have monopolized the places - merchants, lawyers, prosecuting attorneys, and clerks.
At Big Coal river next to Kanawha, at the February election they gave a very large majority in favor of the Union - perhaps there was not one dissenting voice. In May there were about one- third, or nearly so, for secession. Why? Because it was packed. A leading secessionist, a William Thomson, ruling the principal part of that county controlled the election. The result was that all the votes at one precinct were given in favor of secesh principles and practices, and half at another, ruled by two prominent secessionists. Just across the way, over at Chapmansville in Logan county, there was only one man there out of fifty that wanted to vote for the Union dared do it. The result was it was with great difficulty he saved his life by having the name erased. If the vote had been given by secret ballot the great probability is, Boone would have gone strong for the Union and Logan would probably have nearly tied off. Instead of that there was 450 of 700 for secession in Logan.
I am in favor of the ballot box.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I am very decidedly, sir, in favor of the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Hancock. I believe, sir, I will not urge any consideration in favor of that amendment that has been already urged, at least not at any length. There are a few considerations, however, sir, in favor of this ballot system of voting which in addition to what has already been said I would like to trouble the Convention to hear.
Before proceeding to that, Mr. President, I will state that I hold in my hand a petition signed by between two or three hundred citizens of the county which I have the honor in part to represent here, in favor of this system of voting - voting by ballot. The petitions are indicted in respectful language to the Convention, and as far as I have examined it, and as far as I am acquainted with the signers, a number of them are prominent, and I believe all of them respectable citizens of the county; and if there is no objection on the part of the Convention, I would like to lay the petition on the table. It is not just in order now, but I will just read the heading and dispose of it in that way:
"To the Constitutional Convention, assembled in the city of Wheeling:
"The undersigned, citizens of Wood county respectfully ask your honorable body to insert a provision in the new State Constitution requiring all elections by the people to be by ballot." (Handing the petition to the secretary.)
It seems to me, Mr. President, that the strongest argument that could be adduced in favor of this system is found in this fact: that in all those states where that system prevails - and as has been shown they form a large majority of the states in the Union - it gives almost universal satisfaction. It works well, and I believe there is not a single State - at least not within my recollection - that having once adopted the system of ballot voting has ever changed from it to any other mode. Some of them have perfected the system, have improved upon it, as they have in Massachusetts and some other of the New England States, by adopting a more perfectly secret ballot.
Now, sir, this is a practical argument in favor of that mode of voting, and of all arguments that can be used in favor of this or any other subject, these practical arguments are of the strongest character. It seems to me that is an unanswerable argument in favor of this system of ballot voting. Now what works well in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and the great Northwest, will work equally well in the new State of West Virginia; and I think we will make a very grave mistake if we leave this Convention without inserting it as a part of the new Constitution; because I believe it is demanded by a very large majority of the voters within the limits of the proposed new State.
If there is any one privilege which is exercised by the American citizen that ought to be specially and carefully protected it is the exercise of this right of suffrage. A man should vote untrammeled; he should vote freely; he should vote without any undue influence from any man or from any party; and if he cannot do that, sir, or if he does not do it, so far as that great right is concerned it is partially a failure. Now I undertake to say that that can be done, but I will say what is a stronger proof of my position, that it is not so under the present system of voting. Now, that has been alluded to already, and I ask any man to call up what has. taken place under his own observation and ask himself if he has not seen it in hundreds of cases where men are frightened into voting - and frequently against their conscientious convictions - on different questions. Now, sir, we have the fact there, and you may bring as many Virginia abstractions as you please - and they are the most abstract of all abstractions - and pit them in favor of viva voce voting and it will not affect this practical proof when the right of franchise is exercised silently, quietly, independently in that way, it is then, sir, that the language of the poet is true. It is a power which
gently as the snowflake on the sod
But executes the freeman's will
As lightenings execute the will of God."
But, sir, there is one consideration that has not been alluded to at all; and I think it a very strong one in favor of this proposition. Where are your people to come from that are to settle up the valleys and the mountains of this new State? Where are they to come from ? The natural increases of our population will not supply them unless the list of old bachelors is reduced very rapidly (Merriment). Now, sir, the increase of that population is to come from those States - the great bulk of it must come from those States - where this system of ballot voting prevails and where it is popular; and the people will travel from those States to the other States which have adopted the same system of voting. Now if you can adopt a system here which will be - as has been shown here clearly, I think - of decided advantage to the voter and benefit to the State, at the same time furnish an inducement for the introduction of a population of the right kind, and with that population capital to develop the resources of the State, I ask if this is not a very strong argument in its favor? Why, sir, here is timber in our mountains, ore in our hills, coal and oil beneath the surface of the earth, and natural resources as great probably as are to be found within the same limits anywhere in this broad land, and there they lie undeveloped; they are worth nothing to the State. You may put it down in your reports and speeches about how much the State is worth - she has so many millions of feet of timber, or tons of coal or iron or gallons of oil. Why, sir, your mountain of coal or iron is not worth as much as barren sand or soapstone until capital and labor are brought into the State to develope it and give it such shapes as will make it convenient for the comfort or use of man. Then it will be a source of value, yet not till then. Now one of the ways to introduce that capital is to invite that class of population; and you cannot get them unless you incorporate into the Constitution these ideas of progress in which the people of other States are in advance of us - not as rapidly as desirable unless you incorporate this and other provisions of a liberal character in the organic law of the State.
Now, there is another reflection - I do not wish to detain the Convention, but it is this. It occurred to me very forcibly yesterday in reading the Governor's message because he has thought the matter of so much importance as to allude to it in an official document and put it upon the records of the country as a fact that can be referred to by the generations to come after us - and that is this: that those men over there in the city of Richmond (now I believe they have begun to think they will be "food for gunpowder", and have emigrated to Nashville) - but these men in the city of Richmond and the South who have conspired together for the destruction of their country - that country which has enriched and protected them - have not only done that but they are now conspiring and perfecting measures for the destruction of popular liberty itself. They are now devising plans to abridge this very right of suffrage, that will not only cripple the citizen in the exercise of it but in some cases absolutely deprive him of its exercise altogether. Now I ask in consideration of this fact whether it is not proper and politic and judicious and right that the people here in northwestern Virginia who have been loyal to their country and I hope and trust in God and firmly believe will remain loyal to the end to that government which protects them, and which acknowledges too the principle on which this new State is to be organized, that the people govern - whether it is not proper that that State should go in the other direction, by perfecting and protecting these popular rights - not by introducing a system to corrupt politics, not by a licentious use of this great privilege, but by properly guarding them all, and seeing that after they are properly guarded the citizen is perfectly protected in the exercise of them. Now, sir, I think that is a very strong consideration in favor of this proposed policy of voting by ballot.
The only additional thing, gentlemen, which I have to say, Mr. Chairman, is this: that in the matter of economy, so far as I have been able to investigate the subject, the method of voting by ballot is decidedly cheapest. Now you may take our local district or precinct elections, and in some cases we elect from six to twelve persons to fill offices. I do not know but it sometimes goes beyond that. Now it will require from four to eight or ten persons to conduct the business of election in that particular district under the present system of viva voce voting. Now you take in those States where the system of ballot voting is adopted the same number of persons to be elected, and the election will be conducted by a much less number of officers and of course at a less expense. If now the aggregate amount paid out at these district or precinct elections is very enormous, and if the system of ballot voting with all the other advantages which have been urged in its favor and not contradicted, is more economical and would save several thousands of dollars annually to put into the coffers of this new State, I urge that as an important argument in its favor.
