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CONVENTION AT WHEELING.
killed two men with his own hand, when monwealth, while others, who finally he himself was wounded, but he had carried the day, advocated the reorganstill strength enough to wield his sabre ization of the existing State. Accordwith such effect, that he brought a third ingly a Declaration of Grievances and dead to the ground.
an ordinance of reorganization having His comrades, however, were now been reported by Mr. Carlile, the chairforced to bear back their exhausted lead-man of the “ Committee on Business," er and halt. They had thus remained they were submitted to the approval of about an honr, when the fugitives of the the Convention. These were adopted enemy returned with a reinforcement of by a vote of seventy in favor and three seventy-five men. Coming suddenly up, against, not, however, until the opinion they forced the Indiana men to abandon of the members was tested on the questheir horses and seek safety by crossing tion of forming a new State. A memPaterson Creek and landing upon a ber offered the resolution, “ that one of small island at its mouth. Here they the leading objects of the Convention, were being closed in by the larger num- after establishing a provisional governbers of the enemy, and again compelled ment, is the separation of Western from to fly, but not until they had fired upon Eastern Virginia.” This, however, on their assailants with such effect, that a motion to lay it on the table, which twenty-three of them were made to bite was carried by a vote of fifty-seven to the dust. The Zouaves finally reached seventeen, was temporarily defeated. their camp with the loss of only one The Declaration of Grievances, and man, who had been left behind wound- the ordinance for the Reorganization of ed, and whom the enemy despatched, the State Government, having thus been after his capture, with their bayonets. carried by a large majority, was formally Major-General Patterson honored the signed by all the members present. June spirited exploit of the Indiana men with On the same day, the Convention, in 20. a special mention in the orders of the conformity with this act, proceeded to day.
the election of provisional State officers. For a proper appreciation of the Frank H. Pierpont, of Marion County, military events in Western Virginia, it was unanimously chosen Governor, is necessary to resume the history of the Daniel Paisly, of Marion County, Lieupolitical action of the Union men of that tenant-Governor, and Messieurs Lamb, loyal district. The Convention which Paxhon, Van Winkle, Harrison, and had adjourned to meet at Wheeling Lazar members of the council. now reassembled. At the opening of These gentlemen, immediately upon June the session a discussion arose as to being elected, were sworn into office, 11. the policy to be pursued by West- each taking this newly prescribed form ern Virginia. Some favored a separa- of oath : tion and the formation of a new com- “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United Following this independent action of States and the laws made in pursuance Western Virginia, the new Governor thereof, as the supreme law of the land, became anxious about the safety of the anything in the Constitution and laws commonwealth from “the banding toof the State of Virginia, or in the or- gether of large numbers of evil-minded dinances of the Convention which as- persons, aided by men of like mind from sembled in Richmond on the 13th day other States, whose purpose was to inof February last, to the contrary not- vade the State,” and confessing his want withstanding, and that I will uphold and of a sufficient military force, to overdefend the Government of Virginia as come them, earnestly called upon the vindicated and restored by the Conven President of the United States for astion which assembled in Wheeling on sistance. the 11th day of June, 1861.".
The secretary of war responded in The Convention, after this momentous behalf of the Federal chief magistrate, action, closed their session with passing that a large additional force would be ordinances adopting the former military soon sent to the relief of the new Govlaws of Virginia and recognizing the ernor of Virginia, and at the same time duty of the State to respond to the re- took occasion to apologize for the a quisition of the President of the United ent remissness hitherto of the Federal States for militia and volunteers. authority: “The full extent," wrote
The new Governor soon after issued Secretary Cameron, “of the conspiracy June a proclamation causing the General against popular rights, which has cul
22. Assembly to be composed of dele-minated in the atrocities to which you gates to be elected as provided by the refer, was not known when its outbreak Convention of June 11th in its ordi- took place at Charleston. It now ap nance for the State Government. These pears that it was matured for many delegates were accordingly chosen, and years by secret organizations throughout July assembled at Wheeling, when Gov- the country, especially in the slave
1. ernor Pierpont delivered his first States. By this means, when the Presimessage.*
dent called upon Virginia, in April, for
O "TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF DELEGATES OF THE COM- | “It is my painful duty to announce that the late ExMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA--Gentlemen : You have been con- | ecutive of the State, with a large part of the State officers, vened in extraordinary session in midsummer, when, under civil and military, under him, are at war with the loyal other circumstances, you should be at home attending to people of Virginia and the Constitutional Government of pursuits incident to this season of the year. The exigen the United States. They have leagued themselves with cies with which we find ourselves surrounded demand persons from other States to tear down the benign Governyour counsels.
