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Proceedings of the
Second Session of the
Second Wheeling Convention

August 20, 1861

Convention met and was called to order at half-past nine A. M.

Prayer by Rev. Gordon Battelle.

Minutes read and approved.

Mr. FARNSWORTH - As Chairman of the Committee, sir, whose duty it was by special appointment to try, if possible, to compromise upon some measure to be adopted by this Convention, we are ready this morning to report, and, we would say to this Convention, that the labors of that Committee were arduous. We met in the spirit of harmony and union; we met for the purpose of meeting, if possible, upon some general compromise ground that would suit this entire Convention and suit the people. And I am happy this morning to say to this Convention that we have agreed upon a plan to be submitted this morning; and we have not only agreed, but unanimously agreed. Every member of the Committee, and I believe, with heart and hand, have agreed to it. And we take great pleasure this morning in submitting the result of the labors of that Committee, hoping that this Convention may properly appreciate the report we make.

The following is the report:


WHEREAS, It is represented to be the desire of the people inhabiting the counties hereinafter mentioned to be separated from this Commonwealth, and to be erected into a separate and independent State, and admitted into the Union of States, and become a member of the Government of the United States;

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: beginning on the Tug Fork of Sandy river on the Kentucky line where the counties of Buchanan and Logan join the same, and running thence with the dividing lines of said counties, and the dividing line of the counties of Wyoming and McDowell to the Mercer county line, and with the dividing line of the counties of Mercer and Wyoming to the Raleigh county line, and thence with the dividing line of the counties of Raleigh and Mercer, Monroe and Raleigh, Greenbrier and Raleigh, Fayette and Greenbrier, Nicholas and Greenbrier, Webster, Greenbrier and Pocahontas, Randolph and Pocahontas, Randolph and Pendleton, to the south-west corner of Hardy county, thence with the dividing line of the counties of Hardy and Tucker to the Fairfax Stone, thence with the line dividing the States of Maryland and Virginia to the Pennsylvania line, thence with the line dividing the States of Pennsylvania and Virginia to the Ohio River, thence down said river, and including the same, to the dividing line between Virginia and Kentucky, and with the said line to the beginning; including within the boundaries of the proposed new State the counties of Logan, Wyoming, Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Webster, Randolph, Tucker, Preston, Monongalia, Marion, Taylor, Barbour, Upshur, Harrison, Lewis, Braxton, Clay, Kanawha, Boone, Wayne, Cabell, Putnam, Mason, Jackson, Roane, Calhoun, Wirt, Gilmer, Ritchie, Wood, Pleasants, Tyler, Doddridge, Wetzel, Marshall, Ohio, Brooke and Hancock.

SEC. 2. All persons qualified to vote within the boundaries aforesaid, and who shall present themselves at the several places of voting within their respective counties, on the fourth Thursday in October next, shall be allowed to vote on the question of the formation of a new State as hereinbefore proposed; 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.

SEC. 3. The Convention hereinbefore provided for may change the boundaries described in the first section of this Ordinance, so as to include within the proposed State the counties of Greenbrier and Pocahontas or either of them, and also the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson, or either of them, and also such other counties as lie contiguous to the said boundaries, or to the counties named in this section, 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 election to be held at the time and in the manner herein provided for.

SEC. 4. Poll Books shall be prepared under the direction of the Governor, for each place of voting in the several counties hereinbefore mentioned, with two separate columns, one to be headed "For the New State," the other "Against the New State." And it shall be the duty of the Commissioners who superintended, and the officers who conducted the election in May last, or such other persons as the Governor may appoint, to attend at their respective places of holding elections, and superintend and conduct the election herein provided for. And if the said Commissioners and officers shall fail to attend at any such place of holding elections, it shall be lawful for any two freeholders present to act as Commissioners in superintending said election, and to appoint officers to conduct said election. It shall be the duty of such persons superintending and conducting said election, to employ clerks to record the votes, and to endorse on the respective poll books the expenses of the same.