I have but one more word to say, and that is in reply to my friend from Doddridge. It is in reference to the abuse of this system of ballot voting. I may say here that it is impossible we can adopt any system that will not be liable to abuses; nor do I understand any gentleman as urging- this as entirely free from them, but as being freer from them than the other system, having less disadvantages, less difficulties and fewer objections. Now, sir, I have observed to some extent the voting in States where this system prevails and I must differ from my friend in what he said in regard to the vote of persons being known. That is as a general thing not the case. They may be known sometimes; but if a citizen is disposed he can vote so that it will be almost impossible even for the officer of the election, to determine how he voted. He may take any of these differently described tickets the gentleman alluded to; they may be black or blue, or white, or long or short, or round or oval or square; or the voter may get a ticket Just printed like those of the other party, or he may take a piece of blank papers and write his name on it; but so far as that is concerned, I will just say that I believe that the practice of printing tickets in different colors and lengths has been abandoned almost universally and nearly all the tickets are printed alike, so that the Democratic and Republican tickets and Union tickets are pretty near the same shape and size and color, however much the parties may differ in these respects (Laughter).
MR. SINSEL. The people I have the honor to represent, as well as myself, are decidedly in favor of voting by ballot, having seen and felt the evils resulting from viva voce voting. It is not an uncommon thing for a man there to have persons largely indebted to him; and they demand of these persons to vote for them, if they do not they will institute suit against them; and it is frequently done. Last winter, when the contest was probably the hottest and severest we ever had in the county of Taylor, Union and Disunion, the day after the election there I presume there were twenty suits issued against Union persons that failed to vote for the men that desired their votes. And in addition to that it not infrequently makes enmity between friends for life. Here are two persons running. They both claim me and insist on my voting for them. I cannot vote for both of them. One may be my personal friend and the other I may care less about, but I see he is more competent. I vote against my personal friend, and the result is I have offended him, and not infrequently for almost an age. In addition to that it is not uncommon for the proprietor to go round among his employees and say, my friend is running, now you must vote for him. They look around them and they are almost entirely dependent on him for their daily bread, and almost urged by the necessities of supreme need, they are compelled to vote against their will or else be thrown out of employment.
So I shall vote for the amendment.
MR. LAMB. I want to make a speech on this subject, but trust the Convention is not much alarmed at the announcement as I can assure them it will be a very short one.
I am decidedly in favor of a vote by ballot. Ohio presents herself on that subject a unit. But the indications are such that an overwhelming majority of the Convention is on the side of the question as to render it unnecessary that there be any further discussion of it.
(Cries of "question")
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I desire to say one word, and that, too, notwithstanding the indications may be as the member has said, that there is an overwhelming majority in favor of voting by ballot.
I have listened, sir, with much attention to the arguments of gentlemen who have discussed that side of the question, but failed to hear any arguments touching the real merits of the case. I have listened attentively if I might hear from advocate of the ballot system something that would satisfy an inquiring mind anxious to arrive at the merits of the case; but I have listened in vain. It is said that the ballot system works well in other States but what evidence have we of the fact? We know if the public press is to be relied on that the frauds in elections where that system prevails have grown so frequent and common as to have acquired distinctive names, such as "stuffing the ballot box"; and indictments for double voting at the same elections are so numerous as to show something of the evils attendant on the system.
It has been said that men are overawed and afraid to vote their preferences at a viva voce election. But who can point to an instance in the history of Virginia where the votes have been suppressed or increased or corruptly misapplied? Such a thing would be impossible in the presence of the parties most interested in it, and the vote proclaimed publicly. I was reared in Virginia and have attended many elections at different places in the State and I have yet to see a fraud practiced in an election or -
THE PRESIDENT. The hour for taking a recess has arrived.
MR. BATTELLE. I move that the time be extended to allow the gentleman to complete his remarks, and then take the vote.
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman may proceed, there being no objection.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha - (resuming) I have yet to see a fraud practiced in an election in Virginia, or a voter quail before the presence of some august citizen with whom he differs in the high prerogative of voting.
The argument against viva voce voting and in favor of the secret plan seems to be predicated on the idea that the people are such cowards and slaves that they will not dare to come up to the polls like men and speak aloud their preferences, but will truckle before the frowns or displeasure of some arrogant person present. My experience is that the contrary is true, and that on an election day in Virginia, more than any other, the poor man feels his consequence, self-respect and equality with the highest and richest in the land, and when he votes it does him good to show it in the independent tone in which he proclaims aloud when called upon to cast his vote. The viva voce system tends to encourage a manly independence in the voter, and leads him to prize the privilege of voting more highly - a most important consideration in an elective government. The one system appeals to the voters as independent freemen, the other appeals to their fears and sense of inferiority. The one encourages a sense of equality and self respect; the other suggests the want of both. The one is a Virginia system, long and dearly cherished by our people; and I cannot consent to part with it without a better reason than I have yet heard from the advocates of secret ballots.
The right of suffrage is a fundamental right to every freeman. Our whole institutions are based on the principle that the government is in the hands of the people; and it seems to me if there is anything that we ought to encourage and impress on the minds of the people, it is the great right that belongs to them, that they should never be ashamed to own and proclaim to the world that it is their right. I know no right that a freeman has in this country that he does boast of as much as the simple fact that he has the right to go and choose all the officers of the government. And now, sir, that you shall institute a policy, the very basis of which is that he is afraid or ashamed to come up in open day and put his vote in the record, seems to me ignores the very groundwork of our institutions.
These, sir, and other reasons must influence me to cast my vote against the amendment; and I do hope we will stand by that fundamental principle of this old Commonwealth, and that as we have retained the name, we will also retain the distinguishing feature of Virginians - that we have ever voted open-mouthed before the world.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I desire to propound the question, sir, how it is that you are going to determine when voting has been corrupt? If you can always rely on the judges of your elections who receive the tickets and know that they are pure men, not liable to do wrong; it may be perhaps safe; but how are you going to determine when corruption, takes place? Or what way are you going to secure yourselves against this evil? Now, sir, if I attached the importance to this thing that some gentlemen do, I believe I would go for ballot voting. If I thought it was going to disembowel our hills of their minerals and make us all rich, because we voted by ballot I would go with you. But I presume a gentleman emigrating to this State will never ask the question. I would not ask it myself, and I have no idea it has that effect. But it does seem to me the disadvantages accruing from ballot voting are more than enough to counterbalance the good it may effect. I confess I have greater confidence in the high-toned, independent, moral character of our people than some of my friends seem to have, because I must say in all my experience when I have been a candidate, I have never yet seen a solitary man influence another man's vote. Never have. That is an independent character that seems to be stamped and inherent in the principles of Virginia; and I am loth, sir, to leave it, from the fact that I cannot see any good growing out of, or any evil to be removed by, a ballot vote.
