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Arthur Boreman

Arthur Ingraham Boreman (1823–1896). Engraving in George W. Atkinson, <em>Prominent Men of West Virginia</em> (1890).
Arthur Ingraham Boreman (1823–1896). Engraving in George W. Atkinson, Prominent Men of West Virginia (1890).
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Arthur Ingraham Boreman (24 July 1823–19 April 1896), president of the Wheeling Convention of 1861, was born in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Kenner Seaton Boreman and Sara Ingraham Boreman. His father moved the family to northwestern Virginia, and Boreman grew up in Tyler County. He was educated in local schools and then read law in the office of his elder brother William Boreman in Middlebourne.

Boreman began his law practice in Parkersburg immediately after his admission to the bar in May 1843. Originally a Whig, he was sympathetic to the nativist American (Know Nothing) Party during the 1850s, and in 1855 he won election to the House of Delegates from Wood County. Boreman was reelected twice and served in all the sessions from December 1855 through April 1861. He sat on the Committee on Banks during his first term and on the Committee on Finance during his final two terms. In addition, during his second term he served on the Committee on Lunatic Asylums and during his first and third terms on the Joint Committee to Examine the Bonds of Public Officers, which he chaired in 1859. An active promoter of internal improvements in his region, Boreman found his assembly service frustrating because the leading politicians of eastern Virginia made it difficult for western representatives to obtain charters for banks and railroads.

Boreman was a committed Unionist during the secession crisis. After the General Assembly adjourned in April 1861 he returned home and took a leading part in the formation of a loyal Virginia government. Boreman served as president of the Second Wheeling Convention that met from 11 to 25 June and 6 to 21 August 1861, during which it declared the state offices of Virginia vacant, elected Francis Harrison Pierpont governor, and sent John Snyder Carlile and Waitman Thomas Willey to the United States Senate. From October 1861 to 1863 Boreman served as a circuit court judge under the authority of the so-called Restored government of Virginia.

After Abraham Lincoln's proclamation that West Virginia would be admitted to the Union effective 20 June 1863, Boreman was elected the new state's first governor on 28 May of that year. He was reelected without opposition in October 1864 and again overwhelmingly elected in October 1866, serving until 26 February 1869. Early in 1869 he successfully ran for the United States Senate. Boreman was an uncompromising Unionist during the war and a Radical Republican immediately afterward. He advocated the disfranchisement of former Confederates, but he gradually moved away from the radical wing of the Republican Party during his one term in the Senate. He sat on the Committees on Claims and on Manufactures, and in the 43d Congress, from March 1873 to March 1875, he chaired the Committee on Territories. During the 42d Congress he made a lengthy speech supporting stronger enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment in response to Ku Klux Klan activities. Boreman did not seek reelection in 1875, by which time the Democratic Party had won control of the West Virginia General Assembly.

Boreman practiced law in Parkersburg until 1888, when he was elected judge of the West Virginia Fifth Circuit Court. He was also a lay leader in the Methodist Church. On 30 November 1864 he had married Laurane Tanner Bullock, a widow with three young children, and they had two daughters. Arthur Ingraham Boreman died at his home in Parkersburg, West Virginia, on 19 April 1896 and was buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery (later Parkersburg Memorial Gardens) in that city.

Contributed by Paul D. Casdorph

This biography, with a bibliographical note, appears in John T. Kneebone et al., eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: The Library of Virginia, 1998– ), 2:96–97.

Copyright 2001 by the Library of Virginia. All rights reserved.