Prayer by Rev. R. V. Dodge, of the Presbyterian church.
Journal read and approved.
THE PRESIDENT. When the Convention adjourned, it had under consideration the first resolution of the Report of the Committee on Boundary. The gentleman from Monongalia is entitled to the floor.
MR. WILLEY. Mr. President, when the Convention was about to adjourn yesterday I gave notice of my intention to offer an amendment to the resolution under consideration; and I now send to the Clerk's desk, sir, the amendment I propose.
The Secretary read as follows:
Strike out all after the word "Resolved" and insert:
"That the district comprising the counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, Buchanan and Wise, ought to be included in, and constitute part of, the proposed State of West Virginia, provided a majority of the votes cast within the said district, at elections to be held for the purpose, on the day of , and a majority of said counties are in favor of the adoption of the Constitution to be submitted by this Convention; and if a majority of said votes cast, and of said counties, are so in favor of said Constitution, that the legislature be requested to include the said district as a part of the proposed State of West Virginia."
MR. WILLEY. After the discussion of yesterday, involving the principle at issue, I do not propose this morning to detain the Convention but a moment or two. The resolution which I offer now brings up precisely the same questions which were discussed on yesterday and the day before. If we are to receive the vote yesterday upon the amendment of the gentleman from Preston as an indication of the settled opinion of the members of this body, it would be in vain to discuss my amendment any further. If we were to take the vote on yesterday as an indication of the opinion of the members of this body, that it is proper and right to include arbitrarily the whole of these counties within the proposed new State, my amendment, sir, will amount to nothing. It must receive the same vote as the amendment of the gentleman from Preston. But I do not understand that to be the sense of the Convention; and I hope that they voted against the amendment of the gentleman from Preston and also against the amendment to which that was an amendment, for the purpose of getting them both out of the way, that some proposition like the one which I now have the honor to present, or of a similar character, might take the place of all of them.
I present it, sir, for the reasons assigned in brief by myself on yesterday. I shall not repeat the argument which I then attempted to make further than to say that the Convention of August last was a Convention of the entire State of Virginia. The delegates of that Convention represented the sovereign power of the entire State, by intention of law, at least. We do not. We represent only the thirty-nine or at furthest the forty-one counties that have sent delegates to this body. The whole people of Virginia in convention assembled entered into a compact with the residue of the people of this State. The resolution to which I offer an amendment proposes to act for some portion of our fellow citizens who are not in the State or represented on this floor. The action and power over these counties ceased on the adjournment of the Convention of August last. They entered into a definite, written, specific arrangement with the people of the forty-one counties, and now when these people have retired from our boundaries under this express stipulation and arrangement between them we propose to transgress the limits of our agreed authority and usurp powers which they never conferred on us and which they are not here to dispute. I charge, sir, it is an usurpation of authority and a violation of the compact with the other portion of the people of this State who will be surprised by our action here; and it will be taking advantage of a covenant and agreement entered into between them and us. Therefore, sir, it is that I offer this amendment, earnestly, urgently, sincerely desiring by some fair and lawful and proper process to bring the section of the State described in my amendment within the jurisdiction of the new State.
Now, sir, by the ordinance of August last, those counties had the privilege of voting if they saw proper; and if any of these counties had voted and had voted against coming into the new State, by the express stipulation contained in that ordinance we could not and dare not have included them within the new State. Yet, sir, it is proposed by the resolution now under consideration, that although that may be a fact, that although they have not voted, with the further indication that if they had voted they would have voted not to come into the new State, we propose by an arbitrary resolution upon the part of this body to include them within the new State. Is it right, sir? Are we not transcending our authority? Are we not trampling on the fundamental principle adverted to by two gentlemen here on yesterday who acknowledged it to be the true principle, that the proper foundation of all government is the consent of the governed - at least the consent of a majority of the governed? We have given them no opportunity to be heard. By our agreement and compact heretofore, we have assured them that unless they voted to come in, they should not be brought in. They have not voted to come in; and now, sir, we propose, they not having representation here, even in the formation of the fundamental law which is hereafter to govern them to bring them in arbitrarily by way of a surprise, for it must be a surprise to them. I think it is wrong, sir; it cannot have my consent. Therefore I propose bringing them in and giving them an opportunity to vote upon the Constitution which we shall submit to them and then to ask the legislature, if they vote to come in - to give them at least an opportunity to include them within the limits of the new State.
I shall not enlarge, sir, upon this; I shall not trespass further upon the time of the Convention; but I give notice that if the amendment which I have submitted shall pass, earnestly desiring to get in the whole of that territory - at least all of it except the two counties I shall propose that yet if upon a vote within the district proposed there should be a majority of the counties opposed to us, and a majority of the votes cast against the proposed Constitution, the counties of Pocahontas and Greenbrier or either of them should vote in favor of the Constitution, thus indicating a desire to come in, they should be included. By looking upon the map it will be seen that by bringing in these counties or either of them, it will still make something like a regular border; and I desire to bring in either or both, or all of those counties, or as many of them as we can get; and if this carries I would offer the following resolution:
"RESOLVED, That in any event, if a majority of the votes of either of the counties of Pocahontas or Greenbrier, so to be cast as aforesaid, be in favor of the adoption of said Constitution, said counties, or either of them, so casting a majority of votes, should be included in the proposed State of West Virginia; and the legislature should so include them, or either of them."
MR. BROWN of Preston. Mr. President, I believe, sir, I have not occupied the time of the Convention in addressing myself to any proposition that has been under consideration. Representing, sir, as I have the honor in part to do, a county which gave a larger vote for a division of the State than any county within the limits of the new State, I desire to submit a few remarks upon the amendment offered by the gentleman from Monongalia.
I was opposed, sir, to the amendment offered upon yesterday by my friend and colleague for the reason that it sought to exclude from the limits of the State the counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer and McDowell; a part or all of which I believe ought to be included within the limits of the new State, that we might have united a homogeneous people in a compact State with a natural and defensible boundary. I see, sir, that the committee has furnished the Convention with palpable statistical exhibits in connection with the resolution which they have presented; and I desire to call the attention of members of this Convention to the fact that there is a calculation and estimate to be made on this subject.
If, sir, it is proposed in addition to the counties enumerated in the amendment of the gentleman from Monongalia to embrace the other counties named in the resolution of the committee, I desire to call the attention of the Convention to an estimate of the population, and see where this course of proceeding will lead us to, and what will be the result of our action. You will find that there is embraced within the thirty-nine counties a population of 272,759. You will find that there is embraced in the tables presented by the committee of the population of the counties outside of this boundary which are proposed to be admitted conditionally into the new State, a population of 255,182. That whole population, sir, I regard as unsound upon the Union question. And, sir, in addition to that population we may regard as unsound, practically unsound, the population of the counties of Cabell, Wayne, Logan, Boone, Wyoming, Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Webster, Braxton, and Tucker, within the limits of the thirty-nine counties. Upon making an estimate of the population of the counties which I have just enumerated, within the limits of the thirty- nine, which I regard as unsound and practically opposed to the division of the State, they have a population of 47,875. Add that population to 255,182, and you have an unsound population of 303,057 against a sound population of 224,684. Now, sir, is it advisable - is it at all practicable - to carry out the purpose which we have in view by a division of this State, to subject ourselves to this opposition? What, sir, may be the result? This population of 303,057 may accept the conditions proffered by this Convention; they may consent to come into the new State; they may be embodied within the limits of this State; and we may in a very short time be seeking to sever ourselves from the Valley as we are now seeking to sever ourselves from eastern Virginia. I believe, sir, it is said that "the leopard cannot change his spots nor the Ethiopian his skin," and I believe it is equally true that a secessionist cannot change his principles. We may have by deception and hypocrisy, sir, on the part of this secession element proposed to be taken in, we may have the next executive officer of this State, sir, a secessionist. Ah, even the bandit guerilla Jenkins may be made the governor of the new State of West Virginia by this operation, or some other man entertaining similar sentiments.
No one who listened to the eloquent and pathetic remarks of the gentleman from Monongalia on yesterday, could for a moment doubt his loyalty. I am satisfied, sir, too, that he is in favor of a division of the State. But, sir, I do think if this principle is carried out, it will most successfully and inevitably defeat the great purpose we have in view.
But, sir, I do not desire to detain the Convention in the vote to be taken on this question. I am in favor, sir, as I have expressed myself, on former occasions, of short speeches, short sermons, and short prayers; and I believe, sir, that in this I represent the wishes of my constituents.
MR. WILLEY. And short states, too?
MR. BROWN of Preston. And short states too (Laughter). But, sir, all I had in view was this - that we may unite a homogeneous people in a compact state, with natural and defensible boundaries.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. I must say to my friend from Preston that I am as much in favor of short speeches as any man in this Convention. Mr. President, I do not now speak because I am fond of speaking; but acting in the capacity I do as chairman of this committee, it seems to devolve on me to look after the report of the committee, and I talk only for that reason, not because there are not many here in this body who could throw much more light upon it than myself. I do dislike these set speeches very much; and I hate repetition, as much as any man in this Convention; and that was one reason I objected to the question coming up yesterday in that form it did, because I said the same argument would have to be gone over. I shall confine myself to arguments that have not been used. However, it is impossible to avoid some repetitions.
In one sense of the word I would be in favor of the amendment proposed by my friend from Monongalia. If as I said on yesterday that the people of the counties of McDowell, Monroe, Mercer, Greenbrier and Pocahontas would have an opportunity of expressing their sentiments and saying whether they wanted to come in or remain out, I would favor it. Now, sir, if my friend from Monongalia will volunteer to take the service on himself, take sword in hand, and unless this Convention will go down there and clear out the rebels and disciples of Floyd and Lee who are there, and give this people a free opportunity of expressing their sentiments as the people of my county have had, so that they could come here and say what government they wanted to live under, and what State they wanted to come into - then I will favor his proposition. But until I could have the positive assurance that the citizens of these counties whom I know and believe and have every assurance are loyal and who want to come into the State of West Virginia and whose interests are identified with ours - until I can have the assurance that they can have the opportunity of expressing their opinions, then, sir, I am for taking them in. They stand there now, gentlemen, pleading, "save, save, or I perish!" Cut them off now, form your State, be recognized by the Congress of the United States, and you drive those people from you, and tie them up with the people of eastern Virginia with whose interests they are totally at variance. They will be trammeled, sir, and made "hewers of wood and drawers of water" during the remainder of their governmental life. They will have never an opportunity of attaching themselves to West Virginia, or forming a State and framing a Constitution suited to their situation, unless we now include them in it. I have not a particle of doubt that if these people could have an opportunity of expressing their sentiments and saying whether they wanted to cut loose from eastern Virginia and adopt the Constitution of West Virginia, but what they would do it almost unanimously. But can my friend from Monongalia give us this assurance?