ments, State and Federal, erected by the wisdom and "I regret that I cannot congratulate you on the peace
patriotism of our fathers, and under which our liberties and prosperity of the country, in the manner which has have so long been protected and our prosperity secured. been customary with Executives, both State and Federal. They have instituted civil war in our midst, and created a For the present, those happy days which, as a nation, we system of terror around us to intimidate our people. have so long enjoyed, and that prosperity which has “But while we are passing through this period of gloom smiled upon us, as upon no other nation, are departed. and darkness in our country's history, we must not de
GOVERNOR PIERPONT'S MESSAGE.
its quota of troops, then deemed necessary had shown itself in arms, the call was to put it down in the States in which it responded to by an order from the chief
spair, or fold our hands until the chains of despotism shall abandoned them when the true purpose was ascertained. be fastened upon us by those conspiring against our | If there are any in the North, or in the border States, who liberties. As freemen, who know their rights and dare de- still adhere to the conspiracy, they will attempt to aid its fend them, our spirits must rise above the intimidation object by indirect means ; by opposing and caviling at the and violence employed against us; and we must meet and efforts to which the Government, in a struggle for existconquer every obstacle these men are attempting to inter ence, may use in its own defence, and by attempting to pose between us and our liberties. If we manfully exert raise a popular outcry against coercion, and advocating a ourselves we shall succeed. There is a just God who peaceable separation. A bold stand for secession would “ rides upon the whirlwind and directs the storm." Let scarcely be attempted ; but those who sympathize with us look to him with abiding confidence.
the leaders of rebellion will seek by covert and indirect “ The fact is no longer disguised, that there has been in means to aid the object of the conspirators. the South, for many years, a secret organization, laboring “There is only one question now for each American with steady perseverance to overturn the Federal Govern. | citizen to decide in this controversy : Do you desire to ment, and destroy constitutional liberty in this country. stand by and live under the Constitution which has conThe various conventions held in that portion of the coun tributed so long and so greatly to the happiness and prostry, for some years past, ostensibly for other objects, have | perity of the people, and to transmit its blessings to our only been the means of feeling the public pulse to ascer | posterity ? Or, do you desire the Union broken up, and tain if there was sufficient disease in the body politic for an oligarchy or military despotism established in its dissolution. The cry of danger to the institution of stead? The leaders of the South are striving for the slavery has been a mere pretext to arouse and excite the latter. The Government of the United States is exerting people. In abandoning the Constitution of the Union, its whole force to maintain the integrity of the former. the leaders of the movement must have known that they There can be no neutral ground. The secession leaders were greatly weakening the safeguards and protection have declared that they desire no compromise, except the which were necessary to the existence of that institution. | unconditional surrender to them of the objects they have
“It has been urged that secession was necessary to pro | been aiming to accomplish, and the consent of the Govtect the slave interest of the South. As a usual thing, ernment to its own destruction. The very proposition of those who are interested in a species of property, are the compromise places a false issue before the country. It best informed in regard to their own rights, and the most implies that the Federal Government has committed some tenacious in maintaining them. Secession has not origin- / great wrong which ought to be remedied before peace can ated among the large slaveholders of the South, nor has be restored ; when in fact the leaders in the South have it found among that class its busiest and most ardent ad- controlled the legislation of the country for years, and the vocates. The sections of the country in which the largest laws now in existence were made or suggested by themslave interests have existed in this State, have heretofore selves when in power. been the most decided in support of the Union. The “The position of this State is a peculiar one at this movotes given at the last November and February elections | ment. Last November, at the Presidential election, it in Eastern and Western Virginia, will show that the slave- / gave upward of sixteen thousand majority for Bell and holders themselves considered the safety of their property | Douglas, both Union candidates for the Presidency. Their as dependent upon the maintenance of the Union. An principal competitor was loudly proclaimed as also true to other pertinent fact may be mentioned in this connection. the Union ; and throughout the canvass any imputation It is, that in sections where slaves are numerous, it is of favoring disunion was indignantly denied by the advoalways much easier to introduce a mob-law and intimida cates of all the candidates. At the election for members tion to control the votes of the people. The constant ap- of the Convention in February last, there was a majority prehension of servile insurrection makes the matter an of over sixty thousand votes given to the Union candieasy subject of control in a crisis like the present. East- dates ; and the people by an equal majority determined ern and Western Virginia are illustrations of the truth of that no act of that Convention should change the relations this statement.
