August 6, 1862
Monday, August 4, 1862.
Speeches of Senator Willey and Governor Peirpoint—Straight-out Resolutions—Another Request of Mr. Carlile.
The meeting at Fairmont was quite respectable, though it scarcely equaled in numbers or enthusiasm that at Mannington. The day was very fine, and many of the farmers who had not finished up their harvesting were induced to remain at home. The Secessionists general did the same. Court business, however, brought in a good number of the substantial men of the county, and when they were assembled in the Court house after dinner the building was quite full. A number of ladies were out.
Hiram Haymond nominated Leonard Lamb, Esq., for President, Vice President, Col. R. Pitzer, and Secretary, John A. Vanzandt. The nominations were confirmed.
A Committee on Resolutions, consisting of one from each magisterial district, was moved and appointed as follows: A. E. Coon, Asabel Harr, Robert Moran, J. T. Ben Gough, Aaron Hawkins, Wm. Fox, and A. F. Ritchie.
Gov. Peirpoint then came forward and addressed the meeting. He began by reviewing the causes of the war, depicting the state of affairs throughout the country, and especially the condition of the section and community in which the people he addressed resided. He showed who were the enemies in Marion county of popular rights and the public peace—such men as Kidwell, the Haymonds, Neeson, Drinkard, and so on; and were the loudest in the declamation about fighting till an opportunity offered and then ran away. Even to-day they had men amongst them who were enjoying the protection of a government to which they were hostile, sending information to the enemy at every chance, and rejoicing at the reverses of the Union arms, even threatening peaceable Union men that the rebel armies would be in to overrun them. Were these men American citizens? [A voice—“Tories!”—Another voice—“Is there no remedy?”] He was going to sell them the remedy before he got through. He alluded to the policy of the Southern leaders, and said that they had levied what they called an effective, immediate force by drafting every man between the ages of 18 and 45. Then they had drafted a sort of a second corps, of every boy between 16 and 18, and every man between 35 and 55, all liable to go into the field at five day’s notice, at furthest. They put into the hands of those men everything with which they could kill a man, whether shotgun, rifle, pistol or pike.—They had pressed all the able-bodied men in their country into the ranks, and were using their able-bodied negroes, too, to strengthen their army. He compared this state of things with the present condition of affairs around them, where citizens were unmolested, and had ample security for life and property. But supposing if for any reason the armies of the United States had to give back how long would their enviable situation last? Why the conscription would take every man in that crowd if the rebels could get in there and have full swing as they had beyond our lines 70 miles to the south. The rebels who had gone from among them were urging and those left behind were secretly inviting their armed allies to come in. [Some one in the crowd said: send them over too, every last one of them.] He then proceeded to speak of the late action of Congress and the President looking to a vigorous prosecution of the war, and said the President had ordered that as the army advances all persons remaining at home shall be required to take the oath of allegiance and give bond and security for their good behavior; and if they do not do that they are to be sent forward into the rebel lines.—[Applause.] That same order he said, is going to reach somewhere down in Western Virginia. It is going to take the old men and women who are so attached to Dixie and send them to Dixie. [Applause.] and take the young men and send them up to an island in Lake Erie where they will be taken care of. [Applause.] He assured them that it was coming to this, that these men in our community, as everywhere else, must take their sides. If they are for the government of the United States, they are for us; if they are for the government of Jeff Davis, they are entirely too far from it and must be sent to it. [Applause—a voice: that’s the doctrine.]
The Governor then proceeded to a scathing review of the constitutional peace party of Vallandigham & Co., which elicited frequent and hearty applause. He dissected the whole movement and its leaders in his most vigorous style, showed how hypocritical the cant about the Constitution was, when the men who mouthed it were in close alliance with Jeff Davis’ conspiracy—that rebels in arms had no rights under the constitution they had violated and attempted to destroy. He took up the cry about “Abolitionists!” and showed that it meant nothing but the malignity of the rebels who used the term. With them everybody who was not for breaking up the Union was a “Yankee” and an Abolitionist. The people of the North, except the traitors in this midst, were a unit for prosecuting the war. There is no law of Congress that permits the slightest interference with the rights in slaves of any Union man, or their right in any other property. The war is made against the rebels alone, and they alone are to be punished. For his own part, he firmly believed that negro slavery was the cause of the war. Many would say it grew out of peculiar notions about society, but slavery both created and fostered those notions, and in one way and another is responsible for the war. He entered at length onto an exposition of the fallacies of these Southern theories, and showed that the South was dead against any government that recognized the principle of true democracy, and wildly bent on some utopian scheme of aristocracy.
