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West Virginia's 4th congressional district

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

West Virginia's 5th congressional district
Obsolete district
Years active1883-1993

West Virginia's 4th congressional district is an obsolete district existing from 1883 to 1993. While the district's bounds were changed many times over the years, from the 1940 redistricting to the 1970 redistricting, the district was focused on Huntington and the industrial mill towns north of that city. In the 1970 redistricting, the district focused on Huntington and the rural coal producing areas of southwestern West Virginia. Today most of the last version of the old 4th district is the western half of the current 3rd district.

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  • West Virginia: The Road to Statehood - New
  • Arkansas Congressional District Change
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Announcer: A production of WV Public Broadcasting. Support for West Virginia: The Road to Statehood is provided by Narrator: It began at home. In 1861, irreconcilable differences, over slavery, states' rights and southern interests, drove the United States of America into what would be a long and bloody Civil War. As tensions flared, Albert Gallatin Jenkins resigned from the U.S. Congress. He returned home to Cabell County, Virginia, where as many as 80 slaves labored at his family's 4,000-acre plantation. Jenkins then led his two older brothers to form a cavalry unit of 100 men loyal to the Confederate States of America. Karen Nance: He was very charismatic and a very good speaker and probably could convince a lot of people of a lot of things without a whole lot of effort, because he was that talented. Narrator: Riding northward, Jenkins and his Border Rangers rounded up citizens disloyal to Virginia. He would wreak havoc in the Old Dominion, one of the nation's most conflicted states. Mark Snell: We know for a fact that about 20,000 Union soldiers came from West Virginia. And we know for a fact that about 20,000 Confederates came from what we now know as West Virginia. Earlier estimates said there was anywhere from 6-8,000, but recent scholarship has updated that number to about 20,000. So, if you look at it that way, it is got to be the most divided state in the nation. Narrator: Just as Virginia differed from states north and south of its borders, in its culture, economy, history and geography, there was much to divide the Commonwealth's own people, east and west of the Allegheny Mountains. As a state scarred by generations of sectional strife, the Commonwealth of Virginia would painfully give birth to the state of West Virginia, a child of rebellion. Francis Pierpont grew up on a farm, in what is now Marion County, worked his way through college and became a lawyer. In the spring of 1861, he was sitting in his study at his Fairmont home. While Albert Gallatin Jenkins was defending the Confederacy, Pierpont was carefully examining the U.S. Constitution, trying to think of a way the western counties of Virginia could remain loyal to the Union. That's when his wife Julia, an ardent abolitionist, suddenly heard her husband shout "Eureka! I have it! I have it!" What he had would change the face of Virginia. It would also change the lives of Julia and Francis Pierpont. Travis Henline: It's not somethin' that he wanted. He was not a politically ambitious person. He was a person put in a set of circumstances to which he reacted. Narrator: Like many others in northwestern Virginia, Pierpont ascribed to the Unionist philosophy that the United States offered, "the best government in the world, formed by our fathers and cemented with their blood". At dawn, he left his study with a carefully worked-out plan, which would unavoidably place him at the center of a drama that would unfold during the next two years and result in the creation of the 35th state. ♪ (music ♪ Jack Dickinson: West Virginia's road to statehood was definitely filled with potholes and bumps. It was not a smooth trip. And more than anything else, it caused a lot of emotional response all over the area, the area being Old Virginia and the new counties that formed West Virginia. Joe Geiger: Well, it is one of the most fascinating stories that there is, the creation of West Virginia. It takes a lot of twist and turns and I firmly believe that without the Civil War that West Virginia would not exist today. Narrator: One of the principle issues leading nation into the Civil War, in 1861, was slavery. While slaveholding was practiced throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nature of slavery in the west differed from that of the east. In 1860, nearly 4,000 white slaveholders, in the region, held title to between 18 and 19,000 blacks. They were often put to work as farmers, craftsman and domestic servants. Many worked on large plantations in what is now the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Unlike the 450,000 slaves, east of the Alleghenies, western slaves were not considered as vital to the region's economy. Because whites and their slaves frequently worked together, Western blacks sometimes enjoyed a more amicable relationship with their owners. As a result, slaves were sometimes rewarded, for their performance and loyalty, with a measure of autonomy. Cicero Fain: It shows that black people were able to exploit their opportunities, but it also shows just how encapsulating slavery was, that I can still entrust you to go off on your own, because I know that you'll be coming back! Narrator: Regardless of their situation, Western Virginia slaves were legal property. They could be bought, sold, leased and insured to protect owners' investments. This was true in the Kanawha Valley, where significant numbers of slaves mined coal and supported the salt works.1860 proved a crucial turning point, regarding slavery, with the most conflicted Presidential election in the Nation's relatively brief history. Southern