Skip Navigation

Proceedings of the
Second Wheeling Convention

June 12, 1861

The Convention assembled pursuant to adjournment, and was opened with prayer by Rev. Wesley Smith, of this city.

The Secretary read the journals of the previous day, which were, on motion, adopted.

Mr. BOREMAN, of Wood county, offered the report of the Committee on Credentials, and on his motion it was received and concurred in. The subjoined is a list of the delegates present.

Report of the Committee on Credentials.

The committee report that the following gentlemen are entitled to seats in this body from the counties designated in the capacities herein set forth, whether as members of the General Assembly elected on the 23d of May, 1861, or as delegates appointed to this Convention only:


Barbour County - John H. Shuttlesworth and Spencer Dayton, delegates.

Brooke - Joseph Gist, Senator; H. W. Crothers, member of the House of Delegates; John D. Nicholls and Campbell Tarr, delegates.

Cabell - Albert Laidly, member of H. of D.

Monongalia - Leroy Dramar and Joseph Snyder, members of H. of D.; Ralph L. Berkshire, Wm. Price, James Evans and D. B. Dorsey, delegates.

Ohio - Thos. H. Logan, Andrew Wilson, members of H. of D.; Daniel Lamb, Jas. W. Paxton, George Harrison and Chester D. Hubbard, delegates.

Pleasants and Ritchie - Jas. W. Williamson, member of H. of D.; C. W. Smith and William H. Douglas, delegates.

Preston - Chas. Hooton and Wm. B. Zinn, members of H. of D.; Wm. B. Crane, John Howard, Harrison Hagans and John J. Brown, delegates.

Randolph and Tucker - Solomon Parsons, delegate.

Roane - T. A. Roberts, delegate.

Taylor - Lemuel E. Davidson, member of H. of D.; John S. Burdett and Samuel B. Todd, delegates.

Upshur - D. D. T. Farnsworth, member of H. of D.; John L. Smith, delegate.

Wayne - William Radcliffe, member of H. of D.; W. W. Bromfield and Wm. Copeley, delegates.

Wetzel - Jas. G. West, member of H. of D.; Reuben Martin and Jas. P. Ferrell, delegates.

Wirt - James A. Williamson, member of H. of D.; Henry Newman and E. T. Graham, delegates.

Wood - John W. Moss, member of H. of D.; Arthur I. Boreman and P. G. Vanwinkle, delegates.

Alexandria - Henry S. Martin and Jas. T. Close, delegates.

Fairfax - John Hawxhurst and Ebon E. Mason, delegates.

Hampshire - James Carskadon, Senator; Owen D. Downey, Geo. W. Broski, James H. Trout, Jas. J. Barracks, delegates.

Hardy - John Michael, delegate.

Doddridge and Tyler - Wm. J. Boreman, member of H. of D.; Daniel D. Johnson and James A. Foley, delegates.

Gilmer - Henry H. Withers, delegate.

Hancock - Geo. McC. Porter, member of H. of D.; John H. Atkinson and Wm. L. Crawford, delegates.

Harrison - Chapman J. Stewart, Senator; John J. Davis, John C. Vance, H. of D.; John S. Carlile, Solomon S. Fleming, Lot Bowen and Benj. F. Shuttleworth, delegates.

Jackson - Daniel Frost, member of H. of D.; Jas. F. Scott and Andrew Flesher, delegates.

Lewis - P. M. Hale and J. A. J. Lightburn, delegates.

Marion - Richard Fast and Fountain Smith, members of H. of D.; F. H. Pierpoint, John S. Barnes, A. F. Ritchie and James O. Watson, delegates.

Marshall - Remembrance Swan, member of H. of D.; E. H. Caldwell and Robert Morris, delegates.

Mason - Lewis Wetzel, member of H. of D.; Charles B. Waggoner and Daniel Palsley, delegates.

Mr. PIERPOINT, from the Committee on Permanent Organization, offered the report of that Committee, recommending the selection of Arthur I. Boreman, of Wood, for President of the Convention; for Secretary, G. L. Cranmer, of Wheeling, with power to appoint his Assistants; for Sergeant at-Arms, Thomas Hornbrook, of Wheeling, with power to appoint a door-keeper or door- keepers and pages.

The Committee also recommend that before the President takes his seat he take the following oath:

"I do 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 Conventions which assembled in Richmond, on the 13th of February last, to the contrary notwithstanding, so help me God."

And that the President, after he shall have taken the oath, and before any other business is transacted, shall administer the said oath to each member who shall be, or have been, reported to this Convention as members thereof by the Committee on Credentials, only varying the form of the oath to suit the case.

