Born in Waynesburg, PA on July 24, 1823, Arthur Inghram Boreman was the son of a town merchant. His grandfather was a native of London, who prior to the Revolution, emigrated to America and served in that conflict as a private, serving as a Paymaster of the Continental Army.
Growing up in Tyler County, Virginia, Arthur read law in the office of his elder brother William in Middlebourne and later passed his bar exam in 1845. The following year he began a law practice in Parkersburg.
In 1855, Boreman’s service in the Virginia General Assembly as a Whig delegate commenced. Here he remained until 1861. During his first term, Boreman held a seat on the Committee on Banks and on the Committee on Finance his final two terms. While in office, Boreman was an active promoter of internal improvements for his region and discovered assembly service to be frustrating; due to the fact leading politicians from eastern Virginia made it difficult for their western counterparts to obtain charters for banks and railroads.
The most eventful parts of Boreman’s political life took place during the decade of the 1860s. Following Virginia’s secession from the United States, Boreman traveled to Cincinnati to meet with U.S. military officials in an effort to obtain protection for the Unionists who lived in Parkersburg.
During 1861, Boreman presided over the Second Wheeling Convention during which the Restored Government of Virginia was established. This was one of several steps which led to the creation of West Virginia as a separate state. Following this, Boreman became a circuit judge under the Reorganized Government of Virginia.
A member of the Constitutional Union Party, Boreman was elected to be West Virginia’s first governor in 1863 following President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation that West Virginia would be admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863. In 1864, he was re-elected unanimously and continued to lead his state with a true understanding of the most urgent needs of the both his state and the nation during that trying period. He was re-elected once more in 1866.
On November 30, 1864, wedding bells rang for Governor Boreman as he made Laurane Tanner Bullock, widow of a Union soldier, his wife and West Virginia’s first First Lady. Laurane brought three young children to the marriage and two daughters were born to the couple.
As governor, Boreman made an effective contribution to the new state by supporting the legislation responsible for instituting the West Virginia Code, Board of Public Works and the state’s public school system. Boreman’s job was no easy task, given his service during the Civil War. As governor, he organized West Virginia’s state militia in an effort to contain the attacks by Confederate guerrillas in the state’s southern region. In 1865, Boreman encouraged the state’s legislature to pass a law which would prohibit former Confederates from being able to vote or hold public office. In doing so, this guaranteed Republican control of the state for the next five years.
Six days prior to the end of his gubernatorial term in 1869, Boreman resigned from his office and went to Washington, D.C. to serve as a US Senator from West Virginia. After serving one six-year term, he returned to his law practice in Parkersburg. In 1888, he was elected judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of West Virginia, a position he held the rest of his life.
Arthur Boreman died in Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia on April 19, 1896 and was laid to rest in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, now Parkersburg Memorial Gardens.
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“West Virginia should long since have had a separate State existence. The East has always looked upon that portion of the State west of the mountains, as a sort of outside appendage - a territory in a state of pupilage.”
Governor Arthur I. Boreman (from his inaugural address)