of the State to the Federal Government, unless ratified by “What affiliations this great conspiracy has had in the the popular vote. Yet the delegates to that Convention Northern States, remains yet unknown. The spirit which has passed the ordinance of secession, and attached the State been roused throughout the North has carried all opposition to the Southern league, called the Confederate States ; and before it. But the extent of the treasonable plot has not to render the step irretrievable, and defeat the whole obbeen fully developed. Before the designs of the conspira- | ject of requiring a ratification of the people to render such tors were made manifest, thousands of good men sympa- acts valid, they put them into effect immediately ; and thized with the effort, as they regarded it, of the South to before the vote could be taken on the question of ratificamaintain their constitutional rights; but these have all tion, transferred the whole military force of our State to
confederate in Virginia to his armed State, who had till then shown repugfollowers, to seize the navy-yard at nance to the plot, found themselves Gosport; and the authorities of the stripped of all actual power, and after
the President of the Confederacy, and surrendered to him would be closed to our trade. With Maryland in the military possession of our territory.
Union, our outlet to the East would be interrupted ; while “When the chains had been thus fastened upon us, we we could not carry our products across the Pennsylvania were called to vote upon the ordinance of secession. The line, by the Monongahela or other route. In time of war same reign of terror which compelled Union men to vote | we would encounter a hostile force, and in time of peace as they did in the Convention, was brought to bear on the a custom-house at every turn. people themselves. Vast numbers were obliged, by in- “The interests of the people of Virginia were entrusted timidation and fear of threatened violence, to vote for to the Richmond Convention. How have they fulfilled secession. Many did not vote at all. Many, no doubt, that trust? Why, if war was to come, was our land made were influenced by the consideration, that the measures the battle-field ? Why was this Commonwealth interposed already adopted had placed the Commonwealth helplessly | as a barrier to protect the States of the South, who underwithin the grasp of the President of the Southern Con took to overthrow the Union in utter disregard to our rofederacy, and that she could not escape from his power by monstrances? In the position in which the Richmond the rejection of the ordinance.
Convention have placed us, our homes are exposed to all "It is claimed that the ordinance of sec ssion has been the horrors of civil war, while the President of the Montratified by a majority of ninety-four thousand votes. Had gomery Congress can announce to the people of the Gulf the people of Virginia, then, so greatly changed? The States that they need now have no apprehension ; they best evidence that they had not is found in the fact that, I might go on with their planting and business as usual ; wherever the vote was fully free, there was a much larger the war would not come to their section ; its theatre majority against secession than was given at the clection would be along the borders of the Ohio River, and in in February to the Union candidates for the Convention. Virginia.' The means of intimidation and violence, which were re “Have we done wrong in rejecting the authority of the sorted to over a large portion of the State, to compel an men who have thus betrayed the interests confided to appearance of unanimity in favor of secession, show that their charge? the leaders of this movement felt that the hearts of the "Under these circumstances the people of the State who people were not with them.
desired to preserve a Virginia in the Union, by their dele"The proclamation of the President, calling for seventy gates appointed at primary meetings, assembled at Wheeltive thousand volunteer troops, is commonly relied upon ing on the 13th of May last, to consider the measures necto justify the ordinance of secession. That proclamation essary to protect their constitutional rights and liberties, was issued on the 15th of April, 1861. It must not, how- their lives and their property. Before a frank comparison ever, be overlooked, that on the 6th of March, 1861, the | could be had, differences of opinion were to be expected, pretended Congress at Montgomery provided by law for and such differences accordingly then existed. That Concalling into the field a force of one hundred thousand vention, however, after three days' mature consideration, volunteers ; and that on the 12th of April the Secretary determined to call upon the loyal people of the State, of War of the Confederate States publicly announced that after the vote was taken on the Secession ordinance, to war was commenced, and that the Capitol at Washington elect delegates to a Convention to be held on the 11th day would be captured before the first of May. The intention of June, 1861. All who witnessed the assembling of the to capture the capital of the Union was repeatedly pro last Convention, will bear witness to the solemnity of the claimed in influential papers at Richmond and other occasion. Its action was attended with singular unanimSouthern cities before the 15th of April. It was, in fact, ity, and has resulted in the reorganization of the State long a cherished object of the leaders in this great con- government, as a member of the Union. spiracy. Did they expect the President of the nation to “ Their journal and ordinances will be submitted to you. yield the Capitol, and retire in disgrace, without adopting | Plain principles vindicate their acts. The Constitution of any measures of defence? Yet Virginia, we are told, the United States was adopted by the people of the United seceded because the President, under such circumstances, States; and the powers thus derived could be resumed called volunteers to the defence of the country.