The gentlemen seem to stickle much on the ordinance of the convention of last August. He says the whole people of the State of Virginia entered into a covenant, and now we are seeking to break and violate that covenant. Now, sir, that will do to talk about; it will do to say that the whole people of Virginia last August entered into a covenant; but I must be permitted to say that it was a very small portion of the State of Virginia that did it. I here find represented on this floor this day, a much larger portion of Virginia than was represented in the convention of June and August. Now, sir, I am free to say that if we had entered into a covenant, as he represents, and the whole State of Virginia had been consulted, and that if the counties of Pocahontas, Monroe, Mercer and McDowell had been upon this floor and their voice had been heard, and we had entered into a covenant in which they had a voice, then I would have been the last to violate or break that covenant; but I appeal to every man in this Convention who is acquainted with the acts of the first convention and with the people whom they represented, whether there ever was a covenant entered into with these people. Was their voice ever heard here? And what was the reason it was not heard? Because, sir, they were overrun by the rebel powers.
Why was it we could come here and enter our protest against the action of the eastern portion of this State, and take initiatory steps for a new State, one that is more congenial with our interests? Why was it, I appeal to this Convention? Because the general government was enabled to relieve us from that rebel influence having driven the armies from amongst us, and we were free to act for ourselves. Unfortunately for our neighbors - for these people who voted with large majorities against the ordinance of the Richmond Convention, the Government has not yet succeeded in expelling the rebel armies from their midst. I understand the county of McDowell and other counties gave large votes against the ordinance of secession. Now, sir, we cannot have their voice here; you cannot give us the assurance that we will get their voice at the time that you will indicate in the resolution you now pass. The gentleman has left it blank. I would like to have an indication of the sentiments of this Convention as to when they propose to submit this question. If you will say that you will not propose your Constitution to the Congress of the United States and have your State formed until these people can be consulted, then I will go with you; because I am for leaving it to them if it can be done. But such is not the case. It is not possible for that assurance to be given here. As I said yesterday, I believe it is the intention and disposition of this body to form their Constitution, present it to the people, make their application to the legislature, and go to Congress during the present session. Now I understand that to be a fixed and determined purpose in the mind of this body. I know it is with my people; they desire it. They do not want this Congress to adjourn until we make our application to that body. Well, sirs, that will have to be done, not within the prescribed limits proposed by the ordinance that called us into existence, which my friend desires to observe so strictly; but we will have to form our Constitution here as soon as we can, and it will have to be submitted to the people of West Virginia before the first day of next May, if we expect to apply to be received into this Union during the present session of Congress, for in all probability it will adjourn before the first day of June. Then, sirs, if the people of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, and McDowell are to have this question submitted to them, it is to be within the period from this time until the first of May. Then, sir, the election will have to be submitted to them in April; and in all probability that will be done before there is the least change in the present military arrangements. I understand, and we were told, yesterday, by the gentleman from Kanawha, that these armies have gone into winter quarters, and that the armies of Floyd and Davis are now quartered in the very territory we seek to take within our boundary, and the people of whom we are inclined to believe are loyal people and want to come with us. Then, sir, the question cannot be submitted to them. It is virtually saying to this people, in carrying out the resolutions of the gentleman from Monongalia that they shall not have an opportunity to express their views and come with us, unless you will volunteer and this Convention will take up arms and go down there and drive out the rebels. Now, sir, before I am willing to disfranchise or say to them that they shall be disintegrated from their friends, destroy all social relations with their neighbors and tied down to eastern Virginia with the doctrines there taught now by Letcher, "Sandy" Stuart & Company - who has not seen those reports? Who does not see that the aristocracy of eastern Virginia are now seeking to disfranchise all these people whom we are proposing to take in - curtailing the elective franchise of our friends and neighbors, men who are identified with our interests, who voted against the ordinance of secession and who now I can see standing and appealing to us, as I before said, "Save, or I perish!" You say to them if they will take a vote and say by a majority of their people that they desire to come with us we will receive them, when you must know that that is an utter impossibility.
Mr. President, as to the legal question, I do not propose to argue it at present. It seems to me there was sufficient said on that yesterday. But I must say again, that this great natural boundary is a boundary that is indicated by the hand of nature - that that boundary is worth more to us, if ever we should get into a conflict, than a standing army of fifty thousand men. This day, Mr. President, if I was defending the borders of West Virginia I would rather have the natural barriers on the top of the Alleghany mountains for a defense than a standing army of fifty thousand men, placed around the borders of Randolph, Fayette and Nicholas - this little worm fence. There is no other natural boundary proposed in the ordinance including the thirty-nine counties, save that of a worm fence. And yet, sir, we will deprive ourselves of these great natural barriers which God has erected, for our defense if we should ever get into a conflict.
Now, we would have thought a year or twenty months ago that it was an impossibility that the State of Virginia would ever be in her present condition. We may take consolation now and flatter ourselves that when this rebellion is past, the like will never arise in future; but we cannot say; we do not know, sir; and it is wise and prudent in statesmen to look to all contingencies. Then if this contingency should possibly ever arise, let us look to our great natural defences; and who could look at it, sir, without being struck with the necessity of adopting it?
MR. LAMB. Mr. President, I regret exceedingly that I have not been able to concur in the propriety of adopting the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Monongalia. When it was first suggested to me, I thought it ought to be adopted; but the subsequent reflection which I have been able to give the subject has made me very strongly and decidedly of the opposite opinion.
The objection to it is, or appears at least to my mind to be, that whatever it may be in shape, whatever it may be in profession it operates as a virtual exclusion of these counties from our boundaries. I think those counties naturally belong to us; they are naturally part of western Virginia. I think that that boundary is essential to us, and that it will therefore be unfortunate, to say the least, if we are compelled by any principle to exclude them. We are necessarily compelled to act upon this matter; we must include or we must exclude those counties. May there not be, gentlemen, as much injustice, as much hardship, upon the people of those counties in excluding them practically - without their having an opportunity to express their sentiments, without their having an opportunity of deciding themselves to which section of the country they would belong - may there not be as much injustice on this side of the question as on the other - as much injustice perpetrated on them? We must proceed to the speedy organization of the new State or we must give up all hopes of organizing it. In the organization, before the new State is organized and in operation, this question of including or excluding these counties must be decided. I do not believe that a full expression of the sentiments of that people can be had within the time in which it would be necessary to have it, in order to arrive at a decision of this matter. If it could be had, if I thought it were practicable to obtain their free and independent sentiments on this subject, I would be willing to wait until it could be done; but within the time in which this matter has to be decided, it cannot be done.
Is there any principle then that renders it imperative on this Convention to exclude instead of including these counties? Is it a necessary republican principle that when the people of a large district determine that their welfare, their safety, requires a certain measure, that measure is to be arrested because the people of some little district within that territory may not be willing to assent to it. Put the question fairly, are we to abandon the scheme of instituting the new State because the people of Calhoun county say they are unwilling to come in? You have invited them to express their sentiments on this subject; they have spurned your invitation. You have invited the people of Nicholas and Fayette, on the border, too, to express on this subject, and they too have spurned your invitation. And yet you include them.
This Constitution when it shall be formed is to be submitted to the people of the whole new State; and if a majority of the people - every man may vote on that subject within the limits prescribed, if he sees proper - if a majority of the whole people vote and decide, then it is strictly in conformity with the republican principle that it should be the government of the whole notwithstanding the people of a particular section, may exhibit a majority against, or may be unwilling even to express their sentiments upon it.
Further to illustrate this matter, it has been suggested to me that I should offer an amendment - which I am not going to offer - to the amendment of the gentleman from Monongalia: that the counties of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall should be included in the new State if the people of those counties vote for it on the third Thursday of April next. Certainly, gentlemen, if this thing of putting the question to the people of each little district is a fundamental republican principle what right have you to include the counties of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, and Marshall without putting the question separately to them? What right have you to include the people of Calhoun county? What right to include the people of Fayette, of Nicholas and Logan, whom you all intend to include? Randolph county - Webster county has not voted. You have not any expression of their sentiments here.
MR. SIMMONS. Randolph voted.
MR. LAMB. I know Randolph voted; but Webster has not voted, and Logan has not voted and Wyoming has not voted; Fayette and Nicholas have not voted, Calhoun has not voted - all these are to be included absolutely upon the great principle, gentlemen, that when you adopt this Constitution it is to be submitted to the vote of the whole, and every man if he wishes may come to the polls and have his vote recorded on that subject. But there is, I contend, no such principle as that it is necessary to consult the wishes of each particular little district in order to determine a great question of this kind; or if there is such a principle I say you have no right to include Calhoun and Webster and Fayette and Nicholas, and the other counties I have mentioned. Randolph has voted, I know, on this subject. She has given one hundred and seventy-three votes altogether. Is that even a full expression of Randolph on this subject? The proper foundation of all government, it is very truly said, is the consent of the governed; but, gentlemen, the difficulty lies in the application of that principle. Is it necessary for "the proper foundation of all government" that the consent of the people of every little district included within the whole boundary is to be got in favor of it? Why, adopt any such principle and you render the establishment of any government impracticable.
I have not therefore, been able to see, I must confess, any such principle standing rigidly and unalterably in our way, as would prevent us from establishing a Constitution for West Virginia if a majority of the whole people concur in ratifying it. I think in submitting the Constitution as we are necessarily obliged to do, to the ratification or rejection of the whole people within the district, we are complying fully and perfectly with all republican principle requires of us. We give every man in that district the right, if he sees proper to exercise it, to have his sentiments expressed on the subject. You will find the utmost difficulty if you establish this principle of ratification by sections. How large a section must be heard in regard to the matter? Must you have a majority in each county before you can include that county? To carry the principle fairly out you would have to go back to the great principle of my friend from Wood and consult the wishes of each society, of each family, before we include them. Is it not the true principle, that in a matter of this kind it is necessary to secure the majority of the whole, not the majority of each particular section?
MR. SINSEL. I would like for the Secretary to read the amendment again before I make any remarks.