On motion of Mr. Pierpont the report was adopted.

On motion of Mr. Carlile a committee of two were appointed to inform Mr. Boreman of his election and conduct him to the chair, and Andrew Wilson, Esq., of Wheeling, a Justice of the Peace, was requested to administer to him the oath.

Mr. CARLILE and Mr. Tarr were appointed the committee, who conducted Mr. Boreman to the chair.

The President then returned his acknowledgments to the Convention in a brief and pertinent speech. In the course of his remarks he said that this Convention was assembled under circumstances which knew no parallel in the past history of the country since the adoption of our Constitution. Then we were but a few in the land - in these colonies of the mother country. Our father met with oppression, but few as they were they determined to throw off the shackles which bound them. They did so successfully, and after a struggle of seven years succeeded in obtaining from the world a recognition of their independence. They adopted a form of government under which we have gone on from that day to this, prospering and growing in greatness beyond anything that ever occurred in the history of any other nation either ancient or modern. But now in the middle of the nineteenth century we are awakened by the astounding announcement in one section of our country that we have no government worthy of our support, and the announcement is at once accompanied by a rebellion to throw off this government under which we have been so long happy and prosperous, and the inauguration of a system such as would never have been countenanced by our fathers. We of Western Virginia are asked to concur in this action. We are placed in a peculiar position. The Convention of Virginia at Richmond, so far as they have the power, have by the passage of an Ordinance of Secession withdrawn us from the Union of our fathers. They submitted their action to a vote of the people as they proclaimed it, but in a way that made that vote a mockery. That vote in form has ratified the Ordinance of Secession - thus in the estimation of that Convention withdrawing us from the United States of America. Under these circumstances Western Virginia is placed in a peculiar position. The States north of us and some of the Slave States have made no effort by an official body to withdraw from the Union. States south of us have gone according to their opinions out of the Union. Elsewhere there are no efforts being made in any of them by any regularly constituted bodies to retain their places in the Union, while here in Western Virginia we have determined that by the help of Him who rules on high we will resist the action of that Richmond Convention, which has practised upon us a monstrous usurpation of power, violated the Constitution of the country and violated every rule of right. We have determined I say, to resist it, and under this determination we are found here to-day to take definite action. If you gentlemen, will go with me, we will take definite, determined and unqualified action as to the course we will pursue. We will take such action as will result in Western Virginia, if not the whole of Virginia, remaining in the Union of our fathers. I am satisfied that the members of this Convention concur with me almost unanimously.

Then, in this Convention we have no ordinary political gathering. We have no ordinary task before us. We come here to carry out and execute, and it may be, to institute a government for ourselves. We are determined to live under a State Government in the United States of America and under the Constitution of the United States. It requires stout hearts to execute this purpose; it requires men of courage - of unfaltering determination; and I believe, in the gentlemen who compose this Convention, we have the stout hearts and the men who are determined in this purpose. The definite line of action to be pursued, it is not for me to indicate. Here are learned gentlemen, men of experience, who, no doubt, after deliberation will devise the course proper for us to pursue.

The oath was then administered to him, after which it was on motion,

Resolved, That certain gentlemen, who presented themselves as delegates to this Convention, and who are not accepted as such by the report of the Committee on Credentials, shall be admitted to seats on this floor, not, however, to participate in the proceedings of this body.

The members then came forward by delegations to the stand, and took the oath of fidelity, which was administered to them by the President.

Mr. CARLILE then submitted the report of the Committee on Rules, embracing the rules and regulations adopted by the Constitutional Convention held at Richmond in 1850.

On his motion it was adopted with an additional resolution, that two hundred copies be printed for the use of the Convention.

Mr. DORSEY, of Monongalia, offered a series of resolutions for the purpose of eliciting, as he said, the opinions of the Convention in relation to the course to be pursued. He read them as follows:

Resolved, That it shall be in part the business of this Convention, to make the requisite preparatory arrangements for the separation from Virginia, and the formation into a new State, of such counties as are represented in this body, by delegates or otherwise, and are desirous of entering into the new State organization.

2, That the said preliminary arrangements, when made by the Convention, shall, in compliance with the Constitution of the United States, be submitted for approval to the Legislature now convened in this city, as being the only loyal and legitimate Legislature of the State of Virginia; and afterwards, if approved by it, shall be submitted to the Congress of the United States.

