Guide to the J.M. Mason Papers, 1888

Summary Information

Title: J.M. Mason Papers, 1888
Collection: AC.436
Extent: 0.01 linear feet (1 folder)

The J.M. Mason Papers contains two 1888 letters from J.M. Mason about West Virginia's debt movement titled a report to the commissioners. They are marked confidential.

Creator: Mason, J.M.

Biographical/Historical Note

James M. Mason was born to Virginia Senator James M. Mason in 1838. He served in the Confederate Army and moved to West Virginia in 1870 practicing law in Charlestown. He was elected for one term in the House of Delegates in 1875. He served as a member of the West Virginia Tax Commission to equalize the state taxes in 1884 and 1885. He served as editor of Charlestown's Democrat. He was part of the movement to repay war debt to Virginia.

The 1862 West Virginia state constitution stated that it would assume "an equitable proportion of the public debt of Virginia." When West Virginia declined to reunite with Virginia after the end of the Civil War, Virginia determined that as of 1871 West Virginia owed Virginia $45 million. The West Virginia commission determined it owed only one third of Virginia's 1861 debt, or just under $32 million. West Virginian auditors decided the state paid all but $953,360 of its debt. The West Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1872 removed mention of the debt. During the late 1880s, Wall Street speculators affected the bonds of these debts. In 1904, West Virginia claimed it did not need to repay the debt and in 1906, Virginia instituted a suit against West Virginia for $34 million. The Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia owed $14 million as of 1919.

Scope and Contents

The J.M. Mason Papers contains two 1888 letters from J.M. Mason about West Virginia's debt movement titled a report to the commissioners. In late 1888, Mason wrote a one-page cover letter to an unidentified individual named Port and an eight-page typeset confidential letter about the state debt movement and a controversy between speculative and bona fide creditors.


This collection is housed in one archival folder.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room without restrictions. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

This collection was given to the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection in 2002. Its accessionn number is AC.2008.047. Its original title is "Letter - Report to the Commission/by J.M. Mason." It opened to the public in August 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Kathryn Staley, August 2008; Encoded by Kathryn Staley, August 2008

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AC.436: J.M. Mason Collection of Papers, W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA.

Container List

Letters, 1888.  Folder 1