Debates and Proceedings
of the
First Constitutional Convention
of West Virginia

November 26, 1861

Forenoon Proceedings
In pursuance of elections held on the fourth Thursday of October, 1861, under authority of "an Ordinance to provide for the formation of a new State out of a portion of the territory of this State," passed August 20th of that year by the Convention which reorganized the government of the State of Virginia, the Convention to frame a Constitution for the proposed new State of Kanawha assembled in the United States Court Room, in the city of Wheeling, at eleven o'clock A. M., this day.

The Convention was called to order by Chapman J. Stuart, of Doddridge, who nominated as temporary chairman John Hall, of Mason.

Mr. Hall was chosen and assumed the chair.

E. H. Caldwell, of Marshall, moved the appointment of G. L. Cranmer, of Wheeling, as temporary secretary.

Mr. Cranmer was appointed and entered upon the discharge of his duties.

P. G. Van Winkle, of Wood, presented a roll of the members, made out from returns received at the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

It was called by the Secretary and the following members responded to their names:

Josiah Simmons, of Randolph.
James W. Parsons, of Tucker.
John J. Brown and John A. Dille, of Preston.
W. T. Willey and H. Dering, of Monongalia.
E. B. Hall and H. Haymond, of Marion.
Harmon Sinsel, of Taylor.
E. J. O'Brien, of Barbour.
R. L. Brooks, of Upshur.
J. M. Powell, of Harrison.
Robert Irvine, of Lewis.
James H. Brown, of Kanawha.
W. W. Brumfield, of Wayne.
Granville Parker, of Cabell.
D. S. Montague, of Putnam.
John Hall, of Mason.
E. S. Mahon, of Jackson.
H. D. Chapman, of Roane.
B. F. Stewart, of Wirt.
W. W. Warder, of Gilmer.
A. J. Wilson, of Ritchie.
P. G. Van Winkle and W. E. Stevenson, of Wood.
Joseph Hubbs, of Pleasants.
Abraham D. Soper, of Tyler.
Chapman J. Stuart, of Doddridge.
R. W. Lauck, of Wetzel.
E. H. Caldwell and T. H. Trainer, of Marshall.
James W. Paxton and Gordon Battelle, of Ohio.
Joseph S. Pomeroy, of Hancock.
George Sheets, of Hampshire.
Abijah Dolly, of Hardy.
Robert Hagar, of Boone.

THE SECRETARY. There are 37 now present.

THE CHAIR. There is a quorum.

MR. VAN WINKLE. The whole number authorized is 51.

THE CHAIR. The whole number returned was 45.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I now move that the rules of the June convention be adopted as the rules of this Convention, and that a committee of five be appointed to inquire and report whether any amendment to them is necessary.

The motion was agreed to.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I would further move, sir, that a committee be appointed to nominate suitable persons for permanent officers of this Convention; which would include not only the president and secretary, but door-keepers and sergeant-at-arms. The committee would also indicate, probably, what officers would be required. I apprehend that would be the best way to proceed in reference to it. I believe that is the usual mode. I suppose a committee of nine would do.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. It strikes me, sir, that this committee is unnecessary. It is unusual, so far as my experience goes. I think that the proper motion to be made now is, that the Convention proceed to elect their permanent officers. I see no necessity for appointing a committee. We may as well engage in the election of our permanent officers at once. Any person can suggest. I know that has been the rule adopted by former conventions in Virginia - the last two at least. I believe in our convention in June, we, perhaps, appointed a committee.

MR. VAN WINKLE. Well, sir, it strikes me we have come here together, many of us strangers to each other, and have not been here long enough to get acquainted; and it seems to me the intervention of a committee would be peculiarly appropriate in a case of this kind. I should hardly be willing to go into an election today, in this few hours meeting; but as I before stated I am not at all strenuous: the Convention can decide it.

MR. WILLEY. I suppose the object of the member from Wood is not to preclude the nomination of others than those nominated by the committee.


MR. WILLEY. If that be the case I cannot very well see myself what would be gained by referring it to a committee. It is true we are strangers to each other, and by a little friendly conference may arrive at better conclusions than we could in a hasty manner here. I concur with the gentleman from Doddridge, however, that it is not usual in bodies of this kind to resort to expedients of that character. It is immaterial with me, provided the action of the committee is not final but leaves the coast clear to put other persons in competition if any member should see fit to do so.

MR. SINSEL. It may be that there will be some contested seats here. Would it not be better first to arrange that matter by appointing a committee on credentials. They have not all responded to their names here. Is not that matter to be examined into first?

MR. POMEROY. I hope, Mr. President, we will, after these preliminary matters have a recess till the afternoon; and then I think we will be prepared to go into a permanent organization and elect all the officers necessary. I think it would be a waste of time to spend two days in the organization of a body no larger than the present one.

The motion to raise the committee was not agreed to.

MR. SINSEL. I move that there be appointed a committee of five on Credentials and Contested Seats.

The motion was agreed to, and the Chair named the following gentlemen to compose the committee.

Messrs. Sinsel, Brown of Preston, Stuart of Doddridge, Parker, and Paxton.

MR. VAN WINKLE. If the Chair please, I desire the appointment of another committee; and with a view that we are so recently come together, I will make the motion now, and if it is the pleasure of the Convention to have the committee appointed, the Chair can take time till the assembling in the afternoon to select names and can then announce them. I move, sir, that a committee, say of nine, be appointed to report the best method of bringing before the Convention such provisions to be inserted in the Constitution as may be proposed. It is expected that the committee will report the business that is to come before the Convention, assigning each matter to an appropriate committee.

The motion was agreed to.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. I now move to take a recess till 3 o'clock this afternoon, with a view of then going into the election of permanent officers.

The motion was agreed to; and the Convention took a recess.


