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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
April 10, 1861


Morgantown Star
April 20, 1861

Primary Congressional Convention.

Pursuant to a previous call, delegates from a portion of the Counties of the 10th Congressional District of Virginia, assembled at the Court House in Fairmont, on the 10th day of April, 1861, for the purpose of organizing, with a view to electing a man to Congress opposed to secession.

On motion of John F. Smith, Esq., Col. Thos. Cather, of Taylor county, was called to the Chair, and Isaac Holman appointed Secretary.

On motion of G. R. Latham, a committee of five was appointed to draft resolutions and prepare business for the meeting. The following gentlemen were appointed on said committee:--G. R. Latham, F. Madera, Col. R. Pitzer, E. H. Compton and J. C. Beeson. The committee retired, and after a short absence, reported the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, As citizens of Western Virginia, forming a part of the Republic of the United States of America, in time past, we have been proud of our great country, which has been the “boast of the whole earth;” and have loved it because in it all our rights of life, person and property have been secured and protected. The Union and the Constitution of the United States constitute the legacy of our revolutionary fathers. All our greatness as a nation, morally, physically and intellectually, is attributable to them; and by which our State governments have been unable under peaceable pursuits to attain their present position. But we deeply deplore the revolutionary spirit that has seized on the minds of many in this great nation—to such an extent that the bonds of the Union have been broken, the Constitution annulled, and the flag of our fathers, the stars and stripes, the emblem of liberty chosen by Washington, Jefferson Madison, Franklin and their compeers, trampled under foot—the flag under which Perry, Jackson and Scott taught the proudest nation of the world that freemen could not be conquered. It has been with feelings of the deepest regret that we have seen seven States of this confederacy, in the excitement of the moment, while laboring under the chagrin of political defeat, hastily passing ordinances of secession, and by convention forms erecting a dictatorial government, defiant of the wishes of a large portion of their own citizens, and of the citizens of the other twenty-seven States. The cause of alarm to freemen would not have been so great had the dissatisfaction stopped with those States; but it is manifest that there is a powerful party organized in the State of Virginia pledged and determined to [unreadable] the people of this Commonwealth in secession from the Union, and to throw off their obligations to the Federal Constitution. We had hoped that this revolutionary movement would have been confined to a few dissatisfied aspirants in Eastern Virginia; but we regret there are some men among us, even in Western Virginia, who have been seized with the mad mania of revolution, and are now actively engaged in inflaming the minds of the people.

The first fruits of this revolutionary movement is the destruction of confidence, depreciation of our currency, stopping business of every kind, and the decline of the value of real and personal estate. Even this temporary difficulty could be borne, with hope for better in the future, but our late Legislature, acting under the influence of the secessionists, have made large appropriations amounting to more than one million of dollars to erect armories and arsenals, and buy fire-arms, with a view of plunging the State into a civil war. With these appropriations a number of new offices have been created at high salaries, all increasing the burdens of the people. We do not design to impugn the motives of our secession opponents, but we do censure their acts, as being in conflict with the teachings of our fathers, “that standing armies in time of peace were dangerous to the liberties of the people.” And we appeal to our fellow-citizens, without distinction of old party organizations, if they have seen or known anything justifying the fearful condition of things into which the secessionists propose to plunge the country.

We are glad that no army yet invades our rights; that we still have the privileges of freemen; and in the name of Liberty, we appeal to the people of this Congressional District, without distinction of party, to rally under the “Stars and Stripes,” ignoring all party affiliations until our country is rescued from the secessionists who, while they are oppressively taxing us to put the State on a war footing, are at the same time denying us equal representation and refusing to have their property taxed. We hold it to be the duty of all Western Virginians, through their representatives in Congress, to do all in their power to restore the Federal government to its former glory; and to send men to the State Legislature pledged to repeal all laws for burdening the people to arm the State, and abolish all the new military offices created by the Legislature.

To this end we would advise each County in this Congressional District to organize immediately, and present to the people the ablest and truest Union men, for the various offices to be filled at the Spring election. Therefore

Resolved, That we hereby cordially pledge ourselves to support any true and reliable Union man for Congress in this District, without caring to inquire with what particular party he may have heretofore co-operated.

Resolved, That all men of the District, opposed to secession, are respectfully invited to unite with us for the purpose of defeating the secessionists and restoring the Government to its former respectable position among the great family of nations.

Resolved, That for the purpose further of carrying out our views and desires, we request the Union men of the several counties composing the 10th Congressional District of Virginia, to appoint Delegates to meet in Convention in Wheeling, on the 25th day of April, 1861, for the purpose of nominating a suitable candidate for Congress in this District.

Resolved, That this meeting respectfully recommend to the said Convention, when assembled, to appoint one Elector, for each Senatorial District, and one for each County comprising this Congressional District, for the purpose of aiding in the Spring contest.

On motion, G. R. Latham, F. Madera and F. H. Peirpoint, Esqs., were appointed a committee to inform the people of this District of the action of the meeting, and request their co-operation in sending Delegates to the Wheeling Convention above appointed.

On motion it was ordered that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Wertern [sic] Virginian, the True Virginian, the Morgantown Star and other papers opposed to secession in the District.

On motion the meeting adjourned.

T. Cather, Chairman.
Isaac Holman, Secretary


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

West Virginia Archives and History