The Political History of Virginia during the Reconstruction/1

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search



CHAPTER I.


THE ALEXANDRIA GOVERNMENT.


The Alexandria Government. p.9

It is a notable fact that the border Confederate States were divided against themselves, the line of separation generally following the chief mountain ranges. This was the case in Kentucky and Tennessee. In Virginia conditions were similar. The Blue Ridge was the natural division line of the State. To the east lay old Virginia, a country of slave-holders and plantations; the west was largely divided into small farms and the slaves were few. There had long been a difference of interests between the sections and a considerable political antagonism. The west, almost ever since the Revolution, had agitated for reform in the unequal system of representation which gave the east many more delegates in proportion to the white population than the west. In the constitutional convention of 1829-30, the question of representation held the chief place, but no satisfactory basis was decided upon, for the westerners wished to limit representation strictly to the white population. [1]

The constitution did not prove satisfactory and in 1850-51 another convention was held, which arranged a compromise, giving the control of the house of delegates to the west on a basis of white representation, and the majority in


[1] Representation in Virginia, p. 32 et seq. Debates of the Convention of 1829-30.

p.10 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

the senate to the east upon the basis of taxation.[2] This arrangement lasted until the Civil War.

The Virginia convention, which had been elected for the purpose of considering the question of secession, passed an ordinance to that effect on April 17, 1861. The delegates from the northwest counties voted solidly against it, and almost immediately upon the reception of the news of its passage the people of the trans-Alleghany country began to prepare for separate action. At a meeting in Harrison county, the disaffected citizens appointed delegates to a convention, which was advertised to meet at Wheeling on May 13, 1861. The other northern counties were invited to attend. [3] Accordingly delegates were appointed to the convention by counties, towns, villages and neighborhoods. Little form was used, and the appointments in many cases were entirely irregular.[4]

This anti-secession convention assembled at Wheeling on May 11, 1861. It soon adjourned, however, owing to dissatisfaction with the unequal method of representation employed, which was inadequate for the election of responsible men. Arrangements were made for calling another convention in June, to be composed of the State senators, members of the house of delegates and delegates double the number of the latter, who should be elected by the counties.[5] The May convention, before adjournment, passed ordinances condemning secession and declaring the intention of the convention to defend the Constitution of the United States.

The second convention met at Wheeling, on June 11, 1861. The first resolution adopted bound each member to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, "anything in the ordinance of secession ... to the contrary notwithstanding."


[2] Representation in Virginia, p. 60 et seq.
[3] A general invitation to the whole State was not extended.
[4] Code of Virginia (1873).
[5] Speech of Senator Van Winkle in the U. S. Senate, April 21, 1864, p. 17.


The Alexandria Government. p.11.

The refusal to accede to the ordinance of secession cut off the northwestern counties from the Confederate east. It was now decided to erect a new government in Virginia, entirely independent of the regular State administration, and a declaration was issued to justify this radical step. It said: "The true purpose of all government is to promote the welfare and provide for the protection and security of the governed, and when any form or organization of government proves inadequate for, or subversive of this purpose, it is the right, it is the duty of the latter to alter or abolish it.[6] After thus expressing the right of revolution, the convention proceeded to organize a new State administration. An ordinance declared vacant the offices of governor, lieutenant-governor and attorney-general and all other offices held by secessionists. New officers were elected by the convention for the term of six months. The governorship was given to Francis Harrison Pierpont, of Marion county, who had taken an active part in organizing the movement.

The new State administration so organized styled itself the "Restored Government of Virginia," entirely ignoring the existence of the legal State government at Richmond. While the supporters of the new administration recognized its revolutionary character, they held that they were justified by the circumstances, and even adduced authority for their action. 7

The general assembly of the "Restored Government"


[6] Van Winkle's Speech, p.18, and Constitution and Acts of Virginia (Alexandria), p.5.

[7] Journal House of Delegates (Alexandria), 1863-4, p.9 First and foremost, President Lincoln, when appealed to by Governor Pierpont, acknowledged the validity of the act and sent military aid. The Federalist and the Supreme Court case of Luther vs. Borden were also quoted. The chief authority was derived from the fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, which reads: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union, a republican form of government, and protect each of them against invasion," etc.

