A Guide to the Executive Papers Governor Francis Harrison Pierpont, 1865-1868 Pierpont, Governor Francis Harrison, 1865-1868 37024

A Guide to the Executive Papers Governor Francis Harrison Pierpont, 1865-1868

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 37024


Library of Virginia

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© 2001 By the Library of Virginia.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Craig Moore

Library of Virginia
Accession number
Executive Papers of Governor Francis Harrison Pierpont, 1865-1868
Physical Characteristics
4.2 cubic feet; 9 boxes; boxes 1-9
State Records Collection, Record Group 3.

Administrative Information


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Use Restrictions

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Preferred Citation

Governor Francis Harrison Pierpont, Executive papers, 1865-1868. Accession 37024. State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.


Transferred prior to 1905. No other acquisition information available.

Biographical/Historical Information

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 1861, and Pierpont was unanimously elected governor of the Restored Government of Virginia on June 20, 1861 with the recognition of President Lincoln.

Pierpont was again elected governor for a four-year term on May 28, 1863. 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.

Scope and Content Information

Governor Pierpont's Executive papers are organized chronologically and primarily consist of incoming correspondence between May 10, 1865 and April 3, 1868. Correspondence, resolutions, circular letters, proclamations, special orders, petitions, certificates of qualification, certificates of election, commissions, applications, ordinances, telegrams, election returns, proceedings, pardons, affidavits, lists, appointments, clippings, reports, resignations, and other items can be found in this series.

The majority of the correspondence relates to requests for appointments in Virginia state government for such positions as notaries public, public guard, commissioners, postmaster, inspectors, etc. Recommendations or petitions often accompany these letters of appointment. Other correspondence relates to citizens seeking recompense for services rendered during the war. Pierpont corresponded often with Secretary of State, William H. Seward, regarding a variety of issues including pardons, passports, and freedmen. Seward wrote to Pierpont transmitting warrants of pardon for citizens of Virginia. Some of the correspondence in these papers relates to the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands. The Bureau adjudicated disputes between negroes and negroes and whites. The Bureau often forwarded court cases to Pierpont for his opinion. This correspondence is often filled with endorsements from various officers in the Bureau stating their opinion as well. Pierpont also corresponded with and received special orders from Major Gen. Alfred H. Terry and others from the U.S. Army, Department of Virginia. Lastly, Pierpont corresponded with Captain E.S. Gray of the Public Guard re. appointments and other issues.

Other types of documents found in Pierpont's papers include circulars, special orders, and correspondence from Major Gen. Oliver O. Howard, Chief Commissioner, and Colonel Orlando Brown, Assistant Commissioner, of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands; proclamations from other state governors calling for days of Thanksgiving; petitions of protest against elections of certain individuals due to their role during the war; applications for pardons along with affidavits and court cases; and appointments of county officers issued from the Headquarters of the 1st Military District.

Noteworthy documents include a resolution from a portion of the citizens of Warren County to support the U.S. Constitution (May 15, 1865); a letter to the Secretary of War re. the Orange & Alexandria Railroad and Gen. Grant's recommendation for its repair (May 11, 1865); a letter and resolutions from the secretary of the Lincoln Memorial Association re. a monument to be erected in Springfield, IL. (May 19, 1865); a letter from an ex-slave in New Orleans asking the governor for assistance in locating his wife and five children (May 21, 1865); proclamation reestablishing the seat of government at Richmond (May 23, 1865); documents including Special Order No. 22 by Major Gen. Halleck turning the Richmond & Danville Railroad over to the Board of Public Works (June 2, 1865); a list of names of prominent men of Richmond who remained faithful to the Union (June 6, 1865); a letter from Secretary of State William H. Seward re. the safety of public property in Richmond (June 20, 1865); a letter from former governor William Smith re. the contents of the Governor's Mansion following the evacuation (June 11, 1865); and a report of the Board of Directors of the Western Lunatic Asylum (June 21, 1865).

Other noteworthy documents include an act prescribing means by which persons who have been disfranchised by the third article of the Constitution may be restored to the rights of voters (June 22, 1865); a letter from Pierpont to the Superintendent of the Virginia Central Railroad asking him to allow Confederate prisoners free transport to their homes (June 23, 1865); a printed letter from Thomas R. Bowden, Attorney General of Virginia, stating that ex-Confederate soldiers and officers are not eligible to hold state offices (July 14, 1865); a letter from John N. Camp, U.S. Consul in Jamaica, re. colonization of freedmen (Aug. 7, 1865); a report by Thomas H. DeWitt, Clerk of the Board of Public Works, re. the condition of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad (Aug. 16, 1865); telegram from President Andrew Johnson re. interference by the military in the municipal elections in Richmond (N.D., 1865); testimony in examination of the conduct of the Superintendent of the Board of Visitors of the Institution for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind (Sept. 14, 1865); special orders from Major Gen. Terry surrendering the charge of the Eastern Lunatic Asylum (Oct. 23, 1865); ordinance by the Convention of Alabama abolishing slavery and declaring the ordinance of secession null & void (Oct. 4, 1865); a letter to President Johnson transmitting the resolution of the General Assembly re. the pardon of Jefferson Davis and others (Dec. 22, 1865); Arthur Barbarin's plan for an electro-magnetic torpedo (oversized, May 28, 1865); proposals and bids for repairs to the Capitol & Governor's Mansion (Feb. 9 & 23, 1866); a printed remonstrance to the U.S. Congress against the bill to annex the city & county of Alexandria to the District of Columbia (May 17, 1866); a letter from Governor Arthur I. Boreman of W.Va. re. the return of a bronze statue of George Washington taken from the Virginia Military Institute during the war (May 28, 1866); a circular from William H. Seward re. the 14th Amendment to the Constitution (June 16, 1866); a letter from William H. Richardson, Adjutant General of Va., re. the destruction of the State Armory (Oct. 1866); a list of stockholders of the Richmond & Danville Railroad Company (July 26, 1866); a letter from Randolph Rogers re. the equestrian statue of Washington to be completed by him due to the death of William Crawford (Nov. 10, 1866); report of the Treasurer of Virginia for the fiscal years 1 Oct. 1865 to 30 Sept. 1866 & Oct. 1866 to Sept. 1867; a letter from William H. Seward re. schemes to emigrate freedmen to other countries particularly Peru for cheap labor (Oct. 6 & 17, 1866); resolutions from the states of Michigan, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and North Carolina re. the 14th Amendment (Feb. & March 1866); a letter from former governor John Letcher accepting appointment of visitor to the Virginia Military Institute (May 25, 1867); and proposals for the erection of a railing around the statue of Washington in Capitol Square (May 1867).


