Francis Harrison Pierpont was a lawyer and politician who helped lead a revolt of northern and western Virginia counties against the state's central authority after Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861. Following a series of conventions held in Wheeling, Virginia in 1861, representatives of 32 north Virginia counties agreed to form a government separate from the one in Richmond and appointed Pierpont its provisional governor. This "Restored government of Virginia" drafted a new Virginia Constitution, sent representatives to the U.S. Congress and established offices in Alexandria, Virginia.
But Pierpont was unsatisfied with these half-measures and continued to work toward a permanent separation of north and south. He finally succeeded when representatives of the Restored Government voted to secede from Virginia 1862, and the United States agreed to admit the fledgling State of West Virginia in 1863. After Arthur I. Boreman became West Virginia's first governor, Pierpont was assigned to oversee the Restored State of Virginia, a disjointed territory then comprising several Union-held districts of southern Virginia. In 1865, Pierpont was appointed Provisional Governor of Virginia. He retired from public service in 1868 to resume his law practice in West Virginia.