Now, again, suppose illegal votes are put in the ballot box, I want to know how either party would have an opportunity of contesting the vote. It is true you can purge the polls and strike off and cast away these ballots which are put in by parties who have not a right to vote, but you do not know who they were and you cannot determine whom it was that they cast their votes for. Now, sir, as before remarked, if we propose any remedy by which we can keep pure the ballot-box, and ascertain and detect any corruption on the part of the judges of elections, then I am ready to adopt it, but until then I must oppose the proposition now before us.
MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I would like to make just one single remark by way of explanation and reply to the remarks of the gentleman from Doddridge.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I shall be compelled unless the question be taken to move that we take a recess.
MR. HERVEY. I move to adjourn.
MR. VAN WINKLE. If the Convention will take the question I am willing to remain for the purpose, but if this discussion is to go on, there is nothing ever gained by a transgression of the rules.
The vote was taken and the amendment adopted.
The Convention then took a recess.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. Mr. President, we fixed the order of the day at twelve o'clock. I suppose it would be in order now to call it up - that is the report of the Committee on Boundary. It is not one of the regular committees and does not come under the general rule, still I make the motion to take it up and consider it section by section as we do reports from standing committees
The motion was agreed to.
The first section was reported as follows:
"RESOLVED, That in addition to the thirty-nine counties mentioned at the close of the first Section of the Ordinance convening this Convention, the counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, Buchanan and Wise, be included within the boundaries of the proposed new State."
MR. LAMB. Mr. President, I move to strike out the counties of Buchanan and Wise. I am willing to adopt a natural and proper boundary for the New State, but my objection to those counties is that a natural and proper boundary does not include them. It would be in fact constituting an additional "panhandle" on the southwest, and I am opposed to all panhandles.
It is impossible to restrain this matter in any other way than by an inspection of the map. If these other counties included in the first section are incorporated there will be a natural and proper boundary on the Southwest as well as on the Southeast. The new State would then have a mountain boundary throughout, wherever it bordered on secession dominions. It may be that with the difficulties we are naturally to expect having a mountain boundary throughout the length of the new State will be a matter of great, perhaps vital, importance to us. As those two counties lie on the map, there are a mere excresence it seems to me to the natural and compact form of the new State; and I know no particular reason why they should be included.
I hope it will be the pleasure of the Convention to strike out those two counties.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I am not very scrupulous, Mr. President, about the two counties indicated by the gentleman being stricken out of the first section here. I believe that question was before the committee, who argued that from the natural position and the natural boundaries of these counties indicated here that it really was for self preservation, for the preservation of our State, that we should include them. The two counties indicated by the gentleman are not included in that category. They are not exactly within the mountain range, I believe, of some other counties, but so far as identity of interests is concerned, they seem to be identical with us. Here I see in table A, the county of McDowell, with a white population of 1,535, with no free negroes and no slaves - which is an anomaly in Virginia; and it does strike me, sir, that these counties are identified with us in every particular. They lie contiguous to us, the only objectionable feature is that they run down there into a kind of panhandle. I am not for excluding myself because it does not make a very nice boundary for the new State; and I think their interests are identified with us and that they desire to be a part of our State - which I have no hesitancy in saying they must desire from their location, identity of interests, habits and everything else.
But, sir, I do not propose to detain this Convention any length of time in a discussion as to the merits of taking in these two counties. There are other vital questions that will arise, I presume, on other points.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I desire to say a word on this motion. The only reason I have really understood from the gentleman from Ohio for striking out these two counties is his objection to panhandles. Well, sir, that is a strange reason to come from a man who lives in a Panhandle. It would seem the gentleman was sick of his place of residence, and the form of the place that he has chosen as his habitation. Now it seems to me that there is a real and obvious reason why these two counties should be included in this boundary. If you will begin on the Ohio river, ascend the great Sandy, you traverse up the county of Wayne till you come upon the county of Logan and the next county in the rear and above the county of Logan is the county of Buchanan, and then on with the branch of the Sandy that runs up the edge of Kentucky and terminates in the county of Wise - both forks of the Big Sandy river do - and form the Southern boundary of the counties of Wise and Buchanan - you ascend those rivers till you reach the mountains, and when you terminate on the mountain range at the head of them you are on the southern border of these counties. Now I ask the gentleman - these people are a mountain people, without slave population as this census shows - the county of Buchanan has but 30 and the county of Wise but 66, showing a smaller proportion of negro population than any other portion of the State for the same extent of territory and number of people. Well those people are identified with us in interest, in habits, in the formation and locality of their country; for all the waters that drain those counties flow right down into the Ohio, and the mountain range that is their southern border is the range that divides the waters of the Sandy from those of the Clinch, that runs down into Tennessee. Then geographically why should we not take them in? Why take in any county West of the Alleghanies? If they are not Western Virginia there is none. If we follow the waters on which they live until they debouch into the larger streams, to the great markets of the West and make this the guide to judge whether they are Western Virginia people or not, if they are not, who are ? Now if you exclude them you make this people cross a mountain range to seek intercourse with a people from whom they are naturally separated. It seems to me it would be an actual injustice to our friends and relatives to make a discrimination against them when the only reason assigned is that the gentleman is tired of panhandles. Why, sir, I think panhandles ought to be encouraged from the good this one seems to have done us in this case; and the day may come when this other panhandle may return the compliment and save the balance of the State as we have been saved by this panhandle.
Here is a small population, it is true, but a considerable territory. Is territory nothing in the formation of a State? We have paid large sums to acquire barren territories in the government of the United States. We were almost involved in a war with Great Britain a few years ago for a few acres of ice-bound and ice-clad mountains on the Oregon frontier. I say then if we adhere to the American principle which is to hold on to all the territory we get, there is a strong reason here why we should hold on to these two counties for it is manifest our territory is small at best. Sir, you cannot with a limited territory of mountain country - a country not suited to the growth of cities - have a populous State; and therefore it is essential that you must increase the territory to increase the population. I suppose no Virginians in entering the Union with a State would desire to have a little picayune State in size and substance with two members in Congress, with no hope of ever getting any more - an old state in one sense, perhaps falling in the rear of Kansas tomorrow. It ought to induce us to take this territory at all hazards and that especially when we have reason to believe the people there are heart and hand with us, because they are of us.
I therefore hope these two counties will not be stricken out, but be retained as part and parcel of the territory and people with us.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I shall be unable to vote on this proposition as it stands at present, and I think when I state my difficulties other gentlemen will find they are their difficulties also.
These are among the counties mentioned in table A., in the first resolution. Another set are mentioned in table B., second resolution. It will be found if the counties in table B shall come into the State, the counties which it is now proposed to strike out will be inclined to ask as Mr. Webster did on a former occasion at Boston, "Where am I to go?" If the counties of Russell and Tazewell are brought in under the second resolution they will completely separate the counties in relation to which the discussion is now going on from the balance of the State of Virginia. Russell and Tazewell are the eastern or southeastern boundaries, of Buchanan and Wise, and also of McDowell. To obviate this difficulty, as the same one will arise in relation to particular counties when we come to consider the third and fourth resolutions, I move we now pass from the consideration of the first resolution to the second. If we decide on admitting those counties then the admission -
MR. LAMB. I do not think there will be any necessity for that at all. If the counties of Buchanan and Wise are stricken, they are necessarily to be inserted in the second, and that will relieve all the difficulty and meet all the objections.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Is that the motion?
