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Chapter Eight
Legislature of the
Reorganized Government of Virginia
Meets in Extra Session

July 1-26, 1861

While the Second Wheeling Convention was in adjournment, Governor Francis Pierpont called into extra session the General Assembly of the Reorganized Government of Virginia to convene in Wheeling on July 1. The legislative bodies consisted of persons elected to office on May 23 who remained loyal to the Union. Approximately eight senators and thirty-two delegates participated in the proceedings. The House of Delegates met in the Federal courtroom in the Custom House, while the Senate gathered at Linsly Institute. Attendance was so sparse on the first day that the proceedings were adjourned due to the lack of a quorum. The Custom House in Wheeling
Custom House, Wheeling

Linsly Institute, West Virginia's first capitol building

Linsly Institute in Wheeling
Francis Pierpont
Francis Pierpont
On the following day, Daniel Frost of Jackson County was elected Speaker of the House, and newly elected Lieutenant Governor Daniel Polsley presided over the Senate. In an address read to the legislators, Governor Francis Pierpont revealed that President Lincoln had pledged "full protection" to the people of western Virginia. The governor called on the legislature to establish "an efficient system to protect the loyal people of the Commonwealth against the intrigues, conspiracies and hostile acts of those who adhere to our enemies." He also opposed any tax increases and requested that the Board of Public Works be abolished, and "its powers conferred on the Executive."
On July 9, the legislators elected a number of state officials, including Lucian Hagans, Secretary of the Commonwealth; Samuel Crane, Auditor of Public Accounts; and Campbell Tarr, Treasurer. The legislature then proceeded to the selection of United States senators. John Carlile was unanimously elected to fill the slot of R. M. T. Hunter. Three men, Waitman T. Willey, Peter Van Winkle, and Daniel Lamb, were nominated to replace James M. Mason. The Wheeling Intelligencer voiced its opposition to the selection of Willey, stating "he is not, never was, nor never will be a leader. He has not the back bone for times like these..." Despite opposition to Willey due to his perceived conservatism, he was elected to fill the other Senate seat. On July 13, after a bitter debate, Carlile and Willey were formally seated by the United States Senate. Lucian Hagans
Lucian Hagans

Campbell Tarr

Campbell Tarr
George Arnold
George Arnold
Most of the actions taken by the Legislature related to financial and military affairs of the Reorganized Government of Virginia. Late in the session, House Bill No. 21, giving the legislature's blessing to the creation of a new state under certain specific terms and conditions, was introduced and debated. The House eventually voted against the bill, while the Senate chose to table the proposed legislation. The extra session concluded on July 26, but all of the legislators except George Arnold of Lewis County would return on August 6 as delegates to the Second Session of the Second Wheeling Convention.

Primary Documents:

Delegates and Senators for the Reorganized Government of Virginia
Proceedings of the Reorganized Government of Virginia General Assembly
Editorial on Election of Carlile and Willey to the United States Senate
U.S. Senate Debate on Acceptance of Carlile and Willey

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