This clause, really designed to protect State interests, was used in the war period with a most remarkable freedom of interpretation.



p.12 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

met at Wheeling in extra session on July 1, 1861. It was composed of former members of the Virginia legislature from the northwest counties, and of new members elected in the spring. The western section of the State was by this time fully committed to the Union cause. Federal troops had early occupied that region and carried it away from the Confederacy; citizens of Union sentiments were in full control of political affairs, and the assembly took measures to support the Washington government. It voted $175,000 for the equipment of soldiers [8] and authorized the governor to borrow $200,000." [9] Counties and corporations were also given power to appropriate money for the public expense. [10] Vigorous action was taken against the Confederates of the western counties. Offices were declared vacant, if the oath of allegiance to the Federal government was not taken, [11] and persons leaving within twenty days for the Confederate army should be considered non-residents and might be proceeded against by process of attachment. [12] The assembly passed an ordinance on August 9, 1861, which declared the proceedings of the State secession convention null and void. [13]

The assembly now prepared to take the final step of alienation from Confederate Virginia. The west, as we have seen, had long differed politically and economically from the east. Separation might have been effected under peaceful conditions, but the beginning of hostilities severed the last ties between the sections. The counter-movement of the west naturally went on in its development and the assembly began to make arrangements for the erection of another State out of the territory of Virginia. An act was passed on August 29, 1861, providing for the formation of a new State, to be called Kanawha, and for the election of delegates to form a constitution for it. A provision was also made that the State of Kanawha should take upon


[8.] Constitution and Acts (Alexandria), 1861-5, p. 4.
[9.] Ibid.
[10.] Constitution and Acts (Alexandria), 1861-5, p. 13.
[11.]Ibid., p. 7.
[12] Ibid., p. 25.
[13.] Constitution and Acts (Alexandria), p. 53.


The Alexandria Government. p.13

itself a just proportion of the debt of Virginia as it stood before the beginning of the war.[14]

At the regular session of the legislature on December 2, 1861, a series of sweeping measures were adopted. Most striking was the revolutionary plan for the partition of Virginia. The assembly was not satisfied with having divided the State; it was now bent on a complete dismemberment of the Old Dominion. An act was passed on February 3, 1862, by the legislature which claimed to represent Virginia, providing for a vote in Accomack and Northampton counties on the question of annexation to Maryland.[15] The plan for partition was continued at the extra session of the legislature, which met on May 6, 1862. On May 13, an act was passed giving the consent of Virginia to the formation of a new State out of her own territory, and also consenting to the incorporation of the counties of Berkeley, Jefferson and Frederick in the State, when they should vote to ratify the constitution. West Virginia,[16] not satisfied with this liberal share of territory, at the next regular session of the legislature on December 4, 1862, prepared a very comprehensive scheme of aggrandizement. The consent of Virginia was given to a measure that would have proven her ruin, if the politicians at Wheeling had been able to enforce it; that is, the incorporation in West Virginia [17] of the counties of Berkeley, Tazewell, Bland, Giles, Craig, Buchanan, Wise, Russell, Scott, Lee, Highland, Bath, Frederick, Jefferson, Clarke, Loudoun, Fairfax, Alexandria, Prince William, Shenandoah, Warren, Page and Rockingham—twenty-three in all. By this partition Virginia would have been deprived of most of her western and all of her northern counties.

