How West Virginia Became A State


Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861 to turn out to be aspect of the Confederate States of America. Though the people today of Virginia east of the Allegheny Mountains have been pleased with the state’s secession, the Virginians who lived west of the Alleghenies, have been not pleased to secede from the Union.

These two components of Virginia that have been separated physically by the Alleghenies, have been also separated from one particular yet another in other strategies. Western Virginia was produced up of thirty-5 counties situated west of the Shenandoah Valley and north of the Kanawa River. In 1860, this aspect of Virginia had one particular quarter of Virginia’s white population. This region of Virginia’s geography is incredibly rough nation produced up mainly of hills and steep mountainsides with narrow valleys. The geography of western Virginia separated it considerably from the much more lowland eastern tidewater aspect of the state. It really is fair to say that Western Virginia was a land of mountaineers.

The western aspect of Virginia was much more closely tied by roads and rivers to its northern neighboring states of Ohio and Pennsylvania than it was to eastern Virginia. The two sections of Virginia have been distinct in geography, culture, and economics as the western aspect identified much more with Ohio and Pennsylvania in these regards. The western Virginia city of Wheeling was the biggest city in that region and it is a mere 60 miles from Pittsburgh. In contrast, from Wheeling to Richmond it was 330 miles! An essential distinction amongst western and eastern Virginia was that it was uncommon to discover slave owners and slaves in the rugged nation of the mountaineers.

The mountaineers looked at the people today of eastern Virginia as “tidewater aristocrats” and since of the bigger population in the eastern aspect of the state, the mountaineers have been underrepresented in the state legislature. The tidewater aristocrats dominated Virginia’s state government. The Virginia state legislature had passed laws and taxes that favored the eastern tidewater aristocrats much more so than they did the mountaineers of western Virginia. The mountaineers necessary much more roads and railroads, and other internal improvements, that as an alternative generally identified their way to the tidewater aristocrat’s eastern aspect of the state.

Discord had been stewing for years amongst the two sections of Virginia prior to Virginia seceded from the Union. Separate statehood for western Virginia was not a new thought at the begin of the Civil War, and now it would come to the vanguard. With Virginia’s secession from the Union, the unhappiness and disagreement amongst the mountaineers and the tidewater aristocrats of Virginia only elevated. Only 5 of the thirty-one particular delegates from northwestern Virginia voted for the Virginia secession ordinance on April 17, 1861. The mountaineer people today of Virginia rejected the secession ordinance ratification by a margin of 3 to one particular. The Virginian mountaineers had tiny interest in secession from the Union, but it came since of the domination of votes and representation of the pro-secession eastern aspect of Virginia.

On June 11, 1861 mountaineer Unionists met at a convention in Wheeling. The concentrate of this convention was separate statehood for western Virginia. Having said that, there was a hurdle that stood in the way of western Virginia’s statehood, it was a thing known as the United States Constitution.

Appears that Post IV, Section three, of the United States Constitution calls for consent of the legislature to kind a new state from the territory of an current one particular. Now, as challenging as it may well be to think, the Confederate legislature more than in Richmond wasn’t eager to enable western Virginia to turn out to be a separate state… and one particular that would be in the Union to boot. For the mountaineers and their quest for their personal state, there just had to be a resolution to this United States Constitution issue, someway, somehow.

The answer for western Virginia was for the Wheeling convention to ingeniously kind its personal Virginia “restored government.” You see, that Confederate legislature more than east in Richmond, that secessionist one particular, is illegal and so the Wheeling mountaineers declared all state offices vacant. The Wheeling convention appointed new state officials on June 20. Francis Pierpoint was now governor of Virginia, and the new state capital was now in Wheeling. All these adjustments, as far as the Unionist western Virginia mountaineers have been concerned, restored the state of Virginia.

Despite the fact that this new Virginia legislature was in spot, it definitely represented only one particular-fifth of Virginia, that getting the mountaineers of the northwest counties. Nonetheless, it elected two United States senators from Virginia, and on July 13, 1861 these senators have been seated by the United States Senate. Quickly also, the United States Home of Representatives had 3 congressmen from western Virginia.

In impact, there now was a Union Virginia claiming to represent all of Virginia, but in fact only getting produced up of the mountaineer northwest aspect of the state, and there was a Confederate Virginia with its government in Richmond with its patronage of “tidewater aristocrats” who had seceded from the Union. President Abraham Lincoln recognized the Pierpoint administration as the government of Virginia. Naturally, President Lincoln was not going to recognize Virginia’s Confederate version of government as genuine.

The Wheeling convention ended, and then it reconvened in August, 1861. Now a extended debate started amongst separatists and a conservative minded faction who believed it improper that the new legislature was claiming to represent the complete state. In reality, the new legislature only represented the mountaineers of western Virginia, and this area only consisted of one particular-fifth of all of Virginia’s counties. Nonetheless, in spite of this debate, the Wheeling convention continued to move forward with its agenda… to kind a new state.

On August 20, the Wheeling convention adopted what was known as an “ordinance of dismemberment.” An ordinance for separate statehood had now been developed. This ordinance would be topic to ratification on October 24, 1861 by the voters. Voters would also be capable at this time to elect delegates for a constitutional convention, the goal of which was for the formation of a new state to be named “Kanawha.” [The name “Kanawha” is an Native American word. It is believed to mean a place of white stone.”]

Now, there have been some military issues that had to be handled concurrently with all this new state conventioning and formation going on in western Virginia. Significant military assets such as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Ohio River have been integral to western Virginia and their handle was preferred by each Yankees and Rebels. Suffice it to say for now, that Union military efforts in western Virginia have been enough sufficient to rid the region of Confederate military complications, therefore clearing the way for a new state to come about. This short mention of the military operations in western Virginia is not to brief-alter them, they have been considerable. Certainly, with no Union military dominance more than Rebel troops in western Virginia, the formation of a new state would not have been attainable.

Union military good results in western Virginia permitted the October 24, 1861 referendum to take place. Voter turn-out was little, and voters (these of a Rebel ilk) in much more than a dozen counties in fact boycotted the election. The finish outcome nevertheless, was that the creation of a new state was strongly endorsed.

Boundaries for the new state have been set through the constitutional convention held in January, 1862. There would be fifty counties in the new state and the new state would not be known as Kanawha, but as an alternative West Virginia. On May possibly 23, 1862 West Virginia was sanctioned by the restored legislature of Virginia.

The United States Congress would not enable a slave state to enter the Union, so initially a bill requiring emancipation in West Virginia was passed in the United States Senate in July, 1862. It passed in the United States Home of Representatives the following December. West Virginia accepted emancipation as a situation to statehood.

The eastern aristocrats nonetheless had their Confederate state of Virginia, but they lost some state territory as on July four, 1863, the new state of West Virginia joined the Union.

West Virginia became the 35th state of the Union.


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