leaders were convinced the likely election of the Republican Party's Abraham Lincoln, would no doubt, lead to unacceptable changethat would spark civil war. Geiger: Essentially, the way we had been able to avert civil war, up and to this point, is that we had arranged compromises. This state will come in as a free state. This state will come in as a slave state. And that was very important. Now you have a party that said, "We are not going to have any more slave states brought into the Union." And the South recognized that this would be the political death knell for slavery that, eventually, they could legislate it out of existence and I think this was the great fear. Narrator: On Election Day, November 6, 1860, most of the western Virginia men going to the polls intended to keep the status quo. They split their votes evenly between Constitutional Union candidate John Bell and Southern Democrat John Breckinridge. Bell remained neutral regarding slavery, while determined to keep the Union intact. Breckinridge also wanted to preserve the Union, but recognized states' rights to secede. Each received about 22,000 votes, in what is now West Virginia. John Williams: They had different positions about the nature of government, and particularly the central government, but neither of the parties they voted for, Bell and Breckenridge, would interfere with slavery. Narrator: Stephen Douglas believed in allowing the people of a territory to decide whether to permit slavery in their communities. The Northern Democrat claimed 5,000 votes. Ultimately, Republican Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, but claimed less than 2,000 votes, in all of Virginia, mostly in the northern panhandle. In response to Lincoln's election, South Carolina became the first of 11 southern states to secede from the Union and form the Confederate States of America. Virginia, however, was slow to sever ties to the Union, largely because of its historic location and prominent role in American history. The state that had done so much to found the country was reluctant to leave it. But then, on April 12, 1861, Confederate forces bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War had begun. 3 days later, President Lincoln called for 75,000 Union troops, including men from Virginia, to quell the rebellion. Throughout Virginia, passions flared. To grant the President's request would mean going to war against a sister state. On April 17th, under these conditions, Virginia conventioneers, in Richmond, passed an Ordinance of Secession, 88 to 55. However, the Ordinance could not become official until ratified by Virginia voters 6 weeks later. From what is now West Virginia, 9 delegates supported secession, while 29 voted to remain with the Union. Henline: There were delegates from northwestern Virginia, like John Jay Jackson, like John Carlile, and Waitman Willey, who voted against secession from the Union and because of those sentiments, they were pretty much run out of town. Some of them had to leave rather quickly. Narrator: After seeing a crowd outside his boardinghouse, brandishing a rope and threatening to hang him, Carlile headed home to Harrison County. There, he met with nearly 1,200 Union loyalists, issuing the so-called Clarksburg Resolutions from the courthouse. Carlile called for northwestern representatives to convene, 3 weeks later, for a convention in Wheeling, in the northern panhandle county of Ohio. There, they would plot a future political course for the region, in the event Virginia voters ratified the Ordinance of Secession. 4 days later, April 26th, former Virginia Governor Joseph Johnston chaired a secessionist convention, at the very same courthouse in Clarksburg. Johnston called upon "the Southern Rights Men of Harrison County" to defend "those who know their rights and dare to maintain them". The next day, Colonel Thomas J. Jackson, a Clarksburg native, received orders from Virginia Governor John Letcher. Jackson was to take command at Harper's Ferry and organize what would become the renowned Stonewall Brigade. Then on May 13, 1861, western Virginians gathered for what became known as the First Wheeling Convention. More than 400 people packed into Wheeling's Washington Hall. Many claimed to represent 24 counties in northwestern Virginia. With no precedent to show the way, they acted largely on what they perceived their fellow western Virginians were thinking. Bob Bastress: They were not elected in representative fashion. Many of them were not elected in democratic fashion. Many of the counties included within the potential definition of the new state weren't represented at all. Narrator: After addressing the issue of representation, delegates focused on the likely split of Virginia from the Union. Williams: Well, their goal was to figure out what to do. They knew they didn't want to go along with secession, but what did that mean? Geiger: All the fireworks really start on the second day, on May 14th, when John Carlile stands up and calls for the creation of a new state, to be called New Virginia. Narrator: Presenting a flag reading "New Virginia, Now or Never", Carlile invoked the memory of American Revolutionary Patrick Henry. Actor: "It is useless to cry peace when there is no peace; and I for one will repeat what was said by one of Virginia's noblest sons and greatest statesmen, 'Give me liberty or give me death!'" Geiger: The crowd, and you had a large crowd in attendance, stands up and calls for 3 cheers for New Virginia and 3 cheers for John Carlile. And you can tell what the sentiment of the people, who are in attendance, was at that time. Narrator: Carlile saw the mountains as an historic divider and a sufficient reason for a new state. Bastress: The Allegheny Mountains are such a formidable barrier that we don't have anything to do with those folks. We're different culturally, geographically, economically and politically and it makes sense. Narrator: Over the years, tension regarding taxation, representation, education, transportation