On the reassembling of the Convention, the Chair proposed to name the committee raised on motion of Mr. Van Winkle.

MR. SOPER. I move the reconsideration of the resolution. I do it because I deem it an improper one to come before the Convention at this stage. The first business of the Convention is to have a permanent organization, and we have taken the preliminaries by the appointment of temporary chairman and secretary. The next business in order I apprehend is, sir, to have a president and secretary of the Convention, and then we are properly organized and prepared to entertain any proposition to bring business before the Convention. It is with this view, sir, that I move a reconsideration of the vote by which the resolution of the gentleman from Wood was adopted during the forenoon.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I offered several resolutions.

MR. SOPER. I mean, sir, the last resolution as to the mode of bringing business before the Convention. There was another Committee appointed - that on credentials. I suppose that intended to embrace the whole subject. It probably would be a proper inquiry to ascertain how many counties are represented here by delegates. I think it would be proper to ascertain that even before we take a vote on the organization. But this committee I suppose will embrace that matter within the range of their inquiries. I can see no objection to that inquiry.

The motion to reconsider was agreed to.

MR. SOPER. I now move, sir, that we go into the election of a president. The Committee on Credentials, I believe, is not prepared to report. There appears to be some misunderstanding as to who was chairman of it.

MR. BROWN of Preston. I think not, sir. The committee is through.

MR. SOPER. To obviate that, however, sir, I will ask for the reading of the counties embraced in the ordinance calling this Convention with a view of ascertaining how many of them have delegates here.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I believe, sir, by the resolution of the gentleman from Doddridge, the election of permanent officers was made the order of the day for 3 o'clock, and that is the business before us until that is set aside by resolution.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. The matter of reconsideration is not entirely disposed of. If I understood the motion of the gentleman over the way it was merely to reconsider the vote agreeing to the motion of the gentleman from Wood County appointing a committee. It seems to me, sir, that vote, which was carried, to reconsider, simply brings up the motion again to be disposed of by the Convention.

MR. VAN WINKLE. The vote to reconsider nullifies the vote by which the resolution passed, and the next question is, shall it pass? But it can either lie over on the table or I will withdraw it, if the Convention seem to think this is not the proper time to put it.

THE CHAIR. The Chair did not understand the resolution as having been disposed of in any way.

MR. WILLEY. Unquestionably the resolution is before the house. I move for the present to lay it on the table, and after the house shall have organized we can then take it up. The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.

Mr. Sinsel, from the Committee on Credentials then presented the following report:

The Committee on Credentials beg leave to report that the following gentlemen are entitled to seats in the Convention as members thereof, from the following counties, viz:

Stephen M. Hansley, from the county of Raleigh.
R. W. Lauck, from the county of Wetzel.
Robert Irvine, from the county of Lewis.
Benjamin L. Stephenson, from the county of Clay.
Thomas W. Harrison and John M. Powell, from the county of Harrison.
Dudley S. Montague, from the county of Putnam.
Richard L. Brooks, from the county of Upshur.
A. J. Wilson, from the county of Ritchie.
G. F. Taylor, from the county of Braxton.
W. W. Brumfield, from the county of Wayne.
Josiah Simmons, from the county of Randolph.
Joseph Hubbs, from the county of Pleasants.
William W. Warder, from the county of Gilmer.
H. D. Chapman, from the county of Roane.
John Hall, from the county of Mason.
James Hervey, from the county of Brooke.
Robert Hagar, from the county of Boone.
W. T. Willey and Henry Dering, from the county of Monongalia.
P. G. Van Winkle and W. E. Stevenson, from the county of Wood.
E. B. Hall and Hiram Haymond, from the county of Marion.
J. W. Paxton, Daniel Lamb and G. Battelle, from the county of Ohio.
Joseph S. Pomeroy, from the county of Hancock.
Abraham D. Soper, from the county of Tyler.
James W. Parsons, from the county of Tucker.
Chapman J. Stuart, from the county of Doddridge.
Granville Parker, from the county of Cabell.
Emmet J. O'Brien, from the county of Barbour.
Harmon Sinsel, from the county of Taylor.
John J. Brown and John A. Dille, from the county of Preston.
E. S. Mahon, from the county of Jackson.
Benjamin F. Stewart, from the county of Wirt.
T. R. Carskadon and Geo. Sheets, from the county of Hampshire.
E. H. Caldwell and T. H. Trainer, from the county of Marshall.
Abijah Dolly, from the county of Hardy.
J. H. Brown and Lewis Ruffner, from the county of Kanawha.

Your committee would further report that Wm. Walker, from the county of Wyoming, and James S. Cassady, from the county of Fayette, claim seats in the Convention as delegates from said counties, but no returns, complying with the Ordinance for a division of the state, have been produced before the committee, but the credentials under which they claim their seats are herewith returned for the action of the Convention in the premises.

From the counties of Logan, Nicholas, Webster and Calhoun, no returns have been received.


MR. SINSEL. Here are the papers upon which these gentlemen that I refer to claim seats here as delegates.

The report was adopted.

MR. SOPER. I wish the credentials read.

The Secretary read as follows:

"Whereas no election was held, nor could be held on account of the hostile state of the country, in the county of Wyoming, on the 24th day of October last, as provided by the ordinance of the convention for a new state, for delegates to the Constitutional Convention: We the undersigned citizens and voters of said county, feeling a deep interest in the matter, and desirous of expressing our wishes for the said new state of Kanawha, and also to be represented by our delegate in said convention, do hereby appoint William Walker our delegate for said county to said Convention and request that he may be admitted as such as fully as if elected duly on the day and in the manner prescribed by said ordinance.