3, That this mode of meeting the present exigencies of Western Virginia, is preferable to that of reconstructing the Government of Virginia; inasmuch as it is equally legal and yet does not impose upon us the calamity of an overburdening State debt - no part of which we owe in equity - or the scarcely less disastrous calamity of repudiating that debt, and thus ruining the financial credit of the State.

Mr. CARLILE asked Mr. Dorsey to withdraw his resolutions for the present. All knew his own sentiments, but many members were not yet prepared to entertain these propositions. They could, however, be entertained in a short time. He thought there were good reasons why the views entertained by them both should not at this time be pressed.

Mr. DORSEY withdrew the resolution. All he had desired was to elicit the opinions of the Convention that they might the better survey the field before them and prepare for action.

Mr. CARLILE then submitted the following resolutions. He was sure the sentiments they expressed would receive the unanimous approbation of this body. He read them as follows:


Resolved, That the thanks of the loyal people of Virginia are due, and are hereby tendered to the Federal authorities for the prompt manner in which they have responded to our call for protection.

2. That we tender our thanks to Major General McClellan for rescuing from the destruction and spoliation inaugurated by the rebel forces in our midst, the people of North-western Virginia included within his military division.

3. That the gallant and soldierly bearing of the troops from Ohio and Indiana, who with our own gallant 1st regiment, commanded by Western Virginia's loyal son, Col. Kelly, have scattered the rebel forces in our midst, has won our admiration and we gladly hail them as our deliverers from the ruin and slavery provided for us by the conspirators who have temporary possession of the power of the State.

4, That we deeply sympathize with our fellow-citizen, Col. Kelly, in his sufferings from the wound received in our service, and earnestly pray that he may be speedily restored to perfect health, and again resume his command at the head of our own 1st regiment.

5. That we utterly repudiate the heresy sought to be inculcated by secessionists, that it is an invasion of Virginia's soil for American troops to march to the defence and protection of Virginia's citizens, but on the contrary, we declare Virginia soil to be American soil, and free to the march of American soldiery and sojourn of American citizens, from all and every portion of American territory; and it is only by such recognition that the Federal authorities could discharge a plain Constitutional duty imposed upon them by the clause guaranteeing to each State in the Union a Republican form of government.

Dr. LOGAN, of Wheeling, moved that the Secretary of the Convention be instructed to transmit copies of the foregoing resolutions to the President of the United States, to General McClellan, Brigadier-General Morris, and the Colonels commanding in the division of the United States Army in Northwestern Virginia.

It was moved to so amend that 500 copies be printed, to be transmitted as proposed, and the residue to be distributed among the soldiers.

Dr. LOGAN objected to the amendment. He thought it would be an unnecessary expense. It became them as representatives of Western Virginia to practice rigid economy. He subsequently, however, accepted the amendment, and the motion as amended was adopted.

Mr. CARLILE submitted a resolution as follows:

Resolved, That a Committee of 13 members be appointed to prepare and report business for the Convention.

C. D. HUBBARD, of Wheeling, moved to amend by adding that all resolutions touching our State and Federal Relations, be referred to said Committee.

Mr. CARLILE accepted the amendment, and the motion, as amended, was then adopted.

The Convention then, on motion, took a recess until 2 o'clock, P. M.


The Convention reassembled at the appointed hour.

The Chair announced the Committee on Business as follows:

COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS - Jno. S. Carlile, of Harrison, Daniel Lamb, of Ohio, F. H. Pierpoint of Marion, Harrison Hagans, of Preston, P. G. Vanwinkle, of Wood, R. L. Berkshire, of Monongalia, Dan'l. Palsey, of Mason, W. J. Boreman, of Wood, E. H. Caldwell, of Marshall, Daniel Frost, of Jackson, Geo. McC. Porter, of Hancock, D. T. Farnsworth, of Upshur, W. H. Copley, of Wayne.

The Chair stated that the next business in order would be the reception of resolutions and other matters for the Committee on Business.

MR. DORSEY then called up the resolutions he had offered in the morning's session. They were read and referred to the Committee.

MR. PIERPOINT submitted a resolution, which was adopted, as follows:

Resolved, That the President be requested to communicate with the clergymen of this city with a view to provide for opening the sessions of the Convention, each day with prayer.

On motion of MR. CARLILE, it was ordered that when the Convention assemble next it be in the United States Court Room in the Custom House.

The Convention then on motion adjourned to afford the Committee time to prepare business for its action.

June 11
June 12
June 13
June 14
June 15
June 17
June 18
June 19
June 20
June 21
June 24
June 25

Chapter Seven: First Session of the Second Wheeling Convention

A State of Convenience

West Virginia Archives and History