and other internal improvements had driven a wedge between Virginians, east and west of the Alleghenies. And while changes to the Virginia Constitution, in 1851, addressed most grievances, many northwesterners still felt disenfranchised. Geiger: Relations between eastern and western Virginia in that, 10 years preceding the Civil War, were better than they had ever been. The Civil war comes and ruins that decade of reconciliation and it ruins those better relations between East and West. Narrator: While Francis Pierpont had joined John Carlile and others, urging western Virginians to remain loyal to the Union, the Fairmont attorney considered Carlyle's early call for a new state premature. Henline: Pierpont urged caution. He was a conservative, when it came to the new statehood movement. He wanted to wait and see how things were going to transpire with the referendum, whereas folks like Carlile wanted immediate statehood. Narrator: While Waitman T. Willey would eventually support separation, the Monongalia County attorney considered Carlyle's statehood proposal "altogether unwise". Dickinson: He coined a new term called "triple treason". He said, "This is a conflict against the State of Virginia, against the United States and against the Confederacy, all 3." Geiger: What they end up doing is pass resolutions that call for the delegates to go back to their homes and to urge people to Vote against the Ordinance of Secession. However, if it does pass, then they will gather back in Wheeling. They'll hold another convention, again, to determine what their next step will be. Narrator: Meanwhile, across the Ohio River from western Virginia, Union General George McClellan readied troops, should Virginia vote to secede. Returning from a fact-finding mission, Lieutenant Orlando Poe reported to McClellan "The western Virginians from the Kentucky line to Parkersburg are rotten, but loyal above the latter point." On May 23, 1861, amid claims that western Virginia ballots were lost on their way to Richmond, the Ordinance to secede officially won Voters' approval. An estimated 35,000 western Virginians voted against the measure to secede, while approximately 19,000 voted it. Geiger: Possibly half of the counties voted in favor of this Ordinance of Secession. It's just that the other half of the counties had a lot more population. Narrator: 3 days after the secession vote, McClellan led federal troops into western Virginia, with soldiers landing in Parkersburg and Wheeling. Meanwhile, Governor Letcher ordered officers loyal to Virginia to recruit Confederate soldiers in Taylor County, an important transportation hub. At the same time, Francis Pierpont received a letter from his wife, Julia, in Fairmont, urging him, Carlile and fellow conventioneer John Burdett, of Taylor County, to stay in Wheeling. Actor: "Dear Frank, I hoped you would bring Sammie a hat, but now I think you had better stay where you are. I don't want you to come home. There is a reward offered for Carlisle, Burdette, & yourself, of $500 for your heads, even in Wheeling. See to it you do not expose yourself. They say there are 900 men, secession soldiers, in Grafton. The Union men here are becoming very anxious." - Julia Pierpont Narrator: On June 3, 1861, within 2 weeks of the election, nearly 4,000 Union soldiers under Colonel Benjamin F. Kelley easily defeated a Confederate force of 775 men, under Colonel George A. Porterfield. Commonly known as "the Philippi Races", the battle in and around Philippi, southeast of Wheeling, in Barbour County, is considered the first land action of the Civil War. Such victories, while small in scope and with few casualties, helped secure northwestern Virginia for the Union. Snell: Most of your loyalists were in the northwest part, up in the northern panhandle, where Wheeling is today. And in order to preserve that part for the Union, it was important for Union troops to come in and secure victories there. Henline: There was definitely tension, apprehension and anxiety in Wheeling, even though we're here in the comfy confines of this strip of land between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Geiger: They are committing treason against the state of Virginia! And if it weren't for those military troops creating that buffer zone for these statehood makers, they might have been hanging from lampposts throughout Wheeling. Narrator: Emotions raged, for instance, when a supporter of the Confederacy's president disrupted an address by John Carlile. Henline: A gentleman rides by on a horse and he yells out his support for Jefferson Davis. Now some folks in the crowd chase him down. They take him off his horse and they bring him back to the Custom House and a chant begins to stir in the crowd of "Hang him, hang him" and were it not for the intervention of the local sheriff this guy may have been strung up there on the spot. Narrator: On June 11th, delegates gathered for the Second Wheeling Convention, which moved to the U.S. District courtroom in the more spacious Custom House. Attorney Arthur Boreman, of Wood County, presided over 88 newly vetted delegates, representing 32 counties. Boreman declared, "We come here to carry out and execute, and it may be, to institute a government for ourselves". The remark set the stage for Francis Pierpont's plan to reorganize the government of Virginia. Taking the floor, John Carlile introduced the plan, a step-by-step, legal approach to dismemberment, a plan that could win the support of Washington. Geiger: According to the U.S. Constitution, in order for a new state to be created from an existing state, the existing state has to give its permission. Do we hop in a stagecoach and take a road trip to Richmond, through the Confederate lines and try to get John Letcher to sign off on this thing? No! Narrator: Instead, the body unveiled, on June 14th, the Declaration of the Rights of the People of Virginia, considered West Virginia's Declaration of Independence. Henline: And in that declaration, the delegates call