The Secretary read it as follows:
Strike out all after the word "Resolved," and insert -
"That the district comprising the counties of Pocahantas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, Buchanan and Wise, ought to be included in, and constitute part of, the proposed State of West Virginia, provided a majority of the votes cast within the said district, at elections to be held for the purpose, on the day of , and a majority of said counties are in favor of the adoption of the Constitution to be submitted by this Convention; and if a majority of said votes cast, and of said counties, are so in favor of said Constitution, that the Legislature be requested to include the said district as a part of the proposed State of West Virginia."
MR. SINSEL. To adopt that amendment would be virtually and forever to exclude those counties from becoming a part of the new State. It would put them on an equal footing with the counties in the next section, the counties of Craig, Giles, Bland, Tazewell, Russell, Lee, and Scott; and they are proposed to be brought into this State conditionally. Well, now, it does seem to me that every one acquainted with the locality and natural outlet of those counties in the second section, would see at once that they never would come in. The Virginia and Tennessee Railroad runs just along their border. Those counties would surely vote to remain in the old State. It is their natural outlet; it is much easier for them to get out there to Richmond than to come out this channel. Place these other counties on the same footing, and as my friend from Doddridge has remarked it would be almost impossible to get a free expression from them. So if we vote to adopt the amendment of the gentleman from Monongalia we might just as well vote at once that they never should come into this State. It is equivalent to that. It will amount to nothing else; and it seems to me, too, that the gentleman from Monongalia has been very fearful that there was a prevailing sentiment in this Convention that this great nation is to be divided - that it is to be two governments. Well, now, it seems to me he has run into a like error on the other side. This states-rights doctrine is the very groundwork of secession. It seems to me to carry out his argument will run it into counties being independent sovereignties, that each little district must be consulted and heard. It seems to me that would be the legitimate conclusion of such an argument.
Well, now, as to this Convention here having no power - violating a great fundamental principle, a compact entered into last August - I cannot look at it in the light the gentleman does. It is true that Convention was presumed to represent the whole people of Virginia but equally true that the legislature now sitting in this city represents the whole people of the State of Virginia; and the people in those counties will be just as much represented through that body as they were in the Convention here last August; and that before we can perfect this plan of organization of this State we have to get the consent of the legislature as well as of Congress. Well, when we get the consent of the legislature, we suggest to them a boundary and suppose they adopt it - are not the people of these counties as much represented as they were last August? I think they surely are. And as to this "compact" being "violated" - about the "three parties," as has been referred to here, the same principle will carry out. We want first here, the consent of the people within the proposed boundary of the new State. It was not absolutely necessary last August to refer the ordinance for a division of the State to the people. The legislature might have done it. The people then would have elected their delegates to frame a constitution for the new State. They would then have submitted it to the people for their ratification. They are the final judge of this matter at last. Well, now, we have obtained the consent of the people within the largest portion of the new State. We now have to get the consent of the legislature. They are representing the wishes of the whole people of Virginia, or at least it is presumed so; that is the legal construction. We get their consent. It is presumed then that we have the consent of the people of the counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe and McDowell. We have their consent through their representatives. This then is perfected so far as our legislature is concerned and then submitted to Congress; and Congress could finally reject the whole thing and we remain a part of the Old Dominion.
MR. WILLEY. A very few words, Mr. President, in reply to the arguments of my three friends who have addressed you on the other side. And first with reference to the argument just now submitted by the gentleman from Taylor. He supposes that these counties, if the amendment which I have submitted prevails, will be placed in the same category with Craig and the other counties mentioned by him, lying contiguous to and along the great railroad and thoroughfare to the Southwest; and that all their interests lead that way; and that if we submit to them a vote whether they will come in or not, they will vote not to come in, because their interests and connections are not with us.
MR. SINSEL. Do not misunderstand me, sir, I had reference to the counties of Craig, Giles, Bland, Tazewell, etc, not to Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe and McDowell.
MR. WILLEY. The gentleman informs me he had reference to Craig, Giles, and Tazewell and the rest of the counties named in the second resolution lying beyond the mountains. How then would the interests of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe and Mcdowell carry them with those other counties? What is the point of the gentleman's argument?
Again in his argument in regard to the legislature, I admit there is force and plausibility; but let us see. That is not the matter of which I complain, or think there is just ground of complaint. They will be represented by intendment of law, at least by the legislature of the whole of Virginia; but what are we here for? To divide the State? The people have acted on that subject and fixed limits and bounds to the State. The people have acted on that subject so far as they had authority to act under and by virtue of the ordinance. The power is exhausted; the act is done. But what are our powers, and what are the objects which have convened us? It is the formation of a Constitution, of a fundamental law, to be submitted to our constituents for their ratification. We are organizing a new government; we are making a Constitution. That is what we are assembled for.
Now, sir, the people of these counties mentioned, within this district, have no voice, no representative here; and although they may be represented in the legislature and the legislature may present this Constitution which we shall adopt to them for their ratification, and may see proper to include them in the limits of the proposed new State, yet, sir, they have had no voice in the formation of the fundamental law; and the great grievance of which I complain is, that you not only include them without representation on this floor, but you force upon them a Constitution on which they had no voice to express in the formation of it.
Now, sir, the argument of my friend from Doddridge and the ingenious presentation of it by my friend from Ohio - they both admit that the true foundation of all government is the consent of the governed; but they ask, must every little district consent? Must we refer it back to every individual in the State? I say, no. I do, sir, say, that every man in the State, every individual who helps compose the political State, every voter in the State, ought to be represented, and be heard in the formation of the fundamental law; and whenever you impose upon him a Constitution in which he had no voice, or no right to have a voice, you violate the very fixed fundamental principle of republican government. There, sir, is an argument gentlemen will have to tax their ingenuity a long time to answer. But then I do not carry the principle so far as that you must get the consent of every section or every individual in the community. You must allow him to have a voice in it, sir. The county of Calhoun spurns our invitation, it is said. Well that is her own fault, sir. The county of Nicholas spurns our invitation. That is her own fault, sir; she might have her representatives here; and if she sees proper to stay at home and allow us after she had a fair opportunity to express her voice in this Convention in the formation law, to fix it for her, she has no right to complain.
But how about these other counties ? They stand in the same category with Calhoun and Nicholas and others in the thirty-nine? No, sir, look again at the ordinance: these counties are absolutely to be included in the new State if a majority of the whole vote to include them; but are those the conditions laid out to these other counties that we wish now to include arbitrarily? By no means, sir. They are to come in - this is the language of the ordinance we presented to them: "if the said counties to be added, or either of them, by a majority of the votes given, shall declare their wish to form part of the proposed State, and shall elect delegates to the said Convention, at elections to be held at the time and in the manner herein provided for." They have not done that. Why did not they doit? It is said they had not the power to do it. The greater the necessity, therefore, and the stronger the reason, for giving them the power to do it. If it was so, as I suppose it was so - if they were so oppressed by military coercion and terrorism as not to be able to express their will - every dictate of reason and political justice demands that we should not drag them in until they have an opportunity to express their voice. But then, sir, they have not done it. They could only get into the State by expressing their voice, by casting their votes in favor of doing so. The fair intendment of law is, that not having done so they do not desire to come into the new State. So that you see, Mr. President, they stand in a very different relation to our action here and this proposed new State from any belligerent, secession, insurgent counties within our own limits. These counties perfectly understood if a majority was against them, they were to be included in the new State; but the bargain with these other counties, the provision of the ordinance, was that if they voted to come in, they might come in, but if they did not they were not to come in. They did not so vote, and therefore we have no right to bring them in. Why? If we do so, it is a usurpation, of their rights and a violation not only of the letter but the spirit of this ordinance.
MR. HAGAR. The turning point seems to be this: that these people of these counties are either to be brought in or rejected - one of these two things. I am informed by the delegate from Wayne, notwithstanding Ziegler had a regiment then, that all the elections had to be guarded by his regiment. Suppose he had not been there with his regiment - perhaps Wayne would not have been represented. I do not know how many elections were held in Cabell county. Perhaps my friend (Mr. Parker) who lives just across from Guyandotte knows. However, they held one somewhere and the county is represented. Boone, which has eight places of holding elections, by a detachment being sent from Kanawha and a home-guard on Mud River held an election at two precincts, one at Peytona and the other at Mud. They gave 223 votes in favor of the new State. The returns are not here; the man I sent may have been captured. Logan could not be represented. That is my opinion. If it required a military force in the county where Zeigler's regiment were stationed to hold an election; if Cabell county which borders the Ohio river, had to have a military force to hold an election there; if Boone which lies adjoining Kanawha had to have a military force to hold an election at two points - if a detachment went up and held an election there, and by risking their lives and losing one killed and two or three captured got into a corner in Raleigh and held an election there - with what difficulty are those counties here represented! No wonder Wyoming and Fayette had to be represented by petition.
Now, if these counties about which so many apologies are made had not had a military force there sufficient to hold an election, the Union men would have been mobbed out. It was an impossibility, and from that very fact it seems to me it would be unfair to exclude them from our new State. They have cause for not being represented here. With the same propriety you have a right to exclude those other counties. That is my opinion. If we dare not transcend the bounds embraced in the thirty-nine counties, why talk about it? If we can, why not embrace those other counties? If we have anything to do with fixing the bounds let us fix it to the best advantage of the people of our State and the good people in general. It seems to me that McDowell and those other counties should be brought into our new State. The probability is that a majority of them are against it. I know they were in Logan, in Cabell and perhaps in Boone; but yet we held an election and the county is represented. And it seems to me if the turning point really is that if we do not receive them in, and we get our new State organized without them, and they cannot come in in the future, it would be doing them as much wrong to exclude them forever as to take them in and risk their willingness.
MR. BATTELLE. I only want to say a word or two in reference to this question which has been so widely discussed here. I am decidedly in favor of short speeches at this time on this question. I wish to say that I cannot vote for the unconditional admission of these counties; for I have never felt that there was a competency on the part of this Convention to deal with this question of boundary. It seems to me there is a want of power on our part. That question has been so elaborately argued that I need not more than allude to it now. These counties were invited to take action on that question. There has been no action whatever, so far as we are informed here. There has been no message from that people on this subject. The nearest approximation we have is the statement by the gentleman from Kanawha that some of our prisoners who have been taken and have found their way out through those counties to the Union lines say there is a Union sentiment among these people thereby creating the impression in my mind at least that if there was any very great desire or feeling on the part of the Union folks living there to be represented in this Convention, some way would have been found at least to send some message or word if not a delegate, to represent their wishes here. So far as I know, nothing of this kind has been done. I therefore feel that it would be not only transcending our own power and delegated authority to arbitrarily and unconditionally include these counties; but that it would in fact be doing injustice to them.
