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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
January 14, 1861


Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Virginia passed in 1861
Richmond: William F. Ritchie, public printer, 1861

Chap. 3. –An Act to provide for electing Members of a Convention, and to convene the same.

Passed January 14, 1861.

1. Be it enacted by the general assembly, that it shall be the duty of the commissioners and officers who were appointed to superintend and conduct elections for county and corporation officers in May last, at the places established for holding elections for members of the general assembly, to open polls for electing delegates to a convention. The said election shall be held on the fourth day of February in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-one. At the same time the said commissioners and officers shall open a separate poll to take the sense of the qualified voters as to whether any action of said convention dissolving our connection with the federal Union, or changing the organic law of the state, shall be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection; and in order to ascertain the sense of the voters upon the question aforesaid, the said officers shall cause to be kept a poll, to be headed “Upon the question of referring such action to the people for their decision;” which said poll book shall have two columns—the one headed “For referring to the people,” and the other, “Against referring to the people;” and the names of those who vote for the former shall be written under the former heading, and those who vote for the latter, under the latter heading. When the said officers meet as herein provided, they shall ascertain and make return of the number of persons voting for each proposition. They shall forthwith send to the clerk of their respective counties or corporations a copy thereof, whose duty it shall be to transmit immediately a copy thereof to the president of the convention at Richmond, and also to the governor of the commonwealth. In case any officer appointed as aforesaid should fail to act, his or their place shall be supplied in the mode prescribed by law for general elections.

2. The convention shall consist of one hundred and fifty-two members, to be chosen for and by the several counties and cities of the commonwealth, as prescribed by the second section of the fourth article of the constitution of this state, for the election of members of the house of delegates. The county or counties which alternately vote for delegates to the general assembly under the said article of the said constitution, and which at the next election for delegates would be entitled to elect a delegate or delegates, shall elect the same number of members of the convention, and in the same manner that they would be entitled to if the election were for members of the next session of the general assembly.

3. Any person may be elected a member of the convention, who at the time of election has attained the age of twenty-five years, and is a citizen of this commonwealth.

4. All persons shall be qualified to vote on the question and in the election aforesaid, who are entitled to vote for delegates to the general assembly under the constitution of this commonwealth.

5. The said election shall in all respects be conducted in the mode prescribed, and the officers conducting the same shall be vested with the powers, perform the duties, receive the same compensation, and be liable to the penalties prescribed by law for general elections, except as herein provided.

6. The polls shall remain open for one day only; and the commissioners superintending the said election at the courthouses, shall meet in their respective counties and corporations on the second day after the election day; shall then compare the polls for their respective counties and corporations which elect a delegate or delegates, and ascertain and certify the votes of the counties and corporations, or parts thereof comprising election districts, and deliver a certified statement thereof to the officers conducting the election at the courthouses. And to compare the returns from the respective counties and parts of counties forming election districts for members of the general assembly, the officers conducting the election at the courthouses of the respective counties and parts of counties of such election districts, shall meet and compare the returns at the places now required by law for such comparison, on the fourth day after the election, and make returns of the election; one of which they shall forthwith transmit by mail to the governor: another with the poll books, shall be delivered to the clerk of the county or corporation court, to be filed in his office; and another to the member or members elected to the said convention.

7. The members so chosen shall meet on Wednesday the thirteenth of February next, at the capitol in the city of Richmond, and proceed to adopt such measures as they may deem expedient for the welfare of the commonwealth. The sessions of the convention shall be held in the capitol until otherwise provided for.

8. In the case of a contested election, the same shall be governed in all respects by the existing laws in regard to contested elections in the house of delegates, unless otherwise ordered by the convention.

9. In case of vacancies occurring previous to the meeting of the convention, the governor shall issue writs to supply the same; and after the said meeting, the writs shall be issued by order of the convention, and the elections under such writs shall be conducted in all respects as the elections herein before provided for.

10. The said convention shall be the judge of its own privileges and elections, and the members thereof shall have, possess and enjoy all the privileges which members elected to and attending on the general assembly are entitled to; and moreover shall be allowed the same pay for traveling to, attending on and returning from the said convention, as is now allowed to members of the general assembly for like services.

11. The said convention is hereby empowered to appoint such officers, and to make them such reasonable allowances for their services as it shall deem proper; which several allowances shall be audited by the auditor of public accounts, and paid by the treasurer of the commonwealth, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

12. The expenses incurred in providing poll books and in procuring writers to keep the same, shall be defrayed as heretofore in the elections of members of the general assembly.

13. Immediately upon the passage of this act, the governor shall issue a proclamation giving notice thereof, of the time of holding the election, and of the meeting of the convention herein provided for.

14. The secretary of the commonwealth shall cause to be sent to the clerks of each county and corporation, as many copies of this act as there are precincts therein, using for that purpose special messengers, when necessary in his judgment. It shall be the duty of the clerks to deliver the same to the sheriff for distribution, who shall forthwith cause a copy to be posed at the door of his courthouse, and at some public place in each election district.

15. This act shall be in force from its passage.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: January 1861

West Virginia Archives and History