February 4, 1862
The Swearing Laws.—The long agony is over. The two bills vulgarly known as the “cussin bills” which have caused such contention in the House of Delegates were disposed of yesterday. The bill requiring all persons instituting and maintaining suits before any court of record or justice of the peace in the Commonwealth, to take an oath to support the constitution of the United State[s] and the restored government of Virginia was rejected. The other bill known as the “license bill” was passed. The bill requires that all Court or Commissioners of the Revenue in the Commonwealth, shall, upon granting any license to any person to practice any profession or to transact any business or calling, for which a license is required by existing laws, require all applicants to take an oath to support the constitution of the United States and the restored government of Virginia was passed. It applies to Grand and Petit Jurors, to lawyers, doctors, dentists, ministers of the gospel, who desire to solemnize marriages, surgeons, and so forth. In the case of doctors the bill provides that doctors shall not maintain any action in any court or before any Justice of the Peace, for services rendered in violation of this act. It is also made the duty of all Bank directors, and all officers of banks, and the keepers of all toll bridges, roads or ferries, and officers of all corporations, associations and institutions, in which the State has an interest, and also of all deputy clerks of county, corporation and circuit courts, and councilmen, commissioners in chancery for courts, notary publics, within 30 days after the taking effect of this Act to take and subscribe the oath aforesaid. Any one continuing in office in violation of the Act will be fined not exceeding $2,000.
The clerk, commissioner, or other persons administering the oath, are required to take the name, age, residence and occupation of the person subscribing the oath, and keep a record of the same for examination. “If any person shall go voluntarily before a military officer, court, or any person authorised to administer an oath, and take the oath aforesaid, or if any person under arrest, whether by the military or civil authorities, shall take the oath with the view of effecting his or her release, or shall seek to weaken or overthrow the Government of the United States, or the reorganizated Government of this State, or do any thing with the intent aforesaid, or shall advocate the Government of the so-called Confederate States, or make any declaration against the solemnity and obligation of such oath, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, at the discretion of a jury, be fined not less than twenty nor more than one thousand dollars, and be confined in the county jail not exceeding twelve months, and shall, moreover, be subject to all the penalties mentioned in the third Section of Chapter 194 of the Code of 1860.”
“Will the bill go through the Senate?” asked we yesterday of a friend of the bill. “Like a dose of salts,” said he. That being the case, we may expect, when the time comes round for taking out the licenses, to hear some of the tallest swearing ever witnessed in this “neck of woods.” To take this oath will go hard with some who cannot do business without taking it. The bill, like all other measures of the kind, will meet with determined opposition for
No rogue e’er felt the halter draw,
With good opinion of the law.
Time, which determines all things, can only tell whether our legislators have been wise or unwise in this.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1862