(Kathy’s A to Z posts are tidbits of fact gleaned from her research for her historical-fiction novel LIKE A RIVER.)
When the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in April, 1861, beginning the American Civil War, the United States was a nation divided. The state of Virginia was a state divided as well.
Western Virginia (known as the Trans-Allegheny Region) had already discussed becoming a separate state for a decade, but the plan failed to move forward.
The reasons for division within the state were chiefly economic. Western Virginia was a mountainous area of small farms. Unlike the aristocratic plantation owners in the rest of the state, Slavery was not an issue for these people.
When Virginia seceded from the Union, the westerners didn’t agree. They chose to remain loyal, and individual statehood was fast-tracked. An ordinance authorizing it was approved on October 24, 1861. The proposed state agreed to the gradual prohibition of Slavery in a constitution ratified in April, 1862.
On June 20, 1863, West Virginia was admitted as the 35th state. Many West Virginians fought in the Civil War, but not all of them fought for the Union. Even within the new state, divisions remained.
The Civil War ended nearly 150 years ago, but our nation will likely always have its differences. I’m grateful when we can discuss those differences rather than battle over them.