West Virginia was now prepared to enter upon an independent career, and Governor Pierpont's "Restored Government" was no longer needed there. Accordingly he re-


[14.] Constitution and Acts, p. 93.
[15.] Constitution and Acts.
[16.] This name was preferred to that of Kanawha.
[17.] Constitution and Acts, p.11.



p.14 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

moved to Alexandria, which now became the seat of a Union administration in Virginia. Pierpont had declined to be a candidate for office in West Virginia, preferring to continue as the head of the Virginia administration. After the separation of West Virginia, the Pierpont government was reduced to a little strip of territory in northern and eastern Virginia within the Union lines. The sentiment of the people in Alexandria differed greatly from that of the people of Wheeling. A majority of the West Virginians supported the Union cause, although there was a very considerable Confederate element; consequently the government of West Virginia was founded upon popular approval. But in the country along the Potomac, where Pierpont set up his regime, by far the greater part of the inhabitants were loyal to the Confederacy and the regular State government at Richmond. The Pierpont administration at Alexandria existed only in the shadow of the Federal armies and would have been summarily expelled by the people but for them. It suited the policy of the Federal government to recognize Pierpont's pretensions, but it must not be thought from this recognition that the Alexandria government was based upon the consent and approval of the governed.

That government held sway from the summer of 1863 until the spring of 1865. It comprised the counties of Alexandria and Fairfax on the Potomac, the Eastern Shore and the country around Norfolk. It is true that other counties sent delegates to the legislature, but they were the scenes of active warfare, and paid no taxes to the Alexandria government, so that they can hardly be said to have formed a part of it. Fairfax county, the chief territorial possession of the Pierpont regime, was represented both in the Alexandria legislature and in the legislature at Richmond.

Soon after Governor Pierpont's arrival in Alexandria, arrangements were made to hold elections for State, city and county officers under the new government. A vote was

The Alexandria Government. p.15

also to be taken in several counties upon changing allegiance to West Virginia. At a convention at Alexandria on May 14, 1863, Pierpont was renominated for governor, Edmond Pendleton for lieutenant-governor and S. Ferguson Beach for attorney-general.[18] The last two nominees resigned and were replaced by G. O. Wunder and T. R. Bowden. Wunder, however, although nominated at Alexandria with Pierpont, was not elected. Pierpont received 3,755 votes, probably the whole number cast, as he had no open opposition. E. L. C. Cooper was elected lieutenant-governor with 2,361 votes, and T. R. Bowden, attorney-general, with 2,743, "being a large majority of the votes cast over all other candidates for these offices.[19] In the Seventh Congressional district, the only one holding a Congressional election, B. M. Kitchen received 911 votes and Lewis McKenzie, 714.[20] Members of the general assembly were also elected on an extremely small vote.

The election was held in the midst of war and confusion. The district was constantly occupied by the contending armies and was the scene of almost daily fighting. A great


[18.] Alexandria Gazette, May 14-15, 1863. Twenty delegates were appointed to this convention from Alexandria and there were also delegates present from Norfolk, Spottsylvania, Berkeley, Loudoun, Fairfax and Fauquier. Few of them really represented constituents, as on the motion of Lewis McKenzie of Alexandria, any person present from the adjoining counties was admitted as a delegate.
[19.] Alexandria Gazette, December 4, 1863.
[20.] McKenzie vs. Kitchen, House Documents, 38th Congress, 1st session, No. 12.


p.16 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia,

part of the inhabitants had fled to safer regions. Election forms were very elastic, [21] consequently the election was confused and utterly irregular and representative of a mere handful of the population. Jefferson and Berkeley counties, while voting for admission to West Virginia, elected members to the Virginia (Alexandria) legislature. In the Congressional election, B. M. Kitchen received 91 votes, a plurality. The whole district was soon afterwards occupied by Confederate troops, but as soon as they had retired, Lewis McKenzie, the rival candidate for Congress, filed papers for a contest. [22] Congress, however, refused to seat either candidate.

Governor Pierpont, some time afterwards, sent certificates of the election in the two counties to the governor of West Virginia. Berkeley was thereupon nominally incorporated in the latter State on August 5, 1863, and Jefferson, on November 2, 1863. Although thus duly annexed to West Virginia, the allegiance of the counties remained uncertain for a considerable length of time. The members of the general assembly elected from Berkeley and Jefferson seem to have applied for admission to the Virginia assembly in December, 1863, for we find the Virginia State Journal in January, 1864, objecting to their admission to the Alexandria legislature. [23] The allegiance of Berkeley and Jeffer-


[21.] McKenzie vs. Kitchen, House Documents, 38th Congress, 1st session, No. 12. In Jefferson county, only two polls were open for voting; in Loudoun, apparently two; in Prince William, only one. Many votes were cast by men of short residence in the State.