"Given under our hands, this 12th day of November, 1861. (Signed by) George W. Stuart, John L. Cook, Lewis Miller, James Cook (his mark), James W. Cook, Esq., Davis Tolar, Thomas Colton, William Tolaver, Ralph Laverty, Steel Laverty, G. W. Hood, Patterson Ballard, Levi D. Clay."

"Whereas no election was held in the county of Fayette on the 24th of October, 1861, as prescribed by the ordinance for the new State, nor could any such election be held on account of the rebel forces in the county; and the undersigned being citizens and voters in said county, desirous to express our voices in behalf of the new State, and to be represented in the Convention to form a constitution for said new State, do hereby appoint James S. Cassady our delegate to said Convention for the county of Fayette, and request that he may be admitted to take his seat to represent said county as if duly elected as prescribed.

"Given under our hands this 14th day of November, 1861. (Signed by) William A. Wriston, Jonathan Weaver, James D. Fellers, Joshua A. Holt, Pattison Wriston, Noah Scarbrough, James Wriston, William L. Roop, A. D. Wiseman, A. J. Perry, James M. Perry, Boner Settle, Henry Arthur, Benjamin L. Stone, William E. Perry, John Jones, H. A. Burgess, John Kincaid, Robert Ingram, A. G. Fellers, Jesse K. Fellers, Jackson Kelley, C. W. Settle, R. P. Gilem, J. G. Settle, Alexander Taylor, William Taylor, James Lay, George A. Darlington, James Arthur, William C. Arthur, McCajah Anderson, John J. Darlington, Henry Taylor, Pleasant Kincaid, Willoughby Miller, Henry C. Hawkins, Preston Kincaid, William Settle, Alva Johnson, James Kincaid, Wm. Darlington, Francis A. Settle, John F. Woods."

"Headquarters, Department of Western Virginia, Gauley, Virginia. November 19, 1861.

"Special Order No. 39.

"Leave of absence for 30 days is granted to Capt. James S. Cassady, 8th regiment Virginia Volunteers.

"By command of General Rosecrans.
"Joseph Darr, Jr.,

"Maj. 1st Va. Cav. A. A. G.
"Maj. John H. Oley,
"8th reg. Va. Vol."

MR. WILLEY. Those papers perhaps require a little time for deliberation. We are now not organized yet, and it is very evident that there are sufficient members present about whose credentials there is no doubt to organize this body. I suggest, sir, whether it would not be better to allow further of the questions that may come up under those questions to lie over until after we are properly organized. I move that for the present these papers be laid on the table.

The motion was agreed to.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. I move now to go into the order of the day.

The motion was agreed to.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. I must apologize to the Chair for having placed him in rather a singular position. It was rather premature, I think, on my part, when I called him to preside momentarily over our body here, from the fact that I had been solicited by a number of friends who spoke of our present incumbent as president of the body.

THE CHAIR. Will the gentleman withhold a moment and let me call upon my friend from Wood (Mr. Van Winkle) to take the chair.

Mr. Van Winkle took the chair, and the Chairman retired.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. I now place in nomination for president of this body John Hall of Mason.

He is a gentleman with whom I presume many of us are acquainted. He has acted in a body here before - a man of ability, of dignity and character. I hope it will be the pleasure of this Convention to confer that office upon him. He is an intelligent man; a man of experience. I make the suggestion to his friends and hope they will heartily support him; and I hope we will have short work of this thing and get to business.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I suggest that the gentleman be elected by acclamation.

MR. DERING. I would nominate for the same position James H. Brown, of Kanawha.

MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I hope the gentleman will withdraw that last nomination. I know the gentleman's motives, but I appeal to him to withdraw it.

MR. DERING. From what I have heard of the gentleman, I think he would make a good presiding officer; and I must decline to withdraw the nomination.

MR. SINSEL. I nominate P. G. Van Winkle of Wood.

MR. VAN WINKLE (in the chair). Mr. Van Winkle begs most respectfully to decline. There are two difficulties in the way - one physical, the other mental. In the first place, he cannot see the faces of members; and in the second place, he cannot call their names for a half hour after he recognizes them (Laughter).

MR. DERING. At the earnest solicitation of that gentleman, I will withdraw the name of Mr. Brown of Kanawha.

MR. LAMB. I move that Mr. Hall be declared elected. The motion was put, and Mr. Hall was unanimously elected. Messrs. Stuart of Doddridge and Dering were directed to conduct the President to the chair; which duty was performed.

THE PRESIDENT. I thank you, gentlemen, for the kindness you have done me, but I fear, really, that I shall be badly qualified to perform the duties you have entrusted to me. But trusting in your kindness, I shall hope, or at least make an effort, to do justice to the position. We are embarked in a cause of vast importance; and no convention ever sat in the state, that was of more importance than this. I shall, therefore, at all times look to you for aid in the performance of the duties of the Chair. With these remarks, gentlemen, I again return you my thanks.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I apprehend, sir, it would now be in order to call up the resolution laid on the table, with reference to the appointment of a business committee.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. Would it not be better to appoint a secretary first?

MR. VAN WINKLE. Beg pardon, sir, I had forgotten.

MR. SINSEL. I nominate as a candidate for secretary Ellery R. Hall, of Taylor county.

MR. WILLEY. I rise, sir, to second that nomination most cordially. Mr. Hall is a gentleman of a fair degree of intelligence; he is a member of the bar; of fine personal appearance; a good scrivener; and I believe will make a fair officer in every respect. He has great claims on our consideration in other respects, I think. In respect to his loyalty, he is like Caesar's wife, "above suspicion." He has been the object, to some extent of persecution, driven from his profession, and sometimes even from his home.

I hope it will be the pleasure of this body to give Mr. Hall the position. I believe he will answer the just expectation of the gentleman who nominated him and of myself.

