State founder Daniel Lamb (January 22, 1810-June 28, 1876) was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, to Quaker parents. In 1823, Lamb’s family moved to Wheeling, where Lamb received his education. In 1831, he was elected city clerk. Shortly after, he became treasurer of the Fire and Marine insurance company. In 1834, he became secretary and treasurer of the Wheeling Savings Institution, an early bank. He also began to study law with a distinguished Wheeling lawyer, Morgan Nelson, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. He practiced law until 1848, when he became the cashier of the Northwestern Bank of Virginia at Wheeling.
When the secession vote split Virginia, Lamb was one of those who took the lead in crafting the government and constitution that would lead to the creation of West Virginia. He was a member of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia and a member of its legislature from 1863 to 1867. After the Civil War, Lamb opposed the implementation of ‘‘test oaths’’ to prevent former Confederates from voting and advocated policies to integrate former Confederates into the political structure of West Virginia. Though he was suggested for nomination to several statewide offices, Lamb refused them and stood for election only for the U.S. Senate in 1871, when he was defeated by Democrat Henry Gassaway Davis. Lamb resumed his law practice after the Civil War and followed that career until his death.
The first codification of West Virginia’s laws, known as the Lamb Code, was begun by Lamb, but finished by James H. Ferguson. In Prominent Men of West Virginia, Lamb was characterized as ‘‘rather a dull, heavy speaker but a careful and sound reasoner.’’ He died in Wheeling.
Written by Kenneth R. Bailey
Atkinson, George W. & Alvaro F. Gibbins. Prominent Men of West Virginia. Wheeling: W. L. Callin, 1890.
Atkinson, George W. Bench and Bar of West Virginia. Charleston: Virginia Law Book Co., 1919.