for a reorganization of the government of the Commonwealth, which of course, gives us the restored government. Among other things, they declare that those officeholders in Virginia, who have joined the Confederacy, have vacated their positions. And these gentlemen have seen fit to restore that government and fill those positions. So, that's a very important document that came as part of that Second Wheeling Convention, in June 1861. Bastress: You could argue whether this fictionalized government could actually consent or whether the consent was a fiction in itself. The government was never voted on by the voters, even of the western counties; let alone the entire state of Virginia. Its only authority was what this rump group decided to give it in Wheeling. Narrator: Nevertheless, for the next 2 years, this group would act autonomously, without the consent of the Commonwealth government in Richmond. On June 19th, the Wheeling Conventioneers favored unanimously to establish what is known as the Restored, or Reorganized, Government of Virginia. Its legislative body included men chosen in Virginia's recent election, who remained loyal to the Union. On June 20th, conventioneers unanimously elected Francis Pierpont to serve as governor. For all intents and purposes, Virginians were now subject to one of 2 governments, depending on which Army controlled a given area. One government, the Old Dominion, had aligned itself with the Confederacy. The other, the Restored Government of Virginia, remained loyal to the Union. Divided loyalties among friends and families, fueled the bloody, vicious guerilla warfare immediately confronting Governor Francis Pierpont. Snell: We're talkin', not just pullin' people out of bed at nighttime and shootin' them in the back of the head; we're talkin' about hackin' people to bits with their swords, cuttin' off heads, terrorizing in the middle of the night. It was horrible. Narrator: Pierpont himself was forced to periodically send his wife and children out of harm's way, amid threats of kidnapping and worse. President Lincoln pledged "full protection" in western Virginia, upon receiving an appeal from Governor Pierpont. In it, he wrote, "The policy of the rebels is to exert their greatest force before frost, and it must be met by a corresponding vigor, and crushed out - Francis Pierpont. Henline: Folks look at that as Lincoln's implicit recognition of the restored Government of Virginia as the legitimate government of Virginia. And indeed, Lincoln does provide that aid. Narrator: Pierpont also requested a strong military leader to put a stop to attacks by Confederate Colonel Albert Gallatin Jenkins and his Border Rangers. On his 31st birthday, Jenkins attacked a Union recruitment post in the Cabell County community of Guyandotte with a force of more than 700 cavalrymen. 98 recruits and civilians were captured in the name of Old Virginia. Nance: Her tactic in this area, early on, was to disrupt federal activities, tear up the railroad, raid these little recruitment camps that are tryin' to recruit soldiers into the federal army. Narrator: Jenkins received a message in which the commanding officer of Wayne County's Unionist home guards requested the return of seized property. Jenkins replied that he loathed such seizures. However.... Actor: "We have been compelled to pursue a different course at times as the only means of securing us against the aggressions upon private rights and private property, which has marked the conduct of many of your military commanders." - Albert Gallatin Jenkins Narrator: Brigadier General William Rosecrans now commanded Union forces in western Virginia. The arrival of federal troops and establishment of a training camp and military prison transformed Wheeling into a military town. A dozen soldiers stood guard at the Custom House, where Federal District Judge John Jay Jackson, Junior, and Governor Pierpont each dealt with treason, murder, espionage and prisoners of war. Among the POWs were so-called "she rebels", teenage girls, who slashed telegraph lines and passed weapons and Confederate messages. Henline: Daily, this man has stack of things on his desk to deal with about raising troops, supplying troops, about rebel movements in Western Virginia. He has to keep abreast of all these things. I don't know how the man slept, I really don't. Narrator: Meanwhile, Governor Pierpont's wife, Julia, did her part for the war effort. Connie Rice: As far as welcoming soldiers into West Virginia, as far as trying to make shirts and food packages for soldiers, she was very patriotic and out there on the trenches working. Narrator: Julia Pierpont faced the realities of life, death and war, confronting women, throughout western Virginia, regardless of their loyalties. Rice: She's one of those women, who experienced all the aspects of war. Her husband was gone. She had to do things herself. She couldn't see him very much, because it was dangerous for him to come back. And then she had a child in 1860 and during the war in 1864, that child died. Narrator: Meanwhile, delegates gathered for the Second Wheeling Convention, on August 6, 1861, to debate the establishment of a new state. Calling for immediate action, John Carlile declared, "Cut the knot now. Apply the knife." After 2 weeks of wrangling, delegates voted for dismemberment from Virginia. The new state would be called Kanawha and consist of 39 counties. Among these were several southern counties, considered economically advantageous for the new state. Williams: They wanted a larger amount of southern West Virginia territory than the Union then held, but the Union did hold, at least formally, most of the territory included in the dismemberment ordinance. Narrator: 7 counties were to be added, subject to voters' approval. Henline: Our eastern panhandle counties, the reason we have that thumb that sticks out toward Washington, DC, was to protect the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad during the Civil War. The B&O Railroad was the main