Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia

Restored Government of Virginia

Union or Secession
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  • Excerpt from Arthur Ingraham Boreman's speech accepting the presidency of the Virginia Convention in Wheeling on June 12, 1861. Virgil A. Lewis, ed., <em>How West Virginia Was Made: Proceedings of the First Convention of the People of Northwestern Virginia at Wheeling May 13, 14, and 15, 1861, and the Journal of the Second Convention of the People of Northwestern Virginia at Wheeling, Which Assembled, June 11th, 1861 . . .</em> (Charleston, W.Va.: News-Mail Company, Public Printer, 1909), 81–83.,
    "A government for ourselves"
  • Excerpts from the inaugural address of Governor Francis H. Pierpont before the convention in Wheeling, on June 20, 1861, printed in the Wheeling <em>Daily Intelligencer</em>, June 21, 1861.,
    Pierpont's inaugural address
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« Return to Loyal Conventions in Wheeling Restore Virginia to the Union

Restored Government of Virginia

From June 1861 until April 1865 Virginia had two state governments. The state government with its capital in Richmond was part of the Confederate States of America, and the state government with its capital in Wheeling until the summer of 1863 and thereafter in Alexandria was part of the United States of America. During the first years of the Civil War, seven men serving in five seats represented Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, and the General Assembly that met in Wheeling elected two United States Senators to represent the state. Voters in nearly every county that had been part of Virginia in 1860 elected members of the General Assembly that met in Richmond, and voters in many of the counties that later became West Virginia and also in the upper regions of the Potomac River Valley, on the Eastern Shore, and in the vicinity of Norfolk and Portsmouth elected members of the General Assemblies that met in Wheeling and later in Alexandria.

The two Virginia governments both operated under the Virginia Constitution of 1851 until the spring of 1864. The General Assembly meeting in Alexandria called for election of delegates to a constitutional convention, which wrote a new constitution for the state. On March 10, 1864, that convention adopted a constitutional provision that forever abolished slavery in Virginia, and on February 9, 1865, the General Assembly meeting in Alexandria ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that abolished slavery.

The outcome of the Civil War on the battlefields dictated that after the collapse of the Confederate States of America in April 1865, the Constitution of 1864 and the government officials elected and working in Alexandria became the government of all that encompassed the state of Virginia at the end of the Civil War.

Featured Biographies:

  • Arthur Ingraham Boreman (1823-1896)
  • Archibald W. Campbell (1833-1899)
  • John Snyder Carlile (1817-1878)