MR. MONTAGUE. I rise to nominate Mr. Daniel D. Johnson of Tyler county. He is a young man of good habits and is competent.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. Mr. Johnson being put in nomination, and being a neighbor of mine, it would be rather a duty of mine to tell the Convention as near as. I can who Mr. Johnson is. I presume he is a stranger to a good many of you. He is a young man, sir, of sterling integrity. So far as the Union question is concerned, I can say as my friend has said, that he is "above suspicion." He is a young man of fine appearance and good address, and I believe he is a man who would give entire satisfaction to this body. It would be unnecessary for me to say anything to members of our late convention which assembled in this room not long since. Every one was acquainted with Mr. Johnson and knew his capacity as a member of that convention. He acted as a member of that convention; and I must say, for a young man he displayed unusual ability. I met Mr. Johnson last winter. Last February was my first acquaintance with him, when secession was first set upon the wings; and I found him, sir, true and loyal; and he had done a lion's work in opposing secession. He took it from its very inception.

It would be unnecessary to say anything of Mr. Johnson to those acquainted with him; and I merely make these remarks because I presume, sir, many members of this Convention are not acquainted with him. He is a young man entitled to large credit for the position he has taken and the good he has done for the Union cause. He has perhaps effected as much in his own county as any other man in the county of Tyler. Peace dwells in the county of Tyler. We have heard of no trouble, no broils, there; and a great deal of it was brought about by the influence, labors, and integrity of this young man, Mr. Johnson.

There being no further nominations, the vote was taken and resulted:

For Ellery R. Hall - Mr. President (Hall of Mason), Brown of Preston, Brown of Kanawha, Brooks, Brumfield, Battelle, Chapman, Dering, Dille, Dolly, Hansley, Hall of Marion, Haymond, Harrison, Hervey, Irvine, Lauck, O'Brien, Parsons, Powell, Parker, Paxton, Pomeroy, Simmons, Sinsel, Stewart, Sheets, Trainer, Van Winkle, Willey, Warder, Wilson - 32.

For Daniel D. Johnson - Messrs. Caldwell, Hubbs, Hagar, Lamb, Montague, Mahon, Stevenson of Wood, Soper, Stuart of Doddridge - 9.

So Mr. Hall was declared elected secretary.

MR. POMEROY. The next thing is the election of sergeant-at- arms. I nominate James C. Orr, of the city of Wheeling. It is not necessary to make any lengthy remarks. I can vouch for his loyalty and for the firm stand he has taken in behalf of the Union from the commencement of our difficulties. Being acquainted with all the different halls and places that would be suitable for committees to meet in, or for the occupation of this body if we have to remove, and calculated from his acquaintance with many other things to administer to the wants of the Convention, I think his claims are such that it will be the pleasure of this Convention to confer that office upon him.

MR. HALL of Marion. I desire, sir, to put in nomination for that office William M. Dunnington, of Marion. I do so, sir, with a belief that he will make a most efficient officer - that he will meet every demand the position may require. I suppose, sir, that in the selection of an officer, at all events, that will be required - or should be - and I presume it will. What may be the qualifications of other gentlemen I cannot say; but of Mr. Dunnington, I may say, that - whilst a number, perhaps, of this body are personally acquainted with him, many are not - I presume, sir, those who with myself are acquainted with him will bear me testimony of his fitness, of his capacity for the position; and if there are any claims - whilst I am not in the habit of enlarging upon considerations of that sort - if there are any claims that will entitle a man to the position, I presume no man whose name could be mentioned here would present stronger claims that Mr. Dunnington.

It has been the custom, and is perhaps right and proper, when men are put in nomination for some assurance to be given that they are loyal. I certainly, sir, should not nominate any man unless I knew him to be so. Mr. Dunnington is a man who has been true and faithful, and he has stood in Marion county as a breakwater, and has suffered all that those who occupy such positions must necessarily suffer, and has really, as remarked of another, been thrown out of every employment; but for which I should not have been requested by him to place his name before this Convention.

I trust it may be the pleasure of the Convention to consider favorably the claims of Mr. Dunnington.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I move to proceed to a vote. The vote was taken and resulted:

For James C. Orr - Mr. President (Hall of Mason), Brown of Preston, Brooks, Brumfield, Battelle, Caldwell, Cassady, Dering, Dille, Dolly, Hubbs, Hervey, Hagar, Irvine, Lamb, Lauck, Montague, Mahon, O'Brien, Parsons, Parker, Paxton, Pomeroy, Simmons, Stewart of Wirt, Stevenson of Wood, Soper, Stuart of Doddridge, Sheets, Trainer, Van Winkle, Willey, Wilson - 33.

For William M. Dunnington - Messrs. Brown of Kanawha, Chapman, Hansley, Hall of Marion, Haymond, Harrison, Powell, Sinsel, Warder - 9.

So Mr. Orr was declared elected sergeant-at-arms.

THE PRESIDENT. The motion of the gentleman from Wood (Mr. Van Winkle) would now be in order.

MR. VAN WINKLE. No, sir; some more officers, I believe.

MR. LAMB. I move that the sergeant-at-arms be authorized to appoint a doorkeeper and assistant and three pages.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. I move to amend by saying that the President of this body shall appoint two doorkeepers and two pages. I am not acquainted with the gentleman selected as sergeant-at-arms; and I think, anyhow it is unusual to place this thing in the hands of the sergeant-at-arms.

MR. LAMB. I have no objections, of course, Mr. President, that the appointing power should be given to your honor, but I think you have not such an acquaintance with the men who could be employed in places of that kind about this town as to render it very proper to put that power upon you which Mr. Orr would have. At the same time I may state that the motion I have made is just carrying out the plan that was pursued during the former convention, and, I believe, pursued by the legislature. I think the original motion is in the best shape.

The President put the question on the amendment and decided that it had carried.

