(Excerpted from, The Christian Heritage of the
50 United States of America, copyright 2000 by Catherine Millard.)
The Preamble to the Constitution of the State of West
Virginia states that, We the people of West Virginia, through
Divine Providence, enjoy the blessings of liberty and reaffirm
our faith in and constant reliance upon God.
Governor Francis Harrison Pierpont (1814-1899) was chosen by the citizens of West Virginia as their greatest hero in the Hall of Fame. Pierpont, an anti-slavery advocate and a leading member of the Methodist Protestant Church, wrote the following lines to President Lincoln:
Wheeling, VA., Dec. 31, 1862
I am in hopes you will sign the bill to make West Virginia a new State. The loyal people of the State have their hearts set on it. The soldiers in the army have their hearts set on it. If the bill fails, God only knows the result. I fear general demoralization. I am clear, the consequence is in your hands.
F.H. Pierpont, Gov.
The program of the Pierpont Statue Unveiling, Washington, April 30th, 1910, contained the following poem dedicated to the life and work of Francis H. Pierpont:
You are standing midst the mighty in the Great White Hall of Fame;
On the Nation’s list of heroes they have written high your name,
And the powers and princes pass you and they give you meed of praise
But ‘twas Freedom you were wooing, and not Fame, in those dark days.
Filled with manhood’s high ideals, by a slave-block you stood near,
Watched the virgin crouching on it, saw her trembling, felt her fear,
And your spirit rose within you, as one led the maid away,
And you gave yourself to freedom – life and soul and strength – that day.
When the loud alarm of battle flung a challenge to the North,
Home and childish hands clung to you, but your country called you forth;
On the strong God lays the burden when He makes a people free,
And on hearts that are most tender doth He write His stern decree.
In the shout and din of battle she was born, the brave free State;
Humble men stood sponsor for her, but their every deed was great –
West Virginia, child of Freedom! Many a brave man’s life was given
Ere the chains with which foul slavery sought to hold you could be riven.
But it must be, up in Heaven, that the holy angels know
Of the struggles and the triumphs of those toiling here below;
And men’s hearts were moved to action, so they placed you, Statesmen, there,
That the world might know and feel it, what is wrought by work and prayer.