The Resource (microform)


Inclusive dates
Contains correspondence with the United States government during Pierpont's terms as governor, proclamations, military passes, drafts of legislation and an autobiographical sketch composed in the 1880s. Correspondents include James S. Wheat, and Simon Cameron. Correspondence in this collection spans Pierpont's terms as Governor of the Restored Government at Wheeling (1861-1863), Governor of the Restored Government at Alexandria (1863-1865), and as Provisional Governor of Virginia from 1865-1868
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Biographical or historical data
  • Francis Harrison Pierpont was born on January 25, 1814, just east of Morgantown, W. Va. After working on his father's farm and tannery business in Fairmont, W. Va., Pierpont studied law at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., in 1835. He was admitted into the bar in 1842 and served as counsel for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad until 1856. Pierpont was also involved in various business ventures including mining and shipping coal by rail. In December 1854, Pierpont married Julia Robinson, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. Pierpont was an active member of the Whig political party and an anti-slavery proponent. Although he did not hold political office, Pierpont acted as a spokesman for northwest Virginia delivering speeches and writing commentaries in the newspapers attacking the Democrats and slavery. When the Virginia Convention voted on April 17, 1861, to pass the Ordinance of Secession, mass meetings were held in opposition to secession in northwest Virginia. Pierpont took an active part in these meetings and in the Wheeling Convention on May 13, 1861, in which he represented Marion County. The Convention voted to defy the Secession Convention. The Second Wheeling Convention met on June 11, 1861, and Piepont was unanimously elected governor of the Restored Government of Virginia on June 20, 1861 with the recognition of President Lincoln.
  • As governor of the Restored Government of Virginia at Wheeling, Pierpont concentrated on raising regiments and commissioning officers for the Union cause. Meanwhile, continued calls for a new state to be created from the existing state of Virginia resulted in "An Ordinance to Provide for the Formation of a New State out of a Portion of the Territory of this State" at the Second Wheeling Convention. A special session of the Assembly adjourned on May 15, 1862, and Congress was presented with the constitution and proposal for the new state of West Virginia. The Senate passed the bill admitting West Virginia on July 14, 1862, and the House of Representatives on December 10, 1862. With prodding by Pierpont, President Lincoln signed the bill creating the state. West Virginia did not officially enter into the Union until June 20, 1863. Arthur I. Boreman became the first governor of the new state at this time and Pierpont continued as governor of the state of Virginia (which consisted of the counties of Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, Accomac, Northampton, and Norfolk) in the new capital at Alexandria.
  • Pierpont was again elected governor for a four-year term on May 28, 1863. During this time, Pierpont clashed with General Benjamin F. Butler who was appointed to command the eastern military district of Virginia and North Carolina in Norfolk. Butler abused his military authority, according to Pierpont, by controlling the liquor traffic in Norfolk and through his disregard for the civil authority there. President Lincoln intervened in this controversy and Butler was removed of his command following a Congressional investigation. Following Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, Pierpont called for a new Constitutional Convention. The Convention assembled in Alexandria, the new seat of government, on February 3, 1864, and adjourned on April 11, 1864, having adopted an amendment for the abolition of slavery. The Convention also added a provision disfranchising those men who previously held office in the Confederate government and who refused to take an oath affirming that they did not aid the rebellion and swearing loyalty to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Following the Civil War and the death of President Lincoln, President Johnson recognized Pierpont as provisional governor and removed the state capital to Richmond by an executive order on May 9, 1865. Pierpont succeeded in removing the disfranchisement from the Alexandria Convention after the war. However, in the summer of 1866, Congress passed the 14th Amendment guaranteeing the rights of freedmen and preventing former Confederate officials from holding office. Virginia, failing to ratify the amendment, was placed under military rule as a result of the passage of the first Reconstruction Act on March 2, 1867. Virginia became Military District No. 1 under the command of Major Gen. John M. Schofield whose role was to direct Virginia's Reconstruction. Pierpont remained governor, but his powers were greatly weakened. Schofield eventually replaced Pierpont with Horatio H. Wells as provisional governor on April 4, 1868. Pierpont died at the home of his daughter in Pittsburgh, Pa., on March 24, 1899.
Cataloging source
Form designation
Funding information
Filming funded by The Library of Virginia Foundation with the support of The Roller-Bottimore Foundation and The Robins Foundation.
Location of originals duplicates
The Huntington Library;
  • This collection forms part of the Robert Alonzo Brock Collection at The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
  • The Robert Alonzo Brock Collection was filmed by The Huntington Library in cooperation with The Library of Virginia with funding provided by The Library of Virginia Foundation with the support of The Roller-Bottimore Foundation and The Robins Foundation
  • Microfilmed as arranged by The Huntington Library
Base of film
safety base polyester
  • The Library of Virginia
black and white
Emulsion on film
silver halide
service copy
Immediate source of acquisition
The Library of Virginia Foundation, The Roller-Bottimore Foundation, and The Robins Foundation
Positive negative aspect
low reduction ratio
Reproduction note
Specific material designation
microfilm reel
Terms governing use
Should you wish to quote from or reproduce images of any of the materials, you must write to the Librarian of the Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108, requesting formal permission to do so. Please note that you do not have to obtain permission if you are quoting fewer than fifty words, or if you are only citing the document. Images made with microfilm-reader printers are for research use only and may not be used for publication without permission.
Type of unit

Library Locations

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