MR. LAMB. There is certainly some mistake about that vote. There were certainly many more noes than ayes.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. I think it is in very bad taste to begin squabbling about the decision of the Chair.

MR. LAMB. I think it must be obvious to every member of the Convention that there is a mistake.

MR. POMEROY. I move to call the roll. That will settle it. The motion was agreed to; and the vote being taken by yeas and nays resulted:

YEAS - Messrs. Brooks, Brumfield, Cassady, Dering, Dolly, Hall of Marion, Hubbs, Irvine, Montague, O'Brien, Parsons, Simmons, Stewart of Wirt, Soper, Stuart of Doddridge, Willey, Wilson - 17.

NAYS - Messrs. Brown of Preston, Battelle, Caldwell, Dille, Hansley, Haymond, Harrison, Hervey, Hagar, Lamb, Lauck, Mahon, Powell, Parker, Paxton, Pomeroy, Stevenson of Wood, Sheets, Trainer, Van Winkle, Warder - 21.

So the amendment was rejected.

The question recurring on the original motion, it was agreed to.

MR. LAMB. Without making a motion in regard to the matter, I would merely suggest for the consideration of the Convention, whether it is not proper for the members of this Convention to now take the oath required by the ordinance for the reorganization of the government, before proceeding further in the discharge of their duties. I see no impropriety in it; and so far as my own views are concerned I think there is an obvious propriety that it should be done. I suppose, however, that it would not be directly required either by the ordinance under which we are assembled or the ordinance for the reorganization of the state government. Though that ordinance requires that all persons going into the service of the State shall before they proceed in the discharge of their several duties take this oath, yet a convention is a body that is perhaps outside of and beyond the law. Still it would be proper I think that the members of this Convention should now take that oath, as well as the officers which the Convention have elected.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I would like to make a single remark, Mr. President. I think it would be proper, sir, that the members of this Convention should take an oath of office as members of the Convention. I hardly see the propriety, however of administering an oath to support the reorganized state government when we are about to take action to separate ourselves from it. I merely suggest that to the gentleman from Ohio. The oath of office I think would be sufficient.

MR. WILLEY. I did not distinctly understand the proposition. Will the mover state it again?

MR. LAMB. The Chair will do it.

THE PRESIDENT. The proposition is that the members of the Convention take an oath to support the government of the United States and the reorganized government, in addition to the oath of office.

MR. LAMB. The oath prescribed by the ordinance for the reorganization of the state government.

I wish to make a single remark in reference to the remark which was made by the gentleman from Wood. I cannot see that there is any impropriety in this Convention taking the oath to support the reorganized government. We are acting here under that reorganized government. We are acting here not to upset that government or overthrow it; but we are acting with its consent to accomplish a particular object. We are not acting in opposition to that government; for unless that government had sent us here - unless that government through its legislature shall consent to the division of the state which is proposed, it all goes for naught. We may very well be bound then to support the reorganized government as long as it is really a government within this portion of the state. I had the same difficulty at first with the gentleman from Wood, in regard to taking this oath; but with these considerations before us, I see no impropriety on the ground of the objecttions to it we have heard.

MR. WILLEY. For myself, sir, I should have no hesitation in taking that oath. I have but recently taken the oath most essential in the premises. I will say this, however, sir, that I suppose it is proposed as a test of the loyalty and fidelity of the members of this body. It can have no other object; because it is extra official, and it is a matter entirely at the option of any member of this body whether he will take it or not. There is no law that requires it. We are the embodiment of the people, and it would be in fact taking an oath that we will be faithful to ourselves - in short, sir, the people swearing themselves to be true to themselves. Now, sir, I have no objection to doing that; but I came here endorsed by my constituents as a loyal man and worthy of their confidence; and I must say to them I have not the least objection in the world to taking all these oaths, having taken the most material in a case in which it was required by law. But my constituents would have no more confidence in me than they have now.

Besides, sir, this body, it does seem to me has received a higher sanction from the voluntary suffrage of a generous constituency, than by a voluntary oath to be true to that which we are pledged to be true to by every principle of honor and integrity as men.

MR. VAN WINKLE. We have assembled here under the authority of the restored government of Virginia. They provide for us, sir, pay us, and do all that is necessary in order to give force and effect to the proceedings of our Convention. We find provided in the ordinance calling us together that "the Government of the State of Virginia as reorganized by this Convention" - that is the late convention, at its session in June - "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 into 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 or affect the authority of the said reorganized state government in any county which shall not be included within the proposed State." In the ordinance reorganizing the state government is prescribed the form of an oath which is to be taken by all the state officers - by the members of both houses of the general assembly - by the judges, clerks, sheriffs, commissioners of the revenue, and all officers and persons holding authority under the State, in general terms.

It is true, sir, that in framing this ordinance the Convention did not ask that this' body should take this oath; but evidently holding our authority from the State of Virginia, we are certainly included within the intent of the ordinance which requires that oath to be taken by its officers.

As to the argument of the gentleman from Monongalia that the endorsement of the people would supercede the necessity, so also would the election of members of the senate and house of delegates by the people supercede the necessity of administering an oath to them, if that were true. But I apprehend, sir, in requiring it to be taken by the senators and delegates in the general assembly we ought not to claim that our election here is any superior endorsement to theirs. Why, I do not know that it is required - I do not believe it is necessary - to test any gentleman's loyalty; yet I think, sir, out of courtesy, with the feeling of duty which we owe to the authorities of the state under which we have assembled, it being clearly within the spirit of this section of the ordinance requiring that oath of all its officers, that it would be entirely decorous and proper that that oath should be administered to the officers and members of this body. I do not anticipate that there would be any difficulty on the part of any one taking it. But as the taking of it would be clearly within, the spirit of the ordinance, I think - as I have already said, - it would be proper for us to do so. The section which I read from the ordinance under which we are convened tells how long the authority of the reorganized government shall extend over the proposed new State, that is until it is ready to be put in operation; and unless that is the case, of course this new State if it ceased its allegiance to the restored government of Virginia before it got in full operation, would be in a state of anarchy.