I felt yesterday somewhat inclined to vote for a proposition similar to, almost identical with, that submitted by the gentleman from Monongalia. I am, however, disposed this morning to believe the safest plan for myself at least, and the proper course for this Convention to pursue is to decline any conditions or any exercise of powers in reference to the district of counties named in the first section or in the amendment. There is no probability that they will be enabled to vote in any reasonable time, that they will be able to vote in time for us to receive their expression of wishes; and as I have already said the reception of them unconditionally would be not only a violation of our own powers, but it seems to me an act of injustice to them. I have no right to assume because they have said nothing that they would if they had a chance to speak or were situated differently from what they are, speak against a political connection with us. It seems to me a very different matter, too, allow me to say, in reply to the remark of my excellent friend and colleague who addressed you on the other side of this question, a very different thing in assuming that the county, say Calhoun for instance, is to be included nolens volens within this State, and assuming that the county of Greenbrier is to be included on like terms. It seems to me a very different question in assuming that the county of Marshall, Ohio or Hancock is necessarily and unconditionally to be included in the boundary of this State and in assuming that the outside county lying clear beyond the boundaries heretofore proposed the people of which have expressed no voice on this whole question, nor indeed on any branch of it, since its agitation commenced, is also to be included.
But it is not only, it seems to me, unjust to them to include them arbitrarily, but it is unjust to the State of Virginia, who is and must be a party to this transaction, and in reference to whom, as has been forcibly remarked by gentlemen on this floor, the Congress of the United States will be compelled to assert their rights in this case, whatever may be our wishes or our action.
MR. LAMB. Will the gentleman excuse me for one moment?
MR. BATTELLE. Certainly.
MR. LAMB. Whatever we resolve here, whether we resolve that these counties or any other counties cannot be included, it all goes for nothing unless the consent of the legislature is had to the measure.
MR. BATTELLE. Certainly; I am well aware of that fact.
MR. LAMB. The Congress of the United States must be satisfied that the consent of the Legislature of the State of Virginia is had, before they can consent.
MR. BATTELLE. Another objection which I have and which is conclusive with me sir, the vote I expect to cast is the inevitable land unavoidable delay that it seems to me would be encountered in the creation of the new State. It is known to some, sir, on I this floor, that I was most heartily, decidedly, and all the time opposed to the project at the time instituted and under the circumstances instituted for a new State now, while I claim to have been for the last twenty years most heartily desirous and wishing and hoping for a new State in western Virginia. My objection was simply one of time, growing out of what I thought I saw would be precisely the state of things which exists now. But the people of western Virginia having as I understand it decided that question that a new State shall be now created, so far as their will can be consulted, I hold myself pledged in good faith to advocate and adopt the most speedy and direct way to carry out their expressed will.
We propose then to admit these counties on their favorable action. When can that action be had?
MR. WILLEY. When the Constitution is to be submitted.
MR. BATTELLE. Certainly not before the snows shall have been melted from our hills, for very many months to come, then will no reliable vote be taken in any one of those counties. Do we not therefore by the proposed amendment, if it shall be adopted, necessarily delay if not defeat the whole scheme as it is now presented? It seems to me we do. And it seems to me, Mr. President, feeling as I do very great deference to the views of those much more experienced and wiser than myself, that on the whole the safe plan - much as we might under other circumstances desire the admission of these counties - for I confess that in the beginning the great objection with me to the proposed boundary as adopted by the ordinance of the convention of last August, was that they did not include them - but since they did not, it seems to me the safe plan - and the more I think of it the more I am convinced of its truth - that the only plan in view of carrying out our project, is to stick to the record, to adhere to the boundaries prescribed in the ordinance voted on and adopted by the people; to go up to Congress with a clean record in this business, not with a roving commission to go all around over creation, seizing loose spots here and there, but to keep our record on this question simply clean, bright, and pure.
These are some of my reasons, sir, which shall influence me in voting to vote not only against the amendment of the gentleman from Monongalia but against the whole proposition.
The Convention then took a recess.
THE PRESIDENT. The question is on the adoption of the amendment of the gentleman from Monongalia to the first section of the Report of the Committee on Boundary.
MR. SOPER. Mr. President, I have listened, sir, with much interest to the discussion of this boundary question. I confess at its commencement I felt somewhat embarrassed as to the effect of going against the authority of the convention of last summer in relation to this matter; but after giving it the best reflection I can, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing in the doings of that convention which is of binding authority upon us. What the ordinance contains is merely advisory and as such is entitled to great respect.
In arriving at this conclusion, sir, it becomes necessary to look at the original act of the convention, to see with what power it was clothed, by what authority it came into existence, and what object it had in view. Now, sir, that convention was in part composed of individuals who were members by virtue of their office, having been elected months before ever any necessity for a convention arose, members of the legislature elected when this question of a new State or the boundary of it had never entered into the minds of the people. The gentlemen who were sent as delegates directly from the people were sent here, I think, for an entirely different purpose. It was for the purpose of reconstructing and restoring the government of Virginia to its position in the Union; and in that point of view, sir, it was a most noble body and it performed a most noble act, an act, gentlemen, that will fill the pages of the history of this country with a proud and glorious record. But, sir, it went further. It showed the strength of our republican form of government here; it showed the power of the people when they have been betrayed by their servants who had violated not only the Constitution of their country but who had undertaken to act in direct opposition to their will, to rise up in their strength and repudiate the acts of their ungrateful servants who have disregarded their wishes and taken upon themselves to violate the most sacred rules and laws we have in the country. Now, sir, that convention came here for that purpose, and they did their duty nobly; and they have established a precedent which will be handed down through all the ages of history, showing the power of the people, showing what they can do, whenever they are betrayed, in sustaining democratic and republican principles and government.
Now we come, sir, to this question of a new State, which I apprehend is entirely a different one; and if I understand the argument in support of its binding influence on us, it is this, that that convention represented the whole people of Virginia. Well, sir, in performance of the good work for which they were called here, they did represent the people of Virginia; but as my friend from Doddridge very well remarked, that convention itself was composed of a much less number of delegates directly from the people than this Convention is composed; and yet, sir, for the purpose of carrying into effect the objects of this peculiar crisis, the extraordinary exigencies of the times required that they should take that position and carry it out; and in doing so, sir, they have been sustained by all the authorities in the land.
Now, sir, what did that convention intend to do on the subject of this new State? Did they themselves suppose that even if they represented the people of Virginia they were clothed with authority to take and divide this State; to take and create a new State and make a Constitution for it? Why, sir, if they had the unlimited authority why did they not do it? Why did they hesitate? If they had done it in any particular respect yet in binding effect, why not do it in all? But that convention I apprehend understood perfectly well they were not here with powers from the people to do any binding act in relation to this new State. Why, sir, when I come to look at the preamble to the ordinance, as it is called - 1 find that they go on by stating that "it is represented to be the desire of the people" of the following counties to have a new State formed. "Represented," how? By petition, by public meetings held through the counties and resolutions passed, by individuals sent on from those counties to indicate that the Convention was called for the purpose of organizing preliminary measures for the establishment of a new State. Nothing of that kind, sir. Well, how then did it originate ? Why, sir, it originated from this discontented feeling which has existed throughout this country for the last thirty or forty years. Yes, sir, I say forty years. I well recollect, when passing through my own county, that I found old men who said it had been the desire of their life, in view of what they considered the unequal and tyrannical oppression on the part of eastern Virginia towards them. It was this rumor, sir, that had floated round in the minds of almost every individual, and probably it was that the present state of affairs was a suitable period to agitate the question. That is the way, sir, it come to arise. It did not come directly from the people.
Now, sir, what did the convention do? Why, as I before remarked, all they did was recommendatory on that subject. They called on a portion of the people to get together if they were desirous of having the new State formed; they were requested to elect delegates clothed with that express purpose; and it is pursuant to that recommendation, sir, that we are here on the present occasion. Now, sir, where is the difficulty? Why, it is said that this Convention goes on and "ordains" that such and such shall be the boundaries of the new State. I again ask, sir, if they had the power to make an ordinance fixing the boundaries, why they did not fix the Constitution? When I look at the authority that they had; when I find the convention was not called especially to do anything respecting a new State; when I find they speak of what was represented to them; when I find that they are wanting to ascertain whether that representation is true or not - I come to the conclusion that notwithstanding those words if taken in a literal construction might show that convention intended to take and tie this Convention up and hampered the people who have wanted a new State and confined them within certain bounds and rules - I have come to the conclusion it was merely recommendatory, nothing binding on the people. Then, sir, I can act consistently with everything that is contained in that and perform the duty which my constituents have vested in me here in the formation of this new State.
Well, I have heard gentlemen say on this floor that it was a matter of compromise; that it was a subject of public notoriety that the convention themselves were not united as to the means and manner and time of effecting the object. I apprehend, sir, that if we could get at the real truth of the matter we would find that it was pressed upon the convention in a moment of hurry and without proper reflection and thereafter sent to the country knowing that it was unnecessary to devote any particular attention to it, because the people would act themselves on that subject and if they approved the project, they would send delegates here freshly instructed from them how to act in relation to the matter. And it is, sir, in that respect and for these reasons, that I come to the conclusion that I am not bound down by anything that is contained in the ordinance of the preceding convention of last summer.
