In addition, two territories not yet states the Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma) and the New Mexico Territory (now the states of Arizona and New Mexico) also permitted slavery. Yet very few slaves could actually be found in these territories, despite the institution's legal status there. During the war, the major Indian tribes in Oklahoma signed an alliance with the Confederacy and participated in its military efforts. Residents of New Mexico Territory were of divided loyalties; the region was split between the Union and Confederacy at the 34th Parallel. Oklahoma is often cited as a "border state" today, but Arizona and New Mexico are rarely, if ever, so characterized.
With geographic, social, political, and economic connections to both the North and the South, the border states were critical to the outcome of the war and still delineate the cultural border that separates the North from the South. After Reconstruction, most of the border states adopted Jim Crow laws resembling those enacted in the South, but in recent decades some of them (most notably Delaware and Maryland) have become more Northern in their political, economic, and social orientation, while others (particularly Kentucky and West Virginia) have adopted a Southern way of life. Telsur Southern Dialect Regional Map Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, designed as a war-measures act, applied only to territories not already under Union control, so it did not apply to the border states. Maryland, Missouri, and West Virginia each changed their state constitution to prohibit slavery. Slavery in Kentucky and Delaware (as well as remnants of slavery in West Virginia and New Jersey) was not ended until the 1865 ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The Maryland Legislature rejected secession in 1861, Governor Hicks voted against it. As a result of the Union Army's heavy presence in the state and the suspension of habeas corpus by Abraham Lincoln, several Maryland state legislators, as well as the mayor and police chief of Baltimore, who supported the secession, were arrested and imprisoned by Union authorities. (Notice that with Virginia having seceded, Union troops had to go through Maryland to reach the national capital at Washington DC) Had Maryland also joined the Confederacy, Washington DC would have been totally surrounded. Maryland contributed troops to both the Union (60,000) and the Confederate (25,000) armies.
Maryland was not covered by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Maryland adopted a new state constitution in 1864, which prohibited slavery and thus emancipated all slaves in the state.
Kentucky was strategic to Union victory in the Civil War. Lincoln once said, "I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, nor Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us. We would as well consent to separation at once, including the surrender of this capital" (Washington, which was surrounded by slave states: Confederate Virginia and Union-controlled Maryland). He is further reported to have said that he hoped to have God on his side, but he had to have Kentucky.
Kentucky did not secede, but a faction known as the Russellville Convention formed a Confederate government of Kentucky which was recognized by the Confederate States of America as a member state. Kentucky was represented by the central star on the Confederate battle flag.
Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin proposed that slave states like Kentucky should conform to the US Constitution and remain in the Union. When Lincoln requested 75,000 men to serve in the Union, however, Magoffin, a Southern sympathizer, countered that Kentucky would "furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern states."
Kentucky tried to remain neutral, even issuing a proclamation May 20, 1861, asking both sides to keep out. The neutrality was broken when Confederate General Leonidas Polk occupied Columbus, Kentucky, in the summer of 1861, though the Union had been openly enlisting troops in the state before this. In response, the Kentucky Legislature passed a resolution directing the governor to demand the evacuation of Confederate forces from Kentucky soil. Magoffin vetoed the proclamation, but the legislature overrode his veto. The legislature further decided to back General Ulysses S. Grant and his Union troops stationed in Paducah, Kentucky, on the grounds that the Confederacy voided the original pledge by entering Kentucky first.
Southern sympathizers were outraged at the legislature's decisions, citing that Polk's troops in Kentucky were only in route to countering Grant's forces. Later legislative resolutions—such as inviting Union General Robert Anderson to enroll volunteers to expel the Confederate forces, requesting the governor to call out the militia, and appointing Union General Thomas L. Crittenden in command of Kentucky forces—only incensed the Southerners further. (Magoffin vetoed the resolutions but all were overridden.) In 1862, the legislature passed an act to disfranchise citizens who enlisted in the Confederate States Army. Thus Kentucky's neutral status evolved into backing the Union. Most of those who originally sought neutrality turned to the Union cause.
When Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston occupied Bowling Green, Kentucky in the summer of 1861, the pro-Confederates in western and central Kentucky moved to establish a Confederate state government. The Russellville Convention met in Logan County on November 18, 1861. One hundred sixteen delegates from 68 counties elected to depose the current government and create a provisional government loyal to Kentucky's new unofficial Confederate Governor George W. Johnson. On December 10, 1861, Kentucky became the 13th state admitted to the Confederacy. Kentucky, along with Missouri, was a state with representatives in both Congresses and with regiments in both Union and Confederate armies.
Magoffin, still functioning as official governor in Frankfort, would not recognize the Kentucky Confederates nor their attempts to establish a government in his state. He continued to declare Kentucky's official status in the war was as a neutral state—even though the legislature backed the Union. Magoffin, fed up with the party divisions within the population and legislature, announced a special session of the legislature and then resigned his office in 1862.
Bowling Green remained occupied by the Confederates until February 1862 when General Grant moved from Missouri through Kentucky along the Tennessee line. Confederate Governor Johnson fled Bowling Green with the Confederate state records, headed south, and joined Confederate forces in Tennessee. After Johnson was killed fighting in the Battle of Shiloh, Richard Hawes was named Confederate governor. Shortly afterwards, the Provisional Confederate Congress was adjourned on February 17, 1862, on the eve of inauguration of a permanent Congress. However, as Union occupation henceforth dominated the state, the Kentucky Confederate government, as of 1863, existed only on paper, and its representation in the permanent congress was minimal. It was dissolved when the Civil War ended in the spring of 1865.
After the secession of Southern states began, the newly elected governor of Missouri called upon the legislature to authorize a state constitutional convention on secession. A special election approved of the convention and delegates to it. This Missouri Constitutional Convention voted to remain within the Union, but rejected coercion of the Southern States by the United States. Pro-Southern Governor Claiborne F. Jackson was disappointed with the outcome. He called up the state militia to their districts for annual training. Jackson had plans on the St. Louis Arsenal and had been in secret correspondence with Confederate President Jefferson Davis to obtain artillery for the militia in St. Louis. Aware of these developments, Union Captain Nathaniel Lyon struck first, encircling the camp and forcing the state militia to surrender. While marching the prisoners to the arsenal, a deadly riot erupted (the Camp Jackson Affair.)
These events caused greater Confederate support within the state. The already pro-Southern legislature passed the governor's military bill creating the Missouri State Guard. Governor Jackson appointed Sterling Price, who had been president of the convention, as major general of this reformed and expanded militia. Price and Union district commander Harney came to an agreement known as the Price-Harney Truce that calmed tensions in the state for several weeks. After Harney was removed and Lyon placed in charge, a meeting was held in St. Louis at the Planters' House between Lyon, his political ally Francis P. Blair, Jr., Price, and Jackson. The negotiations went nowhere and after a few fruitless hours Lyon made his famous declaration, "this means war!" Price and Jackson rapidly departed for the capital.
Jackson, Price, and the state legislature were forced to flee the state capital of Jefferson City on June 14, 1861, in the face of Lyon's rapid advance against the state government. In the absence of the now exiled state government, the Missouri Constitutional Convention reconvened in late July. On July 30 the convention declared the state offices vacant and appointed a new provisional government with Hamilton Gamble as governor. President Lincoln's Administration immediately recognized Gamble's government as the legal government, which provided both pro-Union militia forces for service within the state and volunteer regiments for the Union Army.
Fighting ensued between Union forces and a combined army of General Price's Missouri State Guard and Confederate troops from Arkansas and Texas under General Ben McCulloch. After winning victories at the battle of Wilson's Creek and the siege of Lexington, Missouri, the secessionist forces had little choice but to retreat again to Southwest Missouri as Union reinforcements arrived. There, on October 30, 1861 in the town of Neosho, Jackson called the exiled state legislature into session where they enacted a secession ordinance. It was recognized by the Confederate congress, and Missouri was admitted into the Confederacy on November 28.
