West Virginia, the Mountain State

By Charles H. Ambler; Festus P. Summers | Go to book overview
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Chapter XIV
Ante Bellum Days 1850-1860

POLITICS AND THE REFORM MOVEMENT

AS THE CONSTITUTION of 1830 gave the general assembly power "after the year 1841, and at intervals thereafter of not less than ten years, . . . two-thirds of each House concurring, to make re-apportionments of Delegates and Senators, throughout the Commonwealth," western Virginia earnestly awaited the earliest opportunity for redress of her standing grievance in representation. As the appointed time approached, there was scarcely a newspaper in the Trans-Allegheny that did not condemn editorially that arrangement by which the transmontane section, with a total white population of 271,000, had only ten senators and fifty-six delegates in the general assembly, whereas the cismontane, with a white population of 269,000, had nineteen senators and seventy-eight delegates in that body.

The assembly of 1841-1842 referred the subject of representation to a special committee, whose majority report favored a reapportionment on a suffrage basis and not on the white basis desired by the west. A minority report adhered, however, to the mixed basis of white population and property. As a result of the discussion that followed, the matter was postponed indefinitely, whereupon fifty delegates for the western counties made a formal protest which was spread upon the Journal of the house.

Despairing of desired results, the editor of the Kanawha Republican urged the advantages of separate statehood for western Virginia and advised the east not to oppose the move, which, if successful, would increase the power of the South in the Federal Congress, as the proposed new

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