MR. LAMB. No, sir; we must take up one section at a time; but it will be a necessity - it follows as a matter of course - that if these counties are stricken out of the first, they will be inserted in the second,
MR. VAN WINKLE. Well, sir, with that understanding my difficulty is removed.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. There is another difficulty. If we include these five counties here that gives us a population of 319,270 with a fraction of 65,000 which gives us an additional representative in Congress; but if we take out these little counties of small population, we only get two representatives with a large fraction that would nearly give us another - a fraction of 61,000, perhaps. You see - it does strike me, from this consideration, we ought not to strike out these two counties; for if we do, we go into Congress with but two representatives with a fraction that would nearly entitle us to another, and if we retain them, we go into Congress with three representatives. It is certainly of some importance; and I for one would oppose the motion to strike out for that reason if for none other. Let us have them altogether. Let the question come up fairly on the admission of the five counties.
MR. LAMB. I am astonished at the gentleman from Kanawha to have supposed I was serious in the remark I made about panhandles, and yet he has founded a large portion of his argument on that supposition, as if I, here the inhabitant not of a panhandle but of the panhandle, should disclaim all attachment to it. Still, sir, where the question is presented to us what counties we will take in and what leave out - if we are to parcel out this State according to our own good will and pleasure, and constitute a new State - let us at least, compose it of a compact and defensible territory. Let us not be sticking on excresences here and there which it will be utterly impossible to aid in times of difficulty and danger, or from which for our own defense under such circumstances we can derive no aid. The gentleman may be somewhat more familiar with the territory in question than I am, but from an inspection of all the maps I have been able to examine I do not see how the counties of Wise and Buchanan could communicate with the outer world except by going through Kentucky. These streams the gentleman speaks of all run into Kentucky. The people who inhabit these mountains - the mountains of Wise and Buchanan - I am told, are strong secessionists, and they have furnished a large quota of men to the secession army which recently fought the battle at Piketon, Kentucky. They live along the borders of that region of country. Are there any roads from this section of country into the portion of Virginia which it is proposed to take? What are the means of communication with that portion of the State? If I am not mistaken, that gentleman told me himself there was but one practicable road by which the people of these counties could get into Virginia.
If then it is a territory which is not naturally included in our boundary - if we wish to make a compact State - if leaving these out we have a natural mountain boundary all around us - if it is merely attaching excresences - had we not better leave them out? Such at least were the considerations which induced me to think it would be better, even if we are at liberty to take what territory we please, it would be better for us to leave out these two counties. They do not belong to us; their natural communications are with Kentucky; their only outlet down those streams, of which the gentleman speaks, is into Kentucky. Nor do I think that the gentleman from Doddridge is correct in the remark he makes that the addition of these two counties will entitle us to another representative in Congress.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. Better make some calculations so as to ascertain.
MR. LAMB. You would go before Congress, not claiming a representative under the regular apportionment, but a new state, a small state claiming two Senators; and it would be for them to assign in view of all the circumstances its proper representation in the House of Representatives; for that question would not be decided on a mere fraction of a few hundred more or less. Under all the circumstances, the question would present itself - under all the circumstances, shall we allow an additional representative for a mere fraction? I do not think we would get it, unless you presented yourself full up in numbers. But anyhow if we want to add a few hundred in order to overrun the 127,000 to furnish a claim for another member of Congress, take it from some territory that naturally belongs to us.
MR. POMEROY. I would like to ask a question; whether this report, which appears not to be contradicted, that these people voted nearly unanimously for secession, is true? Not only so but they went over into Kentucky and fought in the battle of Piketon for it. I would like if gentlemen would say here if we want that kind of a people added to us? I am informed that these counties voted nearly entirely one way and voted for the Ordinance of Secession. If they are that kind of people, others may vote as they please, but I would beg to be excused from voting for any such people as that to come into the new State.
I would just remark in regard to the fraction that has been spoken of by the gentleman from Doddridge, that the numbers of members of Congress is fixed; we cannot by any action of ours alter that. We will have a larger population, which will come nearer entitling us to another member by the reception of the counties of Hampshire and Hardy which are already represented on this floor, and which have shown some signs of a wish to be included.
I am not prepared to say whether these counties ought to be stricken out or not, but if it is true that they voted as represented they ought to be.
MR. HAYMOND. I move to amend the motion of the gentleman from Ohio by striking out all after the words "thirty-nine." If we go and include all this country, we shall defeat the whole movement; and I shall vote against it.
THE PRESIDENT. The chair has doubts whether the motion of the gentleman from Marion would be in order.
MR. LAMB. I think it would be better for the gentleman to withdraw the motion for the present. The better way to get at his object would be after my motion is accepted or rejected to let the question come upon the main resolution which involves the very matter he wants to get at.
MR. HAYMOND. I withdraw the motion.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. In reply to some interrogatories of gentlemen, I must say that I really do not know what the vote was in the counties of Buchanan and Wise. I have seen gentlemen from those counties who told me the people there were about equally divided. Whether they furnished any material to the army that assembled at Piketon I have no knowledge, nor reason to believe they did. Those counties lie far above the county of Logan which lies opposite Pike county, of which Piketon is the county town. Logan county which you will perhaps include here I understand to be a nest of secessionists, and that they did furnish troops to that secession force in Kentucky. But I have never seen a man who would say that Wise or Buchanan did. They may have done it, but I have no knowledge of the fact, and they are some distance from the place and I have no reason to believe that they did. Perhaps they have gone there; I do not know. There may have been Union men from those counties too, who were forced there; for I take it for granted when one went the other was close by for I presume their wishes in the matter were not consulted there. But if that is an argument for excluding these counties, why Logan, part of Wayne and Wyoming and all of Fayette, ought to be cut off. That is a very dangerous game; and if you attempt to play it on principle I do not see where it would stop.
MR. PARKER. I talked with several of the military gentlemen who were at Piketon and the information I got from these men uniformly was that all round in that neighborhood, or over in Virginia as you approach Tazewell, the home of Floyd, there is nothing but secesh. That is their report. Not a single exception! So much for their political character. It seems to me in judging from the map - I have never been there - but it seems to me from the location of these counties, that their commercial and natural connection is with the southwestern counties, those that have the railroad. There is a small creek I think touching both of them, that runs through the mountains into Kentucky. As for their geographical position it seems to me, that their natural connection would be with the southwest. Besides they do form a corner or panhandle or point down there that certainly does not seem to be a desirable excresence to put on. According to the present division a branch of the Sandy divides McDowell from Buchanan and forms the boundary until it reaches the county of Tazewell and then by the county of Tazewell until it strikes the Alleghany, as I understand it. I am not so familiar or well acquainted with the country as some other gentlemen here. Then if we go on, taking in Mercer, Monroe, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas, we follow the range of the Alleghany until we strike the Maryland line. Certainly, geographically speaking to go and throw in those two counties away down there, even if they were all Union, seems to me worse than absurd; because if we are to cut up and parcel out a portion out of Virginia, we should have a little feeling of taste so far as formation is concerned.
