tv West Virginia Independence Hall CSPAN April 10, 2015 9:23pm-9:35pm EDT
new government for virginia will then create the new state of west virginia. our nation was in the midst of a terrible civil war. those in eastern virginia predom innocently were supportive of the confederacy. when virginia takes her vote for secession, the last vote, the majority of virginia delegates will vote to secede from the united states and to join the southern confederacy. now, those delegates from north wesz tern virginia who was overwhelmingly against secession, they would come back to this side of the mountains in northwestern virginia. they would have mass meetings, public meetings to decide what north western virginia would do. they decided that wheeling wow be the best place to have that convention.
so there was safety there. so it provided a place for them to meet, to form late a plan and to embark upon one of the most incredible experiments in our american history. and the only successful secession movement in american history as well. there were a lot of issues that brought this thing to a head. as i said, it came act over decades. and they had issues to do with taxation and representation. for four western virginians who were not large slave holders like the eastern virginians were, at the beginning of 1861, there were 470,000 slaves in the entire state before dismemberment. and of those 470,000, only approximately 18,000 were in what is now west virginia.
there was the 3/5 rule. it meant slaves counted as 3/5 of a person toward the purposes of representation. if you consider the number, 18,000 in wegs tern virginia. 450,000 in eastern virginia. gone, the laws of virginia had given an 80% tax break. they would cry foul about this. the number one property. and western virginians for their largely free labor system bought anything. they cried foul about that.
would not have worked out. among other things that would occur in the koirt room here at the custom house the formation of the restored government of virginia. the signing of the declaration of the rights of the people of virginia, which we consider our west virginia declaration of independence. the name of our state was debated aened chosen here. the shape was decided here. the constitution for our new state was also written in this space. all together we consider this to be the very birthplace of west virginia. the jentle man here had no idea that this would work out: he once referred to what happened here as the fearful experiment. fearful being the operative word. these gentle american knew if they wanted to win the war, they would be seen as traders to virginia.
and traders in the 19th century, well, if you're found guilty of treason, you'd be hung by the neck until dead. that is what them to lose in this. and, indeed when they sign that declaration of rights, they sign their names onto that document just as our founding fathers had signed their names on to the declaration of independence. meaning that everyone knew who they were. joan lecher put out a call for their capture. so that's what they had to face in this fearful experiment. francis was a lawyer from fairmont as the city that he lived in. pierpondt would have never thought of himself as a politician. he would never have thought it being the civil war. he would become the governor of a new government for virginia
chlts he was a person placed in a set of circumstances to which he reacted. now, the reason that he was unanimouslily voted by the body here to be the governor of this restored government was because he was the principle architect of this restored government. it was his idea. he was the one sitting at home reading the constitution when he came across the article that gave him the idea that they could use to form this new state. and it says, simply this. to paraphrase the constitution, if you're going to make a new state from the parent state, the legislature of the parent state has to give its permission. so what did western virginians do? we formed ourd own legislature which then gave itself permission to form a new state. that's how it's happened. thankfully, for our story, the
united states won the civil war. our story here is completely different. but this is the government for virginia. here in wheeling that is the government recognized by the congress, by president lincoln and, eventually, also by if supreme court. we are a state because of abraham lincoln. he was faced with the question of west virginia state hood. he was not happy i can tell you, to have 2 state hood bill on his degsing. he had a pretty full plat e plate at the time. and lincoln, it becomes a political decision for lincoln to create the new state of west virginia. now, he had the cabinet of six people. he took the question of where've wv state to his cabinet. he asked them to vote on the i shall shoe of west virginia state hood. and they did. three fsh, tleed gernsz. so that his cab net was evenly split. so it would be abraham lincoln who would be the deciding vote to create.
if you were loyal to the union, than this was your government. the richmond government did not recognize this government. the important thing is that the united states of america recognized the restored government of virginia in wheeling as the legitimate government of virginia. by the way, that brings up an important point. this is the only city in our nation that can say it was the capitol of two different states. w450e8ing gaf birth to a brand new state. to one of the greatest experiments in mesh history, in
american politics. and so it's incredibly important story. it's important not just for wheeling and not just for west virginia. this is an important story for our nation's history because it is unprecedented. it has to do with the terrible tragedy of the american civil war. it teaches when you're presented with those opportunityings, you have to take them. >> we're here on the second floor of west virginia independence hall. we're proud to be the showcase and repository for all of our state's surviving civil war battle flags. now, these flags are the real deal. they were in actual civil war battles carried by our west virginia troops. we have 12 flags from our union troops. and we do have one captured confederate flag. now we've conserved them, putting them in climate control
cases where they'll remain into perpetuity and safekeeping. we tried to marry them with some murals on occasion. and our information will tell you where the troops came from where they fought and, also, their numbers killed. and, interestingly, the number killed by disease is always higher than those killed in actual battle in action. >> now, this individual is chosen to carry this flag as an hoon nor. the color bearer would stand out in frobt of the regimen so that everyone equally to the left and right could see him and he would carry that flag into the battle straight at the enemy. not only was that flag a sours of pride for these troops but it also communicated on the battlefield.