February 27, 1861
[Special correspondence of the Intelligencer.]
Hall, of Wetzel, on the Boards again—He Pitches into the Intelligencer—He is Ordered to His Seat.
Richmond, Feb. 23d, 1861.
I am sure that you will be amused with one portion of the proceedings in the Convention here to-day. I mean that portion in which Leonard S. Hall, the distinguished delegate from Wetzel county, took part. He affected to be immensely indignant at the dispatch in your paper, of Thursday last, when, in all your life, you never saw a man more tickled with having got into print in any shape or in any light. He gave out, however, that he was going to demolish your reporter the first thing to-day, when the Convention should meet. And so, after prayers, he lifted up his voice, first sending your special dispatch to the Secretary’s desk to be read. Then he proceeded to pay innumerable left handed compliments to the Intelligencer. It was an Abolition paper—it had denounced slavery as a sin—it had turned the Panhandle upside down—it had killed off all the decent politicians, and sent Clemens and Hubbard to this Convention on an Abolition platform of its own making. In fact, it was the most terrible print in the State, as he had found out to his sorrow. In the course of his remarks, he bounced Clemens and Hubbard, and Clemens, on the instant, interrupted and bounced him, and you never saw a poor creature wake water faster. His rigmarole was so cracked, conceited, nonsensical; and murderously ungrammatical, that the President told him twice to take his seat, and the last time made him do it, much to the relief of the Convention, by whom he is esteemed the most perfect specimen of muttonheadism ever sent to this city by any constituency in any portion of the State. The Douglas men here, on account of his course, have stricken him from their caucus roll; and all of them, as I learn, have but one common sentiment of contempt for his treatment of his Union colleagues from the Northwest.
. . .
The following resolution was offered in the Senate to-day:
“Resolved, by the General Assembly of Virginia, that by allowing the Federal flag to be raised over the Capitol of Virginia, that State denies the right of the seceding States to their position.”
The resolution was offered by R. B. Finney, of Accomac. How does it suit you? I would vote for it, quick, if I was a member. I hope all the disunionists will interpret the waving of the stars and stripes over our Capitol just as Finney does. C.
The following report of the personal debate alluded to in our correspondent’s letter, we find in the Richmond papers:
Mr. Hall, of Wetzel, arose to make a personal explanation. He proceeded to state that he had been represented as saying, in the remarks which he submitted on Thursday last, that the whole Northwest was unsound upon the question of slavery, and that they did not represent the sentiment of Virginia. He did not, in those remarks, intend to include the whole Northwest, or any considerable portion, but to the two or three thousand Lincoln voters. There are gentlemen upon this floor who are supported and elected upon a platform drawn up by Mr. Campbell, editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer, an out and out Republican paper, and among them, were Mr. Clemens and Mr. Hubbard, of Wheeling.
Mr. Clemens interrupted Mr. Hall with the inquiry: Did I understand the delegate from Wetzel to assert that I stood upon a platform dictated by the editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer?
Mr. Hall. You understood me to say this—
Mr. Clemens. I desire a categorical answer.
Mr. Hall. The editor of the Intelligencer laid down the platform and advocate it—the same platform upon which you run.
Mr. Clemens again demanded an answer to his inquiry.
Mr. Hall. That’s all you will get from me. (Laughter.)
The President here interposed, and ruled out of order any remarks about the consistency of gentlemen before they came here.
Mr. Hall said that he had been denounced as misrepresenting, in his remarks of Thursday, the sentiment of the Northwest. His reply was that he feared those who thus denounced him, represented but too faithfully the sentiments of their constituents. That was what he complained of—not that the delegates had done anything wrong. It was important that the Convention should know the truth. He would tell the members that dragon’s teeth are being sowed, and if Virginia should take a certain position by the act of the Convention, there would, in all probability, be civil war in some portion of the Commonwealth.
By request of Mr. H. the Clerk then read a copy of the telegraphic despatch to the Wheeling Intelligencer, reflecting upon the member from Wetzel, for “misrepresenting” the sentiment of the Northwest.
Mr. Hall then read extracts from a private letter from C. W. Russell, esq., of Wheeling, in which the necessity for new guarantees for the protection of the Southern rights was advocated.
Mr. Hall said that if he understood Mr. Willey, on Thursday, he declared in effect that he would never, under any circumstances, sign an ordinance of secession or give up the Union.
The President again interposed, and reminded the gentleman that he was going beyond the limits of a personal explanation.
Mr. Clemens said that insinuations had been privately and publicly made against him, intended to create the impression that he was disloyal to the institutions of Virginia. He regarded, with inexpressible contempt, come from what source in [sic] may, any attempt to impugn his loyalty to this Commonwealth. He challenged any man to take his record in Congress and show from it any vote or speech indicating such disloyalty. He did not desire to say anything unkind to the gentleman from Wetzel. He could afford to be magnanimous, but when the (Mr. Hall) says that he (Mr. C.) stood upon a platform dictated by the editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer, he would not presume that he made the charge maliciously; but that he lacked information most miserably.
Mr. C. proceeded to vindicate himself and declared that he could not so degrade himself as to give up one sentiment of loyalty and allegiance to Virginia.
Mr. Hubbard read an extract from an address published by him prior to his election. As far as the reporter could hear, it seemed to contain strong Union sentiments. Mr. H. said he came to the Convention as a Virginian in the broad sense of the word—as a Virginian from the Chesapeak[e] to the Ohio, and as a Virginian on both sides of James River.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1861