I had some views which I shall not offer at this time in relation to this subject. I have recently looked through the proceedings in relation to the new State so far, and I am unable to see anywhere where this Convention gets the least power over this subject of boundary any more than we have to go over into Ohio and take three or four of her counties. As a point of law I have been unable to find where the power is conferred. I may be wrong, but at the proper time I propose to submit my views on that subject. I will not do so now. I regret that I have not submitted them earlier. I did not get the report until a few minutes ago, and did not examine it until very recently.
MR. HAGAR. I have a partial acquaintance in that country. I have been in McDowell. I do not know much about laying off counties or States. I know a little about the Bible and a, little about farming. Take me off of that and I do not know much (Laughter). But by farming for several years, I have learned that a small piece of ground well cultivated is better than a large piece of ground fenced but not cultivated (Renewed merriment). We have in the new State, without these counties, twelve secession counties, in connection one with another; for I have been informed that Floyd made up a good portion of his army there, in McDowell particularly. Now, sir, we have a considerable territory there to clean out before we can actually cultivate the counties embraced already in our State. Add seven more counties then, it makes it more difficult. Will it pay to get them in? The best wisdom is to use the best means that will accomplish the best end. If the government can clean the secessionists out of there, and those adjoining counties and establish our laws I have nothing to say; but I do contend from best experience, using my figure that too large a piece of ground, fenced but uncultivated will not pay. We had better be careful. For my part I think it would be better to strike them out, and if we receive those other counties, why then add them and bring them in.
MR. WILLEY. Mr. President, I fear we are predicating our views and arguments upon the assumption that they are going to have a Southern Confederacy down there. Now, sir, I hope it will not be long until all these counties will be not only in the Union but really and truly of the Union. I have no idea, sir, of regulating our conduct here at all by the remote possibility that they are ever to be out of the Union. They are now in it - a part of the soil of Virginia - a part and parcel of the United States. But in dividing the state I think we should have reference not alone to our convenience, sir, but to the convenience of the other section of the state not to be included in our boundaries; and the more especially so since that other section of the state is not represented here in point of fact. The voice of the loyal men of that portion of the State cannot be heard, because they cannot get here themselves.
Now, sir, if we will look upon the map, my recollection of it is (it is not now before me), if you include these two counties within this State of West Virginia, what sort of a panhandle do you leave to the old state? My recollection is that you leave an iron wedge of immense length and odd proportions, running away down into the country there. If I were a citizen of east Virginia, it seems to me I would very much object to a division of the State leaving my section of it in such proportions. And I repeat again, sir, we ought here to have regard to the formation, the boundaries or convenience of the territory of the other section of the present State of Virginia as well as to our own. And, sir, I make this further remark; we shall have difficulties enough in pressing this thing through Congress, at all events, and under any circumstances; and whether we look to the convenience of the old state or not Congress will look to the convenience of that state. Congress ought not, and I suppose will not do injustice. It will be a common arbiter between both parties, and look to the territory of the old state as well as to the territory of the new State; and you have but to cast your eye on the map of Virginia according to my recollection of it now, to see that if these two counties are included in West Virginia, you leave a very odd portion of territory appended to the eastern section of the state.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I wish to say a few words on the legality of this proceeding, since it has been drawn into question, and since some allusion was made to it yesterday as a matter of illustration and comparison. It was said we were proposing to do that that we are not authorized to by the ordinance. I suppose no gentleman will deny that we are within the spirit of the ordinance, and that is to fix such boundaries as will best tend - while it is equitable to all others - to promote the prosperity of the new State. But I am disposed to contend that the power is in the ordinance itself. The third section declares: "The Convention hereinbefore provided for may change the boundaries described in the first section of this ordinance" - that is the boundary including the thirty- nine counties so as to include within the proposed State the counties of Greenbrier and Pocahontas, or either of them, and also the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson, or either of them, and also such other counties as lie contiguous to the said boundaries, or to the counties named in this section." It then goes on to provide that: "If the said counties to be added, or either of them, by a majority of the votes given shall declare then- wish to form a part of the proposed State, and shall elect delegates to the said Convention, at elections to be held at the time and in the manner herein provided for." In that case they can come in if this Convention so will it.
In the first place, then, a discretion is given to this Convention. Although every one of these counties might have voted to come in, yet this Convention would have the power to exclude them; and the power to exclude includes the power to admit. But sir, there is hardly a county that is named in the report of the committee which does not come within the description of lying "contiguous to the said boundaries, or to the counties named in this section". Or if there is one that cannot come strictly within the very letter of that, it lies so in reference to other territory proposed to be taken in, that it must necessarily be included.
Now, sir, we are certainly entirely within the spirit and intention of the Convention which made this ordinance if not of the ordinance itself. If not strictly within the letter we are certainly within the spirit; and I think there can be no doubt as to the authority of this Convention on those grounds to do what it is proposed to do in this report, that is to include every county named in it.
Well, sir, again, this Convention is now a Convention of the people of the thirty-nine counties with the addition of Hardy and Hampshire. We are met as the representatives of the people of these counties to consider what is best for their interests in reference to the proposed State; and most certainly we are not to be trammeled by an ordinance adopted by a convention representing the whole state under circumstances where information was different, and under the fact that the information and perhaps the circumstances were different from that which is now before us.
And now, sir, in relation to the concluding part of that section: it provides that these counties should vote on a certain day. Now, can it be supposed for one moment, knowing that those counties were in the military occupation of the rebels on that day, that the Convention from which we derive our authority intended they should be excluded on so strict a technicality - as that if they had voted the next day, legally in some way, or the day after, or any other day, that fact alone would be sufficient to exclude then, if this Convention favored their admission? That would be a most extraordinary interpretation of law. It would be, sir, for the sake of keeping to the letter, to renounce the spirit entirely. Obviously the intention of the convention of August last, that passed this ordinance was that those counties should be admitted when the people of the thirty-nine counties represented in this Convention should so decide. I think, therefore, sir, there is no room for a scruple, or, as Falstaff said, for "the smallest drachm of a scruple", on the subject of the authority of this Convention to admit all these counties - I do not say they should do it - but to admit all the counties named in this report, if they should deem it best to do so with a view of having a compact and solid territory and to give natural boundaries such as the Blue Ridge will afford, or for any other consideration that might be named or which may suggest itself in the course of this debate.
