I’ve shared before about how West Virginia came to be a state in a pretty unusual way. Basically, some mountaineers west of the Allegheny Mountains vacated all the state (of Virginia’s) offices and filled them with their own elected officials. President Abraham Lincoln went along with it and West Virginia became the only state formed by presidential proclamation.
But turns out this was NOT the first attempt to do something like this! Way back in 1769 a group of land speculators tied to Benjamin Franklin tried to form a colony they called Vandalia. The proposed colony included almost all of modern-day West Virginia as well as bits of Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. The name was an attempt to charm Queen Charlotte back in England who was allegedly descended from the Vandals. It failed.
Then, in 1775, a group of 2,000 or so mountain men signed a petition asking the Continental Congress to create another new colony–Westsylvania. This would have been the 14th colony. It was ignored.
The Westsylvania petition was renewed in 1783, this time proposing that the territory become a state. Ignored again. But mountaineers are nothing if not persistent. Turned out the fourth attempt was the charm and West Virginia became a state eighty years later in 1863.
Our state motto may be “Mountaineers are always free,” but it could also be “Mountaineers never quit.” Although I think we could use a little help in coming up with creative names . . .