Now, sir, what ought we to do here on this subject? Why, it is agreed - there can be no question about it - any gentleman who will cast his eye over the map of this State and will look at the natural boundaries, the river on one side and the mountains on the other - necessarily we see that all the people in this vast region of country here within these natural boundaries, designate what ought to compose the new State. Now the question arises have we power to embrace these boundaries? And here comes the difficulty. Why, it is said, this county and that county, and this region and another portion are not represented here by delegates, for some cause unknown to us, either hostility or the terrors of an army over them, or neglect, or something or another; they have not seen fit to elect men and send them here. Now, sir, is there anything sound or solid in that argument? I apprehend not. I apprehend if there is a respectable number of the vote and of the counties within the proposed boundary of the State here, the Convention ought to have a right to act. What is the effect of their action, sir? We cannot establish a new State. We cannot even control the boundaries. We can recommend what those boundaries be. We can form the groundwork of our government, and if it is republican in its form, it is entitled in case we get our new State to its position in the Union. That is all we can do, sir. Our powers here are but limited powers. Where does the controlling power rest? Why, evidently in the legislature of this State. And I here will undertake to say if we go and recommend boundaries, the legislature in the discharge of its duty would have a right to alter those boundaries, take in any one county or leave out another. Most certainly they would have the right. Well then sitting here, acting as we suppose with a view to the establishment of a new State in taking boundaries only which we have reason to believe all the people embraced within it will be ultimately benefitted by, ought we not to go on, sir, in the discharge of that duty and embrace every section or county that ought to be embraced whether in the ordinance or not, where necessarily they must be benefitted in a way that every citizen of the State is benefitted in their business and social condition? I think so.
Another objection is that it is contrary to the principles of democratic government to pass laws without the consent of the governed. Why, sir, as an abstract proposition that is true. It is undoubtedly true. But, sir, there are exceptions to a rule even of that kind. Sometimes it is utterly impossible to obtain it, and nevertheless the public exigencies require immediate action. Well, now that is precisely the case here. Gentlemen have gotten up here - we all know what the peculiar state of the times is. We know in what a most unpleasant position and condition the people of large numbers of these counties are now in. Why, sir, almost every member has given vent to his feelings on this occasion. And it is time, sir, that all true loyal men within the bounds of this new State - and when I say all of them I mean the great majority of them - are ready to devote their moral and physical power and their pecuniary resources, in order to sustain this government. They are ready and willing to do it at all times; and I know there is rising up spontaneously in the heart of every true loyal Union man a feeling of resistance and condemnation against the acts of the secessionists whether in open rebellion or secretly aiding and assisting them, living among us now. But I hope when we perform the great duties resting on us we will divest our minds of everything like those excited feelings. It does not become us, sitting here, forming the fundamental rules not only for the government of ourselves, but probably for the people in all after generations - certainly the spirit of whatever we may perform here will be retained down to the remotest ages, although as we progress on even what we shall do may require revision and alteration - we ought to look beyond the passions and prejudices of the hour and the day.
Some gentlemen have said, "I do not want such a county in my new State, because it is filled up with unprincipled secessionists, men that I do not want to live or associate with." I beg gentlemen to reflect a moment that notwithstanding it may be true now it will be but for a short time; and when I speak of a short time, I mean at most but a few years - but a short time in comparison, sir, with the lasting authority of the Constitution of this new State. They ought to bear in mind that within a short time these individuals will be convinced of their error; and if they are so obstinate and stubborn and perverse that they are not to be convinced, my word for it such things will be brought round them among their neighbors as will drive them out of the places they now inhabit, and that we shall before many years become a united and happy and prosperous people. But, sir, is there a gentleman here, with all the outrages of these secessionists, in sober moments, while regretting the course of conduct .they have been guilty of who when he finds them willing to become good and obedient citizens, will not take them into fellowship with him? If there are any gentlemen here with feelings of that kind, I can only say for myself I do not harbor them.
Now, sir, I maintain, in the first place it is our duty to take and fix the natural boundary of this new State, with or without the consent of the counties to be embraced in it. I mean, sir, by that that if I was here representing a single county and all the other counties in the State were against me, I would not be deterred from doing it - I mean that where every necessary means has been taken, the invitation given, the people in a large majority of the counties have acted on the subject, and sent us here with full authority on the subject, it is our duty to act. We are acting not only, sir, for the benefit of those individuals in these outside counties but for the benefit of the whole. My constituents, sir, in Tyler county are perhaps in some degree interested in having these mountains for a boundary; and as such, sir, I am carrying out nothing more than their wishes and interest when I embrace all that region of country. It is true, sir, I should prefer to have them all here represented; I should like to hear from. them; but when, sir, any cause even if it should be resentment against us, should make them disregard our invitation, yet, sir, would I take them in, trusting that upon reflection they would see the wisdom of the act and the advantages they would derive from it.
Why, sir, let us come down to something that is probably more familiar. Has it not arisen in the recollection of some of you when an application was made for the formation of a new county out of two or three parts of other counties, when perhaps one portion of the citizens of one county would disregard your application, or if they acted at all, they would act in direct opposition to you, yet when the matter was laid before the legislature no one would deny their authority or power over it. And has not the junction of counties and parts of counties been carried into effect against the wishes of parts and portions of people, nevertheless the great body were benefitted. Just so in relation to this new State: we are to take and consult our boundaries and such as will prove beneficial to the whole people it is our duty to have. Why, sir, this doctrine prevails all over our land. Why is it your State has a right to come and take your property for public purposes, exercising powers not given it? Because the public good requires it. Upon the same principle we acting here have a right to take in those remote counties because the good of the greatest number requires it.
I come back again, sir, to the position that this whole power rests with the legislature - that we are acting here in a simply recommendatory manner. While I hope that whatever we shall do will meet the approbation of the legislature, yet the responsibility of it all rests with them. But what do we propose to do, sir? We do not propose to send our proceedings directly to the legislature without first consulting the people. The people embraced within the whole boundary will be consulted on the subject. In doing that have we not done everything that is fair and proper on our part. We certainly cannot be charged here with any desire to inflict on any portion of the people a government that would be oppressive to them or contrary to their wishes, unless their wishes are of an improper character. We cannot be charged with anything of that kind; and it is the only discreet way in which we can perform our duty. Suppose we confine ourselves to the thirty- nine counties and out of this number there are those in which no elections have been held. By the same parity of reasoning you ought to throw them out and on the same principle all those counties that gave a small or limited vote. Why are there counties here with probably less than a hundred votes when there are probably thousands within their bounds? Why is it? Do you call that, sir, a fair expression of the will of the people. Are they the men who are to vote upon our doings here? Why I apprehend not; so that if you introduce this subject of not being willing to act until you have the action of the people first, it ought to be the action of the people clearly expressed in a majority of the counties within the boundaries. But I apprehend there is nothing real or true in it. It is enough that certain people have come out and voted and they have sent us here, and we will perform our work and in the manner in which it ought to be done and then send it to them for inspection and examination, approval or disapproval. If they vote it down, there is an end to it. If the legislature disapproves of it then there is an end to it. But if they approve of it, it will then go on to Congress to be finally adopted or condemned. But we shall have discharged all our duty.
I apprehend, sir, there is nothing to prevent us going on and fixing the boundaries of this State as we in our best judgment shall think it ought to be fixed, and then proceed with the residue of our business. Thus briefly, sir, I have seen fit to explain the reasons which will influence me in my vote that I am about to give on the subject of this boundary.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Mr. President, I desire to say a few words relative to this subject before this vote is taken; and that I may speak understandingly I will endeavor to state or understand the subject before entering upon the discussion. I understand this is a proposition to amend the report of the Committee on Boundary which embraces the counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer and McDowell within the boundaries of the new State, and that this proposition to amend is to add the counties of Wise and Buchanan to that list and then place them in a conditional state that they may vote themselves in if they choose and if they do not, they form no part of this State.
THE PRESIDENT. I do not think the gentleman apprehends the amendment exactly. Will the Clerk read it.
The Secretary read as follows:
Strike out all after the word "Resolved," and insert -
"That the district comprising the counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, Buchanan and Wise, ought to be included in, and constitute part of, the proposed State of West Virginia, provided a majority of the votes cast within the said district, at elections to be held for the purpose, on the day of , and a majority of said counties are in favor of the adoption of the Constitution to be submitted by this Convention; and if a majority of said votes cast, and of said counties, are so in favor of said Constitution, that the Legislature be requested to include the said district as a part of the proposed State of West Virginia."
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. It is substantially, Mr. President, as I have stated it. I believe I was correct in the principle though not in the language. If this amendment prevails, I understand the whole of these counties are stricken from the boundary of this State and can only become a part of the State by a vote of the people at April next.
MR. WILLEY. There is no time fixed.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Very well, some future time.
This proposition comes to me, Mr. President, in a very seductive form, and I confess I am almost inclined to say to my friend from Monongalia that one of the fundamental principles of our religion is "lead us not into temptation." I opposed the motion but I believe he advocated it, to strike out the counties of Wise and Buchanan from this category; but I gave to the Convention the reasons that induced me to oppose that, and I endeavored to show to the Convention that these counties naturally belonged to the region of country of which we are a part, that they were a part of the water-shed from the Alleghany to the Ohio river, and that their fortunes and destinies ought like their waters, to be linked with ours. But the gentlemen with arguments so powerful that they turned the whole course of the Convention have portrayed in very glowing and eloquent language to our satisfaction the fact that these counties ought to be stricken from this list, ought not to be embraced within boundary and limits with the other five with which they were connected, but they should be struck out that we might have no more panhandles at the other end of the State - and I believe the gentleman was particularly facetious on the subject of panhandles; he even felt that it would be doing injustice, to old Virginia, that it would be making a panhandle for her too. Now, sir, if these panhandles are so potent for evil I am at a loss to discover why they are now introduced by the very gentleman who wanted them stricken out before. I confess I prefer to lose the two counties of Wise and Buchanan to losing all of them, though I believe that they too ought to be connected with us.
MR. WILLEY. I am willing to strike them out.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I prefer to lose the two counties rather than complicate this question rather than lose the counties of Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Pocahontas and McDowell which are important and essential to our safety and welfare.
MR. WILLEY. With the leave of the Convention I will modify my amendment so as to leave the counties of Wise and Buchanan out.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Very well, sir. Then I am only a little less opposed to his motion than I would have been. Just two counties less; and I will endeavor to satisfy the Convention, if I can of the propriety of retaining them.
Now, Mr. President, it seems to me that there are two distinct arguments on which gentlemen have advocated this motion. One is a want of power in this Convention to do it, and the other is that it violates a fundamental principle of every free government - forcing a new order of things, a government and Constitution to which they are not parties upon a people against their consent. Well, sir, I will admit candidly if these grounds of objection really existed they would be a complete answer to the question and ought to command every man's support. But the question is, is either of them valid, because I admit if they are then we should adopt this amendment.