I trust, therefore, sir, that every member will feel himself free to vote upon this occasion according to the expediency and circumstances of the case and without doubt as to the power of this Convention to constitute any of these counties it please a part of the new State, either directly as is proposed in the first resolution or by submitting the question to the people of these counties in districts at an election to be held for the purpose. If, sir, we are to be trammeled by considerations of this kind we will find ourselves trammeled throughout. I apprehend that when we are satisfied that we are acting in the spirit and intention and meaning of the ordinance which has called us together it is not of so much consequence whether we follow it precisely according to the letter. Unless the members of that Convention which passed this ordinance were men of more than human prescience they could not have foreseen the circumstances of today. They apprehended that by the election day, the armies of the Union would have advanced and those counties would have been comparatively cleared of an organized enemy and in most of them an election freely held. If they did not so contemplate it was but child's play to be making provisions in regard to this election in this ordinance. But I hope this Convention, not only on this but all other things will feel themselves free to act in reference to what concerns our constituents. We have not, it is true, the power of that convention over many things. That was a convention of the state and its power was coequal with the state and its action would override the action of the legislature. We have no such power; but over this territory, or any territory that it may be desirable to have for this new State, so far as the purpose of making a new state is concerned, I hold that the power of this Convention is supreme; and if we do fix it in this way, and then submit it to the people in districts and they should by a majority of the votes cast in each district and by a majority of the counties also vote to come in, and if in that form we submit this project to the legislature and they endorse it and then submit it to Congress and they endorse it - where is the power to set aside any act we do? The legislature have a discretion, of course. They have to take it or reject it. They have not the power over it we have. They cannot amend or alter it. They have nothing to do but to give their assent to it as we propose it. The people within these boundaries will act on this Constitution when it will be submitted to them, and the legislature will have nothing to do but accept or reject it. It is true they may suggest alterations, but they could not be made without sending it back to this body and again submitting it to the people. So when it goes to Congress, they can simply adopt or reject it. Like the legislature they may throw out suggestions and indicate what would enable them to pass it and accept it as we ask them to, but, sir, that is all they can do; and in that case, again, it must come back before an alteration can be made in it. But where would it come back? If this Convention were in existence, it would properly come before it; but if not, another for the purpose would have to be called by the people of the counties interested.
I therefore think, sir - or I am sure, my own mind is very clear, as to the power and authority of this Convention in the premises.
MR. LAMB. If the gentleman from Wood will allow me to thank him for the argument he has made on the subject, I must nevertheless say at the same time that I think the precise question before the Convention does not involve that question at all. When the question shall come up on the passage of the resolution, whether it be amended or not, then the argument which he has made will be pertinent and will have its due weight, and he may probably find that I concur in it.
I presented the motion to reject these two counties simply on the ground of expediency, not on the ground of a want of power; nor do I consider it involves that question one way or the other. My object was simply to perfect the resolution and make the proposition so that in my judgment it would be as perfect as possible. Then comes up the main question whether we have the power or not to adopt that proposition.
The question was taken and the amendment was agreed to.
So the counties of Buchanan and Wise were stricken out.
MR. HARRISON. I now move to amend the resolutions by striking out the word "McDowell" in the tenth line, and inserting the words: "and so much of McDowell and Buchanan as lies north of Tug Fork of Sandy River."
By looking at the map of Virginia, as made by Colton, I find that a small portion of the counties of Buchanan and McDowell lies north of that branch, the Tug Fork of Sandy River, running up to the southwest corner of Mercer -
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would suggest whether it would not be better to make two motions of it.
MR. HARRISON. This can all be accomplished by one, I think.
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair is of opinion that the motion in that shape would not be in order.
MR. HARRISON. I move, then, that the word "McDowell" be stricken out.
In making that motion I wish it to be understood that if it be the pleasure of the Convention to strike out McDowell I shall then move to insert, "and so much of McDowell and Buchanan as lies North of Tug Fork of Sandy River."
MR. WALKER. Is it the proposition to strike out the county of McDowell?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, sir.
MR. WALKER. I have some acquaintance with the county of McDowell. I was there in June when this difficulty came up, and I found there were a great many citizens of McDowell who were strong Union men. They lived in a place there, though, where they were obliged to be entirely neutral on the subject; but I expressed my sentiments there as a Union man and I found a great many friends, so many in fact that I was not afraid of being interrupted.
There is a large portion of McDowell where they did not vote on the subject of secession at all, where I think I am prepared to say from being with the people, they are Union people and desire to go with the Union. And I have no doubt it would be to their advantage to come with this new State; and I think when, the Southern forces are removed from that section that they will be entirely Union men or nearly so.
I was there during the summer several times, and I found the voice of the people there was that they desired the Union to be preserved.
MR. DILLE. Mr. President, I had not the honor of being a member of the convention which assembled in Wheeling during the last summer that enacted this ordinance under which we are acting; and hence I find some difficulty - a great many difficulties - arising in reference to it. I am free to say that so far as I am personally concerned, I am restrained by, and shall be controlled in the votes that I may give in reference to these counties by the action of that convention. It seems to me that the third section of that ordinance restrains and controls this' Convention to a very considerable degree. I am inclined to disagree with my friend from Wood in reference to the literal and proper construction that this Convention should give to that third section. It seems to me that we have no course to pursue, if we pretend to act under this ordinance, except that we be controlled by it. "That section of that ordinance provides that this Convention when it shall assemble and attempt to discharge the duties authorized by that ordinance, may permit certain other counties to be embraced within the boundaries of the new State in addition to the thirty-nine counties positively embraced within it. And I am not disposed to question the right and privilege conferred by that ordinance upon this Convention of permitting in the exercise of a sound discretion other counties lying contiguous to the thirty-nine counties to come in and be a part of the new State. But whilst that is the case, there is a positive act that they must perform; there is an obligation resting upon these counties which must act under it before this Convention, as I conceive, can act and permit them to come in. "If the said counties to be added, or either of them, by a majority of the votes given, shall declare their wish to form part of the proposed State, and shall elect delegates to the said Convention at elections to be held at the time and in the manner herein provided for" - then this Convention may in the exercise of its discretion permit them to come in; but as I understand it, these counties -
MR. STUART of Doddridge. If the gentleman will permit me one minute to interrupt him, the course of the gentleman's argument will occur on the adoption of the resolution; but we do not want to argue in this manner on these questions of amendment. I would suggest to the gentleman-
MR. DILLE. If the gentleman will have a little patience and trace the argument, he will find that I will come to that point. The point under discussion, as I understand it, is this: shall the county of McDowell be permitted to come in under this provision of this ordinance? In other words, shall it be excluded from the provisions of this ordinance. Now I hold we cannot - acting on that provision of the ordinance - we cannot do otherwise than exclude her and strike out this provision in this resolution permitting the county of McDowell to come in.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Will the gentleman permit me to ask him a question? I do not know whether he is a legal man or not; but the question I want to ask is this: What is the legal rule where performance is impossible? Is an obligation binding?
MR. DILLE. I suppose if this Convention had desired to attain that object they would have inserted a provision that where it was possible or where they could do it, elections should be held. But they did not so declare it. I am merely investigating this with what I have before me.
MR. VAN WINKLE. The gentleman insists that this shall be done legally; I merely ask him this question: that where the performance is impossible, it certainly must be excused - so that the legal argument is against him.
MR. DILLE. I do not so understand it; and I do not understand that the legal rules will apply to this case in the same way as to other cases.
Feeling as I do on that subject, that I have no authority of that provision to bring in the county of McDowell into the proposed new State, I shall certainly go for letting her remain out. If I was free, it would afford me pleasure not only to embrace the county of McDowell, and a number of other counties besides the county of McDowell.
