The New State Constitution
THE FORMATION OF WEST VIRGINIA was the work of her First Constitutional Convention. Delegates to that body were elected on October 24, 1861, at the time that the dismemberment ordinance was ratified by a vote of 18,408 for, to 781 against.1 It was the original intention of the new state makers to revamp the existing constitution so that it would serve their purposes until a new one could be made under favorable conditions. When they met, however, they were confronted by unexpected possibilities which involved conflicting sectional and factional interests. As a consequence, the session was prolonged, and its personnel became a matter of more than local importance.
The First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia met in the Federal Building, Wheeling, on November 26, as scheduled. A total membership of 53 in the regular session ( November 26, 1861-February 18, 1862) was raised to 56 in the recalled session (February 12-20, 1863), but there was meanwhile much irregularity. Neither Webster nor Monroe county was represented in either session, and, because of disturbed internal condition, Calhoun, Clay, Fayette, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Nicholas, and Wyoming counties were represented through efforts of petitioning groups dominated either by the military or by Methodist Episcopal Church influences. Pendleton, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Morgan were repre-____________________