On this day 150 years ago, Francis H. Pierpont was unanimously elected governor of Virginia. It is true that Virginia already had a governor, the merchant’s son John Letcher. But from Pierpont’s perspective, that didn’t count because Letcher’s Virginia, having seceded from the Union, was no longer the true Virginia. Pierpont, on the other hand, hadn’t seceded. Well, he hadn’t seceded from the Union. He and his fellow western Virginia delegates had, however, seceded from the Convention that seceded from the Union. So, by seceding and setting up a new government in Wheeling, they technically refused to secede and restored the old government. The rest of the Convention, meanwhile, by seceding from the Union stayed put in Richmond and kept the same old governor and General Assembly.
IMAGE: Francis H. Pierpont (Harper’s, March 17, 1866)