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Reorganized Government
General Assembly of Virginia

July 26, 1861

House of Delegates met at ten A. M., and was opened with prayer by Rev. S. R. Brockunier.

A communication from the Senate reported the passage, without amendment, of the following bills:

House substitute for bill No. 1, enacting a Stay Law; also House bills Nos. 25, 26 and 28.

Also, the concurrence of the Senate in the resolution declaring vacant the offices of officers engaged in the rebellion.

Also, reporting back House bill No. 17, appropriating money for military purposes, with amendment, which was agreed to.

Mr. Smith, from the Committee on Courts of Justice, reported a bill providing for appeals from proceedings for contempt in equity cases &ampc.; also a bill conferring upon the Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals the power to perform the duties of a Circuit Judge at chambers, when the office of the latter shall be vacant. The bills were read a first time by their titles.

Mr. CROTHERS offered the following joint resolution:

Resolved, by the General Assembly, That the Board of Public Works be and they hereby are authorized to employ a clerk at a compensation not exceeding $50 per month.

Mr. HOOTON objected, and the resolution went upon the table.

Mr. LOGAN offered the following:

Resolved, by the General Assembly, That in view of the relations now sustained by Northwestern Virginia to the Government of the United States, and in view of the danger which still imperils the maint[e]nance of our political rights and the welfare of our citizens, in the existence of enemies in our midst, and hostile forces around us, it is of the utmost importance that our citizens should be encouraged to enlist in the army of the United States, which is now pledged to our defence.

Resolved, That we will make it our business to urge upon the people of our respective counties, the propriety and importance of entering the service, and that we will spare no efforts to induce our people to raise and equip at least ten regiments in Virginia.

Mr. LOGAN read a letter from General McClellan to Governor Peirpoint, urging the importance of a thorough military organization of the Northwest, and suggesting that some measures be adopted to forward that object. He said it was in furtherance of that end that he had offered the resolutions.

The resolutions were adopted and communicated to the Senate.

Mr. WEST moved to go into the consideration of the subject of a division of the State.

The bill and substitutes were taken up and the question being taken upon the substitute offered by Mr. Farnsworth, it was rejected.

The question recurred on the substitute of Mr. West and a vote being taken it was also voted down.

The question then recurred on the original bill.

Mr. SMITH offered a substitute which provided for holding an election next November to send delegates to a convention, the people to vote at the same time whether they would have a division of the State, and whether the convention should meet. It is as follows:

Whereas, It is represented to the General Assembly, that a portion of the good people of this Commonwealth are desirous of dividing the State of Virginia, and of forming a new State in the Western part of the same.

Be it therefore enacted, That it shall be the duty of the officers, authorized to conduct the elections held on the 23d day of May last, for the Delegates to the General Assembly, to open polls on the first Monday of November next in all the counties West of the Allegheny Mountains, and in such counties of the Valley of Virginia, and on the Eastern side of the Blue Ridge bordering upon the river Potomac, as may be desirous of entering into the new State, for the purpose of taking the sense of the people upon the question whether they desire the said division, and also upon the question whether they desire a Convention for the purpose of laying off the metes and bounds of the proposed new State, and of forming a Constitution for the same, to be submitted to the good people thereof at some day which shall be designated by the said Convention. The poll books to be opened by the aforesaid officers shall contain four columns, and shall be headed thus: "Shall there be a division of the State and a Convention for the formation of a new State?" "Division - no division; Convention - no Convention." The officers conducting the election shall take the vote on the questions aforesaid, of every person qualified according to the existing laws of the Commonwealth to vote for delegates to the General Assembly, and it shall be the duty of the officers before they commence taking the poll provided for in this act to take and subscribe to, before some justice of the peace for their city or county, the following oath or affirmation:

"I, _________solemnly___________that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, as the supreme law of the land, anything in the Constitution and Laws of the State of Virginia, or in the Ordinances of the Convention which assembled at Richmond on the 12th day of February, 1861, to the contrary notwithstanding: and that I will uphold and defend the government of Virginia as vindicated and restored by the Convention which assembled at Wheeling on the eleventh day of June, 1861."

The Justice administering said oath or affirmation, shall return the same so taken and subscribed to the Clerk, to whom the polls for delegates to the General Assembly, are made returnable by law; and the officers conducting the election shall receive the same pay, compensation, and be governed by the same law now in force as found in the code of 1861, for the government of elections, except as otherwise herein provided for.

It shall be the duty of the Executive of this Commonwealth, upon the reception of all the reports so made, to make proclamation of the result in the manner best calculated, in his discretion, to diffuse general information thereof.

And be it further enacted, That on the said first Monday in November next, the officers conducting the aforesaid election shall open a poll at all the precincts in the counties aforesaid, for delegates to said Convention, the representation to which shall be upon the same basis as that of the House of Delegates of Virginia. If a majority of the voters within the aforesaid boundary shall decide in favor of a division of the State, and in favor of a Convention as aforesaid, the Convention shall assemble on the ____ day of ____, in the city of _______; and the members thereof shall receive the same mileage and the same per diem as are now allowed by law to the delegates to the General Assembly.

Mr. SMITH spoke in support of his substitute, and was replied to at length by Mr. West.

