Tuesday was West Virginia Day. And I’ve been celebrating all week. We ate Oliverio’s peppers over pasta on Monday. I gathered a bouquet of rhododendron on Tuesday. I’ve been singing the state song all week. Now if only I had a pepperoni roll . . .
Part of the annual celebration is coming on my blog and educating y’all (I should probably say you’uns) about the incredibly interesting way in which WV became a state.
Once part of Virginia, western Virginia became its own state in 1863 thanks to a seriously convoluted secession process. Many residents of Virginia who lived west of the Allegheny Mountains weren’t exactly happy when the entire state seceded from the Union in 1861, siding with the Confederate South. Action had to be taken.
A group of mountaineers decided that the government of Virginia–the one that seceded–was illegal. Then they declared all state offices vacant and filled them with representatives from west of the Allegheny mountains. These “elections” were pretty sketchy, but President Abraham Lincoln didn’t pick nits.
Lincoln seemed to appreciate the western government and worked with them on the condition that they renounce slavery. Which they did. The division ultimately caused a permanent separation and West Virginia was recognized as a state all its own on June 20, 1863. This makes WV the only state to secede from the Confederacy. And the only state in the Union to have acquired its sovereignty by proclamation of the President of the United States.
My novels are set in this VERY special state. My family has lived there since it was Virginia–since 1800 or so. And having roots that deep makes me feel connected to something so much bigger and wider and deeper than me.
Something worth celebrating all week long!