[22.] He claimed that his vote was the next largest, and would be largest if the vote of Berkeley county were excluded, which he urged be done on the ground that Berkeley had voted for incorporation with West Virginia and so ceased to be a part of Virginia. The majority of the committee of Congress decided adversely to both claimants, declaring that only a minority of the people of the Seventh District had voted on the election. Polls were open in only six of the eleven counties and only in parts of several of the six.

[23.] McKenzie vs. Kitchen, House Misc. Documents, 38th Congress, 1st session, No. 12.

Alexandria Gazette, January 7, 1864. The State Journal said: "The position of our State is already in a strange condition and nothing should be done to befog the people more than they are now befogged." The members were not admitted, but, nevertheless, no one was certain whether the counties belonged to Virginia or West Virginia.


The Alexandria Government. p.17


son remained uncertain through the war, and together they formed a senatorial district under the Alexandria constitution of 1864. In December, 1865, when the government had been removed to Richmond and a new legislature representative of the whole of Virginia had been elected, the consent of the State to the cession of the two counties was withdrawn. This repeal, however, was disregarded and Congress passed an act on March 2, 1866, giving its consent to the incorporation of Jefferson and Berkeley in West Virginia. They were thereafter included in that State. One of the first acts of Virginia in 1870 was to bring the case before the Supreme Court. But the decision went against her and West Virginia retained the counties."

The legislature of the "Restored Government of Virginia" held its first meeting at Alexandria on December 7, 1863, in the chambers of the city council. Six senators were present, representing Fairfax, Alexandria, Accomac, Norfolk, Loudoun counties and Norfolk city. Norfolk, Loudoun, Alexandria, Northampton and Prince William counties were represented by seven delegates. J. Madison Downey of Loudoun was elected speaker of the house of delegates.

This tiny legislature, representing the Virginia Unionists, naturally had few regular questions of legislation to decide. Its chief work was to provide for the amendment of the constitution in regard to slavery. "Everybody," said Governor Pierpont in his message, "loyal or disloyal, concedes that slavery in the State is doomed. Then acting upon this concession, call a convention of loyal delegates,


[24.] Supreme Court Reports, 1870, Virginia vs. West Virginia. Virginia argued that as she had withdrawn her consent to the cession by an act of December 8, 1865, and as Congress had not ratified the cession till March 2, 1866, therefore the compact was void. Furthermore that the election was a fraud and for this reason Virginia had withdrawn her consent. The court decided that the State of Virginia had given her consent to the transfer, that the governor had certified to the election returns, and that as no specific charge of fraud had been made, it would not go beneath the returns. The case was, therefore, dismissed. Justices Davis, Clifford and Field dissented on the ground that Virginia had withdrawn her consent before the Congressional ratification.



p.18 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

to alter the State constitution in this particular, and declare slavery and involuntary servitude, except for crime, to be forever abolished in the State."[25]

In accordance with the governor's instructions, a bill providing for a constitutional convention was introduced and passed, not without opposition, Reuben Johnson denouncing the haste with which the body "undertook to legislate for the calling together of a dozen men to perform one of the most momentous acts in the history of the State." [26] In the house of delegates, the vote was 7 to 4 in favor of the convention bill; one vote was against in the senate.

The temper of the legislature was generally indicative of the new feeling of the times, but no radical measures were taken. Job Hawxhurst introduced a bill providing for the repeal of those sections of the code of 1860 which prohibited the education of negroes. [27] This, which seems to have been the most radical bill introduced in the legislature, failed to pass. E. R. Birch, on January 15, 1864, brought up a bill for the relief of the slave-holders of Northampton county. The phrase in the bill, "their slave property," was struck out as unacceptable, and the clause, "such slaves as they have been deprived of," inserted in place of it. This bill, however, was defeated, [28] and its defeat showed how the sentiment of Unionists had changed as to slavery.

