July 26, 1862
According to an announcement in the Press and in some handbills, Senator Carlile made a speech last night in the Atheneum building. He had a large audience—the pit and the dress circle of the old theatre being well crowded.
The Senator opened with some remarks upon the duties of representatives to their constituents, stating that as a public servant he had come before his audience to render an account of his stewardship. He contrasted the present month this year with the same month last year, and drew a gloomy view of national affairs. Having gone through with some general remarks on this head he opened out on the new State question and his record thereon.—He began with a review of his course in the Convention that met in this city in May, 1861. The Senator touched his record in that Convention very light. He had no quotations to make from his speeches in it. He did not cite the resolution that he offered proposing to abruptly sever this and the adjoining congressional district from the balance of the State. He touched it light, for never was a man’s record more vulnerable than was this part of the Hon. Senator’s, and he knew it. During this part of the programme he took up the last Convention’s action, and fell to considering its constitution and boundary. He did not stop by the way and give us a review of the August Convention, of which he was a member; neither yet did he give us any quotations from his speeches, showing how important it was that we should only have 38 counties in the new State. He touched this part of his record also very light. There was no tarrying by the way on it. The main portion of the speech, as far as the new State question was concerned, was devoted to the various amendments that were added to the bill of the Wheeling Convention, and accepted by Senator Willey and our other representatives in Congress. These amendments the Senator denounced as abolition appendages, and he gave them as a reason why he had voted against the bill for the new State. He stated that he would have voted for the bill as it came from the Wheeling Convention—but not as it was amended in the Senate. This may do for Mr. Carlile to tell for party clap trap but people who are familiar with the record would like to know why he ignored and entirely abrogated the Wheeling Convention bill and boundary, by proceeding to show that the Convention that formed it was a mere bogus Convention, the members of which represented scarcely any constituents, and whose constitution received only 19,000 out of 47,000 votes.—This was the phase of the senator’s Speech and conduct that so kindled the indignation of Senator Wage, and which that gentleman so severely denounced. It was a blow at the whole new State project—not at Mr. Willey’s accepted amendments—by trying to show that there was no new State feeling among our people, and that the whole thing was unworthy of the attention of the Senate.
Again the honorable Senator took good care not to give his constituents an account of how it came that the Blue Ridge boundary bill was reported to the Senate. He did not tell them that he was the man that smothered not only the Convention bill, but the whole new State hope and project for all time to come in that report.
But in this limited space we cannot follow Mr. Carlile. We will do so at our leisure, and we intend that our people shall understand thoroughly his treachery in reference to it. He never once, last night, touched the merits of the question. No one knows that fact better than himself. No man ever seemed more conscious of the bad part which he had played than he did in his lame, hobbling and stammering remarks last night. He spoke at random—he was loose, disjointed, disconnected—one moment on the border State address to the President, the next on the abolitionists, and then back again on the new State. It was a speech such as Vallandigham would clap to the echo had he been in the audience, and one which every Secessionist and doubtful Union man that we could see did hurrah and stamp. If it proved anything, it proved that this was an abolition war, the the “Yankees of the North” (as the Senator derisively alluded to them) were waging it for negro equality and not for the Union.
What did the Senator mean by producing his array of taxes, if he did not mean to show this war ought to stop; that we would all soon be bankrupt, and that the best thing we could do was to make terms with the rebels and divide out the country. There were those who for a long time have suspected that these were the secret views of the Senator and that he was shaping his course with reference to them, but we confess that it was not until last night that we were painfully impressed that these suspicions were well founded. Taking them in connection with his recent course in the Senate—his meeting with Vallandigham in caucus—his turn round on the new State question, and we were compelled to believe that they who have all along judged the worst of the Senator have judged the truest.
For our part we cannot see why a man holding such sentiments as he holds should be a Union man any longer. The speech was unworthy of a U.S. Senator. The greater part of it was simply an appeal to the lowest feelings of his auditory. To show that we do the Senator no injustice, we shall publish it verbatim in a few days. It is one that will never do him any credit, this one that the secessionists will be jubilant over, and for which they will applaud him as they did last night.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: July 1862