The exiled state government was forced to withdraw into Arkansas in the face of a largely reinforced Union Army. Though regular Confederate troops staged several large-scale raids into Missouri, the fighting in the state for the next three years consisted mainly of guerrilla warfare. The guerrillas were primarily southern partisans including William Quantrill, Frank and Jesse James, the Younger brothers, and William T. Anderson. Such small unit tactics pioneered by the Missouri Partisan Rangers were seen in other occupied portions of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The James' brothers outlawry after the war has been seen as a continuation of guerrilla warfare.
By 1859 there were again strong sectional tensions at work within the state, although the west itself was split between the north and the south, with the south more satisfied with the changes made in 1851. Historian Daniel W. Crofts wrote, “Northwesterners complained that they had become ‘the complete vassals of Eastern Virginia,’ taxed ‘unmercifully and increasingly, at her instance and for her benefit.’” Internal improvements important to the west, such as the James River and Kanawha Canal or railroads connecting the west to the east had been promised but not built. Slaves, for tax purposes, were not valued above $300 despite a top field hand being worth five times that amount. The west had 135,000 more whites than the east, but the east controlled the state Senate. In the United States House of Representatives, because of the three-fifth rule, only five of Virginia’s thirteen representatives came from western districts. In the 1859 gubernatorial elections there was disenchantment with both parties in the west. Western grievances were ignored as “both parties engaged in a proslavery shouting match.” Antislavery Whigs began to move towards the Republican Party; in the 1860 presidential election, Abraham Lincoln received 2,000 votes from the western panhandle.
Crofts wrote that “no document better captures the mood of unconditional northwestern Virginia Unionists” than the following from a March 16, 1861 letter by Henry Dering of Morgantown to Waitman T. Willey:
Despite unionist opposition, a special session of the state legislature in early January called for the election of delegates to a state convention on February 4 to consider secession. A proposal by Waitman T. Willey to have the convention also consider reforms to taxation and representation went nowhere. The convention first met on February 13 and voted for secession on April 17, 1861. The decision was dependent on ratification by a statewide referendum.
On April 22, 1861 John S. Carlisle led a meeting of 1,200 people in Harrison County. The meeting approved the “Clarksburg Resolutions”, calling for the creation of a new state separate from Virginia. The resolutions were widely circulated and each county was asked to choose five “of their wisest, best, and distinguished men” as delegates. Historian Allan Nevins wrote, “ The movement, spontaneous, full of extralegal irregularities, and varying from place to place, spread like the wind. Community after community held mass meetings.”
Unionists in Virginia met at the Wheeling Convention from May 13 to May 15 to await the decision of the state referendum called to ratify the decision to secede. In attendance were over four hundred delegates from twenty-seven counties. Most delegations were chosen by public meetings rather than elections and some attendees came strictly on their own. The editor of the Wheeling Western Star called it “almost a mass meeting of the people instead of a representative body.”
Carlisle, in front of a banner proclaiming “New Virginia, now or never”, spoke for the immediate creation of a new state consisting of thirty-two counties. Speaking of the actions of the Virginia secession convention, he said, “Let us act; let us repudiate these monstrous usurpations; let us show our loyalty to Virginia and the Union at every hazard. 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.’
Speaking in opposition to action at this time, Willey argued that the convention had no authority to take such an action and referred to it as “triple treason”. Francis H. Pierpont supported Willey and helped to work out a compromise that secured the withdrawal of the Carlisle motion, declared the state’s Ordinance of Secession to be “unconstitutional, null, and void", and called for a second convention on June 11 if secession was ratified.