artery east to west and folks realized, very early, if they could not control and protect the B&O Railroad, they were gonna have a hard time of it in the war. Narrator: With the additional counties, the proposed state would extend well into Confederate territory, beyond the safety of what John Carlile originally envisioned. Geiger: If we had stuck to that outline of New Virginia as he proposed it, I don't think there'd be anybody questioning West Virginia statehood, because he stuck to just those very northwestern counties that were most Union supporting of any in this area. Narrator: In late October, only a third of eligible, white male voters, representing the counties forming the proposed state of Kanawha, went to the polls, where they cast their voice votes. Williams: This was the Virginia tradition. It was considered unmanly to keep your Vote secret. Geiger: You walked into a room. You'd have election officials there, overseeing the election. They probably would have some piece of paper to do all the accounting and you would go up and you would verbally state your preference in front of soldiers in the midst of a civil war. Snell: The referendum vote was a fraud. It wasn't truly a fair vote. If it would have been, it would have been a lot closer. It would've been right down the middle. Narrator: Officially, more than 18,000 voted in favor of the new state, while less than 800 opposed the ordinance. This was due, in part, to the fact that many against the measure were away fighting for the Confederacy. Then, on November 26th, 61 western Virginians, who remained loyal to the Union, gathered in Wheeling to draft a constitution for the new state of Kanawha. Despite the fact voters had approved the name Kanawha, delegates spent several days debating the state's name. They ultimately settled on "West Virginia". They addressed education, taxation and the court system, issues that had divided eastern and western Virginians. Delegates also debated whether to add as many as 32 counties to the original 39. After 10 days of debate, delegates voted to include 44 counties and let 6 others decide their own fate. Debate over slavery was heated. According to the 1860 census, more than 18,000 blacks remained in bondage in western Virginia. Along the bottomlands of the Ohio River, all but Jackson and Wirt Counties, boasted significant numbers of slaves. Slaves accounted for more than 5% of the population of 10 counties and 10% in 6 counties. In each of 27 counties there were more than 100 slaves. Many slaves remained with their families and communities. Some fought to defend the property of their masters against raiders and bushwhackers. Many other slaves managed to escape to freedom. Fain: What we see during the Civil War Era is massive out-migration. Kanawha County, Jefferson County, Greenbrier County: All these counties that had possessed more than 10% African-American population. They lose 22%, 18%. Narrator: At the same time, many slaveholders, loyal to the Union, as in Cabell County, were reconsidering the role of slavery in society. Nance: A lot of people here did believe in the Union and strongly believed in the Union. We would think, by the fact they actually emancipated slaves, that maybe that they were you know they weren't abolitionists but maybe they had decided that slavery was not the right thing to do. Narrator: Many attending the constitutional convention, including Waitman T. Willey, had owned slaves. Delegates to the constitutional convention, considered the potential impact of West Virginia becoming a free state. They faced the same concerns that confronted the framers of the U.S. Constitution. Fain: Are we going to adhere to property rights or are we going to adhere to human rights and free the slaves, involve them in the body politic? And then the question is property rights. If we do free the slaves, isn't our obligation to pay the owners? Geiger: What we end up with, in our constitutional convention, rather than a clause about gradual emancipation, is a clause that essentially says that no more African Americans, whether free or slave, will be permitted into West Virginia! Narrator: Finally, on February 18, 1862, delegates unanimously agreed upon the new constitution. 6 weeks later, the electorate ratified the measure. Nearly 19,000 reportedly approved the constitution with 500 opposing it. In May, a bill to admit West Virginia to the Union, based on the new state constitution, went before the U.S. Senate. There, Senators John Carlile and Waitman T. Willey represented the Restored Government of Virginia, as well as the Unionist Party. It soon became obvious that the Republican-controlled Senate would not pass a West Virginia statehood bill without language guaranteeing emancipation. As a result, Willey offered an amendment to assure gradual emancipation. Bastress: The original, proposed constitution included the provision, which just would've barred slaves and free blacks from coming into the state, so they had to substitute the Willey Amendment for that provision and they had to vote on that. Narrator: The Willey amendment would free any person born of slaves after July 4, 1863. Bastress: And if you were under the age of 10, at that time, you became free upon reaching 21 and if you were between 10 and 21, you became free when you reached 25. Geiger: And this will be enough to get the support of the U.S. Senate and it will pass the U.S. Senate by a vote of 23-17. Narrator: As for John Carlile, the man who raised the flag that read "New Virginia, Now or Never, " he cut short his political career, when he unexpectedly opposed admission of West Virginia into the Union. He did so after the Senate insisted on language to emancipate slaves. Carlile argued that the federal government had no authority to dictate the terms of a new state constitution, once it was approved by the electorate. 5 months later, the U.S. House of Representatives, following contentious debate, approved the statehood bill, 96 to 55. 