Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
January 22, 1861

Richmond Daily Dispatch
January 24, 1861

Sherrard Clemens, of Va., in the House.

The following occurrence took place in the U. S. House of Representatives, on Tuesday:

Mr. Clemens, of Virginia, said he spoke as a Southern man, identified by birth, education, and a residence in that section. While many of those who inaugurated the pending revolution, cry out with uplifted hands, exclaiming, "No effusion of blood," it should be remembered that the inventor of the guillotine was its first victim; and the day was not distant when these men would rely on the magnanimity of the people they have outraged. Before God, he believed that slavery would be crucified if this unhappy controversy shall end in the dissolution of the Union. If not crucified, it will carry the death rattle in its throat. He might be a timid man, and not take up arms in his own defence; but it remained to be seen whether treason can be successfully carried on. There is a holy minority in the slave States. Lazarus is not dead, but sleepeth; and when the stone is rolled away from the tomb, we may have all the glories of a new resurrection.

He alluded to the ultra men at the North--Garrison, Phillips, and others : and said they shook hands with kindred disunionists at the South. Like the Roman ox, all garlanded for the sacrifice, they would lead the Union to death. These rights of the new crusade make the Constitution the sanctified Jerusalem, against which the cohorts are rallied. The Northern men wish to overthrow the Constitution to get rid of slavery, while the Southern men overthrow the Constitution to preserve slavery. And both parties are for State rights: He asked, on behalf of the South, that justice which springs from honest magnanimity, and appealed to revolutionary memories for peace and compromise. He spoke of the failure of the proposed Southern Confederacy; argued that one of the objects in establishing it was to re-open the African slave trade, that the irreversible law of population governs this question: that it is population and wealth, not territory, which the South want; and that there will be an "irrepressible conflict" in such a Confederacy, for a horned and strong hand would hold the political power. Suppose the Southern States do not there obtain the equality which they demand? What then? That was a problem to be ciphered out hereafter.

Having exhausted the hour to which each speaker is limited, several gentlemen moved that he have permission to conclude his speech.

Mr. Martin, of Virginia, objected to the member going on with his "treasonable remarks."

Much confusion prevailed in the Hall, but it was soon quieted.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
January 25, 1861

Supplement to Mr. Clemens' speech in Congress.

The speech of Mr. Sherrard Clemens in the House Tuesday, and the remarks of Mr. Martin, of Va., have been noticed. On Wednesday the following took place in the House:

Mr. Clemens, of Virginia, rising to a personal explanation, said by reference to the Congressional Globe it appeared that his colleague (Mr. Martin,) expressed a wish that he (Mr. Clemens) should be allowed to go on with his speech : his "traitorous remarks. " He understood his colleague made some other remarks, but they did not reach his ear. It was now for him to say, first as at last, that he took the position he did, in this exigency of the country, after deliberation, and an expectation that he would meet with personal defamation. If, therefore, his colleague threw out the remark with a view of giving offence to him he pardoned him, for the reason at this very time he was laboring under physical infirmity and from a reeking wound received in a personal rencontre. If his colleague had a compound fracture of the thighbone, and been suffering for two years and a half in consequence, he would find a bullet not a comfortable sensation. [Laughter.] He did not desire to place himself in a position to be represented by "Punch" or "Vanity Fair," as leaning on a crutch with one hand while he held a pistol in the other. [Laughter.]

Mr. Hindman reminded the gentleman that Mr. Martin was not present in the House.

Mr. Clemens was not aware of that, but he had said nothing offensive.

Mr. Hindman hoped the gentleman did not understand him as intimating that he [Mr. Clemens] had cast any imputation on his colleague.

Mr. Clemens replied not at all, and added, in conclusion, he could conceive of men who would be unknown in this or any other Congress had they not, through the interposition of Providence, been elevated to a position they would not otherwise hold.

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

West Virginia Archives and History