Willey’s closing remarks to the convention set the stage for the June meeting:
The Second Wheeling Convention opened on June 11 with more than 100 delegates from 32 western counties representing nearly one-third of Virginia’s total voting population. Members of the Virginia General Assembly were accepted as long as they were loyal to the Union "and still others were seemingly self-appointed. The convention met “ in open defiance of the Richmond authorities” and efforts were made in many counties to restrict attendance. Delegates were required to take a loyalty oath to the United State Constitution “anything in the Ordinance of the Convention which assembled in Richmond, on 13 February last, to the contrary notwithstanding.”.
Arthur I. Boreman, the future governor of West Virginia, was chosen as president, but the main leaders were Carlisle and Frank Pierpont. While many still supported Carlisle’s original plan to create a new state, Article IV Section 3 of the Constitution presented a problem. This section guaranteed that “no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of ay their State ... without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States Concerned as well as of Congress.” The legal solution chosen by the convention is described by author W. Hunter Lesser:
This restored Virginia government would then, under this theory, have the authority to the creation of a new state within the Old Dominion’s old borders.
On June 13 Carlisle presented his “Declaration of Rights of the People of Virginia” to the convention. It accused the secessionists of “usurping” the rights of the people, creating an “illegal confederacy of rebellious states”, and declared it was now their duty “to abolish” the state government as it existed. The convention approved this declaration on June 17 by a 56 to 0 vote. On June 14 “An Ordinance for the Re-organization of the State Government” was presented which provided for the selection of a governor, lieutenant governor, and a five-member governor’s council by the convention, declared all state government offices vacant, and recognized a “rump legislature” composed of loyal members of the General Assembly who had been elected in the May 23 statewide voting. This ordinance was approved on June 19.
Francis H. Peirpont was chosen as governor by the convention on June 20. Historian Virgil Lewis said this process was carried out in an “irregular... unjustifiable mode.” The next day Governor Peirpont notified President Lincoln of the convention’s decisions. Noting that there were “evil-minded persons” who were “making war on the loyal people of the state” and “pressing citizens against their consent into their military organization and seizing and appropriating their property to aid in the rebellion,” Peirpont requested aid “to suppress such rebellion and violence.” Secretary of War Cameron, replying for Lincoln, wrote:
The October 24, 1861 popular vote on the new state drew only 19,000 voters (compared to the 54,000 who had voted in the original secession referendum), one hundred of whom, according to two individual observers, were Ohio soldiers
The Second Wheeling Convention had proposed that only 39 counties be included in the new state. This number included 24 clearly Unionist counties and 15 pro-Confederate counties which the new state would find “imperative” because of their geographic relationship with the rest of the new state. These 39 counties contained a white population of 272,759, 78% of whom had a Unionist orientation. While there was overwhelming support at this convention for statehood, there was a “small, effective minority” that opposed this and they used “obstructionist tactics at every opportunity” in their efforts to defeat the majority. It was this group opposed to statehood that was largely responsible for the inclusion of additional counties beyond this core.
When the constitutional convention was held in Wheeling on November 16, 1861, the obstructionists attempted to have 71 counties included in the new state, a move which would have created a white confederate sympathizer majority of 316,308. Eventually a compromise was worked out to include 50 counties. Historian Richard O. Curry summed the results up this way:
Curry further concluded:
The new state constitution was passed by the Unionist counties in the spring of 1862 and this was approved by the restored Virginia government in May 1862. The statehood bill for West Virginia was passed by Congress in December and signed by President Lincoln on December 31, 1862. As a condition for statehood the US Congress required that a policy of gradual emancipation be granted to the slaves of the new state, called the Willey Amendment, which was amended to the state constitution on March 26, 1863.
President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was designed with the interests of border states in mind. The Proclamation did not free slaves within current Union-controlled territory because the presidential war power did not extend there. Lincoln maintained that under the Constitution, ending slavery in a state not in active rebellion against the Union could only be done legally by action of that state, or by amendment to the Constitution.
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