August 15, 1862
War Meeting at Clarksburg—Resolutions Passed—Speeches of the Hon. Waitman T. Willey and Hon. Chapman J. Stewart.
(Special Report for the Intelligencer.)
Clarksburg, Va., Aug. 14, 1862.
More people are here to-day than there have been since the breaking out of the rebellion, or indeed, I am told, for a number of years. Some say they never saw as may here before. Old Harrison has been slow, but she is now truly in earnest. The streets have been filled with people all day. A very fine band from the patriotic little town of Shinnston are here, having come voluntarily to add to the feeling of the people. In fact, all the able bodied citizens of that place and the lower end of the county—and indeed, of the whole county, are here. The speaking began after dinner, from the Court House steps. The whole Court House yard, which is quite capacious, was crammed full, all the fences, windows, doors, within hearing and the street, were filled with a mass of people. Capt. Mawisly’s company of artillery drew up within hearing in the street, and everywhere there was the deepest feeling and enthusiasm.
The meeting was organized by calling Rev. Aaron Vincent to the Chair, and appointing William Haslett Secretary.
The following gentlemen were appointed to prepare business for the meeting:
S. S. Fleming, Jacob Highland, A. Werniger, John W. Boggess, and David W. Robinson.
These gentlemen returned, and Mr. Willey then came forward and addressed the crowd in one of his happiest and most telling speeches. I can’t undertake to tell you what he said. You know what he has said at other places, and he said the same here substantially, or perhaps stronger than before. He was enthusiastically cheered over and over again, and his review of Senator Carlile in connection with the new State went home and met a hearty response.
Hon. Chapman J. Stewart, of West Union, followed in a brief speech tart and well put. He appealed to the volunteers to come forward without delay. A good portion of his remarks were devoted to a scathing review of Mr. Carlile’s delinquencies and inconsistencies, which he showed up with his accustomed sarcasm and vigor.
After Mr. Stewart had concluded, Lloyd Moore, County Clerk, at the request of the Committee read the following:
Whereas the Government of the United States as established by the statesmen and soldiers of the Revolution, and perpetuated by their successors, is the most beneficent system of government now in existence or known to history, securing to its people, in the comprehensive words of Jefferson, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” with peace and prosperity heretofore unexampled: And Whereas that Government, which is ours and the common property of all its citizens,--never wronged or tyrannized over any portion of them, and never until compelled to in self defense of its loyal people even laid the hand of its authority upon us, and has done that at our bidding:
And Whereas, bad, ambitious and unscrupulous men have conspired to subvert that Government by disregarding its great constitutional charter, by destroying the principles of Union and fraternity which bound all the States by a common bond, and are now seeking to erect on the ruins of free institutions a system of aristocracy intended to control government, and ignore the rights, franchises and privileges of common working white men.
And Whereas, these conspirators have levied great armies to carry on their treasonable and infamous work and have in its execution murdered thousands of our brothers and fellow-citizens, and do in this day and hour not only menace the lives of thousands more, but actually threaten the safety of the Capital of the nation and jeopardize the existence of the Republic itself, and through it all the cherished institutions that honor civilization and humanity.
And whereas further, next to preserving and perpetuating the government of the United States and the Union on which it is based, with the liberties of the people thus secured, the object dearest to this people is the erection of West Virginia into a separate State, independent of Eastern domination and relieved from Eastern taxation.
And whereas, all who labor with and for us in the furtherance of the great ends herein set forth deserve our earnest sympathy and commendation, and all who endeavor openly or covertly to defeat them thus aiding the enemies of the country, merit our severest and most unqualified condemnation.
And whereas finally, it becomes a loyal, free and independent people to express freely their views on all public questions, Therefore
Resolved, 1. That the issue included in the present contest, on the one side is the existence and prosperity of the best Government that was ever vouchsafed to man, and which was handed down to us by the wisest and purest statesmen that ever graced this earth and made doubly dear to us by the sacrifice of the treasure and blood of the sages and patriots who labored not for self-aggrandizement, but for the liberty and disenthrallment of mankind from tyranny and oppression, and a failure on our part now to appreciate this priceless heritage and to respond to our country’s call, and to pledge our lives and sacred all, as did our forefathers for the perpetuation of that Government under which we have enjoyed so many blessings would indicate to the world that we now are unworthy of the liberties we enjoy, and justly make us the contempt and derision of the civilized world.
2. That the rebellion on the part of the South is unjustifiable is a crime of the blackest dye, seeking to destroy the great American principle proclaimed by the apostle of liberty, that all men are born free and equal, its purpose being the extension and perpetuity of slavery and the curtailing of the rights of the laboring man.
3. That in this the hour of our nations trouble, we recognize but two parties union and disunion, he that is for his government and he that is against it. And we look upon the man who loses sight of the great issues of the day and is attempting to reuscitate [sic] old parties, as an enemy to his country in disguise, seeking to cloak his treason with what was once honorable, and thereby insinuate himself into the esteem of those who are honest in purpose but cannot see through the veil of deception and treason in disguise, thereby seeking to destract [sic] and divide the union sentiment, and thus enabling the enemies of our country the more easily to overcome us.
4. That the pretext so prevalent amongst certain wealthy and influential citizens of our county, that they don’t intend to fight or take any part on either side, but simply ask to be let alone is contemptible and disgusting to the better sense of this meeting, and we believe that those making use of this dodge to screen themselves, their sons and their means, from the aid of the government in putting down this rebellion, and are doing more to prevent the filling up of the ranks of the army by voluntary enlistments, than the open and out spoken enemies of the country.
5. That we, in mass meeting assembled, request the County Court now in session, to cause an immediate levy to be made of sufficient amount to give to each volunteer, enlisting under the late call of the President, fifty dollars bounty in addition to what is already offered by the Government.
6. That the President of this meeting appoint a committee of five, one in each magisterial district, to procure names to a memorial, praying the House of Representatives to pass the Senate bill admitting West Virginia as a State.
The report was adopted by an overwhelming “Aye.” Some three or four voted no, just because they could, I suppose.
After the resolutions were adopted, John J. Davis, the member of the House of Delegates, who alone voted against repealing the infamous law compelling the State to pay for condemned niggers, and who voted almost alone on many other questions of like character, got up and began a rampant Carlile speech; but he didn’t seem to make much impression, for hisses and groans became so plentiful in about ten minutes that he desisted. Mr. Stewart got up and followed him amid applause that showed where the heart of the crowd was.
In the winding up Stewart got three rousing cheers, and three hideous groans were given for the especial benefit of John J. Davis.
. . .
The crowd is quietly dispersing this evening. Much good will result from this day’s work. Take it all in all it has been about the highest old day that ever passed off in Clarksburg to the knowledge of the undersigned.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: August 1862