If on the day herein provided for holding such election, there shall be in any of the said counties, any military force, or any hostile assemblage of persons, so as to interfere with a full and free expression of the will of the voters, they may assemble at any other place within their county, and hold an election as herein provided for. It shall be the duty of such Commissioners superintending, and officers conducting said election, and the clerks employed to record the votes, each before entering upon the duties of his respective office, to take, in addition to the oath now required by the general election law, the oath of office prescribed by this Convention. It shall be the duty of the officers and commissioners aforesaid, as soon as may be, and not exceeding three days after said election, to aggregate each of the columns of said poll books, and ascertain the number of votes recorded in each, and make a return thereof to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, in the City of Wheeling, which return shall be in the following form, or to the following effect:

We., _____, Commissioners, and _____, conducting officer, do certify, that we caused an election to be held at _____ in the county of _____ at which we permitted all persons to vote that were entitled to do so under existing laws, and that offered to vote, and that we have carefully added up each column of our poll books, and find the following result: For a new State, ___ votes, Against a new State, _____ votes; Given under our hands, this ____ day ____ 1861.

Under which certificated there shall be added the following affidavit:

_____ County, to wit:

I, _____ a Justice of the Peace, (or any officer now authorized by law to administer oaths;) in and for said county, do certify that the above named commissioners and conducting officer, severally made oath before me that the certificate by them above signed, is true. Given under my hand, this ____ day of _____ 1861.

_____ J. P.

The original poll books shall be carefully kept by the conducting officers for ninety days after the day of the election, and upon the demand of the Executive shall be delivered to such person as he may authorize to demand and receive them.

SEC. 5. The commissioners conducting the said election in each of said counties shall ascertain, at the same time they ascertain the vote upon the formation of a new State, who has been elected from their county to the Convention hereinbefore provided for, and shall certify to the Secretary of the Commonwealth the name or names of the person or persons elected to the said Convention.

SEC. 6. It shall be the duty of the Governor on or before the fifteenth day of November next, to ascertain and by proclamation make known the result of the said vote, and if a majority of the votes given within the boundaries mentioned in the first section of this Ordinance shall be in favor of the formation of a new State, he shall so state in his said proclamation, and shall call upon said delegates to meet in the city of Wheeling on the 26th day of November next, and organize themselves into a Convention, and the said Convention shall submit for ratification or rejection the Constitution that may be agreed upon by it, to the qualified voters within the proposed State, to be voted upon by the said voters on the fourth Thursday in December next.

SEC. 7. The county of Ohio shall elect three delegates; the counties of Harrison, Kanawha, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Preston and Wood shall each elect two, and the other counties named in the first section of this Ordinance shall each elect one delegate to the said Convention. And such other counties as are described in the third section of this Ordinance shall, for every seven thousand of their population, according to the census of 1860, be entitled to one delegate, and to an additional delegate for any fraction over thirty-five hundred; but each of said counties shall be entitled to one delegate.

SEC. 8. It shall be the duty of the Governor to lay before the General Assembly, at its next meeting, for their consent, according to the Constitution of the United States, the result of the said vote, if it shall be found that a majority of the votes cast be in favor of a new State, and also in favor of the Constitution proposed to said voters for their adoption.

SEC. 9. Said new State shall take upon itself a just proportion of the public debt of the Commonwealth of Virginia prior to the 1st day of January, 1861, to be ascertained by charging to it all State expenditures within the limits thereof, and just proportion of the ordinary expenses of the State government, since any part of said debt was contracted, and deducting therefrom the monies paid into the treasury of the Commonwealth from the counties included within the said new State within the same period. All private rights and interests in lands within the proposed State, derived from the laws of Virginia prior to such separation, shall remain valid and secure under the laws of the proposed State, and shall be determined by the laws now existing in the State of Virginia.

The lands within the proposed State, of non-resident proprietors, shall not in any case be taxed higher than the lands of residents therein. No grants of lands, or land warrants issued by the proposed State, shall interfere with any warrant issued from the Land Office of Virginia, prior to the 17th day of April last, which shall be located on lands within the proposed State, now liable thereto.

