Granville Parker's Account of Jacob Beeson Blair's Role
In Lincoln's Approval of the Statehood Bill

The Formation of the State of West Virginia, by Granville Parker
(Wellsburg: Glass & Son, 1875), pp. 185-86

The bill then went into the President's hands for approval or veto. The opponents followed it there with unabated zeal. Many of the papers said Mr. LINCOLN would veto it. He required the views of each of his Cabinet, then in Washington, to be given in writing. Messrs. SEWARD, CHASE and STANTON, the brains of the Cabinet, expressed themselves strongly in our favor; while Messrs. WELLES, BLAIR and BATES, (the latter still adhering to the views expressed in his letter to Mr. RITCHIE, in 1861) expressed themselves opposed - Mr. HARLAN being absent. Numerically, therefore, the President received no aid from his Constitutional advisers, but he could justly appreciate the arguments and reasons given. It may be then, to the honest, hard sense, and wisdom of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, that we are indebted for the new State; for if he had vetoed, we could not have hoped to command a two-thirds vote of Congress.

The Hon. JACOB B. BLAIR seems to have been most alive to the critical situation at this time, and his efforts were untiring; and his honesty and earnestness had effect, I have no doubt. I happened to be in New York on private business, at this time, and gathering from the papers the critical situation, I went to Washington the 31st of December, called on Mr. BLAIR that evening, who informed me that he had just come from the President, who had told him to call next morning and receive a New Year's gift. We both slept well that night. In the morning, Mr. BLAIR, as he afterwards told me, called at the Presidential mansion before the doors were opened, went in at a window, met the President, who had just got up - he went immediately to a drawer, took out, and showed him the Bill, with his signature affixed - as the New Year's gift he had promised - manifesting the simplicity and joyousness of a child, when it feels it has done its duty, and gratified a friend. I soon after left for home.

Chapter Fourteen: Lincoln's Dilemma

A State of Convenience

West Virginia Archives and History