only by the consent of the people who conferred them. “I need not remark to you, gentlemen, how fatal the That Constitution is the supreine law of the land. The attempted disseverance of the Union must prove to all our Constitution of the State recognizes it as such, and all the material interests. Secession, and annexation to the laws of the State virtually recognize the same principle. South, would cut off every outlet for our productions. The Governor, the Legislature, and all State officers, civil We cannot get them to the Confederate States across the and military, when they entered upon the discharge of Alleghanies. The Ohio River and the country beyond it l their duties, took an oath to support the Constitution of
GOVERNOR PIERPONT'S MESSAGE.
wards were manifestly permitted to re- and checked the march of these invadtain the empty forms of office only be-ers, demonstrates how justly he apprecause they consented to use them at the ciated them. bidding of the invaders.
“The failure, hitherto, of the State “The President, however, never sup- | authorities, in consequence of the cirposed that a brave and free people, cumstances to which I have adverted, though surprised and unarmed, could to organize its quota of troops called for long be subjugated by a class of politi- by the President, imposed upon him the cal adventurers always adverse to them ; necessity of providing himself for their and the fact that they have already organization, and this has been done to rallied, reorganized their government, some extent. But instructions have now
the United States. When the Convention assembled at with the principles established in the 13th and 14th secWheeling on the 11th of June, they found the late Gov tions of the 4th Article of the Constitution. ernor, and many of the other officers of the State, engaged “The President of the United States has issued his procin an attempt to overthrow the Constitution they had lamation convening an extra session of Congress, to meet sworn to support. Whatever they might actually effect, at the National Capitol on the 4th of this month. The with the aid of their confederates, by unlawful intimida two senators from this State have vacated their offices. It tion and violence, they could not lawfully deprive the is known to me that they are engaged in the conspiracy to good people of this Commonwealth of the protection overturn the Government of the United States, and in reafforded by the Constitution and laws of the Union, and bellion to its lawful authority. They have renounced the of the rights to which they are entitled under the same. title of citizens of the United States, claiming to be The Convention attempted no change of the fundamental citizens of a foreign and hostile State. They have abanlaw of the State for light and transient causes. The alter- doned the posts assigned to them by the State of Virginia ations adopted were such only as were imperatively re- | in the Senate of the United States, to take office under the quired by the necessity of the case ; to give vitality and rebellious Government of the Confederate States. I recforce to the Constitution of the State, and enable it toommend, therefore, the election of senators to fill the operate in the circumstances under which we are placed. | vacancies which have thus occurred. 0 0 0 They attempted no revolution. Whatever others may · The subject of the revenue will demand your attenhave done, we remain as we were, citizens of Virginia, tion. A recklessness has characterized the Legislature of citizens of the United States, recognizing and obeying the the State for the last ten years, that has involved us in a Constitutions and laws of both.
most onerous debt. For many years past the western part “I trust, gentlemen, you will excuse me for dwelling of the State has been contributing in an unequal, an unso long upon these important topics.
I just proportion to the revenue, which has been largely “Immediately on entering upon the duties of my office, expended on internal improvements, for the benefit of our I addressed an official communication to the President of castern brethren, from which the west has received no adthe United States, stating briefly the circumstances in vantage in any form. The proceeds of the heavy debt which we were placed, and demanding protection against contracted on State account have also been applied to invasion and domestic violence to which our people were eastern railroads and improvements from which the west subjected, and I am happy to inform you that the President, derives no benefit. The leaders of secession in the Gulf through the Secretary of War, promptly gave me very States have adroitly in volved Virginia in an immense exsatisfactory assurances that the guarantee embodied in the penditure in support of their treasonable schemes ; and to Constitution of the United States would be efficiently com save their own people and property, have managed to plied with, by affording to our people a full protection. I transfer the theatre of war to our territory. Before they transmit herewith copies of these communications.
are driven out, the whole of the material interests of the “I also send you herewith a copy of a communication | State east of the Blue Ridge will probably be destroyed, received from the Secretary of the Interior at Washington, including the internal improvements, upon which such certifying officially the apportionment of representatives lavish expenditure has been made. 0 0 0 in the XXXVIIIth Congress under the census of 1860. “You have met, gentlemen, in the midst of civil war, Virginia has thirteen representatives. Under the new ap but I trust you may yet be assembled under happier portionment she will have eleven only. Before the term auspices, when the strife shall be over, and peace and of the XXXVIIIth Congress commences, it will be nec- prosperity be restored to this once happy country. All essary, therefore, to redistrict the State, in conformity | which is respectfully submitted. F. H. PIERPONT."