Is there any lack of power in this Convention to do the thing that this resolution proposes? This people is not fixing a boundary upon a people against their consent. It does not propose to do it. This body making a Constitution to force it upon an unwilling people. It does not propose to. This body is a body assembled at the instance of the people to form and frame a Constitution in order to submit it to the votes of the people, that they as freemen may determine for themselves whether they will accept it and live under it or whether they will cast it aside and say to these gentlemen who framed it as unworthy servants, you have failed to accomplish the objects of our wishes, and you can retire to your places and we will send others in your stead. Then this Constitution when framed and the boundary you may here designate can have no force or effect receives no power from this Convention, until the people our constituency, adopt and ratify our action. Well, certainly, sir, we surely cannot so stultify ourselves as to say that we cannot propose that which seems best to our constituency. My people sent me here, not to prescribe a line of policy but to exercise the best judgment I have in doing that which shall be for their interests, and submit it to them. I did not come to act to bind them, but to propose to their consideration something that I think is best for their welfare; and when they shall exercise their discretion and judgment on it, then alone will it be binding and operative.
Now, sir, in this resolution as it comes from the committee they propose to define a boundary to be submitted to the people for their assent, for the people of Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Monroe, Mercer and McDowell, as well as all the limits of this proposed State -
MR. WILLEY. Will the gentleman allow me to interrupt him to ask a question?
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Certainly.
MR. WILLEY. I desire to have my mind satisfied on the argument which I made, not that which the gentleman may imagine me as having made. The objection I have and which I have repeatedly stated, is not as stated by my friend from Kanawha. I know, sir, that this Constitution is to be presented to those people for their acceptance; but the principle of fundamental right which I think is violated by our action if we include them arbitrarily is this: that in the making and ordaining of that fundamental law every man upon whom it is to operate has a right to be heard, and these people cannot be heard now. That is what I object to as a violation of fundamental right.
MR. BROWN of Kanawha. Mr. President, the ordinance of the convention which called this body together answers the questions. That ordinance gave to that people the same right to come here it did to us. It was perfectly within the eye of that convention that that territory belonged naturally to this region and that those people's interests and fortunes were identified with ours and that a manifest and great injustice would be done to them if there was no helping hand held out to them; and therefore that convention did extend to that people - some of them by name and some of them by description - the very same right to be here with us. But unfortunately that convention had not the power to remove the confederate armies from them to enable them to come. There, sir, is the difficulty. The difficulty is one that the convention had no power to remedy, neither had the people. It is one that we have not the power to remedy save in the mode proposed in this resolution. We have not the power, neither has the Government of the United States furnished the power to remove the hostile forces that hold them down and seal their lips in the silence of death. Why, sir, how do you suppose our people of Kanawha could have come up here with a vote such as they have while Gen. Wise's army of 5000 was located in Charleston? Yet if the election had been then and we could not have voted, you would have said we had no interest in this thing; and yet the situation of these other counties is just what ours was then and if relieved they would be as unanimously with you as the people of Kanawha; and yet you would exclude them from the right to be a part and parcel of the people they naturally belong to and have grown up with for no other reason than their misfortune. Why, sir, in our county only a few days ago it was impossible to vote and the very identical same thing that existed there then exists in the counties of Monroe and Greenbrier and exists there now. It is for them as well as for ourselves that we stand here to speak. And I could not but think to myself, sir, that if the people of Greenbrier could be now seated on some of their snow clad mountain tops and listen to the arguments and speeches in this hall, the arguments and speeches of the gentlemen who are seeking by the support of this amendment to exclude them forever from the boundaries of this State and from the fortunes of this people would be received by the Union men there with weeping and with tears. While, sir, at the same time if the secessionists were on another hill top you would hear their shouts going up for these gentlemen who are advocating their exclusion from the fortunes of a people with whom they are forever identified. I stand here to speak for and defend the cause of the Union men in that country whose fortunes I know from their very latitude and geography are identified with us, whose associations and feelings must inevitably be ours, whose relationships and kindred are all mingled with us, whose waters flow from their hilltops down by us, whose springs we annually visit to spend the summer. Their hearts are with us, and if it were in their power their hands would be with us too. I speak not because I know from information from any particular one of them, but I speak what I know of the feelings of men similarly situated, because we have been ourselves in the same situation. But I am confident, sir, the secession portion of these counties never will be here until the power of the nation is so exerted that they must either leave their homes or submit to the law; that as long as the ignus fatuus of a Southern Confederacy still exists they will cling around it as the Aladdin's lamp that is to carry them on to victory and triumph and to glory, even if it should amount to the expulsion of every Union man from the western slope of the Alleghanies.
It seems to me, then, sir, that when we present to you the action of the convention desiring the privilege here for these people to come in and be here by their suffrages and we find that that very provision is defeated by a power these people had no control over, nor we, nor the convention - by a power that is inimical and hostile to the interests and welfare and wishes of those Union people as it is to the interests and wishes of all the Union people in the whole State of Virginia - that when that object is defeated by a force that cannot be overcome for the present, it is a poor plea to say that they are not here because they did not choose to be here - to say that a people whose mouths are closed by bayonets and cannons are inimical to the cause we are here embarked in; because they are utterly helpless and we extend them no helping hand, and if there is anything in republican government, it is to say that no matter what happens their hopes and securities and rights are to be sacrificed by the action of this Convention: for who will pretend if you form this State without them and they are left in the old State that they will ever have permission given them to come however anxious they may be to do so? How, sir, will they ever ask and obtain permission of an eastern legislature deprived already against its consent of a large portion that they desire to hold? They will never allow another inch to go unless it is by the point of the bayonet, and then you are to be involved in another civil war to stand by this people, if they resolve to come in this way as we have done, or you must give them up forever to the miserable condition in which you find them, degraded simply because they are Union men - for wherever I have seen secession predominate, it not only plants the foot of tyranny and oppression on the Union neck, but it blackens the character of the Union cause, and so abuses the Union man as not to permit him to be a citizen in the community. Why, sir, the highest crime in the eye of secession is to sustain the Union. What is it that impels so many thousands of our people to break the associations, to cut loose those cords of unity that have bound this Commonwealth together but to stand by our obligations to the Union and defend our all against that domineering tyranny that now sways the power of the state? Are we prepared then to give up these friends into the hands of their foes, and leave them bound hand and foot without a single effort to sustain or secure or rescue them? It seems to me, sir, that these gentleman resemble very much the great care and caution of the parent who would see his brethren or his children or any member of his family sinking beneath the flood, drowning and yet refuse to hold out a hand to rescue them because the drowning party was unable to call for help. They are determined not to violate a principle by undertaking to assist them, because there was no call for help. Why, sir, I hold that we come here to discharge a high duty, and that at the same time in discharging it we find ourselves in the midst of a revolution, and that it is not a time for us to stick upon trifles or follow the exact letter of any statute, but to rise to the high consideration of discharging a duty amid these perilous times at every hazard, to strike at the substance and not follow the shadow. The question is what was our object? It was to form a new State for the people whose fortunes, interests and associations are all homogeneous with our own. We have taken upon ourselves the name of West Virginia, and I will ask the gentleman when and where it is that the people of Greenbrier and Pocahontas, Monroe, Mercer and McDowell have forfeited the name of West Virginians? How is it, sir, that we have a right to read them out of church? Are they not as pure of blood as we? Have they not as good a right to wear the name as we? And why shall we undertake to appropriate to ourselves that name which recurs to as untarnished and leave them to a name that will go down to history in disgrace when we have severed from them? No, sir, they are part of West Virginia; they are on the western slope of the Alleghany mountains, and everything induces me to stand by them from first to last. As my friend from Marion said, if there was but one solitary Union man in those counties, he is entitled to our protection and aid, and we ought to include them and save him. But, gentlemen, you need have no fears that there is but one. Only remove the rebel forces from those counties - place your Union army at Lewisburg, or Princeton or Monroe Courthouse, where some Union men of the county of Boone are now incarcerated as prisoners because they had the independence and firmness to stand up and maintain their rights under the Union and Constitution of their fathers. Sir, we should extend the limits of this State beyond that prison if for no other purpose than to save these men thus incarcerated.
I see, then, sir, no objection on the score of power, because we ask the consent of the legislature and the ratification of the people; and everything induces me to stand by and sustain my friends in the hour of peril, when desertion now is ruin forever to them.
But then much has been said that we are here a representative body, representing the people of the counties from which we come; and gentlemen have appealed to the votes; and no, sir, I would ask any candid man who advocates the principles of representative government and who believes that a free government that does not rest on the voice of the people is no free government - what would he think of the representative of a county standing here with only 32 votes? Thirty-two votes secures a representation in this Convention to frame a Constitution that is to bind forever the people of Raleigh. Sixty-five votes sent a delegate from the county of Tucker. Thirty-two votes sent a delegate from the county of Braxton, a county that I understand from gentlemen living in it, gave some 500 majority for the ordinance of secession. Why, sir, do you pretend that those votes alone are the only persons represented in this body? If I thought so I would go home in shame. I understand, sir, that these gentlemen are representing the Union men of those counties; and although there were but 32 votes there were hundreds of others that did not have the opportunity, and that in every one of these counties in which these small votes were cast you sent armed men to the polls and kept them there. In my view the Union men of those counties have representatives here, who are representing the men that did not vote as well as those that did. And I claim we are here in the same way the representatives of Union men of the Greenbrier and those other counties, who have a common feeling and sentiment and interest with us. Let not this Convention therefore stickle on the simple question that because these counties have no delegate here, when we have shown it was utterly impossible in the very nature of things for them to come here, and make that the ground of excluding them, when the gentlemen who advocate the amendment, and all the gentlemen I believe who oppose this inclusion, admit that the territory naturally belong to us, that the people are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Every high consideration of State policy induces their inclusion. A great natural barrier is reared as the boundary of your territory, that is a security not only to the counties which lie next contiguous upon which continual raids must occur and whose homes and firesides will be continually desolated unless you keep these counties in and furnish a barrier further back, and to defend which borders you must take your people and soldiers from the most distant county in the State and plant them on the whole Alleghany range from one end of the State to the other in order to keep back this foe; but let your foes come down into this State once and get a footing among our people and you will find yourselves trammeled if indeed you ever succeed at all in keeping them back. Why, sir, have not our generals now been spending the summer all along this range of country only a little beyond midway to the back part of the State, within the thirty-nine counties, keeping back these armies?
