West Virginia Immigration Convention

Wheeling Daily Register
February 2, 1888

Weighty Affairs
Discussed by the Members of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Subscription to the Union Bridge Heartily Commended to the Voters of the County - A Convention of Business Men.

A special session of the Chamber of Commerce was convened at 7:30 o'clock last evening to express the sentiments of the body upon the Union Bridge and take whatever action might be deemed proper in the premises.

. . . .

Business Men to Meet.
A State Convention of Merchants to be Held in This City.

When the special business which has called the Chamber together was disposed of, Mr. C. B. Hart took the floor, and said he felt that there had at last come a time when something might be done to attract outside capital and invite immigration to the State. It was true both people and money had been coming in of late years, but they had not been coming fast enough. If any other State or Territory had resources equaling those of West Virginia, in the same ratio as regards territory, they would sound a trumpet which would be heard around the world. We ought to do some blowing ourselves, in a legitimate way, and the present was a good time, in his estimation, to sound a preliminary blast.

Wheeling had a tremendous interest in the development of the State, an assertion which he proceeded to demonstrate in a very conclusive way, and then said the business men of the town ought to be, and he had no doubt would be, heartily in favor of the proposition, which he desired to presently submit. Before doing so, he called attention to the fact that very little money would be required. The chief expense, at least at the present time, would be securing the insertion of proper announcements of the objects of the gathering and the time and place of meeting, in the principal newspapers of the State. Once the representative business men of the State got together, ways and means would be speedily devised to bring about a material benefit to the entire commonwealth. He had not imagined, upon first thinking of the project, that parallel action was being taken elsewhere, but during the day he had found, in the Associated Press reports, the following which he read:

"LITTLE ROCK, ARK., January 31. - A State convention, comprising 400 delegates, met here to-day to organize a State Bureau of Immigration, to continue in operation until the convening of the General Assembly, which body is petitioned to create such a State department. Fifty thousand dollars is to be raised to pay the expenses of the work by voluntary subscription from each county by pro-rate assessment. The railroads doing business in Arkansas were all represented by their chief officers, and they are the guests of the convention."

This was very much in the line of what he had in mind, but his idea was more fully set forth in the following, which he desired to submit for the action of the Chamber:

WHEREAS, The considerable increase in new industrial enterprises in West Virginia, the building and serious projecting of additional railroads, the unsurpassed natural resources and cheapness of our lands furnish a substantial foundation for a systematic effort in the line of State development,

Resolved, That the Chamber of Commerce of the city of Wheeling unite and urge the business men, land owners and all interested in the welfare of the State to assemble in the hall of the Chamber on the 29th day of February and mature a plan to further attract the attention of capital and of desirable immigrants to the unequaled advantages of West Virginia.

Speaking to his resolution, Mr. Hart said his idea was that the proposed convention ought to be held about the first of March. The sooner the matter was taken in hand the better. Continuing he said that representatives of all the railroad companies would be sure to attend, and alluded with satisfaction to the recent change of policy on the part of the B. & O. The gathering ought to be kept free from any suspicion of party politics, and should have but one object, the advancement of the material interests of the State. Something in this line ought to have been done long ago, but it was not too late to rectify the error. In conclusion he said that if it pleased the Chamber to adopt the pending proposition, he would offer a resolution providing for the appointment of a proper committee to carry out the idea.

After some discussion as to the proper time for holding the proposed meeting, the date of February 29 was fixed upon, and the resolution was adopted. Mr. Hart then moved that a committee of five be appointed to take hold of the matter and put it into shape, but as the suggestion of some of the members present the committee was increased to twelve. The following gentlemen were appointed upon it: Messrs. C. B. Hart, G. O. Smith, Thomas O'Brien, M. Reilly, Captain John McLure, Mayor C. W. Seabright, J. B. Taney, Joseph Speidel, Henry Baer, A. C. Egerter, C. H. Copp and John C. Riheldaffer.

This committee is called to meet at the Chamber of Commerce at 7 o'clock sharp, and it is hoped that every member will be present.

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