SEC. 10. When the General Assembly shall give its consent to the formation of such new State, it shall forward to the Congress of the United States such consent, together with an official copy of such Constitution, with the request that the said new State may be admitted into the Union of States.

SEC. 11. The Government of the State of Virginia, as re-organized by this Convention at its session in June last, shall retain, within the territory of the proposed State, undiminished and unimpaired, all the powers and authority with which it has been vested, until the proposed State shall be admitted in the Union by the Congress of the United States; and nothing in this ordinance contained, or which shall be done in pursuance thereof, shall impair our effect the authority of the said re-organized State government in any county which shall not be included in the proposed State.

Mr. VAN WINKLE - The questions involved here are those of boundary and of time. We had conceded to the gentlemen on the other side an opportunity of bringing this matter before the Legislature at its next session, in consideration, partly, at least, of the fact that if the next legislature holds only its regular session it will not meet until two years after December next. It, however, it will be seen, leaves discretion enough in the Legislature to act upon this matter, and if as we have feared the state of the country should be such that this vote cannot be taken in any or any considerable number of the counties, why, of course, the thing would fail for the present.

Again, sir, what we think, to some extent, has been conceded to us is that another Convention shall be called for the purpose of making a Constitution for the new State. There were serious objections to going on with the old Constitution and organizing a government under its provisions, and in a few months have to make another Constitution. The Constitution of the new State will therefore be submitted to the people before the application comes before the Legislature.

In reference to the boundary, I can only refer gentlemen to the bill. There have been so many different and conflicting views in reference to that subject that it is hard to say which side has yielded and which has not. And while my views were very strong in the beginning of this matter to endeavor to include the valley, I have somewhat changed in regard to them. One ground of that charge is that it would be perhaps taking too much from the old State. Another is that the Valley itself would not consent, or at least no other parts than those for which provision is made in this ordinance. I will only say in conclusion that the ordinance is made up of the different propositions offered here, and is, I believe, really the result of a sincere desire on the part of the Committee to do something that would meet the approbation of the Convention and the people generally.

The dangers that we feared from too early action will perhaps be obviated by the provisions of this ordinance, and I think if this belief is general, that there can be no objection to passing it as it is. If there are any counties in which from the occupation of hostile troops, elections cannot be held, the matter cannot be acted on by the Legislature. At any rate there is discretion left to the Legislature to act properly in this matter, and if we go to Congress with our application in that way, and if there is any irregularity it is not likely we will obtain their consent.

It will, therefore, behoove gentlemen who are favoring this movement most strongly to wait until they have the consent of these counties embraced in this boundary, to insure the assent of Congress. We think that the great concession made on our side is in conceding early action, to refuse which would, perhaps, be fatal to the whole thing. It was to decide between this and the danger of postponing the whole matter, by permitting the friends of a division to risk action now.

Mr. CRANE moved to amend by adding at the end of the 88th line in the 7th section the words "the said delegates shall receive the same per diem as that which is now allowed to the members of the General Assembly."

The amendment was agreed to.

Mr. POLSLEY obtained the floor, and proceeded to give expression to his reasons for opposing the adoption of the report of the Committee. His real objection was that the Convention had no power to act on this subject; that "although we are de jure - we are in fact the rightful government of the whole State of Virginia, according to the principles of American government and according to the principles recognized by the government of the United States, yet" he contended that "we are not de facto the government of the whole of the State of Virginia." For this reasons he could not feel that they had any right to adopt measures for a separation of the State."

Mr. MARTIN, of Wetzel, moved the previous question.

Several members asked him to withdraw it.

Mr. MARTIN consented to withdraw it, but he did not think the subject needed any further elucidation; it was already exhausted, and he did not think any new light could be thrown upon the subject.

Mr. LAMB addressed the Convention briefly, in favor of the report of the Committee. He had consented to it somewhat reluctantly, but he would remind his friends that, by the Constitution of the United States, no action of the people of Virginia can effect anything without the consent of the Legislature, towards the formation of a new State, and that consent must be free and untrammelled. This was one security against a division. Another was, that another Convention was to be held to prepare and submit a constitution to the people of the new State. If that Convention should find the state of things would not allow the subject to be fairly and freely acted upon, they certainly would postpone the matter until such an expression could be had. He thought they had at least a reasonable security that no action would be had unless an actual and fair expression of popular sentiment should be previously had.

Mr. TARR proposed to amend the Ordinance in the 20th line, of the first section, by inserting the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, Morgan, Berkley, and Jefferson.

Mr. STEWART moved to add, as an amendment, the counties of Pendleton and Highland, and made some remarks in favor of his motion, going to show how strong was the Union sentiment in those counties.

Mr. BURDETT retorted by saying that some idea could be formed of the strength of the Union sentiment there by the fact that the first rebel troops that invaded Northwestern Virginia were from Highland county. They had been quartered in his own town (Pruntytown) and in his own house. Among them was one Captain Hull who in the Richmond Convention was a Union man, and who finally yielded and perhaps signed the Ordinance of Secession.

Mr. STEWART inquired if there was not a company of secession troops in the gentleman's own county (Taylor) before these troops came over from Highland.

Mr. BURDETT replied, that might be true, but he had alluded to that fact to show how strong was the Union sentiment in Highland. He supposed the gentleman had, perhaps, some relatives over there, and he believed it would be cheaper for him to go over to them than to try to bring the country to us.

Mr. DOWNEY obtained the floor for the purpose of vindicating the Union element of Hampshire county. He went on at length to advocate the amendment of Mr. Tarr taking in that and other counties.

Mr. HOOTON demanded the previous question.

The question was put upon the amendment of Mr. Stewart, and the amendment lost.

The question recurred on the amendment of Mr. Tarr.

Mr. Burley hoped gentlemen would concede them this one amendment.

The question on the adoption was taken by ayes and noes, and resulted, ayes 35, noes27.

So the amendment was adopted.

Mr. CARLILE took the floor, and said that by the action just taken, he was satisfied it had destroyed the ordinance reported by the Committee, and this being the case, he should not object to any other amendments. He proceeded to speak in opposition to including the counties named in the amendment. A provision was incorporated into the ordinance by which they could come into the new State, if they desired it; if they not desire to come in, no power to be exercised here could bring them in. One object was to get rid of the secession forces. He believed that Eastern Virginia was willing to let Northwestern Virginia go and form a separate State, but would they be willing to let these counties go, containing some 8,000 slaves, and which were within their natural boundaries, without a fierce struggle to maintain them. Besides, we had no assurance that these counties wanted to come with us at all. They were, some of them, largely secession, and would have to be coerced, if brought in at all. The provision of the ordinance would afford them an opportunity to come in, if they desired, and if they did not want to, we certainly did not want them.

As to wanting these counties because the B. & O. R. R. ran through them he would just say that in times of peace we had free and unmolested use of that road, and in times of war it could not be used anyhow. So that argument had no force whatever.

Mr. CALDWELL interrupted Mr. Carlile and moved a reconsideration of the vote by which the amendment was adopted.

Mr. NICHOLS followed in a very eloquent appeal to members not now to again throw an element of discord into the Convention. They all knew he had opposed immediate action as much as any of them, but they had appointed their committee to adopt measures that might harmonize them, and should not cautiously oppose what that committee had proposed to them. Let them not now again distract the Convention and ruin everything. He hope they would adopt the report and let them go home united, and enter upon the field of duty to which their country now called them, the defence of their homes and firesides. For one he was willing to act with all who were ready to aid in saving their country in this hour of its extremity.

Mr. TARR proposed to amend his amendment by leaving out the counties of Berkley and Jefferson.

Mr. HALL, of Marion, obtained the floor and occupied some time in vindicating the Union sentiment of Richmond and Eastern Virginia. He was in favor of taking in the counties included in the amendment of Mr. Tarr, and hoped that gentleman would let them all stand, and not be satisfied with half a loaf. He was opposed to being in a hurry. Let them consider this measure calmly and not hasten things too much toward a division of the State.

Mr. Van Winkle made some further remarks in explanation of the report of the Committee. If these counties were to be left out they could vote themselves in if they chose to, but if a county should so vote with another intervening between it and the new State, of course they could not come in. But if the counties named in the amendment, or any others, were included in the boundaries they must come in whether willing or not. The leaving out of these counties and others, and then making the provision by which they might come in if they wished was the very essence of the compromise they had effected.

Mr. CARLILE demanded the yeas and nays upon the motion of Mr. Caldwell to reconsider, which being taken resulted as follow:

YEAS - Mess. Berkshire, Brown, Burdett, Brumfield, Burley, Cather, Crawford, Carlile, Crane of Preston, Crane of Randolph, Caldwell, Davidson, Douglas, Davis, Evans, Ferrell, Farnsworth, Fleming, Gist, Graham, Hale, Hagans, Hooton, Howard, Jackson, Kramer, Lamb, Lewis, Love, Martin of Wetzel, Myers, Mason, Nichols, Smith of Pleasants, Scott (J. L.) Swan, Taft, Vance, Van Winkle, West, Williamson of Pleasants, Wilson and Zinn - 43.

NAYS - Mess. Atkinson, Boreman, Barns, Boyers, Broski, Close, Carskadon, Copley, Downey, Foley, Fast, Harrison, Hall of Marion, Johnson, Koonce, Montague, Michael, Polsley, Ritchie, Smith of Marion, Stewart, Tarr, Trout, Withers, Wetzel, Watson and Mr. President (Boreman of Wood) - 27.

So the vote adopting the amendment was reconsidered. The time of a recess having arrived the Convention took a recess, Mr. Stewart having the floor.


Mr. Stewart took the floor, and addressed the Convention upon the question which recurrence upon the adoption of the amendment of Mr. Tarr. He thought the report of the Committee was the worst proposition that had yet been offered, and yet some gentlemen here thought it was above criticism. He was opposed to this bill much more than the bill proposed by Mr. Farnsworth, originally. He believed the concessions had all been one way. He must give Mr. Carlile credit for having managed this thing, admirably. After he had concluded

Mr. MARTIN of Wetzel called for the previous question.

The main question was then put upon the amendment of Mr. Tarr to add the counties of Hardy, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkley, and Jefferson, and being taken by yeas and nays resulted, yeas, 31, nays 48.

So the motion to so amend was lost.

Mr. BURLEY said he would propose as a compromise, that the counties of Hardy, Hampshire, and Morgan, should be included within the boundaries of the new State. The question upon the amendment was taken and decided in the negative.

Mr. CARLILE said the Convention had now spent about two weeks discussing this question, and he thought it was about time for them to come to some conclusion. They had all made their speeches over about ten times - he had he knew - and he hoped this thing was to come to an end.

He was followed by Mr. Smith, of Marion, who urged in opposition to the adoption of the report of the Committee, that this proposition would bring up prominently the consideration of the slavery question, which must result most disastrously; that such was the state of things in many counties that a fair election could not be held. He argued that this Ordinance would override the Ordinance for the reorganization of the State government in its provision that the Legislature should order an election for executive officers so as to end their term of office at the end of six months, and thus would perpetuate the present executive of this State government until the new State shall be admitted into the Union.

He moved to strike out, in the 24th line, all after the word "proposed," down to the 33d line.

He was replied to by Mr. Carlile, who said that Mr. Smith and his friends had all along during the session of the Legislature and in the early part of this Convention, favored and insisted on a Convention to form a constitution, and now that that Convention was provided for in this proposition the gentleman had turned against his own pet scheme.

The question was taken upon Mr. Smith's amendment, and it was rejected.

Mr. STEWART proposed to amend the 1st section by striking out "Kanawha," and inserting "West Virginia," as the name of the new State.

Mr. HALL, of Marion, asked for a division of the question.

The motion to strike out "Kanawha" was put and rejected.