It is not the people of this country that are opposing us. It is the hostile forces of the Southern Confederacy that are coming down like the Highland clans on our border. I say then these armies already have found themselves incompetent; but if you only had them back on the Alleghanies and rear a few fortifications, as has been done at Cheat Mountain, where a garrison here and another there would enable you at a small expense and with comparative security to render yourselves safe against the encroachment of either small or large forces. Then we should feel some security in these borders and you might extend your government over the people. But until then you will have no peace or law or order; for how is it possible to have it when your military cannot catch these parties and your civil officers are captured and marched off to prison.
It is a matter, therefore, not only of high State consideration but of absolute necessity that this should be done for the peace, security and happiness not only of these counties, but your own people throughout the State. When all these reasons, concur in demanding it, why hesitate? I cannot do so.
MR. PARKER. There is one feature, Mr. President, in the amendment which is offered by the gentleman from Monongalia of which I entirely approve - the recommendatory form to the general assembly, in which it proposes to submit these matters to that body which represents legally and constitutionally all parties that are constitutionally interested in the territory to be divided. It seems to me it is entirely competent for that body to change or alter the boundary. So far therefore as that feature of the amendment goes I am in favor of it. But there is a condition annexed to that recommendation. That condition is that within a certain time I think the 19th of April, a majority of these several counties shall vote to come into the new State. If they do not so vote then of course the condition which is attached to this recommendation is not complied with; and of course the condition which this Convention annexes to this recommendation to the general assembly is complied with, we can have no hope or expectation that the general assembly will act on it. We have prescribed just such conditions as we see fit to our recommendation, to what we ask the general assembly to do, and of course the general assembly will never think of acting until those conditions which we have so carefully annexed have been complied with. Neither can this Convention go and ask, with any propriety, certainly, that body to disregard this condition annexed. Therefore unless these conditions which are annexed to this amendment are complied with, it seems to me the door is forever closed for these counties to come in and become a part of our new State. It seems to me we have practically excluded them forever.
Now, it looks to me that there is a commercial and military necessity that the territory of this new State should reach the ridge pole of the Alleghanies, some way or other - either there or the ridge pole of the Blue Ridge. There is no middle ground. Any where else is boys' play. Go down into the valley and have one county here without any natural division anywhere, and another county there, as a gentleman remarked here, like an old fashioned Virginia worm fence, and what kind of a line do you have? I say one or the other of these ridge-poles where the waters divide either upon the Alleghanies where it divides the waters flowing into the Ohio from those flowing into the valley or on the Blue Ridge where it separates the waters of the valley from those flowing into the - one or the other we must have. Now, here is the necessity; we all see it and feel it; and if the gentleman from Kanawha and other gentlemen are correct, and I have no doubt they are, the Union men are with us. They feel these commercial and military and all the other necessities that pertain to them. They are with us. Shall we to gratify passion and prejudice against a few miserable secessionists there abandon all these great benefits - abandon this great barrier which our State calls for? Abandon our Union friends? What for? To gratify a few miserable secessionists that are there now?
I say the legislature on our recommendation has the constitutional power to put down the stake there. We will take care of the Union men that are there. We will take care of the secesh that are there, too. That is my doctrine.
Now, I cannot consent to stake so important a feature - as I look upon these counties as absolutely essential, whether they consent to come in or not - I cannot consent to stake that upon so great an uncertainty as whether that condition can ever be complied with or not. All the gentlemen concur here in the opinion that it cannot be complied with, even by the 19th of April; that it is impossible. Well we must begin to work up to some fixed boundary; and unless we define and begin to act on some definite or fixed thing we cannot describe the territory in making our application to the legislature and Congress. Now, I say, go to the Alleghany. Ask the legislature which is now in session and anything reasonable she will do for us; and she will take care of the interests, the great interests of the other portion of Virginia which she represents. She will take care that there are no more panhandles made. That is her business. She is competent to do it. We need not call another convention to do it. But that this Convention is subject, and that the constituency of this Convention is subject, to that which originated the convention last summer, there can be no doubt.
But one suggestion I wish to make here. It is argued that we have more constituents, to count heads, than got up the other convention, the superior body; therefore as we can count more heads than they could, we are the Convention and they are subject to us. Well, now, there is this consideration: our constituency may be larger, but it has limited powers under the ordinance of that convention. That convention clothed us with what powers we have the honor to exercise here. They told us to exercise just the powers written down in the ordinance, and no more. That is very clear. The ordinance declares:
"The people of Virginia, by their delegates assembled in Convention at Wheeling, do ordain that a New State, to be called the State of Kanawha, be formed and erected out of the territory included within the following described boundary" - that is the territory that they mark out and which is for us to go on and act on.
Then it provides how the delegates shall be chosen:
"And it shall be the duty of the Commissioners conducting the election at the said several places of voting at the same time to cause polls to be taken for the election of Delegates to a Convention to form a Constitution for the government of the proposed State" - that is the State covering the territory prescribed, without these conditional counties. But that does not touch the question it seems to me. What we do is advisory to the legislature. We need not be at the trouble of calling another convention representing the whole people of Virginia. Our legislature represents her. Let us go straight at it and select out what we want them to do - what additions we want her to make to our territory - and just go to the legislature and ask them to make it, and I have no doubt they will if it is reasonable, and there is the end of it.
Well now, let us take these five counties. That carries us up to right here. Then if there is any other as there may be, necessary to carry us up to this great natural division, let us take it too; and when we have selected out what we want to be added, the whole matter will be placed in a proper form recommendatory to the legislature asking them to change the bounds to the spots where we want it.
For these reasons I shall feel it my duty to vote against the amendment.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Mr. President, I was disposed to heed the admonition of the chairman of the committee and the gentleman from Preston to make short speeches at this time, and reserve what remarks I intended to make on this matter until the question came up on the final passage of the resolution; but from the range the debate has taken, covering as it has every possible ground that can be involved in the discussion of the resolution itself, it would be affectation to hesitate any longer about taking my part as it is; and I trust, sir, from the ventilation the subject has already received, when we come to voting, we will vote right through, and not have any debate on the resolution after we have settled this amendment.
In reference, sir, to the power that is claimed for this Convention, or the want of power that is alleged, I have a few words to say, and only a few. There is one suggestion I would like to make to the members of this body, or rather one question I would like to ask, without claiming to be able to answer it, certainly to my own satisfaction. The question, sir, I would like to comprehend is, what right had the Convention which assembled here in August and passed the ordinance under which we are assembled to circumscribe our action here? Now, sir, it is a question well worthy of consideration, which every man may ask himself and settle as it shall seem best according to his own persuasions on the subject. Had they the right to circumscribe our action so far as to anticipate us in the very performance for which we had assembled? This certainly will be answered in the negative. Had they the right to lay down terms and conditions on which we should conduct this matter, and do many other things which might have circumscribed our proceedings here? Certainly those questions will be at once answered in the negative. Then, sir, are we to infer that in reference to a matter as important as this - one upon which the prosperity of the new State may depend - are we to infer that that convention was disposed to circumscribe us in our action? Are we to infer that that convention was disposed to prevent us doing that which was best in reference to the subject committed to us - that they would so have limited our power here that it was "Hobson's choice," with us, take that or none, even though circumstances had abundantly manifested by this time that their boundaries had become unavailing or improper from circumstances beyond their control or ours? This, sir, would be to assume very much, indeed - very much to say that that convention had any intention to tie us up in that way.
Well, sir, it appears to me then all we can say about that convention is, that so far as they do attempt to prescribe anything for us it is to be considered directory or recommendatory. Now, sir, we all know in the interpretation of the laws that while many things are put into the law, they are held by good judges to be simply directory; not that every provision of law is an edict; not that everything must be complied with strictly and according to the letter. Why, the term is familiar with lawyers that they are "simply directory;" and the idea is that while they assume to bind the direction as it were in which we should go they do not assume positively to control it. It appears to me, sir, there is something in these considerations, for arriving at a due understanding of our powers here.
Now, sir, the argument has been made here, and I am but repeating the arguments of other gentlemen - and I am afraid I can but repeat the arguments of other gentlemen, the subject has been so thoroughly discussed - but the August convention assumed to fix boundaries, and assumed to lay it down that if a majority of the people within those boundaries, without requiring as we do in these subsequent resolutions that which shall constitute a majority of the counties also, but if a majority of the people of the whole of the new State voted in favor of it, that all the counties comprised in these counties should comprise part of it. Let us look, however, at the principle involved in this. Say there is any county so situated as to absolutely be important to give the State regular or contiguous connection of territory, however unwilling that county may be, and it might be the county of Calhoun, to come into this new State, yet as to omit it would be sacrificing the interests of the whole proposed new State, it must come in willy nilly. And, sir, is not that just? I ask if that is not just? The question they propose is not, is the majority of this county or that county or the other county in favor of coming in, but is a majority of the people of this whole district, composed of thirty-nine counties, in favor of coming in? Why, sir, on the mere rule that majorities must govern, their action is correct. They had a right to say to these counties, if the majority of the people in those boundaries prefer to erect a new State here, you are included as a minority by the action of the majority. And what, sir, do we propose? Not one thing beyond that. A slight inspection of the map shows that these counties are so situated that they are naturally connected with the proposed new State district embracing the thirty-nine counties; and we know that there are business relations now between these counties; and there are owners of property in the one residing in the other who resort to them for various purposes; and many other things which need not be recited here because every gentleman was familiar with them before he heard them here, which show that there is that kind of natural connection between them and us as to render a political connection indispensable. And behind them between them and eastern Virginia is this tremendous range of mountains which disconnects them from that and shuts them up with us.
Now, sir, here are very tangible, and I may say legal and constitutional reasons why these counties should form also a part of the new State: But when we attempt to venture in that direction, we are met by this strict letter of the ordinance which was never intended to control us in that respect. It has directory power, it has recommendatory power, if you please to call it so. And, sir, we are to be prevented - for this is the true idea and I believe is warranted by the facts and circumstances - we are by this technicality - for it is nothing more, sir, to be prevented from doing not only justice, for such I conceive it to be, to the counties named in this resolution, but, sir, giving them an opportunity which no one hardly can believe they will not agree to embrace whenever, if I may so phrase it, they come to their senses. Whenever this unhappy state of things is removed and they are able to sit down and see clearly and calculate calmly, no man can doubt I think that the large majority of these counties would vote for coming with us. We hope, sir, by the time to be fixed for taking their vote that circumstances will have so changed that they may express their sentiments in that way. The convention in August here, sir, thought that by October that relief could have been afforded them; and we can but perpetuate that hope acting perhaps on the very same convictions on which that convention acted, believing that these people would be agreed to unite themselves with us if the proper opportunity was afforded them to say so. We are for extending the time; for giving them another opportunity in order that we may cordially receive them to our embraces at the proper time.
