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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: Joseph McWhorter


Wheeling Intelligencer
September 10, 1863

The First West Va. Legislature.

HOUSE OF DELEGATES

Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical

JOS. M. McWHORTER, of Roane.

Mr. McWhorter is a native of Lewis county, where there is a numerous family of the same name. 35 years of age; is a good looking gentleman above the medium height, with a round, fresh looking face, dark hair, thinned on top of a well developed head, very fine black eyes and beautiful jet black whiskers. Mr. McW. is of Scotch, Irish and German descent. When five years of age his father removed to Delaware county, Ohio, and resided there some eight years. Here Joseph obtained the principal part of what education he is possessed of, and the advantages of the free schools thus enjoyed early impressed him favorably with a free school system, which he has ever advocated. His father removed from Ohio to Harrison county in this State, where he “finished” his education in a common country school, such as have been maintained heretofore in our State, chiefly for the purpose of relieving parents from the care of their children and to keep them out of mischief. He had a strong desire, after arriving at his majority, to procure a more thorough education by individual efforts; but being the eldest, and the rest of the children daughter, and his father in straightened circumstances, filial duty kept him at home till his assistance was less needed. He labored on the farm with his father till 25 years of age, teaching school after 21 during the winter. He then married and removed to Jackson, in what is now Roane, upon the organization of which county in 1856, he was elected clerk of the County Court. It was decided that the formation of the county created a vacancy in the office and that he could hold it but two years. When the two years had expired he was a candidate for re-election and had five competitors, all especially pitted against him. They branded him with being an “Abolitionist,” because he was a member of the M. E. Church, which those who have since turned out rebels were trying to break down. However, he beat all his competitors, receiving nearly as many votes as all of them together. After the expiration of that term he was deputy clerk and superintended the business of the office, till the breaking out of the rebellion.

Mr. McW. opposed the calling of the Richmond Convention, resisted the dogmas of the secessionists, as dangerous to civil liberty, and always contended that secession would prove fatal to the “peculiar institution.” Had held a commission as captain of militia two or three years, and joined a home guard company as a private, not having been present at its organization. He was its principal drill officer, and was in all the fights at Spencer, the capital of Roane, between the home guards and the guerrillas. The last of these lasted seven days, and the home guards were outnumbered nearly four to one, but finally succeeded in repulsing the guerrillas.

Mr. McW. has been a member of the M. E. Church since he was 15 years of age. – This being true, it is not strange that he should be on principle an anti-slavery man. Though he regarded slavery as baneful to society he was willing it should have, as a necessary evil, whatever protection the laws of the land gave it where it existed, but was unwilling the evil should be extended. Is one of those who has faith that that an All Wise Providence is over-ruling all things for good, and will in good time (not very distant) bring about the end of this evil. Politically he was a disciple of the school of Clay and Webster, but opposed to mingling Federal with State politics—believing that in all choice of State officers the best men should be chosen irrespective of their national politics.

Mr. McWhorter is a member of the Committee on Private Incorporations and Joint Stock companies, and the Committee on Forfeited and Unappropriated Lands.—Makes no long speeches but has no difficulty in saying what he desires to. Is a gentleman of most excellent social qualities, and decidedly a man of promise.


Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History