February 25, 1861
[Special Correspondence of the Intelligencer.]
Hall, of Wetzel, and the other North Western Members—Mr. Clemens’ Explanation—Maj. Loring at Work—Cost of the Convention Per Day.
Richmond, Feb. 20, 1861.
In a dispatch this morning, I gave you the substance of a lettle [sic] in the parlor of our hotel (the Spottswood) last night, in which Hall, of Wetzel, and General John J. Jackson, of Wood, had a set-to about their respective representativeships of the sentiment of the Northwest.—Jackson, it seems, had overheard Hall in the parlor denouncing his colleagues to a company of secessionists, (with whom he runs, now,) as a set of “submissionists,” and had also heard him read a letter to them, in which Hall’s position on the Union question was approbated and justified. General Jackson stepped up and asked Hall for the authorship of his letter, and he said Charles W. Russell of Wheeling was the writer. Jackson then went into Hall before the crowd, and told them the secret of Mr. Hall’s being here, in this city, at the present time: that he did not represent his own constituents, much less the Northwest, and that had it not been for the unfortunate divisions of the Union men in Wetzel, Hall would be on the banks of the Ohio, instead of here on the banks of James river. The old General was very much roused, as, indeed, are all the members from the Northwest against Hall. They make no secret of reprobating and repudiating him on every occasion, and they are earnest in the expression of the hope that his misrepresented constituents will attend to his case at their first opportunity, as they undoubtedly will.—Carlile, Willey, Dent, Burley, Clemens, Hubbard, Tarr, and Porter, all repudiate and resent his course, and his denunciations. And if his was to read a bushel of letters per day, it would not matter a feather with them. But let Hall pass.
Mr. Clemens to-day rose to an explanation and denunciation of the publications which had been made in some newspapers in this State, that he had franked copies of his speeches to free negroes. He characterized it as an infamous libel, and intimated that he would hold the author personally accountable. Montague and Holcombe got up and exhibited copies of the envelopes with Mr. Clemens’ frank on, which had been sent to free negroes at their post offices. Mr. C. pronounced the franks a base forgery, as indeed any one would see, upon comparing them with his hand write.
In connection with these remarks of Mr. Clemens, I may say that to morrow he will offer the following resolution
Resolved, That His Excellency, the Governor, and other officers of the Commonwealth, in this city, and the officers and members of the General Assembly be invited to seats in this Convention on the twenty-second day of this month, the birth-day of George Washington; that the reading of his Farewell Address to his countrymen shall be, and is hereby made, the special order of the day; that the Clerk of this convention be, and is hereby instructed to read the same as a testimony of respect, which in Virginia is still due to her greatest son; and that thereupon this Convention shall adjourn until its next regular daily session.
We shall see when this resolution is offered, whether the 22d of February is still considered a national holliday [sic], and one worth celebrating. It is quite probable that objection will be made to the resolution. Nothing patriotic or national goes down any more, you know, with secessionists.
Mr. Willey, of the Committee on Federal relations, informs me to-night that matters are not encouraging in the deliberations of the Committee. There is a disposition to an ultimatum in an indirect form.
A great deal of trouble, and possibly the worst results are apprehended from this resolution which, you remember was offered by Mr. Flournoy, (of 1855 notoriety.)
Resolved, by this Convention, That whilst Virginia has a high appreciation of the blessings of the Union, and would do much and forbear much to perpetuate them, yet it feels itself bound to declare, that identity of interests and wrongs with the seceded States of the South would, in case of an attempted coercion by the Federal Government, demand and receive the interposition of all her military strength in resisting such aggression.
Our friend, Major Loring, is still here and making a good use of his time, too.—He is laboring to secure the abolition of the tax on wages and salaries, or, at least, an important mitigation of the most oppressive features. He thinks he will succeed, as the Chairman of Finance. Mr. Haymond, of Marion, has promised a favorable recommendation. Mr. Haymond, of Marion, has promised a favorable recommendation. Mr. Richardson, I learn, is also heartily co-operating to the same end, and will offer important amendments to the law as it now stands.
Do you know that every day’s session of this convention is costing the State of Virginia about two thousand dollars.—The Convention itself—in pay to members and officers, rents and incidentals, costs a thousand or upwards, direct, and as the legislature and its officers merely meets and adjourns in order to attend the convention, their pay and expenses must also be counted. Two thousand dollars is considered a low estimate of what the convention is costing each day. How long do you suppose a State in debt, almost without hope to pay, as we are, can stand it? How long can the city of Wheeling, whose per diem is estimated to be about thirty dollars of the two thousand?
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1861