Waitman T. Willey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Waitman T. Willey
Waitman T. Willey - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
July 9, 1861 – March 4, 1863
Preceded by James M. Mason
Succeeded by Lemuel J. Bowden
United States Senator
from West Virginia
In office
August 4, 1863 – March 4, 1871
Preceded by (none)
Succeeded by Henry G. Davis
Personal details
Born (1811-10-18)October 18, 1811
Marion County, Virginia
(now West Virginia)
Died May 2, 1900(1900-05-02) (aged 88)
Morgantown, West Virginia
Political party Unionist,

Waitman Thomas Willey (October 18, 1811 – May 2, 1900) was an American lawyer and politician from Morgantown, West Virginia. He represented both the states of Virginia and West Virginia in the United States Senate and was one of West Virginia's first two Senators. He played a fundamental role in the formation of the state of West Virginia during the Civil War.


Willey was born in 1811, in a log cabin near the present day Farmington, West Virginia. He graduated from Madison College (later Allegheny College) at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and settled at Morgantown in 1833. He built the Waitman T. Willey House in 1839-1840; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[1] From 1841 to 1852 he served as Clerk of the County Court of Monongalia County and in 1852 was the Whig candidate for Congress. He was active in local political life, serving in a variety of positions, and was a popular speaker for the literacy society and the temperance campaign.[2]

At the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850, he argued in favor of universal suffrage for white men as he believed that eastern Virginian elites dominated political power in the state.[2] He was a member of the Virginia Secession Convention in 1861, where he voted against secession.[3]

He became an activist at the First Wheeling Convention for West Virginia statehood. The "Restored Government of Virginia" elected him to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy of Senator James M. Mason. He was later elected to serve as one of the first two U. S. Senators from West Virginia (1863–1871). On May 29, 1862, Willey presented the petition to Congress for the creation of West Virginia.[4]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b Fredette, Allison (June 20, 2014). "Waitman T. Willey (1811–1900)". Encyclopedia Virginia. 
  3. ^ Virginia Memory, Union or Secession, How delegates voted
  4. ^ unknown (n.d.). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Waitman T. Willey House" (PDF). State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 


External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
James M. Mason
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Virginia
July 9, 1861 – March 4, 1863
Served alongside: John S. Carlile
Succeeded by
Lemuel J. Bowden
Preceded by
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from West Virginia
August 4, 1863 – March 4, 1871
Served alongside: Peter G. Van Winkle and Arthur I. Boreman
Succeeded by
Henry G. Davis