The legislature met for its second session on December 5, 1864. Three new members were sworn in, but no new counties sent representatives. J. Madison Downey was re-elected speaker and George Tucker, clerk of the house of delegates. The governor's message was a long and important document and indicated the changes of opinion


[25.] Pierpont went on to say that the emancipation proclamation had freed all the slaves in the state except in a few counties. But the Virginia laws recognized slavery and there would be a conflict of authorities, and "rebels glory in strife." The governor believed that the Federal government would recompense loyal slave-holders.

[26.] Alexandria Gazette, December 18, 1863.
[27.] Journal House of Delegates, 1863-64, p.46.
[28.] Journal House of Delegates, 1863-64, p.53.


The Alexandria Government. p.19

that the war was bringing about. Pierpont gave his views upon the all-important negro question. He congratulated the constitutional convention, which had met in the spring, on the abolition of slavery in Virginia, and advocated sweeping changes in the laws concerning negroes. The act prescribing different punishments for blacks, should, he said, be altered in accordance with the amended constitution, as well as the law for apprenticing them. The law prohibiting the education of negroes should be abolished. Pierpont hesitated to advocate the extension of the privilege of testifying in courts to negroes, on account of the strong prejudice against it. His language was, on the whole, very moderate. [29] He advised the legalizing of the marital relations of negroes, and, most important, the establishment of public schools, which should be supported by the sale of lands condemned for taxes. [30]

Notwithstanding the governor's advice, no acts of great importance passed the legislature. Two Senators were elected to represent Virginia in Congress Joseph Segar to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Lemuel J. Bowden, and John C. Underwood for the full term beginning March 4, 1865. Neither of them, however, was admitted to a seat in the Senate. Bills providing for the introduction of negro testimony in legal proceedings and for the establishment of free public schools were introduced in the legislature, but were not passed. On February 9, 1865, the assembly ratified the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It adjourned on March 7.

This was the last session at Alexandria. The next and final meeting was held in the city of Richmond on June 19, 1865.

The chief work of the Alexandria government was the


[29.] The disruption of the social system of Virginia has been sudden. The almost violent release of the slave population of the State from the bonds of the master, is an experiment in human progress that is gigantic in its magnitude and momentous in its results to mankind. This act produced fearful apprehensions in the minds of the best and wisest as to its immediate consequences."

[30.] Journal House of Delegates, 1864-5.

p.20 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

framing of a new constitution for Virginia which should supercede the one of 1851 and express the Union sentiments of the Potomac legislators. Nominations of delegates to the constitutional convention were made in January, 1864. By the terms of the act of the legislature, any voter in the State who had not adhered by word or act to the Confederacy since September 1, 1861, might be chosen a member of the convention ; all loyal citizens, who had not given aid or comfort to the Confederacy since January 1, 1863, possessed the right to vote. On account of the very small number of counties within the limits of the Alexandria government, it was necessary that each county should be largely represented in the convention. Accordingly, a peculiar system of representation was adopted, by which the districts that elected State senators, as well as the individual counties, elected delegates to the convention. [31]

The election of members to the constitutional convention took place on January 22, I864. [32] The people showed very little interest and but few of them voted ; the great majority were Confederate in sympathy. In Fairfax county, 208 votes were cast, the most of them for John Hawxhurst. In Alexandria, S. R. Birch received 94 votes as the "senatorial" delegate and W. L. Penn, 92 as "county" delegate. Messrs. Henshaw, Downey and Giver were elected from Loudoun county on a very small vote, and in the Norfolk region and the Eastern Shore it was correspondingly light. A handful of Union men made the nominations and did the voting.

The convention met at Alexandria on February 13, 1864.


[31.] Alexandria Gazette, Jan. 13 and 14, 1864. A nominating meeting was held at Alexandria on January 12, 1864. S. F. Beach was nominated as the "Senatorial " delegate from Alexandria and William L. Penn in the "County Convention," receiving ten votes as against five for Jefferson Tacey. It will be seen how very few people participated in the nomination. No delegates had been appointed to the convention from Alexandria county, although Fairfax had sent her quota. In the absence of regular delegates from Alexandria, men were appointed on the spot by the chairman to act as such. The whole proceeding of this meeting was very informal.

