Southern Unionist Pamphlets and the Civil War

By Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview

FRANCIS HARRISON PIERPONT


Letter to His Excellency the President and the
Honorable Congress of the United States, on the
Subject of Abuse of Military Power in the Command
of General Butler in Virginia and North Carolina
(Washington, D.C.: McGill and Witherow, 1864)

rancis Harrison Pierpont (1814—1899) was born near Morgantown, F Virginia (now West Virginia), became a schoolteacher in Virginia and Mississippi, and by 1848 had a thriving law practice near Fairmont, Virginia. An antislavery Whig, he supported Lincoln for president in 1860 and organized the May 1860 Wheeling meeting, which elected him provisional governor of the Virginia government in exile. He campaigned for the creation of the separate state of West Virginia. The Lincoln government named him governor of the restored state of Virginia, and he moved the capital to Alexandria. As governor he sought help for refugees from Confederate Virginia, cooperated with congressmen from border Virginia and West Virginia, and planned for the restoration of the state to the Union. When the Confederacy fell he moved his government to Richmond, but he was ineffectual, and Federal authorities removed him in 1868.

Pierpont's April 18, 1864, pamphlet is an example of the troubles southern unionists had with some Federal generals in the occupied regions of their states. He tilted with Gen. Benjamin Butler and, in so doing, described much of the wartime hardships of Norfolk's unionist citizens. His work portrays Federal favoritism toward ex-Confederates, a Federal bureaucracy out of control, and the revenge of former Confederates against the outspoken coastal unionists.

There is one older study of this much neglected man's life; see Charles H. Ambler, Francis H. Pierpont: Union War Governor of Virginia and Father of West Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937). See also

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