In this Book

The Kent State University Press
summary
A comprehensive constitutional and political study of a new state’s fiercely contested establishment during the Civil War era

When western Virginians separated from the Commonwealth of Virginia to form West Virginia, the distinctive action reflected five decades of deep dissatisfaction with the Commonwealth’s regressive constitution and the governmental procedures that protected slavery. The westerners’ creation of a new state was revolutionary in the context of U. S. statecraft. New constitutional approaches and laws addressed past wrongs and the realities of war. Grave external and internal forces, sometimes armed, opposed West Virginia’s creation and establishment of civil order and state institutions.

The state-makers resorted to statutory and constitutional measures, often arbitrarily applied, to preserve the state, their legislation, and their political position. Some enactments removed state citizenship and the franchise from the disloyal; enabled the seizure of rebel property; required oaths of past loyalty for voting, suing in courts, and for the practice of professions such as teaching, law, and other pursuits; and established a stringent registration system administered by the loyal to prospective voters. Returning Confederates, along with stay-at-home sympathizers, and opponents of national policies organized a political and legal assault that succeeded.

Rejecting the hackneyed and inaccurate concept of “Reconstruction” as it reflects rebel assertions, author John Stealey reinterprets West Virginia’s post–Civil War constitutional and political development within the counter-revolutionary framework. The Democratic/Conservative opponents of the Republican state-makers rode to power after seven years on the issues of race and the existence of wartime and postwar statutory and constitutional enactments that assured temporary state security and political dominance of the loyal. The torturous and complicated path to counter-revolutionary success and change occurred within the context of national events.

A primary counter-revolutionary goal was drafting a new constitution to replace the state-makers’ original of 1861–1863. The Constitutional Convention of 1872 was the culmination of the quest for power. Stealey presents for the first time a comprehensive account of the debates and acts of the constitutional convention that reflected the Virginia and wartime experiences of delegates as well as the counter-revolutionary aims of the overwhelming Democratic/Conservative majority. This framework still serves as the Mountain State’s fundamental law.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Illustrations
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Tables and Maps
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xvi
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  1. Bibliographical Abbreviations
  2. pp. xvii-xx
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  1. Introduction: Counter-Revolution, Not Reconstruction
  2. pp. 1-24
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  1. 1. Republican Professions, an Undemocratic Reality
  2. pp. 25-36
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  1. 2. Virginia’s Extremity, Western Virginia’s Opportunity
  2. pp. 37-71
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  1. 3. The Constitutional Revolution
  2. pp. 72-106
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  1. 4. The Loyal State Sows the Seeds of Reaction
  2. pp. 107-125
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  1. 5. Democratic Stirrings and the Racial Catalyst
  2. pp. 126-139
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  1. 6. The Republican Party’s Banquo’s Ghost
  2. pp. 140-159
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  1. 7. Controlling Banquo’s Ghost in a Changing Political Wind
  2. pp. 160-180
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  1. 8. Race, the Fifteenth Amendment, and the Flick Amendment
  2. pp. 181-191
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  1. 9. The Counter-Revolution’s Black Path to Electoral Success
  2. pp. 192-234
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  1. 10. What the Redeemed and Disenthralled Do: The Defining Legislature of 1871
  2. pp. 235-269
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  1. 11. The Referenda
  2. pp. 270-321
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  1. 12. Delegate Elections
  2. pp. 322-339
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  1. 13. The Delegates: A Collective Biography
  2. pp. 340-391
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  1. 14. Democratic Rejoicing, Party Responsibility, and Serious Preparations
  2. pp. 392-400
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  1. 15. The Convention Site at the “Permanent Seat”
  2. pp. 401-408
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  1. 16. Convention Organization, Procedure, and the Public Record
  2. pp. 409-419
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  1. 17. Preliminary and Emotional Convention Action
  2. pp. 420-429
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  1. 18. Civil War Memories and the Bulwark of Freedoms: The Supremacy of the United States and the Bill of Rights
  2. pp. 430-445
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  1. 19. Voting, Holding Office, and the Word “White”
  2. pp. 446-475
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  1. 20. Taxation, Finance, Corporations, and the Public Debt
  2. pp. 476-506
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  1. 21. Free Schools, Not Free Common Schools
  2. pp. 507-531
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  1. 22. The Executive Department
  2. pp. 532-552
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  1. 23. The Judiciary
  2. pp. 553-585
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  1. 24. The Legislative Department
  2. pp. 586-626
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  1. 25. County Organization
  2. pp. 627-634
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  1. 26. Miscellaneous Provisions, Amendments, and the Thirteenth Amendment Too
  2. pp. 635-650
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  1. 27. Amnesty for Civil War Acts
  2. pp. 651-657
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  1. 28. Land Titles
  2. pp. 658-665
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  1. 29. The Schedule, the Racial Serpent, and a Confederate Adjournment
  2. pp. 666-681
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  1. 30. The Counter-Revolution’s Complicated Constitutional Referendum
  2. pp. 682-724
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 725-786
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 787-811
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  1. Back Cover
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