Now, sir, the oath of allegiance only binds a party while he is under its allegiance. A party going into a foreign country is there required to take an oath. He takes it while he is there receiving its protection and while he is a denizen there. He certainly owes allegiance there without an oath, and his oath only binds him to pay his strict duty; but when he leaves the foreign country and returns home, the oath is no longer binding. It is only an oath to bear allegiance to the government while he is in a situation to demand its protection. Well, sir, we admit ourselves to be precisely in that situation. We are here citizens of Virginia, owing allegiance to the restored government, and we are bound to render that allegiance. But I think, sir, the remarks I have previously made in reference to the spirit of the ordinance requiring that oath to be taken, were sufficient to show that it ought to be taken by this public body.

MR. HALL of Marion. Nobody in this body I presume would be unwilling to take this oath. I am not; but I want us to act as if we had confidence in each other. I think the suggestion of the gentleman from Monongalia a forcible one - that it would only be taking an oath to support ourselves. Let us act as though we had confidence in each other; because it would show to the world that we had no confidence in ourselves, men who have been elected and sent here by the people. I want to act now as though we were acting in confidence towards each other.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I would not wish it to be understood that I have the least hesitation in having that oath administered and taking it myself if it is necessary. The difficulty in my mind was simply this: that we have assembled here for the purpose of creating a constitution for the new State. Now, this oath to support the reorganized government of Virginia, if I understand it, will pledge us to support the existing Constitution of Virginia.

Well now, it may be our duty as members of this Convention to move to change, and probably in some cases to destroy, portions (if I may use the expression) of that constitution. The question is whether after having taken this oath to support that constitution we are really supporting it when we are engaged, as far as this Convention can, in destroying it. I think if we take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and an oath of office, that would cover everything here.

MR. SOPER. I discover a difference of opinion on this question; and with a view of giving time to reflect until tomorrow, I move to lay the motion on the table.

MR. DILLE. Mr. President, there is no motion, as I understand it, before the Convention.

MR. CALDWELL. It is a mere suggestion.

MR. DILLE. I understand the gentleman from Ohio disclaimed entirely making any motion on the subject; and hence the Convention has nothing before them, and the discussion we have had is but a preliminary discussion to obtain if possible the views of the Convention in reference to that matter. Now, personally, I can say with, I believe, every member of this Convention that I have no doubt that you all believe I am loyal, and I have no doubt that you are all loyal. Further than that I have no doubt the greater proportion of the members of this body have already taken this oath. For my part, after a not very careful examination of this ordinance, I see no necessity of taking this oath. It seems to me to be an oath taken without authority simply to test the loyalty of members of this Convention. I do not think that my friend from Ohio had any such notion; but it would seem to the world as though that was contemplated by a move of this kind.

MR. LAMB. I must certainly beg leave to disclaim, most explicitly, any intention whatever of intimating that I believe there is a single member of this Convention that is disloyal to the Union cause. I made, as the gentleman very properly remarked, not a motion but a suggestion, with a view of eliciting the views of members; and I did it more under this impression: that as in every instance we require, within the sphere in which this reorganized government operates, every officer, every man who is acting in the public service, before he proceeds to the discharge of his duties to take this oath, that there was an obvious propriety that the oath should be taken by the members of the Convention. Still if there is any difficulty in regard to the matter, the suggestion that has just been made to lay the subject on the table that members may think of it, is a very proper one and I am disposed to acquiesce in it. I think they will all come to the conclusion that under the circumstances there is an obvious propriety in the members of the Convention saying that we shall not be the only exception within this land in regard to the operation of this rule - that this rule which we apply to everybody, no matter how exalted, no matter what evidence he may have of the public confidence - that this rule that we apply to everybody else, the same should be meted out to ourselves.

MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I beg leave to say a word or two. This, I understand, is a proposition for this body to prescribe to itself an oath. Now, I should not, if I had been in the convention that provided and prescribed the ordinance under which this meets, have been in favor of making an exception of it; but the question is not what we are to do in making exceptions; the question is whether the ordinance of the convention that assembled us requires and prescribes an oath to this body. I hold, sir, that we have no authority to prescribe oaths to each other unless the law under which we assemble requires we should take that oath. I have no authority to prescribe an oath for you or your conscience upon any matter of issue here. But it would be very proper if the law under which we are assembled required that each individual before entering on the duties should take the oath, that we take it in conformity with the authority under which we act.

But the question simply occurs to my mind: does the ordinance under which we are assembled and by authority of which we are here as the representatives of the people - does that ordinance require and prescribe that we take this oath? If it does, then it is our duty to do it, not now, but before we did anything in this case.

Now, in the case of the legislature, the Constitution of the state and the ordinance reconstructing and reorganizing the government of the state, expressly requires that before the members of the legislative body take their seats they shall take this oath. It is not an oath prescribed by the legislature to itself but by the higher authority. Every officer of the state takes that oath in conformity with law; and if he violates it, he is guilty of perjury. But if this Convention would show their allegiance - if anybody were here to question it - but who questions it? Who entertains doubt as to the loyalty of men here? If any violation of this oath is committed by any individual here is he guilty of any perjury? I must confess, sir, I do regard an oath as too sacred a thing to be made common by prescribing it to ourselves without the authority and requirements of law. Now it is nothing pertinent to the duties we are to perform, as I conceive. We are not here to make laws, violate constitutions, or upturn governments; but simply to make and form and propose a constitution to receive its vitality from the hands and voices of the people - nothing more; and the Constitution that this Convention shall prescribe is as worthless as the paper on which it is written till it has the life and vitality breathed into it by the people.