But, sir, there is another argument upon which I wish to say a few words. We are told that these counties are filled with secessionists. I have very great doubts, sir, whether any county this side of the Alleghany, perhaps the Blue Ridge, is filled with secessionists - that is to say that there are none there but secessionists. I believe when this pressure is removed, when men dare come out and say what they are, we shall find not only that there are many Union men there, but who have been suffering on account of being Union men. But what do those who use this argument propose? Follow it out, sir, to its legitimate consequences and it is nothing less than this: that all the secessionists living within the boundaries of the new State are to be exterminated. That, sir, is in plain language the proposition. Because unless extermination is applied, unless they are either put to death or driven out of the country there will be secessionists there till the end of the chapter, unless, I may add, they repent of their misdeeds and return to the former good old way.
Now, sir, to me, Union man as I am - and not only Union man but so constituted that it is utterly impossible I could be anything else - it is a horrible idea that extermination either by exile or by death is to be applied to our former fellow citizens. I have, sir, no morbid sensibilities on the subject; but I do confess I have a feeling of regard and of something of kindness left even towards these our erring fellow-citizens; because they have been my fellow-citizens; and because for many of them I know that they have been misled, misinformed, misdirected, and a bad example set them by those to whom they had been in the habit of looking for examples. Sir, it is a tremendous question that is now presenting itself, and may yet agitate the heart of this nation, and that is about the course that is to be pursued towards these men. I am happy to say that I believe the national government will take a more tender view than some of us are disposed to. I have seen only yesterday a circular from the Treasury Department directing that property taken when proved to belong to loyal men shall be taken care of and strict accounts kept by the agents employed so that reparation may be made or property returned to those who may accept the protection of the Government within a reasonable time and resume their allegiance to the Union. Are we not, sir, to be as careful as this? And what are we to do? Are we at once, as some have indicated even here, to throw these men overboard and deprive them of all the rights of citizenship without an opportunity to repent? Aye, sir, do we not place them on the condition of Esau of old who found no place for repentance? Certainly, sir, such conduct would be unworthy of a Christian people. We have been wronged, sir, injured, our friends murdered, our property and prosperity destroyed; all these aggravations have been heaped upon us; and yet, sir, there may be a time when mercy may properly be exercised - not to those who are in arms against us; no, sir, for them the strong arm of the law be put forth, or where the law is unable let the strong arm of the military put them down. While they are continuing their evil deeds let punishment be meted out to them. We owe that to our own safety. Aye, sir, at this moment we owe it to every consideration of good morals and all things of that kind that should enter into our consideration that these things in our borders should be suddenly suppressed. Sir, the moral feelings and principles of men in this guerilla warfare against us are becoming debased, and I fear unless the Government of the United States or the state government, or the competent authority whatever that is, does interpose and put down this guerilla warfare, that for twenty years the men who are now engaged in it will haunt our hills as bandits, as has been the case with guerillas everywhere else where they have attempted to carry on warfare. But there are some others who from the circumstances surrounding them must be with these men, but who at this hour want to repent. And are they to be excluded from the place of repentance? I trust no such feeling will enter into the bosoms of a grave, deliberative body like this. It is true, sir, we are not called upon to act directly upon this subject. But we have here considerations presented to us that will govern, if they are to prevail the course pursued by those who are to act. Sir, I hope we are to reclaim many of those who are now erring; I hope that they will come back to the fold, and will be again - as many of them have been before - among our best citizens.
Well, sir, if these counties are inhabited by secessionists, some disposition has got to be made of them. They must be, as some remarks made by gentlemen here seem to point to - they must be exterminated by exile or death, or remain where they are. But in either case, sir, we want the territory. If they are going to remain upon it, still we want it. We want territory for an increasing population. We want our whole territory filled up, every place where there is an opening for business, agriculture or manufactures, by an industrious, enterprising and moral people.
But, sir, this is a consideration: Secessionism has got to be put down somehow, or we have got to be put down. It must disappear. If those who are secessionists do not disappear, yet the feeling must disappear. The laws must and will prevail; and then, sir, we want the territory just as much as if it were inhabited by good Union men.
There are considerations, sir, of a public character, which I think should govern us, in reference to this territory. We want a good boundary; not simply that we want a natural boundary - that we want to be separated from our neighbors always by high mountains; but want one that shall make our territory lie compact. We do not want a wedge in it here or there, or a panhandle, if the gentlemen will excuse the expression. One or two panhandles we can take and abide by. There are considerations of this kind, and it is unnecessary for me to dwell upon them. If the admission of this territory gives to the whole territory of the proposed new State an inconvenient shape, and position, exclude it; if, on the contrary, it is necessary to give it a convenient shape, to include those towns and places with which others that will be included under any circumstances, have hitherto had intercourse and commercial relations, and from which they have derived their trade - all these considerations should be taken into account, and I hope gentlemen will consider them.
Sir, I have stated in the beginning of this discussion that I did not doubt myself - and I am ready to repeat it here, after what I have stated on the subject and with every respect towards gentlemen who think differently - I entertain not the slightest doubt about the power of this Convention - or as the gentleman from Tyler has very properly ascribed powers to this Convention, that whatever it does is only recommendatory - but I have not the least doubt this Convention is acting clearly within the line of its duties in attempting to fix these boundaries according to circumstances such as I have named. The interest of the State in public property to be included; the shape, size and position of the territory to be admitted - these and others of that kind are questions to be considered here and are considerations which should have their full weight; and there is nothing in the ordinance to control us in the consideration of them.
Sir, I want to ask another question. I am a tender-hearted man, and I do not want to make gentlemen feel unpleasant; but as they say in Congress, "Duty to country is superior to all private considerations." I want to ask, sir, in a whisper that the reporter cannot hear, what do these gentlemen who had no scruples about striking out the name of the new State - where do they get their scruples about altering the boundaries? Sir, it appears to me if the one thing could be done, the other may; if the ordinance of the August convention can be disregarded in one instance, it may be in others - always supposing that what is proposed to be done is in accordance with the general scope of our duties here. For my own part I think the question of boundary not only a far more important one but more immediately and obviously within the legitimate line of our duties, and one that will affect more nearly those who are to be the inhabitants of this State than this change of name.
Mr. President, I do not know whether questions of this kind are to arise here in other portions of our duties; but I have been the more particular in saying what I have said and endeavoring to make myself understood, after so many gentlemen have spoken, that we might have come to some settled decision on the question; and if we have already had occasion in two instances to act on our own authority, as it were - or I will say on our own authority, that we may have a proper idea of our functions here - and if we are placed where we are now for the best interests of those who are to constitute the new State, to fix boundaries which are not only to benefit those to be added to it, but those already included, that we should have no hesitation in doing what we think just and proper under the circumstances.
These arguments, sir - though I have stated nothing except so far as I have adverted to facts, cited by other gentlemen - go to show that the particular counties under consideration ought to be admitted; but in connection with what I have said should govern us, I think it is only necessary to cast the eye upon the map to see that these counties properly belong to us. We may run the risk of cutting off these counties from any available market, and by leaving them outside injure them greatly. It is very possible we would injure them. Another consideration: We have called this new State West Virginia; and yet gentlemen are proposing to leave about one-third of what has been known as West Virginia since the year one outside of our boundaries! Well, sir, we should immediately have two West Virginias; and then there would be trouble. If that name is proper for the new State, then I think it is very decidedly proper that these counties should come in. This State was originally divided into two great sections; and I am not aware that the term "western" was particularly applied to the region west of the Alleghany mountains. I think they used to call this the "Trans-Alleghany" district. And I think if the name is worth so much it is worth while to have the game also. Now, sir, they will crowd us up, and they will soon be tacking on to us "North" West-''ern" Virginia, and deprive us of what we have already claimed in the name. I do think, sir, there is something even in that consideration - something that shows, or tends to show, the meaning of the convention to whom we want to be deferential. We know that name was a favorite one, sir, and we may suppose that when gentlemen here propose to give the State that name, they mean to include within it as much territory that is known as West Virginia as circumstances at least will dictate. We go no further south than the counties named in this report for obvious reasons. We leave all the counties in the valley through which runs the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad; and in so doing we have a regard to their interest which I am afraid we will fail to manifest towards the counties included in this resolution, if we attempt to exclude them.
I am in favor of passing this resolution as reported by the committee, I do not think that the same reasons require that the form of the gentleman from Monongalia should be applied to these counties as named in the subsequent resolutions. Yet I think we may know from the location of these counties, if we do not know what are likely to be their sentiments-r-we may know from their very location, their business connections - we may judge and infer (and I think we will infer correctly) that if these people are permitted to vote free and untrammeled on this question, it will be the desire of not only a majority but I feel free to say a great majority, to connect themselves with us.
THE PRESIDENT. The question is on the adoption of the amendment.
The amendment was rejected.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Well, sir, I ask for the vote now upon the resolution as reported by the committee, and as amended by striking out the two counties.
MR. DILLE. What is the question, as amended?
THE PRESIDENT. To retain all except the counties of Buchanan and Wise. Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer and McDowell remain in the resolution.
MR. VAN WINKLE. I understand it is proposed to throw out of this the counties of Buchanan and Wise and to put them into the second resolution.
MR. STUART of Doddridge. Well, make that motion, sir.
MR. WILLEY. I desire to record my vote on that resolution, sir, and ask the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered and taken, and resulted:
YEAS - Messrs. John Hall (President), Brown of Preston, Brown of Kanawha, Brumfield, Chapman, Cassady, Dolly, E. B. Hall, Hubbs, Hagar, Lamb, Lauck, Montague, Mahon, O'Brien, Parker, Ruffner, Sinsel, Simmons, B. F. Stewart, Soper, C. J. Stuart, Taylor, Van Winkle, Walker, Warder, Wilson - 27.
NAYS - Messrs. Brooks, Battelle, Carskadon, Bering, Dille, Hansley, Haymond, Harrison, Irvine, Parsons, Powell, Paxton, Stevenson of Wood, Trainer, Willey - 15.
So the resolution as amended was adopted.
MR. VAN WINKLE. Now, sir, I move we adjourn.
The motion was agreed to and the Convention adjourned.
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Chapter Eleven: First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia