Abolishment of Slavery
in West Virginia

Wheeling Intelligencer
February 9, 1865

Letter from Wheeling.
Death of Slavery in West Virginia.
Correspondence of Pittsburgh Commercial.

Long live the 3d of February, 1865, in West Virginia. In days to come, this day will be remembered as one of the brightest in the history of this young State. Happening in to the Senate Chamber this morning, I had the pleasure of witnessing the death of slavery here. Yesterday the bill for the abolishing of slavery had passed the House of Delegates by a heavy vote, notwithstanding the conscientious doubt of some as to the constitutionality of the act. To day it came up in the Senate. - Nothing could be more evident than the intense earnestness of the men who were called to vote on the question. Talking was felt to be unnecessary. With breathless interest all waited for the aye or no as the roll was called. To my surprise, every man but one answered aye, with a clear determined voice. Thus, by a vote of 17 to 1, the Senate of West Virginia placed this young State emphatically on the side of Freedom. Only a few years ago, in this city, a clergyman came near being mobbed for simply alluding to the question of slavery in the course of a lecture. To-day has finally passed the following bill:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia!
1. All persons held to service or labor as slaves in this State are hereby declared free.
2. There shall hereafter be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State, except in punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

This bill wipes out the remnant of slavery in West Virginia at a blow.

What will be the effect of this act? Unquestionably the coming in of capital, of intelligence, of skilled labor, of everything that makes this a desirable place of residence. With her vast mineral and agricultural resources she must advance rapidly. Within the last four years the change has been wonderful. What will it now be? The ratification to the amendment to the Constitution was also passed yesterday. Thus one by one the States wheel into line on this mighty question. - How marvelous! How passing belief is the change thus made in the law of our national life! The name of the Lord be praised, and let all the people say amen.

African Americans

West Virginia Archives and History