Papers are arranged chronologically by date of endorsement.

Contents List

Executive Papers
Boxes 1-9

Governor Pierpont's Executive papers are arranged chronologically by the date of endorsement which indicates when the document was received and what action was taken by the governor and primarily consist of incoming correspondence between May 10, 1865 and April 3, 1868. Correspondence, resolutions, circular letters, proclamations, special orders, petitions, certificates of qualification, certificates of election, commissions, applications, ordinances, telegrams, election returns, proceedings, pardons, affidavits, lists, appointments, clippings, reports, resignations, and other items can be found in this series.

Executive Papers arranged chronologically.

  • Box-folder 1:1
    Correspondence, 1865 May 10-31
  • Box-folder 1:2
    Correspondence, 1865 June 1-10
  • Box-folder 1:3
    Correspondence, 1865 June 11-15
  • Box-folder 1:4
    Correspondence, 1865 June 15-22
  • Box-folder 1:5
    Correspondence, 1865 June 23-30
  • Box-folder 1:6
    Correspondence, 1865 July 1-7
  • Box-folder 2:1
    Correspondence, 1865 July 8-15
  • Box-folder 2:2
    Correspondence, 1865 July 16-24
  • Box-folder 2:3
    Correspondence, 1865 July 25-31
  • Box-folder 2:4
    Correspondence, 1865 August 1-10
  • Box-folder 2:5
    Correspondence, 1865 August 11-25
  • Box-folder 2:6
    Correspondence, 1865 August 26-31
  • Box-folder 2:7
    Correspondence, 1865 September 1-12
  • Box-folder 3:1
    Correspondence, 1865 September 13-15
  • Box-folder 3:2
    Correspondence, 1865 September 16-30
  • Box-folder 3:3
    Correspondence, 1865 October 2-24
  • Box-folder 3:4
    Correspondence, 1865 October 25-31
  • Box-folder 3:5
    Correspondence, 1865 November 1-15
  • Box-folder 3:6
    Correspondence, 1865 November 16-30
  • Box-folder 3:7
    Correspondence, 1865 December 1-15
  • Box-folder 3:8
    Correspondence, 1865 December 16-31
  • Box-folder 3:9
    Correspondence, Undated
  • Box-folder 4:1
    Correspondence, 1866 January 1-15
  • Box-folder 4:2
    Correspondence, 1866 January 16-31
  • Box-folder 4:3
    Correspondence, 1866 February 1-10
  • Box-folder 4:4
    Correspondence, 1866 Feburary 11-27
  • Box-folder 4:5
    Correspondence 1866 March
  • Box-folder 4:6
    Correspondence 1866 April
  • Box-folder 4:7
    Correspondence, 1866 May
  • Box-folder 4:8
    Correspondence, 1866 June
  • Box-folder 5:1
    Correspondence, 1866 July
  • Box-folder 5:2
    Correspondence, 1866 August 1-15
  • Box-folder 5:3
    Correspondence 1866 August 16-31
  • Box-folder 5:4
    Correspondence, 1866 September
  • Box-folder 5:5
    Correspondence 1866 October
  • Box-folder 5:6
    Correspondence 1866 November
  • Box-folder 5:7
    Correspondence 1866 December
  • Box-folder 6:1
    Correspondence, 1867 January
  • Box-folder 6:2
    Correspondence, 1867 February
  • Box-folder 6:3
    Correspondence, 1867 March
  • Box-folder 6:4
    Correspondence, 1867 April
  • Box-folder 6:5
    Correspondence, 1867 May
  • Box-folder 6:6
    Correspondence, 1867 June
  • Box-folder 6:7
    Correspondence, 1867 July
  • Box-folder 6:8
    Correspondence, 1867 August
  • Box-folder 6:9
    Correspondence, 1867 September
  • Box-folder 6:10
    Correspondence, 1867 October
  • Box-folder 7:1
    Correspondence, 1867 November
  • Box-folder 7:2
    Correspondence, 1867 December
  • Box-folder 7:3
    Correspondence, Undated
  • Box-folder 7:4
    Correspondence, 1868 January
  • Box-folder 7:5
    Correspondence, 1868 February
  • Box-folder 7:6
    Correspondence, 1868 March
  • Box-folder 7:7
    Correspondence, 1868 April 2-3
  • Box-folder 8:1
    Correspondence, Undated
  • Box-folder 8:2
    Correspondence, Undated
  • Box-folder 8:3
    Correspondence, Undated
  • Box-folder 8:4
    Correspondence, Undated
  • Box-folder 8:5
    Correspondence, Undated
  • Box-folder 9:1
    Correspondence - Oversize 1865
  • Box-folder 9:2
    Correspondence - Oversize 1866-1867