5 days later, it arrived at the White House. In a letter Governor Pierpont lobbied for presidential approval. Actor: "President Lincoln: I am in great hope you will sign the bill to make West Virginia a new State. The loyal troops from Virginia have their hearts set on it; the loyal people in the bounds of the new State have their hearts set on it; and if the bill fails God only know the result." Geiger: Abraham Lincoln was not pleased to have the statehood bill on his desk. I think he was greatly distressed in fact. Narrator: While the president supported the Restored Government of Virginia, he feared conflicts over the constitutionality of a West Virginia. He also feared the combined political fallout that it and his pending Emancipation Proclamation might bring. Edward Bates, Lincoln's highly respected attorney general, earnestly argued against West Virginia statehood. Dickinson: There's no question whether the President or Congress can admit a state already established to the Union. That's not the question. But what it has to be is that state already has to exist. The Congress has no ability to create a state, which is what you're trying to do. You're trying to create the state and admit it to the Union and that's not how it works and this is not constitutional. Narrator: President Lincoln ultimately took the position that Union loyalists behind the Restored Government of Virginia represented the Commonwealth. They therefore held the right to birth the new state of West Virginia. On New Year's Eve, 1862, Lincoln met with representatives of the Restored Government. Among them was U.S. Congressman Jacob Blair, of Wood County. He assured the President that the Willey Amendment would be incorporated into the West Virginia constitution. This would ensure an eventual end to slavery in the new state. Blair left the White House with the president's assurance that he'd have a gift for the Congressman the next day. Geiger: Well, apparently, Jacob Blair goes to the White House before the doors are opened. So, he goes in through a window. Can you imagine doing that today, goin' into the White House through a window? And then, Lincoln comes down to meet him and shows him the statehood bill with it signed. Narrator: The President said special wartime circumstances motivated him to sign the bill, an act that would never occur in peacetime. Geiger: Let's remember the war could end at anytime. What happens to these people from western Virginia if the war ends tomorrow, Virginia comes back into the Union, how do you think they're gonna be viewed by the soon to be true government of Virginia? Narrator: Brigadier General and former Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise found the actions of the men behind the statehood movement contemptible. Dickinson: He said, "This new state is the bastard child offspring of a political rape". And that's how he and several other people felt about this. Narrator: In the January 8, 1863 edition of the Richmond Daily Dispatch, an editorialist declared that western Virginia was well worth the fighting. Dickinson: He says, "Virginia is to be in the future as Virginia was in the past. She is to be as she has been, the Old Dominion, full and perfect in all respects. It is better that this war should continue for an indefinite period of time than that Virginia shall be even partially dismembered." Narrator: On April 20th, President Lincoln proclaimed that, in 60 days, West Virginia would become the Union's 35th state. ♪ (music) ♪ The next day, 5,000 Confederates, mostly from western Virginia, launched a massive, two-pronged raid into the region. Generals William Jones and John Imboden were ordered to destroy B&O Railroad bridges and collect much-needed cattle and horses. Ambitious from the start, the generals also hoped to occupy western Virginia long enough to cripple the statehood movement. Imboden drove Union troops from the towns of Beverly and Buchannon. Jones attacked Rowlesburg and sent 400 cavalrymen north to Kingwood and Morgantown. At home at the time, Senator Waitman T. Willey joined thousands of fleeing loyalists. The news caused a frenzy in Wheeling. Citizens formed a home guard, banks moved their gold to safety and federal troops prepared to destroy supplies. Instead of marching north to Wheeling, the rebels went south to Fairmont. They arrived just a few days after Francis and Julia Pierpont hastily departed for Wheeling. [cannon & gun fire] Soldier yells "God Almighty" A large battle took place downtown as more than 1,000 rebels attacked from the east, forcing 300 Union troops and home guards to surrender. The Confederates also burned books from the Pierponts' library outside their home, including the family Bible. Jones' soldiers then blew up Fairmont's 600-foot-long B&O Bridge. At this point, Jones and Imboden decided they didn't have enough troops to attack the massing Union forces in Clarksburg. They bypassed that town and rested in Weston. There, secessionist ladies mended soldiers' clothes, presented them with a flag and a parade was held in their honor. The raiders retreated east of the Alleghenies. They had destroyed 26 B&O bridges, but within 2 weeks the trains were running again. Jones and Imboden also failed to stop progress along the road to West Virginia statehood. The next time any of these men returned home, they would find a different state than the one they had left - one officially, if not properly, ratified by the electorate, May 26th, 1863. One officer, stationed with Union troops in one of the interior counties, reported efforts to ensure ratification. Dickinson: And he wrote a letter that was published in the National Intelligencer newspaper in late 1863 that he had been ordered to prevent people from coming to the polls and voting against the new state constitution. Narrator: Intimidation played an important role in counties that had supplied the Confederacy entire companies. Dickinson: I can't see that every single family in that county that sent, let's say, 200 boys off to the war 2 years earlier would