Speaking on fusing slaves as an aid in carrying on the war, the Governor reiterated his convictions heretofore publicly expressed. He would use them, not from any morbid sympathy with the negro, but from a natural and reasonable anxiety to save the lives as far as possible of our own white soldiers. He had always regarded slaves as property, and he was for treating them as property in this war. There was no objection to taking a rebel’s horses to draw our cannon and stores. Why not harness our soldiers to the baggage and artillery trains and make them pe[r]form the service of horses? Because common sense told us it would use up our men when the work could be performed by animals whose lives were not so precious. If the horses could dig trenches would we hesitate to put them into it. If slaves were property, and we could use property to economise the lives of our men, and keep them better fitted for field duty, was there any reason why it should not be done? For his part, if in the prosecution of the war slavery was abolished from one end of the land to the other in order to preserve the Union, he was perfectly willing, and if it was saved after the war was over he was willing it should be saved. But the question was not what was to become of negroes; it was what was to become of the white people, of the white people’s government and country. The question of what was to become of the negro was but a secondary consideration and ought to be ranked as such.
The Governor concluded with an appeal to the patriotic men of Marion to furnish their share of 2080 volunteers the State had lately been called on to furnish, and sat down having been heartily applauded all through his speech and at its conclusion.—The speech was lengthy and touched upon a variety of topics which our space will not permit us to notice.
Mr. Willey followed and opened out in his usual felicitous style. He pitched into the aristocracy that dictated a rebellion because they were not content to exist “on the horizontal plane of democracy.” He appealed to any man to say wherein the Federal government had ever oppressed him in the smallest particular, and said such a thing was not even thought of, much less spoken of even by our secessionists here until within eighteen months past; when they were told so by their leaders to prepare them for rebellion. He went on to portray how happy and free from apprehensions people hereabouts were a couple of years ago. Nine-tenths of the people never locked their doors when they lay down to sleep at night, so perfectly secure was life and property. That was the oppression of the government. Now how different it was, since an effort had been made to destroy that government. And he asked if there was a man in the crowd who could say that up to eighteeen [sic] months ago he had ever felt the oppressive hand of the Government in one single particular.—[“None! None!” was the response from the crowd.]
He defined secession. He had defined it in the Richmond Convention a year and a half ago. He told them then it meant war, and was hissed for his pains. Now they saw what it meant.
A pretty figure, indeed, Northwestern Virginia would cut in a Southern Confederacy. He had a boy once who had a little dog. One day a big dog came up and fell on his boy’s little dog, and away the little fellow took the chute for his kennel. His little boy ran after him and let down the door a little too quick. I caught the dog’s tail, and left a piece of it sticking outside, and the result was, the big dog came up and took his tail off. So it was with Northwestern Virginia. Running away up here between Ohio and Pennsylvania, which he expected would hardly join the Southern Confederacy, we would be the tail end of it. We would be stuck away up in here between these two great States, and the Alleghany Mountains right across our tail. We would be shut outside. Now Eastern Virginia never cared very much for us anyhow, and she would care quite as little for us then. The truth was, she could not very well get to our aid. Here with the Alleghany Mountains—not one range, but a succession of them thirty or forty miles across—it would be rather up hill work at any rate for her to send us any help. If we went into a Southern Confederacy, he didn’t suppose Ohio and Pennsylvania would be very friendly toward us. They would be hostile; and how would we be with the Alleghany mountains between us and the South, and these hostile neighbors on the other side? He wanted to know if they could not use up just at their please. Of course they could. In this illustration of Mr. Willey’s is a lucid explanation of our manifest destiny. We are to go with the free States that border us. If we do not go voluntarily we will go by compulsion, only at a later day. It is only a question of time, as we say in regard to the capture of Richmond. Mr. Willey went on to show how extremely annoying it would be, even if peace were possible, for our people, who would have to seek their market in a foreign country (though just at their gates) with all the trouble, vexation and expense of the custom house and passport system.
He then took up and reviewed the question of a new State, detailing as in his (published) Morgantown speech, his own course in relation to the new State in the senate, as also that of his colleague [Mr. Carlile]. Our readers have already seen it in full, and it is unnecessary to give a synopsis of it here. In concluding this part of his remarks, he urged the propriety of getting up and circulating a memorial to the lower House of Congress, requesting them to pass the bill for our admission in shape as it passed the Senate.
In touching upon the slavery feature of this question, Mr. Willey was equally frank and outspoken as at Morgantown. After saying that West and West Virginia have nothing in common—no institutions educational or social—no sympathies wishes or feelings, he said that during the last ten years there had been the greatest effort to propagate and extend slavery within the limits of the proposed new State. Yet they had actually decreased in spite of it—upwards of 2,000 in the aggregate, and the decrease would continue. “It cannot exist in our midst,” said he, “and if did exist, I know enough of this people to say for them that they do not desire to have it here.”—[“Good!” and applause.] Again he said, speaking of the laws of the East, and showing how awkwardly and even painfully they set upon the people of the Northwest, and would continue to if the connection were continued: “We would not have free schools, for instance. We ought to have them, but as my friend (the Governor) told you, there are none in slaveholding territories. There never can be. But then in order to sustain popular government we ought to have and must have public education, and we ought to have and must have free schools. [Applause.] I will tell you, Northwestern Virginians, as long as we are a part of Virginia we will never have free schools; we cannot have them; the Slave Power will keep us from having them.”
