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U. S. Senate Debate
West Virginia Statehood

July 7, 1862

Extracted from the Congressional Globe


Mr. WILLEY. I desire to throw myself on the indulgence of the Senate this morning and ask them to postpone all prior orders with a view of taking up Senate bill No. 365, providing for the admission of the State of West Virginia into the Union.

Mr. TRUMBULL. I hope that bill will not be taken up. It seems to me that we are not prepared to act definitely on that subject now. At any rate there is much other important business, and we are approaching what seems to be considered by most members of Congress the close of the session, and it seems to me we should not take up a bill of that character which will certainly lead to very protracted debate before it can be passed, if it can be passed at all. I hope the Senate will not consent to postpone all other business, and employ its time in discussing that question at present. We may as well have the test question upon taking it up. If that bill is to be taken up and other business postponed - if that is the sense of the Senate - the sooner we know it, and are prepared to decide upon it definitely, perhaps the better. I ask for the yeas and nays on taking up that bill, and I hope that may be regarded as decisive of our disposition to go on with it.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Virginia moves to postpone all prior orders, and that the Senate proceed to the consideration of the bill for the admission of West Virginia into the Union, and upon this motion the yeas and nays are demanded.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

Mr. WILLEY. I regret very much that the Senator from Illinois takes the view of the subject he has expressed. This matter comes before the Senate, not merely by the certification of the assent of the Legislature of Virginia, one of the States of this Union, but it comes with the language of request and memorial upon the face of the act of assent itself, soliciting Congress to admit this new State as one of the United States. It comes, then, with all the authority of the legislative voice of one of the States of this Union. It has been presented here for several weeks; six weeks ago I submitted it; the report of the committee has been on the table for some time; the amendments proposed by that report have been printed, and Senators have had ample time to look into the question and form a judgment on the subject. It seems to me that the Senate ought not to disregard, especially under the circumstances, the voice of the Legislature of one of the States of this Union; and that section of the State which is most interested in this matter, which it is proposed to erect into a separate State of the Union, makes an appeal to the Senate of the United States under circumstances which it seems to me ought not to be disregarded at this day. She stands here with her heart bleeding; with all her industrial interests and commercial interests prostrate. She comes here with her fields desolated, with a heart that has never flinched in the contest for this Union, keeping her internal foes, as well as her external adversaries, at bay. From every quarter and section of this new State, I receive letters by the dozen daily that unless some relief is given to that section, the Union men must take their families and find homes in the West That will be the result of the denial of the petition of this State. I say what I know, and I say it with no view of influencing the Senate by any words of menace. Far be it from me to use words of menace, if I had the power so to do towards a body like this; but I say the result will be - I have the best evidence in the world of it - that the leading Union men and all who are able to get out of that State, for which we have been fighting and bleeding and standing firm to this day, will inevitably be compelled to leave their homes and their firesides and seek as best they may an asylum somewhere else. That, sir, is the fact, and there is another fact I will mention -

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Virginia will pardon the Chair. It is with great reluctance the Chair feels bound to interpose and to say that these collateral questions to take up, or postpone, or refer, at this stage of the session, do not open the question to general debate. Therefore the Chair would respectfully suggest for the government of Senators, every member being governed by his own sense of propriety under all circumstances, to confine the discussion to the appropriate and direct collateral question before the body.

Mr. WILLEY. I have no desire to enter into a general discussion. I was only suggesting reasons which were forcible to my mind showing the necessity for immediately acting upon this subject. I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate in discussing the general question. I wish to have it taken up and acted upon and settle this question. The people who have suspended their business in that section of the State awaiting the result of this issue will then know what to do. If they have to leave, they had better leave soon than late; and if they remain, they can go to work. I do trust that the Senate will take it up and act upon it in some form or other.

Mr. WADE. I am in no condition to argue this matter, even if it were in order; but I wish that we might act definitely on this subject now, because I know the people of West Virginia believe that it is vitally important that this question should be acted upon at this session. They fear if it is not, the time will go by. I do not think there is anything in it which would lead to protracted discussion. Every Senator has made up his mind whether he will go for it or not, and I wish we would take it up and decide it. My opinion is, we ought to pass it.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Secretary will call the roll on the motion of the Senator from Virginia.

Mr. FOSTER. I suggest that, by unanimous consent, the call for the yeas and nays might be withdrawn, and a division asked, and if a majority of a quorum vote "ay," that then the question be given up, and the vote taken in that way. I think we shall save ourselves a great deal of trouble if we consent to that arrangement.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The yeas and nays have been ordered and the Secretary will call the roll.

The question being taken by yeas and nays, resulted - yeas 17, nays 18; as follows:

YEAS - Messrs. Carlile, Clark, Collamer, Doolittle, Foot, Grimes, Harlan, Harris, Henderson, Howe, Lane of Kansas, Nesmith, Sherman, Sunmer, Wade, Willey, and Wright - 17.

NAYS - Messrs. Anthony, Browning, Chandler, Cowan, Davis, Fessenden, Foster, Kennedy, King, McDougall, Morrill, Powell, Rice, Simmons, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wilkinson, and Wilson of Massachusetts - 18.

So the motion was not agreed to.


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