Mr. WEST said he wished to define his position. He said they had in a manner entirely fair and impartial gone into the selection of the Committee that had reported this morning, and while he did not pretend to say that any other members felt bound, for himself he did feel bound in good faith to carry out the objects of the Committee.

Mr. CRANE, of Randolph, proposed as an amendment to the end of the 7th section, as amended by himself this morning, to add these words: "But no person shall received pay as a member of the General Assembly and of the Convention at the same time."

The amendment was agreed to.

Mr. SMITH, of Marion, moved to amend the eleventh section by adding at the end of it the words: "Provided, That nothing herein contained shall annul the power of the Legislature to call an election to fill the vacancy of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney, provided for by an ordinance entitled, 'An Ordinance for the re-organization of the State Government.'"

Mr. LAMB said if he could see the least necessity in the world for it, he would vote for the amendment cheerfully. But he could not see such necessity.

Mr. SMITH said he saw a necessity for it; because these ordinances would come in conflict. The question might arise in the next Legislature, whether we have that power or not, and by having that proviso here, it sets aside the question forever.

The amendment was rejected.

Mr. POLSLEY proposed the following amendment: "Strike out the first sentence of the 7th section, and insert:

That each of said counties shall be entitled to one delegate; and each county having a white population of 7,000 inhabitants, two delegates; each county having a like population of 13,000 shall have three delegates; and Ohio county shall have four delegates.

Mr. POLSLEY spoke in favor of his amendment and was replied to by Mr. Lamb.

Mr. HOOTON called for the previous question.

The question was put and the amendment rejected.

Mr. LEWIS now demanded the previous question on the main question.

The main question was ordered, it being upon the adoption of the ordinance reported by the Select Committee, and having been taken, by yeas and nays, resulted as follows:

YEAS - Messrs. Berkshire, Brown, Burdett, Brumfield, Cather, Crawford, Carlile, Crane of Randolph, Crane of Preston, Caldwell, Copley, Davidson, Douglas, Downey, Davis, Evans, Ferrell, Farnsworth, Foley, Fast, Fleming, Hale, Hagans, Hooton, Howard, Jackson, Kramer, Lamb, Lewis, Love, Martin of Wetzel, Myers, Price, Paxton, Parsons, Ruffner, Slack, Smith of Marion, Smith of Pleasants, Smith of Upshur, Swan, Scott, Taft, Vance, Withers, Williamson of Pleasants, Wilson and Zinn - 48.

NAYS - Messrs. Atkinson, Boreman of Tyler, Barns, Boyers, Burley, Broski, Crother, Close, Carskadon, Gist, Graham, Harrison, Hubbard, Hall of Marion, Hawkshurst, Johnson, Koonce, Mason, Montague, Polsley, Ritchie, Stewart, Tarr, Trout, Wetzel, Watson, and Mr. President (Boreman of Wood), - 27.

Several members were paired off.

Remainder of members absent.

So the Ordinance as reported by the Committee and amended by the Convention, was adopted.

Mr. HARRISON in casting his vote obtained leave to read an address to the Convention, setting forth his reason for the vote he cast.

Mr. SMITH, of Marion, in casting his vote said,

"The bill as presented to the House is, in my opinion, evidently defective. But I have ever been disposed to give the people an opportunity to vote on the subject. I think the people abroad require at our hands that some steps should be taken towards a division of the State, and I have struggled throughout this Convention with a view of getting it before the people in the most unexceptionable shape I possibly could. I regard this as the most objectionable shape in which any proposition has been presented to the House, yet so anxious am I that the people shall have a vote on the subject that I shall vote yea. I do so not because I subscribe to the modus operandi, but because I subscribe to the sentiment it has embodied in it, viz: that the people shall exercise their inalienable right of suffrage at the polls."

Mr. CALDWELL also made an explanation of his vote, but the reporter not attending at the time did not catch it.

[Want of space compels us to defer the remainder of the proceedings until tomorrow.]

August 6
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August 13
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August 16
August 17
August 19
August 20
August 21

Chapter Nine: Second Session of the Second Wheeling Convention

A State of Convenience

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