I cannot see, therefore, the propriety or necessity of calling upon this; Convention to go through the forms of taking oaths. Every man here, I presume not only acknowledges his obligation and duty to uphold and sustain the government as this oath would require him to do, but almost all the body have taken it over and over again.

With these views, I confess, therefore, I must vote against the proposition.

MR. HALL of Marion. I really, sir, dislike to occupy any time on this; question, and had no suggestion been made in reference to it, I should have felt no interest with reference to the matter. I should have considered that all men here were loyal. I do yet consider so. But I am unwilling that any body of people shall assemble themselves at this time and in this country and hesitate a moment. There is a fitness, it seems to me, in every man taking the oath every morning when he goes to his breakfast, when we see treason all round us in quarters where we have been startled to find it. There is a propriety in a man distrusting himself though he may be endorsed by his whole people. I concur there is: some propriety in the suggestion that this should not be made too common lest it lose its force and effect. But when oaths are violated with such impunity and with such a high hand all around us, there is a fitness in imposing the obligation on those who will regard an oath, and letting them say in the sight of God, I will do my duty. I do not know how it is elsewhere but in the county of Marion - although the convention that assembled here declined to require that attorneys who practice at the bar should take the oath - our people there who have been harassed by the guerilla bands that infest our county, have become so tired of this rebellion and treason that our jurors rose up and said to the court, if you do not require the oath to be taken, we will suffer no man who has treason in his heart to open his lips to us on any question. - I want to see us lay hold of this thing and say we are not here to violate any law. It is said - the secessionists in our country say - you are playing the very same game of secession that you abuse us about. No, sir, we may take this oath and keep it, and still discharge the duties of this Convention. I have taken the oath before four or five times - I do not know how often - and I desire to see this body, every member of it, take it. Not as a test of the loyalty of the men here; yet the people may send a man here that is not loyal. They may be deceived. It is true when we went down to Richmond, we did not swear at all, because so many of us in the convention thought an oath would be in our way. But we discovered the propriety of knowing exactly where men were and what for; and we found that men who were there endorsed as good Union men were the arch traitors of the crowd. Now, sir, I propose if there is any chance of anybody being mistaken, to test it I am willing to come up and let the people who sent me here after promises and declarations see if I am the man I then professed to be. I do not like we should suggest the thing and then back down from it; and I believe, sir, the spirit of the authority under which we act requires it. I do not believe any member of this body would take this oath in a manner that it would lose any of its force or weight by being taken by the members of this body. I hope since the matter has been suggested that we will not stand as the single exception, and that we will take that oath. I believe we will keep it. I do not believe there is an unwillingness to take it, because a number who have spoken have already taken it. But I desire that we shall not move in that direction and recede. For the example's sake, I trust it will be the pleasure of the Convention to say not that the law requires this thing, but that so many as will, let them take it. I would not require any member. I do not believe we have any right to require it. If a member has objection to taking it, what right have we to compel it? We cannot call him to account for it. I do not propose to go that far; but I propose that all be invited to take the oath; and I believe that all then would take it.

MR. SINSEL. Mr. President, if it is in order, I move an indefinite postponement of this subject.

MR. BROWN of Kanawha. I second that if there is anything before the house. I do not so understand it, though.

MR. LAMB. In order that there may be something regularly before the house - if the gentleman will withdraw his motion for a moment?

MR. SINSEL. I will, sir.

MR. LAMB. I move that the members and officers of this Convention do now proceed to take the oath required by the ordinance for the reorganization of the state government.

MR. SINSEL. I now move, Mr. President, the indefinite postponement of that motion.

Mr. Lamb called for the yeas and nays and the call was sustained.

MR. WILLEY. What is the motion?

MR. SINSEL. The indefinite postponement.

MR. WILLEY. I understand the rules of the June convention make that not debatable.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. It is not debatable.

MR. WILLEY. If it is not, I would only say, sir, that sixty or seventy citizens of our county voluntarily sent in an oath to court, and had it recorded of fidelity to the government of the United States, and they are the only men that have caused any trouble since (Laughter).

MR. DILLE. I understand the rules of the June convention were submitted to a committee.

MR. VAN WINKLE. As I understand the action in regard to them, it was that the rules of the June convention be adopted for the government of this Convention, and that a committee be appointed to suggest any amendments they might deem necessary.

THE PRESIDENT. The Chair so understood the gentleman from Wood.

The vote on Mr. Sinsel's motion was then taken and resulted:

YEAS - Messrs. Brown of Preston, Brown of Kanawha, Brooks, Dille, Dolly, Hubbs, Montague, Mahon, O'Brien, Parsons, Sinsel, Stevenson of Wood, Stuart of Doddridge, Willey and Warder - 15.

NAYS - Messrs. Mr. President (Hall of Mason), Brumfield, Battelle, Chapman, Caldwell, Cassady, Dering, Hansley, Hall of Marion, Haymond, Harrison, Hervey, Hagar, Irvine, Lamb, Lauck, Powell, Parker, Paxton, Pomeroy, Simmons, Stewart of Wirt, Soper, Sheets, Trainer, Van Winkle, and Wilson - 27.

So the motion to indefinitely postpone was lost.

The question recurring on the original motion, it was agreed to.

MR. VAN WINKLE. Mr. President, with a view of getting something to do, tomorrow, we had better call up the resolution in relation to the appointment of the business committee.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. The next thing will be to do the swearing.

MR. VAN WINKLE. If it is the will of the Convention to pass such a resolution, raising a committee to report the proper order of business here, I had better call up the resolution so that if passed this evening we may have something to do before us tomorrow. I will, therefore, move now that the resolution that was laid on the table in reference to the committee to report the proper division of business here, be taken up for consideration.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. My remark was this: that we had now passed a resolution requiring this oath to be taken, and before we go further, it requires the oath should be taken.

