January 13, 1941
New Governor Has Ceremony At Mansion
Rosier Is Appointed to U. S. Senate By State's Chief Executive Shortly After Induction by Judge Kenna
By Harry G. Hoffmann
Matthew M. Neely took the oath of office as West Virginia's 21st governor "instantly after midnight" this morning and less than two hours later personally announced his appointment of Joseph Rosier of Fairmont to succeed him in the U. S. senate.
Neely's oath was administered by President Judge Jo N. Kenna of the state supreme court on "this 13th day of January, 1941, instantly after 12 o'clock midnight of January 12th, 1941."
Fifty minutes later the oath was filed with Secretary of State W. S. O'Brien by National Commiteeman Arthur B. Koontz, chairman of Neely's inauguration ceremonies, and State Democratic Chairman A. Hale Watkins, clerk of the state senate.
Neely was sworn in as the successor to Homer A. Holt in his office in the executive mansion before a small group of personal friends and political associates.
Witnessing the historical event, precedented only by Gov. John J. Cornwell's pre-inaugural oath in 1917 when the official term started on Sunday, were Senate Clerk Watkins, John Blackshear Smith and Howard Caplan of Clarksburg, personal friends; H. Clare Hess of Mannington and Joseph A. Anwyll, jr., of Fairmont, who worked in Neely's state campaign headquarters.
After the new governor's oath was filed, he admitted reporters to the executive mansion and announced that he had sent a telegram to Col. Edwin A. Halsey, clerk of the U. S. senate, informing him of his choice of Dr. Rosier, president of Fairmont State Teachers college, former president of the National Education association and long a close personal friend of Neely.
Earlier in the night, at midnight, retiring Gov. Holt appeared at the secretary of state's office to reaffirm his appointment of Clarence E. Martin of Martinsburg, former president of the American Bar association, to the senate seat vacated by Neely.
It was said that Holt's reaffirmation of his choice was made "at the first moment of this 13th day of January, 1941" to guard against nullification by legal technicalities. He previously had filed a notice of his selection last Saturday, and this morning Thomas B. Jackson, Charleston attorney, accepted for Martin by proxy.
Neely said he had "no doubt" but that Rosier would be seated.
In his telegram to Halsey, Neely advised him that he had tendered his resignation to Gov. Holt effective "precisely at midnight" Jan. 12 in order to become governor "the instant I shall have completely divested myself of my senatorial office by virtue of the resignation mentioned."
The telegram added:
"I further inform you that I purpose [sic] as governor to appoint on Jan. 13 Dr. Joseph Rosier, former president of the National Education association and now president of Fairmont State Teachers college, as my successor in the senate.
"Dr. Rosier, who is one of West Virginia's most illustrious men will with his duly executed credentials, promptly present himself to you for the purpose of taking the required oath of office . . . "
In the interim between Holt's reaffirmation of his selection of Martin and the presentation of Neely's oath, Secretary of State O'Brien took the oath of office for his new term. He said he did this "in the event any question should arise as to the proceedings tonight" and said he would again take it formally today.
While Neely is now officially governor and has executed his first act in the appointment of Dr. Rosier, the formal inaugural ceremonies will be carried out as scheduled today. Judge Kenna will again administer the oath of office in front of the capitol--but it will be merely a formality. . . .