The question was taken on the adoption of Mr. Smith's substitute, and decided in the negative, by yeas 12, nays 15.

The question recurring on the original bill, Mr. Hooton offered his substitute, which was lost, by yeas 13, nays 14.

The vote was then taken on the original bill and it was rejected, by 10 yeas, nay 17, as follows:

YEAS - Messrs. Arnold, Davidson, Hooton, Kramer, Michael, Myers, Parsons, Snyder, West and Zinn.

NAYS - Messrs. Boreman, Crothers, Downey, Farnsworth, Fast, Hawxhurst, Logan, Miner, Porter, Ruffner, Radcliff, Swan, Smith, Trout, Williamson of Pleasants, Wilson, and Frost (Speaker.)

Absent - Messrs. Davis, Moss, Vance and Williamson of Wirt.

The House then took a recess.


Mr. WEST presented the joint resolution of the Senate in regard to a division of the State, adopted by that body some days ago.

Mr. HOOTON moved to lay the resolution upon the table.

The motion was agreed to.

Mr. FARNSWORTH called up engrossed bill in relation to declaring certain offices vacant.

The bill was taken up, read a third time and passed.

The House then agreed to take a recess until four o'clock.


House assembled at four P. M.

A communication from the Senate reported the passage of the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Janitor for the General Assembly be allowed $1.50 per day during the session of the Legislature.

The resolution was adopted.

Mr. DOWNEY offered the following:

Resolved, That each Door Keeper of the Senate and House be allowed $4 per day, as provided for in the code.

The resolution was rejected.

Mr. SMITH offered the following resolution of thanks:

Resolved, That this body return their sincere thanks to the Speaker, Daniel Frost, Esq., for the courteous, able and dignified manner in which he has presided over their deliberations.

The resolution was unanimously adopted.

Mr. SMITH moved to take up the two bills reported by him from the Committee on Courts of Justice during the morning session. Lost.

Mr. WEST offered a resolution fixing the pay of the Door Keepers at $3 per diem.

The CHAIR decided the motion out of order, as the subject had been decided upon by the former vote and could not come up again.

Mr. FARNSWORTH, from the Committee to Examine Enrolled Bills, made their report.

Mr. DOWNEY moved a reconsideration of the vote in relation to the salaries of doorkeepers. Agreed to.

Mr. HOOTON moved to amend the resolution by substituting $3 instead of $4.

The motion was agreed to, and its adoption communicated to the Senate.

Mr. RUFFNER moved that the Senate be informed that

The House having finished all the business before it, is now ready to adjourn till the first Monday in December next.

Mr. RUFFNER was appointed to communicate the fact to the Senate, and a return message having informed the House of the readiness of that body to adjourn,

Mr. SNYDER moved an adjournment, which was carried.


The SPEAKER - Gentlemen: Your labors are about drawing to a close - auspiciously, I think - and all that remains is for the Speaker to pronounce the House adjourned. I take pleasure, gentlemen, in saying that in all your deliberations you have observed the proprieties which should ever characterize deliberative assemblies; and totally unfamiliar, as many of you were upon taking your seats, with Parliamentary usages and Legislative proceedings, you have so deported yourselves, that your constituents must indeed be unreasonable, if they do not commend you for your zeal and industry. You have worked as men intent upon doing something for the public good, and with an eye always to the extraordinary exigencies which assembled you together. Your example is certainly worthy of imitation by all legislative bodies that may assemble hereafter.

But, gentlemen, your labors should not cease with the close of this session. There is important work for us to perform when we again mingle with the people. We should endeavor to explain the force and bearing of the laws we have enacted and to give them efficiency. Let us endeavor to stimulate the people to renewed exertions in behalf of the cause of our common country - the preservation of our rights and liberties. Let each one of us do something for the maintenance of the supremacy of the General Government and of our own re-organized State Government, if need be should the musket and march to the field of battle. The government's cause is our cause. Upon its success depends the succes[s] of the movement we have inaugurated and with its failure fades away the last hope of humanity for the perpetuation of civil liberty in this land. Gentlemen, let your brave hearts and stout arms be in this holy work and leave the issue with the Ruler of the destinies of nations.

I trust when you return home to your families you may find them in the peaceful and happy enjoyment of the blessings of a benificent Providence, and that you and they may have no further cause of apprehension or alarm, but that the dark cloud which God in his wise purposes has permitted to obscure the sun of our prosperity may soon be dissipated, and that our once happy country may be restored to harmony.

If, gentlemen, it sho[u]ld be our lot to meet together again in a legislative capacity I trust we may come with increased wisdom and zeal to enter upon the discharge of our duties, and that what we do may be promotive of the peace and prosperity of the people.

I am satisfied that no one leaves this Hall with any regret lingering in his bosom. I am satisfied that each member here can lay his hand upon his heart, before his God, and declare that he has done that which be conceived to be best for the public weal. And I trust that all the people of all the land may mete out to you that praise and that approbation which I in my inmost soul believe you eminently deserve.

Gentlemen, this House stands adjourned until our next regular session.

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July 25
July 26

Chapter Eight: Legislature of the Reorganized Government of Virginia

West Virginia Archives and History