MR. HALL of Marion. I think we ought to determine one point before we progress with this discussion. To my mind it is very easily determined - and that is whether we are restricted in our action here by the ordinance to the limits proposed and suggested by the gentleman who has just taken his seat. If we have not the authority to go beyond the limits of the thirty-nine counties; if it be true that no other counties have complied with the requisition, and we are therefore bound within the limits of the thirty-nine counties - it is useless for us to be amending, preparing or doing anything, outside of that line. But it does occur to me, that my friend from Preston has lost sight of the true idea or otherwise I have not yet gotten sight of it. The question is, where, from whom, or what source do we derive our authority to act in the premises? From a convention that sat in Wheeling in June? That seems to be the idea of the gentleman from Preston. I have no such idea. I believe no such thing. I repudiate that idea. Now, if he is right, we perhaps have no right to go further. But I maintain we are the people themselves - and I want to know where there was a convention that ever assembled heretofore that had the power to restrict us? We are the highest authority - the people themselves. That is the legal contemplation of the position of a convention of the people. Now, sir, we do not derive our authority from that convention. It did recommend that this Convention should be called and the people have acted in the recommendation. Now that convention is here with power unlimited, as suggested by the gentleman from Wood. There is no power to limit our action on this subject. The people have sent us here to act on this matter, and I care not what regulations and restrictions have been sought to be thrown around us; they are as naught. I think I cannot be wrong in this thing. I think that this error arises out of the idea of from whence we derive our authority, and that we ought to determine that question at once.
MR. DILLE. Will the gentleman permit me to ask him one question: are the people of the county of McDowell represented?
MR. HALL of Marion. Well, I believe not. At all events we propose to act with reference to counties that are not represented here; and as suggested by my friend from Wood, they are not represented here because as we have reason to believe, of circumstances beyond their control preventing them.
Now, what do we propose to do? We propose that our action here shall be submitted to the people first and foremost. When we get through here it is to be submitted to the people; and when they act upon it, although the county of McDowell shall never have heard of this Convention and we send them our action and she adopts our Constitution and says she will go along with us, who has any right to complain or who is injured? So that it is only a proposition we .are sending down there. Well, we do say this, however, that we may take in an unwilling county.
Well, sir, I am in favor of that thing. I am for "coercion" in that respect; and I have been opposed to that old line; and I do trust in this Convention we shall get a different line. I want that we have a line with natural boundaries; and if any county is in the boundary that ought to be included, however unwilling that county may be, I shall insist on applying the rule that the necessity of the many shall and must prevail against even the will of a county.
The gentleman from Harrison moves to strike out in this way with a view to modify and include part of the county. Well, he is driving at an idea that is a kind of a pet idea with me, of getting some kind of a natural boundary - a straight line; but I really have not looked to this matter enough about it to undertake any argument except as to the mere question of right. I think- there can be no doubt on that question. If we have not the right we ought to know it now.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I desire to call the attention of the Convention a few moments. It does seem to me, sir, this argument is taking a very strange course. The proposition is simply to mature this resolution in order to suit the views of gentlemen, and I do not see why it is that we go into the argument on general principles as to whether this Convention has a right to include other counties, because the same identical question will come up after we pass from this motion. The only question before this body is, is it proper and right to strike out McDowell from this class of counties we propose to take in?
MR. HALL of Marion. Would it not be better to determine now, first, whether we have any right to alter the boundary fixed by the former convention?
MR. STUART of Doddridge. That question is not before the Convention at all; but the question is, will we strike this county out from the class of counties it is proposed to take in.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I would suggest that if this argument must come up, it may as well progress now, since we have had the half of it; and it will rather save than consume time. Gentlemen will perhaps feel freer to vote.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. Then this question will be decided on a false issue. Many members will vote to strike out McDowell who will not vote to strike out others. I understand, my friend from Harrison, if the resolution is amended, will perhaps be in favor of it. Now, gentlemen, it is always permitted in legislative bodies for the friends of a bill to amend it and make it as acceptable as possible before the vote is taken on its final acceptance or rejection. The first question here is, shall we amend this resolution, and then the question will arise as to our power over this matter. I am inclined to let the question come upon the other portion of the report as it undoubtedly will; but I will say to the gentleman from Harrison who made this motion, that I am unacquainted with the natural boundaries in McDowell - I presume he is more familiar with it - but, I am willing to vote for his amendment in order that the section may be more perfected, with a view of voting for the natural boundaries as we may find them to be.
MR. DILLE. That this question may be tested, I propose to amend the proposition of the gentleman from Harrison by embracing in his motion to strike out, in addition to the word "McDowell", the words: "Mercer, Monroe, Greenbrier and Pocahontas." I do this for the purpose of ascertaining the sense of the Convention in reference to the whole question.
MR. HARRISON. Before the vote is taken, I hope the gentleman will withdraw his amendment; because it might affect - unless the Convention should be decidedly of opinion that we have no right whatever to add anything to the thirty-nine counties represented here - it would affect the question of fixing the boundary by natural objects such as rivers and mountains, as I propose to accomplish by another amendment hereafter to this resolution.
THE PRESIDENT. If the amendment of the gentleman from Preston fails, the vote will then be taken on the amendment of the gentleman from Harrison.
MR. HARRISON. It would be much better to let the question raised by the amendment of the gentleman from Preston arise on the main question, when we get it in such a form as would be satisfactory to the Convention, and argue that question then and dispose of it. I suppose the object of the gentleman is to act on that question now.
MR. LAMB. I have no objection at all to see this discussion proceed upon a question that will necessarily come before this Convention directly, whether it be involved as a motion precisely before the house or not; but when we come to vote upon the particular motion at hand, let us understand what we are voting upon and how far it may involve the principle which has been under discussion.
We are simply now engaged in perfecting a resolution in order to be presented for the adoption or rejection of this Convention. Whatever may be the disposition of the particular motion which is now before the Convention, it does not conclude the question at all whether the Convention shall admit or reject these counties; of whether they have authority to admit or reject them. It is certainly the natural course of things that the resolution should be put in as perfect a shape as possible before the question comes up finally; shall it be adopted? It is an act of courtesy always shown to committees that report resolutions or to members that offer them; and when the question does come up not upon the simple shape in which the resolution shall be presented to the Convention, but shall the Convention adopt or reject the resolution as it has been modified, then the issue of the whole question is necessarily involved and comes up direct. If the amendment of the gentleman from Preston is rejected, if the Convention should refuse to strike out all these counties, why immediately afterwards, then, the same question he has been discussing comes right before the Convention again, is again proposed to the Convention: shall we adopt the resolution that proposes to include these counties in the new State? And that necessarily involves the question of power. His motion therefore, is, I take it, not a proper one. Let us act on this resolution in the best shape we can, and then when we come to adopt, we necessarily decide the main question.
But I have no objection - this discussion must come up anyhow, and we have got partly through with it - I have no objection that the discussion should proceed on the main principle; but, when we come to vote, let us recollect that that main principle that has been discussed is not yet involved in the question.
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair is of opinion that it might indirectly or pretty fully involve that question; yet the Chair is decidedly of opinion that custom and the usage of all deliberative bodies does allow the party bringing forward a measure to perfect it before it is assailed. But he does not think there could be any doubt of the propriety of arguing the right of the Convention to extend the boundary over these counties on the motion to strike all connected with the entire section. It would, however, facilitate business very much if the friends of the measure were permitted to perfect their resolution before it is argued.
