West Virginia's cruising capital




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0099: Cabell-Wayne Historical Society Collection


Marshall University Archives and Special Collections


West Virginia's cruising capital, 28x22.5cm WEST VIRGINIA'S CRUISING CAPITAL HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW In its early days of statehood, West Virginia played a game of here today and gone tomorrow with its capital. As a result of early organizational conventions, Wheeling was selected as the first Mountain State capital. The distance of Wheeling from other parts of the state bothered Charleston residents. In 1869, they offered to build a statehouse at their expense, if the legislature was moved to Charleston. An act was passed and the capital was removed, effective April 1, 1870, by river route to Charleston. The people of Wheeling quickly countered with a similar offer. The legislature forthwith designated Wheeling as the capital, February 20, 1875. Up went the $80,000 Wheeling statehouse and back came the capital. Indignation and protests reverberated throughout Charleston. Charlestonians declared the act unconstitutional and secured an injunction restraining the govenor and state officials from removing any state ardhives or documents. However, Governor Jacob and other state officials left Charleston the the appointed day, May 21, 1875, on board the steamer Emma Graham. For some reason they were transferred at Parkersburg to the Chesapeake (see drawing on reverse side). After considerable litigation the archives arrived three months later. Mounting dissatisfaction toward the capital on steamers became manifest and a referendum was called to end the problem. On August 7, 1877, Mountain State residents were asked to vote for either Charleston, Wheeling, or Martinsburg as their capital. Charleston polled the most votes and was awarded the wandering statehouse, effective May 1, 1885. On May 3, 1885, the Chesapeake returned the capital to Charleston. Since that spring day 82 years ago, except for minor relocations, the capital has remained in Charleston, evincing a marked contrast to the first 22 years of statehood when the West Virginia government was truly a cruising capital.




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West Virginia's cruising capital