[32.] Alexandria Gazette, January 22-23, 1864.

The Alexandria Government. p.21

Twelve counties were represented by fifteen delegates.[33] Le Roy G. Edwards was elected president and W. J. Cowing, secretary. The convention made a number of changes in the constitution of 1851. In consequence of the separation of West Virginia, a redistricting of the State was necessary. It will be noted in this connection that Jefferson and Berkeley counties together formed the thirty-fourth senatorial district under the new constitution, although they had been declared a part of West Virginia some months before.[34] The number of judges of the Supreme Court was reduced from five to three; [35] these should now be nominated by the governor and confirmed by the legislature. The time of residence of voters was made one year instead of three as formerly, in order that newcomers might be speedily enfranchised. On the other hand, the convention adopted disfranchising articles for the benefit of the Confederates. Persons who held offices, civil or military, under the "rebel" government of Virginia, except county offices, were disfranchised. Also persons offering to vote were required to take oath to support the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of the land; to support the "Restored Government of Virginia," and to swear that the voter had not willingly aided the "rebellion" since January 1, 1864.[36]

The most important amendment was the article relating to the abolition of slavery and the regulation of the negroes. Clause nineteen of article four declared that "Slavery and involuntary servitude (except for crime) is hereby abolished and prohibited in the State forever." County courts were empowered to apprentice negro children on the same terms


[33.]Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1864, p. 809. The counties represented were : Alexandria and Fairfax by W. L. Penn, S. Ferguson Beach and John Hawxhurst; Norfolk city and county by Dr. L. W. Webb and W. W. Wing; Portsmouth city and county by G. R. Bouch, P. G. Thomas and Le Roy G. Edwards; Loudoun by Dr. J. J. Henshaw, J. Madison Downey and E. R. Giver; York, Warwick, Elizabeth City, Charles City, James City and New Kent by T. S. Tennis and Robert Wood ; Accomac by Dr. A. Watson and W. Dix ; Northampton by W. P. Moore.

[34.] Constitution, p. II.
[35.] Constitution, Article VI, clause 11.
[36.] Article III.

p.22 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

provided in the law for white. The general assembly should make no law establishing slavery or recognizing property in human beings.[37]

Popular education was provided for in the new constitution, for the first time in the constitutional proceedings of Virginia. A poll-tax was levied on all male adults, one-half of which tax should be applied to free schools. The constitution declared that taxation should be equal and uniform throughout the State. [38]

Having made these great changes in the organic law, the convention adjourned on April 7, 1864. The constitution was then submitted to the people for ratification and was approved by about five hundred votes. [39] Apparently it is not known what vote was cast against it. The people seem to have had little affection for a government which derived its authority from military force. Under such circumstances, civil government soon came into conflict with the military supervision and was humiliated. In this way Mr. Pierpont's government came to grief in eastern Virginia in the summer of 1864. Norfolk was at that time under civil administration and paid taxes into the Alexandria treasury. But General Benjamin Franklin Butler, who was now in command in that district, did not like the civil establishment. He accordingly ordered an election on the question of abolishing it in favor of a purely military rule. Pierpont, in alarm, issued on June 22, 1864, an appeal "to the loyal people of Norfolk, Virginia," in which he gave notice of Butler's intention to hold the election, and protested strongly against it. Butler had his way, however, and announced the result in an order of June 30, 1864. The vote, he declared, was 330 to 16 against a continuance of civil government in Norfolk, "which gave as results to them only taxes and salaried officials without corresponding results."[40]


[37.] Article IV, clause 21.
[38.] Article IV, clause 20.
[39.] Alexandria Gazette, June 15, 1865. Statement of J. M. Botts.
[40.] The order stated that only 108 votes had been cast at the former municipal election for all the candidates for the 45 offices in the city government.