MR. VAN WINKLE. The resolution does not require anybody to take the oath, but merely suggests that they do so.

Mr. Van Winkle then moved to take up the resolution indicated by himself and it was agreed to. It was reported by the Secretary as follows:

RESOLVED, That a committee of nine be appointed to report the best method of bringing before the Convention such provisions as may be proposed to be inserted in the Constitution.

MR. VAN WINKLE. If a committee could be appointed now, it might have a meeting in the morning before the Convention met and might be ready to report in the morning. It will probably take several of them. Until some of these committees are appointed, or until they report, the Convention will have nothing to do. I move that the resolution, be put upon its passage.

The resolution was adopted.

The President announced the committee as follows: Messrs. Van Winkle, Brown of Kanawha, Hall of Marion, Irvine, Sheets, Parker, Chapman, Caldwell, and Hagar.

MR. DILLE. There are some of the members of the Convention who are not familiar with the rules of the June convention, and they have had no opportunity to examine them. I would suggest the propriety of having those rules published in some form or other so as to be distributed among the members. I do not know whether there are any already published or not. Probably some gentleman can inform me?

MR. VAN WINKLE. They are out of print.

MR. LAMB. I understand Mr. Campbell says he can supply them.

I would suggest, Mr. President, that the Secretary now call the counties, and administer the oath to as many of the members from these counties separately as may come forward to take it.

THE PRESIDENT. The motion of the gentleman from Preston has not been disposed of.

MR. DILLE. It was a mere suggestion on my part.

MR. LAMB. The Secretary is a notary public and duly authorized to administer the oath.

MR. WILLEY. I would be very much pleased myself to have initiated our proceedings by a solemn invocation of the Divine blessing. We are in the midst of extraordinary scenes and occurrences. The foundations of society are heaving. The spirit of discord is breathing upon the great deep of public sentiment. The ship of state on the waves is rolling. I confess, sir, that in a body like this, in the midst of the darkness and destruction and distresses around us, there is but one truth that affords me unalloyed satisfaction: that is that God reigns. And whether we acknowledge that truth or not, the fact still exists. I think it would be proper, in times like these and in a body like this, to introduce our proceedings daily by an humble appeal to Almighty God for His blessing and His direction in our council and for the issue in wisdom and in righteousness.

I move you, therefore, sir, that the clergy of this city be requested, in the order of their names alphabetically, to open our meetings daily with prayer.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I understand, Mr. President, there are five members of this body who are clergymen, if there are not more; and I ask the gentleman to accept an amendment to include them.

MR. WILLEY. Certainly.

The motion was agreed to.

All the members present then came forward and assumed the oath prescribed in the ordinance for the reorganization of the state government.

MR. SINSEL. Would it not be well for us to take up the question in relation to those two members. They have no votes here yet. I move we now take it up.

The motion was agreed to. The Secretary read the credentials of the two members, Messrs. Walker and Cassady.

MR. DILLE. Is there any evidence before the committee that these men whose names are signed to these papers are citizens of the counties as represented?

MR. BROWN of Preston. There was no evidence of that kind before the committee.

MR. SINSEL. There was no evidence before the committee more than the simple statement of these gentlemen.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I move that the subject be referred back to the Committee on Credentials, and that in the meanwhile the gentlemen be invited to take seats as members but without the privilege of voting until this matter is determined.

MR. STUART of Doddridge. It does seem to me we have about all the evidence we can have. We had better pass upon it, because it will consume time hereafter. So far as I am concerned I am as fully advised of the question as I can be. I believe it is elicited that the signers of these petitions are citizens of the counties as represented. Well if that be the fact of the case what other testimony do you expect to get? We will have to pass on this question sometime, and why not now? I for one member of this body feel perfectly willing to admit those members to seats from the fact that they have done everything that possibly can be done. I am exceedingly anxious to include those counties in the proposed new state. These people desire to be represented; and if not through these men they would not be represented at all. Our labors, I understand, are to be consummated within the space of some twenty days. We have got a constitution to make; it has got to be laid before the people; they have got to investigate it - see it as a matter of course; we have got to perform our labors to comply with the requisitions of the ordinance, within twenty days. Now, sir, this question is up, and I think we had better settle it at once. If these counties are to be represented here at all it can be only through these men who are sent here by these petitions; and I for one am willing to grant them seats in this body.

I move that the gentleman from Fayette (Mr. Cassady) be admitted to a seat in this body.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I will withdraw my motion.

MR. WILLEY. These are revolutionary times. The house is on fire and we cannot exactly be very technical. I think these counties have done about the best they could. The delegate is endorsed as a responsible gentleman; the signers are endorsed as respectable; and above all these considerations it occurs to me that whatever our labors are here they have to be consummated by taking the sense of Fayette county. We cannot do them any injury. I would like them to be fully represented. All we can do will be to present to them a constitution for their adoption or rejection; and under all the circumstances, I feel very much inclined to vote for their admission.

I think I shall, sir, at a venture.

The motion to admit Mr. Cassady was agreed to.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I move that the gentleman from Wyoming be received as a delegate.

The motion was agreed to.

MR. WILLEY. I move, sir, that the Convention do now adjourn till nine o'clock tomorrow morning.

MR. VAN WINKLE. I would suggest that it be eleven o'clock, for there will be nothing before us when we come together.

MR. WILLEY. I accept the suggestion as an amendment.

MR. STEVENSON of Wood. I move by way of amendment that be the standing hour of meeting until otherwise ordered.

The amendment was agreed to, and the Convention adjourned.

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Chapter Eleven: First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia

A State of Convenience

West Virginia Archives and History