WV flagTomorrow is West Virginia Day–the state’s 151st birthday. Once part of Virginia, western Virginia became its own state in 1863. Many residents of Virginia who lived west of the Allegheny Mountains weren’t happy when the state seceded from the Union in 1861. Nonetheless, here’s how we became a state:
To make a long story short (which is NOT how we do it in WV), a group of mountaineers decided that the government of Virginia–the one that seceded–was illegal. They declared all state offices vacant and filled them with representatives from west of the Allegheny mountains. These “elections” were a wee bit sketchy, but maybe that is how we do it in WV.
President 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 (Lincoln).
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.
Happy birthday, West Virginia.