all of a sudden vote against staying with Old Virginia and forming what was gonna become a Union state. Narrator: Regardless, the amended constitution was reportedly approved overwhelmingly, 28,000 to 572. Citizens returned to the polls, 2 days later, and elected the Constitution Union Party's Arthur I. Boreman to serve as the first governor of West Virginia. The same day, citizens of Jefferson and Berkeley Counties voted to become part of West Virginia, which officially joined the Union as its 35th state on June 20th. Henline: Early on the day of June 20, 1863, all the officers of the Restored Government and those of the newly elected West Virginia government met at the McClure Hotel for breakfast. There is a 35-gun salute by the Union troops, 35 young girls sing "The Star-Spangled Banner", the churches throughout Wheeling rang their bells for about 10 minutes. [sounds of many church bells] It's important to note that when West Virginia becomes a new state, in the union of free states, there were still people in bondage in the state of West Virginia. So, essentially, when West Virginia becomes a new state in the Union, it is admitted as a slave state." Narrator: Because President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation only applied to rebel states, West Virginia slaves remained in bondage until February 1865. West Virginia's joining the Union also failed to stop Confederate forces from skirmishing and wreaking havoc within the new state's borders. In October 1863, for instance, rebels attacked a Union fort at Bulltown, in Braxton County, in an unsuccessful attempt to control strategic transportation routes. In November, federal soldiers decisively defeated Confederates at Droop Mountain, in Pocahontas County, in one of the largest battles fought on West Virginia soil, during the war. After this and other Union victories, federal forces regained control of the Greenbrier Valley, known for its southern sympathy. Never again would the Confederacy mount a major raid into West Virginia. Skirmishes and rebel attacks continued, however, as Confederates forced federal troops to abandon Harpers Ferry, on July 4, 1864. After 3 days of fighting, however, Union soldiers reclaimed Harpers Ferry and held on to it for the remainder of the war. As governor, Arthur Boreman came to consider Confederate-sympathizing bushwhackers to be West Virginia's most serious threat. McNeill's Rangers, for instance, seized Union supplies on the B&O Railroad and wreaked havoc in the Eastern Panhandle and beyond, even kidnapping high-ranking Union officers. After Boreman assumed his role as Governor of West Virginia, Francis Pierpont, in turn, as chief executive of the Restored Government of Virginia, relinquished authority over the counties comprising the new state and relocated to Alexandria. There, he governed Virginia counties controlled by the Union Army. When the war ended in 1865, the Pierponts moved to Richmond, where Francis served as Provisional Governor of Virginia. The state legislature, meanwhile, endeavored to repeal all laws previously passed under his administration. A military governor replaced Pierpont in 1868. Julia bravely maintained the graves of Union soldiers in Richmond's Hollywood cemetery. When she started putting flowers on the memorials, former Confederate women started decorating southern graves. These events are believed by some historians to be the beginning of Memorial Day. After returning home to Fairmont, Francis was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates. Pierpont, today, is considered the Father of West Virginia. He's the only Virginia governor whose portrait is not found in the statehouse in Richmond. He's also the only West Virginian represented in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. One of Francis Pierpont's opponents during the war, Confederate Brigadier General Albert Jenkins was wounded and captured in battle on May 9,1864. The former U.S. Congressman died 12 days later. After the war, his brother Thomas' widow struggled to maintain the family's plantation. Susan Holderby Jenkins faced multiple lawsuits demanding payment for damage the Jenkins men had inflicted upon Union homes and property. The bitter and violent divisions between West Virginians didn't end with the Civil War. Former Confederate soldiers lost the right to vote. State officials were attacked in southern counties and Union troops were deployed. Finally, in 1871, a new constitution was drafted and voting rights were granted to African Americans and ex-rebels. The process of healing had finally begun. In the first Governor's Inaugural Address in the history of West Virginia, Arthur Boreman commemorated the birth of the 35th state, June 20, 1863. His words reflected the tragic division that Virginians, east and west of the Alleghenies, had experienced all along the road to statehood. Actor: "Now, after many long and weary years of insult and injustice, culminating on the part of the East, in an attempt to destroy the Government, we have the profound satisfaction of proclaiming to those around us that we are a separate state in the Union. Our State is the child of the rebellion." ♪ (music) ♪ Support for West Virginia: The Road to Statehood is provided by A production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.


The 4th district was formed in 1882. It originally consisted of Pleasants, Wood, Ritchie, Wirt, Calhoun, Jackson, Roane, Mason, Putnam, Cabell, Lincoln and Wayne counties. In 1902, Tyler Braxton, Gilmer, and Doddridge were added, while Putnam, Cabell, Lincoln and Wayne were removed. The district was totally reconstituted in 1916 as Tyler, Pleasants, Wood, Wirt, Jackson, Roane, Mason, Putnam, and Cabell counties. In 1934, Wayne and Lincoln were added. The district was unchanged for 1952. In 1962, Logan was added. In 1972, the district was totally reconstituted as Cabell, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Wayne and Wyoming counties. The district was abolished in the 1992 redistricting.

