Pierpont, Francis Harrison

Pierpont, Francis Harrison,

1814–99, Union leader in Virginia during the American Civil War, "Father of West Virginia," b. near Morgantown, Va. (now W.Va.). When Virginia seceded, he became a leader of the disaffected Unionist forces in the western part of Virginia and was elected head of the government set up by the Wheeling Convention of June, 1861. This government granted (1862) the approval, necessary under the Constitution, for the organization of the western counties into a new state, West Virginia. Pierpont himself was never governor of West Virginia. After the admission (1863) of that state to the Union, he served as governor of "restored" Virginia (i.e., that part under federal control but not incorporated in West Virginia). After the war he remained as governor until 1868. He himself seems to have spelled his name Pierpoint.


See biography by C. H. Ambler (1937).

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Pierpont, Francis Harrison

(1814–99) governor; born in Morgantown, Va. (now W.Va.). A lawyer and an active Whig, he supported the Union when the Civil War broke out. When Virginia seceded (1861), he organized a mass meeting at Wheeling and became the provisional governor of Western Virginia (1861–63). When West Virginia was admitted as a state (1863), he became governor of the "restored" state of Virginia, the counties still controlled by the Federal government. With the end of the Civil War, he became governor of Virginia (1865–68) and sought to heal the wounds between Yankees and Confederates in his state. West Virginia placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.