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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
Undated
February 1865


Richmond Daily Dispatch
February 23, 1865

The Credentials of a Virginia Senator.

It is rather mortifying to the people of Virginia to find that Mr. Joseph Segar, their representative to the United States Senate, has been denied a seat in that august body by a very decisive vote taken upon his "credentials." The rejection appears to be based upon the fact that Virginia is "a State in armed rebellion"--a little circumstance that probably Mr. Segar, in his hurry to take the boat for [ Washidgton, ] had overlooked. Mr. Charles Sumner, a citizen of Massachusetts, who is more fortunate than Mr. Segar in occupying a seat in the Federal Senate, took a very sensible view of the matter. He could not see what nobody else can see the propriety of a Virginia representative in a Yankee Senate. He said:

It will be the duty of the committee to consider, in the first place, whether a State in armed rebellion, like Virginia, can have Senators on this floor. That is a great question constitutional, political and practical. It will be their duty, then, in the second place, to inquire whether the gentleman whose credentials have been presented has been chosen legally, under the Constitution of the United States, by any State. I do not intend to prejudge either of these questions. I simply offer them for the consideration of the Senate; but I do insist that a measure of this importance shall not be acted on without due consideration or in absolute indifference to those facts which now stare us in the face, glaring upon us every day in every newspaper that we read. You cannot be insensible to facts.

It is in vain that Senators say that Virginia, now at war against the Union, is entitled to representation on this floor, when you have before you the inexorable fact that the greater part of the State is at this moment in the possession of an armed rebellion when you have before you the other fact, filling almost all the newspapers in the land, that the body of men who have undertaken to send a Senator to Congress are a little more than the Common Council of Alexandria. And you have that question distinctly presented to you whether a representative of the Common Council of Alexandria is to enter this chamber and share the same powers and privileges with my honorable friends, the Senators from New York and Pennsylvania. I merely open these points without now undertaking to decide, and simply as an unanswerable argument in favor of the reference to the committee.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: February 1865

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