List of representatives

Representative Party Dates Cong
Electoral history
District created March 4, 1883
Eustace Gibson (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
Eustace Gibson
Democratic March 4, 1883 – March 3, 1887 48th
Elected in 1882.
Re-elected in 1884.
Lost renomination.
Charles E. Hogg
Democratic March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1889 50th Elected in 1886.
Lost renomination.
Memorial to J. M. Jackson - Parkersburg, West Virginia - DSC05577.JPG
James M. Jackson
Democratic March 4, 1889 – February 3, 1890 51st Elected in 1888.
Lost contested election.
No image.svg
Charles B. Smith
Republican February 3, 1890 – March 3, 1891 51st Won contested election.
Lost re-election.
No image.svg
James Capehart
Democratic March 4, 1891 – March 3, 1895 52nd
Elected in 1890.
Re-elected in 1892.
Miller, Warren.jpg
Warren Miller
Republican March 4, 1895 – March 3, 1899 54th
Elected in 1894.
Re-elected in 1896.
Romeo H. Freer (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
Romeo H. Freer
Republican March 4, 1899 – March 3, 1901 56th Elected in 1898.
Retired to run for Attorney General of West Virginia.
James A. Hughes (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
James A. Hughes
Republican March 4, 1901 – March 3, 1903 57th Elected in 1900.
Redistricted to the 5th district.
Harry Chapman Woodyard (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
Harry C. Woodyard
Republican March 4, 1903 – March 3, 1911 58th
Elected in 1902.
Re-elected in 1904.
Re-elected in 1906.
Re-elected in 1908.
Lost re-election.
No image.svg
John M. Hamilton
Democratic March 4, 1911 – March 3, 1913 62nd Elected in 1910.
Lost re-election.
Hunter H. Moss, Jr.
Republican March 4, 1913 – July 15, 1916 63rd
Elected in 1912.
Re-elected in 1914.
Vacant July 15, 1916 – November 7, 1916 64th
Harry Chapman Woodyard (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
Harry C. Woodyard
Republican November 7, 1916 – March 3, 1923 64th
Elected to finish Moss's term.
Also elected to the next full term.
Re-elected in 1918.
Re-elected in 1920.
Lost re-election.
George William Johnson crop.jpg
George W. Johnson
Democratic March 4, 1923 – March 3, 1925 68th Elected in 1922.
Lost re-election.
Harry Chapman Woodyard (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
Harry C. Woodyard
Republican March 4, 1925 – March 3, 1927 69th Elected in 1924.
James A. Hughes (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
James A. Hughes
Republican March 4, 1927 – March 2, 1930 70th
Elected in 1926.
Re-elected in 1928.
Vacant March 2, 1930 – November 4, 1930 71st
No image.svg
Robert L. Hogg
Republican November 4, 1930 – March 3, 1933 71st
Elected to finish Hughes's term.
Also elected to the next full term.
Lost re-election.
George William Johnson crop.jpg
George W. Johnson
Democratic March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1943 73rd
Elected in 1932.
Re-elected in 1934.
Re-elected in 1936.
Re-elected in 1938.
Re-elected in 1940.
Lost re-election.
No image.svg
Hubert S. Ellis
Republican January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1949 78th
Elected in 1942.
Re-elected in 1944.
Re-elected in 1946.
Lost re-election.
M. G. Burnside (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
Maurice G. Burnside
Democratic January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1953 81st
Elected in 1948.
Re-elected in 1950.
Lost re-election.
U.S. Rep. Will E. Neal.jpg
Will E. Neal
Republican January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1955 83rd Elected in 1952.
Lost re-election.
M. G. Burnside (West Virginia Congressman).jpg
Maurice G. Burnside
Democratic January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1957 84th Elected in 1954.
Lost re-election.
U.S. Rep. Will E. Neal.jpg
Will E. Neal
Republican January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1959 85th Elected in 1956.
Lost re-election.
Ken Hechler.jpg
Ken Hechler
Democratic January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1977 86th
Elected in 1958.
Re-elected in 1960.
Re-elected in 1962.
Re-elected in 1964.
Re-elected in 1966.
Re-elected in 1968.
Re-elected in 1970.
Re-elected in 1972.
Re-elected in 1974.
Retired to run for governor.
Nick Rahall 1977 congressional photo.jpg
Nick Rahall
Democratic January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1993 95th
Elected in 1976.
Re-elected in 1978.
Re-elected in 1980.
Re-elected in 1982.
Re-elected in 1984.
Re-elected in 1986.
Re-elected in 1988.
Re-elected in 1990.
Redistricted to the 3rd district.
District eliminated January 3, 1993


  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1989). The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1982). The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Congressional Biographical Directory of the United States 1774–present
This page was last edited on 16 June 2022, at 23:08
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