February 27, 1869: D.T. Farnsworth Becomes Second Governor


On February 27, 1869, West Virginia’s first governor, Arthur Boreman, resigned as the state’s chief executive to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. Daniel D. T. Farnsworth, president of the senate, stepped in to fill Boreman’s role, becoming West Virginia’s second, and shortest-serving, governor—since Boreman resigned just before the end of his term.

Five days after Farnsworth became governor, the state’s newly elected governor, William Stevenson, replaced him.

Farnsworth, though, was much more than the answer to a trivia question. Before the Civil War, he was influential in business and politics in Buckhannon and Clarksburg.

After Virginia seceded from the Union, Farnsworth served in the Second Wheeling Convention and helped lay the groundwork for the state of West Virginia. A fiery Unionist, he once told Confederate soldiers in Philippi that he would prefer for them to shoot him than to remain silent about the Union cause.

After his unexceptional five days in the governor’s office, Farnsworth returned to the state senate, where he became an advocate of equal rights and labor and a thorn in the side of big railroad companies.