An Ordinance for the
Reorganization of the State Government

June 14, 1861

The people of the State of Virginia, by their delegates assembled in Convention at Wheeling, do ordain as follows:

1. A Governor and Lieutenant-Governor for the State of Virginia shall be appointed by this Convention to discharge the duties and exercise the powers which pertain to their respective offices by the existing laws of the State, and to continue in office until their successors be elected and qualified.

2. A Council, to consist of five members, shall be appointed by this Convention to consult with and advise the Governor respecting such matters pertaining to his official duties as he shall submit for consideration, and to aid in the execution of his official orders. Their term of office shall expire at the same time as that of the Governor.

3. The Delegates elected to the General Assembly on the twenty-third day of May last, and the Senators entitled, under existing laws, to seats in the next General Assembly, who shall qualify themselves by taking the oath or affirmation hereinafter set forth, shall constitute the Legislature of the State, to discharge the duties and exercise the powers pertaining to the General Assembly. They shall hold their offices for the terms for which they were respectively elected. They shall assemble in the city of Wheeling on the ____ day of ____ and proceed to organize themselves, as prescribed by existing laws, in their respective branches. A majority in each branch of the members qualified as aforesaid shall constitute a guarantee to do business. A majority of the members of each branch that qualified, voting affirmatively, shall be competent to pass any act specified in the twenty-seventh section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the State.

4. The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, members of the Legislature, and all officers now in the service of the State, or of any county, city or town thereof, or hereafter to be elected or appointed for such service, including the Judges and Clerks of the several courts, Sheriffs, Commissioners of the Revenue, Justices of the Peace, officers of city and municipal corporations, and officers of militia and volunteers of the State not mustered into the service of the United States, shall each take the following oath or affirmation before proceeding in the discharge of the several duties:

I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, as the Supreme law of the land, any thing in the Ordinances of the Convention which assembled at Richmond on the 13th day of February, 1861, to the contrary notwithstanding; and that I will uphold and defend the Government ordained by the Convention which assembled at Wheeling on the 11th day of June, 1861, and the Legislature, Governor and all other officers thereof in the discharge of their several duties as prescribed by the last mentioned Convention.

5. If any elective officer who is required by the preceding section to take said Oath or Affirmation, fail or refuse so to do, it shall be the duty of the Governor, upon satisfactory evidence of the fact, to issue his writ declaring the office to be vacant, and providing for a special election to fill such vacancy, at some convenient and early day to be designated in said writ of which due publication shall be made for the information of the persons entitled to vote at such election, and such writ may be directed, at the discretion of the Governor, to the Sheriff or Sheriffs of the proper County or Counties, or to a special Commissioner or Commissioners to be ordered by the Governor for the purpose. If the officer who fails or refuses to take such oath or affirmation be appointed otherwise than by election, the writ shall be directed to the appointing power, requiring it to fill the vacancy.

Chapter Seven: First Session of the Second Wheeling Convention

A State of Convenience

West Virginia Archives and History