It may be remarked parenthetically, that Mr. Willey is actually getting ahead of the Governor, in the fearless and vigorous way in which he deals with this question, and that the Governor is troubled not a little about it and is looking out for a new string to his bow.
Mr. Willey treated on some other questions not noted in this brief synopsis, and took his seat, as he had been frequently interrupted with applause.
Mr. Ben Gough from the Committee reported the following:
Whereas, The present unnatural and causeless war was brought on the country by a reckless and wicked conspiracy for the purpose of overthrowing the most beneficent government that God in mercy ever vouchsafed to man; and, whereas, an appeal has been made to the people by the President of the United States to rally to defense of their country; therefore,
Resolved, that we cordially approve and heartily endorse the admin[is]tration of President Lincoln, believing that all our hopes and prospects of success[s] are centred in the success of his administration, and that we will stand by him in the dark hours of our country’s gloom, come weal or come woe, and aid him with all the powers we possess, both morally and physically, in his herculean task of putting down and crushing out this unholy rebellion.
2. That from the geographical position of this continent there never can exist but one nation upon it, and that the dissolution of the Union will be the death knell of free government not only on this continent but throughout the world; that therefore we are unalterably opposed to any terms with the rebels short of laying down their arms and returning to their allegiance to the United States Government; and that we will hold all who do aid or abet any such compromise as enemies to human liberty everywhere.
3. That we unmeasuredly condemn the effort now being made to raise a third party under the plausible name of the peace or conservative party, by Vallandigham, John S. Carlile & Co.; that we feel sure this party bodes no good to the Republic, but is designed by its leaders to throw us into the hands of Jeff Davis and his minions, and we therefore call upon all Union men to frown down indignantly every attempt to alienate their affection from, or prejudice them against the administration of their northern brethren by the cant epithets of “abolition,” &c.; that we regard all who aid and abet in the formation of this party as sympathizers with the rebellion and as deserving the unmitigated scorn of mankind.
4. That we cannot afford to divide the Union party to restore slavery to the rebellion. That the blood and treasure now being poured out and the groans and tears of widows and orphans, are more precious in our eyes than the restoration of slaves to rebel masters.
5. That we cheerfully accept and heartily approve the amended clause of the bill admitting West Virginia into the Union as a f[r]ee State; that one of our chief desires is to get rid of the incubus that has borne us to the earth and retarded our onward and upward progress; that our thanks are due and are hereby tendered to Senators Willey, Wade and Hale, and representatives Brown, Blair and Whaley, and to others who aided them, for their untiring efforts to procure the admission into the Union of our New State, West Virginia.
6. That we condemn in unmeasured terms the course of our unstable and erratic Senator, John S. Carlile, as well on the new State as on other questions, and hope his sense of honor will compel him to resign his seat in the United States Senate.
7. That we recommend to public officers, civil and military, to use their utmost endeavors to vigorously prosecute the war, and that we endorse the policy of the Administration recently promulgated for this purpose.
8. That this meeting acquiesce in the declarations of our Governor in favor of ridding the community of the rebels and rebel sympathizers in our midst, by compelling them to take the oath of allegiance and give bonds for good behavior, or to be transferred beyond our lines.
9. That we will use our utmost endeavors to respond to the President’s call for troops, and recommend every citizen to consider himself a pro tempore recruiting officer whose first duty it is to volunteer himself, and next, to solicit others to do the same.
10. That in order to facilitate enlistments, we recommend our County Court to lay a levy sufficient to raise an additional bounty of at least $50 to each volunteer who may enlist; and that we promise all men having families that if they enlist their families shall be taken care of and provided for.
These resolutions were adopted unanimously.
Rev. Moses Tichnael moved a committee of five to draw up the petition suggested by Mr. Willey praying Congress to admit the new State under the bill as it passed the Senate. J. B. Nay of Mannington, suggested seven so as to have one for each magisterial district, which was agreed to. The same gentlemen who were appointed a committee on resolutions, were selected by the chairman, to draw up the petition.
As the meeting was about to disperse calls were made for Fontain Smith, of Mannington, but that gentleman gracefully excused himself, saying that he could not think of attempting a speech after the eloquent strains they had just listened to from the Governor and Senator Willey.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: August 1862