The Alexandria Government. p.23

All further attempts at setting up a civil administration in Norfolk were strictly forbidden. [41]

The Alexandria government was thus rudely shaken. Alexandria, Accomac, Northampton, Fairfax and Norfolk counties had been the real limits of its authority and now it lost its fairest provinces. In the last year of the war the area under Pierpont's administration shrank into the counties of Alexandria and Fairfax. No taxes were collected by the civil government in Norfolk and Portsmouth after June 24, 1864, and tax collections also ceased about the same time in Accomac and Northampton. In this shorn condition the Alexandria government lingered on until the end of the war.

The "Restored Government of Virginia" did not owe its existence to a popular demand for a Union administration in the eastern part of the State. It was founded for other purposes. It was in the first place the revolutionary government of West Virginia, when that section refused to follow old Virginia into the Confederacy. A short time afterwards the West Virginians decided to form a new State out of the northwestern counties. But constitutional limitation required that a State should give consent to the erection of a new State within its territory. It was here that the "Restored Government " was chiefly useful. For it was evident that Confederate Virginia would not consent to the establishment of a new Union commonwealth out of her ruins; the "Restored Government," however, might use the name of Virginia to secure the desired consummation. In this way the consent of Virginia was given to the separation of West Virginia and the Federal Constitution was satisfied. The same counties, whose representatives voted in the name of Virginia for the establishment of West Virginia, formed the latter State. This was merely


[41.] Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1864, p. 810. Pierpont complained bitterly of Butler's action in his message to the assembly in December, 1864. Journal House of Delegates, 1864-65, p.6.

24 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

the consent of West Virginia to her own establishment, and Virginia had no hand whatever in the matter.

The "Restored Government" would now have come to an end unless it was continued in the few counties of eastern Virginia which the Federals held. This course was decided upon. When Pierpont removed to Alexandria, the "Restored Government " consisted apparently of two men, the governor and Secretary of State Hagans. [42] The great majority of the population of the eastern counties were Confederates, but there were some slave-holders that adhered to the Union and a few Northerners resident in the section. This small minority formed the constituency and elected the little legislature.

The Alexandria government was not in itself of great importance. It governed but a few counties and under the shadow of bayonets; it was the rule of a few aliens in the midst of a generally hostile population. Men, at the time and since, have smiled at its legitimist pretenses. Yet it was recognized as the legal government of the State by the President of the United States. It is, however, as the forerunner of the reconstruction that the Pierpont government has its greatest interest. It formed a nucleus of the Republican party in old Virginia, and measures carried through by the Alexandria legislature, or proposed within it, were characteristic of the reconstruction. Thus the constitutional convention amended the constitution so as to abolish slavery, and did away with the laws that prescribed different punishments for whites and blacks. It was proposed to establish public schools, to repeal the laws forbidding negroes to be educated, and to give them the right to testify in courts, as well as other measures of the same liberal stamp. But there seems to have been no mention of negro suffrage, although it had been already thought of in the North.

Many of the Republican leaders in the reconstruction period first became known by their participation in the Alexandria


[42.] Wheeling Intelligencer, quoted by the Alexandria Gazette of May 14, 1863.

The Alexandria Government. p.25

government. John C. Underwood, afterwards so well known as the Federal judge at Richmond, and the president of the constitutional convention of 1867-8, was elected a United States Senator by the Alexandria legislature. Pierpont became the provisional governor of Virginia during the reconstruction. John Hawxhurst was a widely-known Republican leader and a prominent member of the constitutional convention of 1867-68. Lewis McKenzie, who afterwards represented Virginia in Congress, was a Congressional candidate under the Alexandria government. S. Ferguson Beach was a well-known politician. James W. Hunnicutt, the most influential Republican leader in the early years of the reconstruction, attended a convention at Alexandria.

Most of these men were not natives of Virginia. Pierpont came from West Virginia, but Underwood, Hawxhurst and Beach were Northerners. It will thus be seen that when Lee surrendered, a Union government existed in Virginia, whose members were afterwards to become Republican leaders, and radicals as well, as the Republican party grew in that direction.