The Wheeling Convention
Statehood for West Virginia


     The dividing lines between Union and Confederacy weren't always North and South; occasionally they did run East and West. Out beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains laid a political spectrum unlike that which drew the state of Virginia out of the Union. The majority of those in the western part of the state wanted nothing to do with secession and would jump at any opportunity for statehood with the national government.

     The Wheeling Convention, assembled in June of 1861, convened with a purpose of establishing a loyalist government apart from the present error of Virginia's ways. Each member had been sworn in by the following oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance thereof, as the supreme law of the land, anything in the Ordnances of the Conventions which assembled in Richmond, on the 13th of February last, to the contrary notwithstanding, so help me God."

     Mr. Arthur I. Boreman, addressed the assembly concerning our forefathers in the American Revolution and characterized as one nation under one government. Without the consent of the majority, Virginia having no authority to vote an ordnance of secession, should not have taken the western portion of the state with her in a rebellion that the loyal people completely disagreed with and wanted no part of.

     It was the beginning of a new government in Virginia. It was secession from the seceded. The convention laid the foundation of a brand new state to be admitted to the Union, and submitting to the United States Congress, that the body of the Wheeling Convention was the only legitimate and loyal legislature in the State of Virginia itself. Special appreciation was extended to Major General George Brinton McClellan for freeing the west of the rebel military occupation.

     In reading The Virginia Bill of Rights, and asserting that the secession convention in Richmond the previous February had elected to secede without the express consent of the majority, and voted upon themselves a usurpation of power and setting the people up to face a bloody military resolution, further association must cease.

     By the end of the twelfth day, the Wheeling Convention had accomplished the task organizing themselves a government which had seceded from that which was in Richmond. It would officially be two years, before the Virginians in the western portion of the state would eventually become the nation's 35th state.

     President Abraham Lincoln would affix his name to the State Department document on the 20th day of April 1863, proclaiming by act of Congress West Virginia's admittance to the Union. As a vote was later placed before the citizenry of the newly formed state, thirty nine counties approved of statehood, and on June 20th 1863 another star began to shine on the National Ensign.


Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2002

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at dmoran@us-civilwar.net