MR. DILLE. In making the amendment I proposed to the Convention it was not intended on my part at least, to reflect in any way upon the Committee. Feeling as I did upon an examination of this provision in the ordinance of the former convention that we had no authority to embrace these counties, I supposed we might more readily test this question and attain the object desired much sooner by means of the motion I have submitted. Personally I might say to the Convention that I regret very much that this Convention is hampered as I conceive it to be - I may be mistaken in this, and hope on investigation I may be - hampered with the provisions of this third section. Hence the object I had in view in raising the question, that I might the better express my sentiments upon the motion of the gentleman from Harrison. I do not wish to do anything that will affect the action of this Convention, or produce confusion by any motion on my part; and if it be the desire of the Convention that I shall withdraw the amendment, of course, I will do so; and in the meantime I shall not feel at liberty to vote until the action of the Convention be taken upon that proposition, or in other words. I shall vote for striking out until I am satisfied this Convention has the power to embrace other and additional counties.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I hope then, if it is the purpose of the gentleman who has just taken his seat to raise the question of the power of the Convention to embrace all these counties, that he will not withdraw his motion, but that we will settle it at once. For if, as he has announced his purpose to, he raise the same objection upon every county, one at a time, we shall be here until the end of the week, discussing the identical same question over and over every time; because it is perfectly clear if this Convention shall decide that we have no power to include any county not already included by the ordinance of August that then it would be better to settle the question by one vote for all than vote on the same question so many times. I should have made that motion myself; but as I am not a friend to striking out, I could not do it. If the question is to be met, let us meet it at once. It must be decided by the Convention. I think it has already been decided in changing the name, and in admitting the members from Wyoming and Fayette, none of whom were elected in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance. I think it is clear that the Convention cannot possibly complete its labors so as to submit their result to the people by the 26th inst.; so that you are hampered by that ordinance in every manner; and if you attempt a strict conformity to the very letter of its provisions, we had better go home, return ourselves to the people and tell them to send others in our places.
It seems to me we have come here to effect a great end. The people have determined for themselves that there shall be a new State, and here we are providing the Constitution and boundary of it. If it be necessary, when you have determined on the principle and question of a new State - that a certain boundary is essential to the existence and prosperity of that State, can there be any doubt of the right of the people of that State and the representatives here to march up to the question and establish their boundary on that limit? I understand, sir, that one of the fundamental principles laid down by Vattel in the laws of nations, is that wherever a territory becomes essential to the prosperity and safety of a State, it may purchase it if it can, and if it cannot, it may take it. It was the identical same principle asserted by our government in the case of Louisiana when it was a French territory. Our people said, the mouth of the Mississippi must be ours; it is essential to our prosperity and safety; and that it should be in the hands of a foreign government cannot be tolerated. The government must purchase it, and if it failed in that it must take it by force; and if it did not the people would rise in their might and take it in spite of the Federal power. The necessities of the case would have justified the government in doing it, and its right would have been maintained on the principle of the law of nations, had France refused, wilfully refused, to have sold it.
I think then when we look at the fundamental principles that must govern our action - when we look to the future prosperity of the State, we will fix a boundary permanent and durable, that will be a barrier against evils from other quarters - that will insure peace and prosperity to this people; for that is what we are here now to do, and although the feeling may have been very general to have a division of the State, yet I am not sure we would have been here but for this, and because we had no security for it in the present organization of the State.
It is necessary and essential therefore that this boundary shall be determined; and in determining it, as wise men I think we should plant it on the eternal mountains, and the waters that flow westward must mark the limits of this State or we have no State at all. It is with these views I feel I am unable to vote for, or make the motion, as my friend has done, to strike out these counties. I desire the question to come up at once. I think the trammels must be shaken from our hands, if any man feels trammeled, when we grapple with this question.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I would say to my friend from Harrison that by voting down the amendment to the amendment, then, he can go on and perfect the resolution to his satisfaction. I desire that to be distinctly understood; and I hope the amendment to the amendment will be voted down, in order that the friends of this measure may have the opportunity of perfecting it as far as possible to suit the views and convenience of this body.
MR. LAMB. Mr. President -
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I desire that the Convention shall understand - that the friends of the amendment to the amendment should understand the position we now occupy. I look upon this measure, Mr. President, as one affecting the interests of our State most vitally, and one upon which its future course depends. I refused to argue this question until it was raised, but now the amendment of the gentleman from Preston does legitimately raise it. I had hoped it would be raised in a different form. As I understand some of the arguments of the gentlemen here, one of the reasons why they will vote against admitting these counties is that they are counties inhabited by secessionists. Well, sir, if that be the case and if that is to be the reason that is to influence our action here, we ought by all means in the world include them in order to get rid of them, because if they are secessionists, the argument is that they will always remain so, and there they are right in our way, and they being secessionists have no claim to consideration of the government and we are at perfect liberty to do as we please with them.
Now, sir, we want the great natural boundaries indicated by my friend from Kanawha, and the natural defenses the God of nature has given us. Look at our situation. If we get into this trouble and these secessionists are to remain there, how can we defend ourselves from them? They are right here amongst us, west of the Alleghany Mountains. If we have any defense in the world, it is the top of the Alleghanies; and the proposed boundary includes that territory which will enable us to secure ourselves against these secessionists which gentlemen appear so much afraid of.
Another reason is that these people have not brought themselves within the purview of the ordinance of last August; that they have not voted and expressed their will and pleasure to be received into the new State. Now I understand the spirit and intention of that ordinance was that the people should have the opportunity to vote. It presupposed the fact that they would have the privilege of doing so. They have not had it; and yet you want to cut yourself loose from them and deny yourself the great natural boundary, simply because they have been deprived of the privilege of expressing their sentiments. I have not a doubt, Mr. President, in my mind, that if the State is to be divided, if we are to have a West Virginia, and the question is to be submitted to these people whether they will go east or go west, that there will be hardly a dissenting voice among them, because their interests are identified with ours in every respect. Their trade and commerce is with us. They are deprived of the privilege of having community almost with the eastern portion of the State. Mountains prevent them from associating and trading with eastern Virginia; and the very reasons we assign now, and one of the great reasons that we will offer to the Congress of the United States why we should have a new State out of a part of the State of Virginia, is, sir, that our natural location and circumstances and our interests are such that they require it; and yet, sir, if we refuse to receive these counties, it will cut us right off from citizens of western Virginia whose interests and situation are identical with our own.
I hope, Mr. President, that the amendment of the gentleman from Preston will be voted down, and then that the amendment of the gentleman from Harrison will come, and that if he desires to perfect this resolution he may have an opportunity to do so.
MR. WILLEY. This is a very grave question. If the Convention is ready for a vote, I shall not interpose any objection myself, whilst I say my mind is perplexed somewhat as to the course of duty. I do not propose myself to discuss the matter tonight. I am physically unable to do it. I shall not ask that the consideration of the resolution be postponed if the Convention is ready for the question.
MR. DERING. I move the Convention adjourn.
The motion was agreed to, and the Convention adjourned.
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Chapter Eleven: First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia