Discussion Wheeling Convention

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KianGaf

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I’m looking for some insight on this from those with more in-depth knowledge. I have few questions on the subject.
Was it legal to divide any state.
Did the division of the state of Virginia show that union recognised the CSA and that this portion didn’t want to be part of it.
Was it not government policy that it wasn’t the states themselves in rebellion and only secessionist in them states.
Any help much appreciated.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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Article IV, Section 3 of the US Constitution allows a new state to be created by splitting from the old state, but both the old and the new state must consent to the split. The problem with the creation of West Virginia is that the so-called Restored Government of Virginia, which, in reality, really only represented about 1/3 of the state's population, both consented to the split AND applied for the admission of the new state. It was a major constitutional issue.

Along with a friend who is a federal judge, I have written a book on this subject, titled Seceding from Secession: Creating West Virginia, which will be published next year. Feel free to PM me if you want additional information.
 
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KianGaf

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Thanks for the reply. It looked to me that offering statehood to West Virginia at the time was a knee jerk reaction to secession. It should have been maybe given territory status and perhaps then rejoined with the rest the state upon the end of the war.
I’m talking about historical issues here and in no way question the legitimacy of the modern state of West Virginia !
 
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Eric Wittenberg

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Thanks for the reply. It looked to me that offering statehood to West Virginia at the time was a knee jerk reaction to secession. It should have been maybe given territory status and perhaps then rejoined with the rest the state upon the end of the war.
I’m talking about historical issues here and in no way question the legitimacy of the modern state of West Virginia !
I understand. But there are plenty who do question the legitimacy of the state for the reasons I stated above. I would not call it a knee jerk reaction to secession. The people of northwestern Virginia were far more closely aligned with Ohio and Pennsylvania than they were aligned with the eastern part of Virginia. They were strongly opposed to secession. They made it clear at the secession convention that if the vote was to secede, they would not go along with it. There's not much knee jerk to it at all. I believe that a split was inevitable, and it had been brewing for years.

And to be clear: there was no "offer" of statehood. Both houses of Congress had to pass legislation admitting the new state, and then Lincoln had to sign the bill. Lincoln was concerned enough about the constitutionality of it to poll his cabinet as to whether admitting the new state was both constitutional AND politically expedient--the cabinet split 3-3 on the question.

Lincoln summed it up nicely at the end of his written opinion as to why it was both constitutional and politically expedient when he wrote, "The division of a state is dreaded as precedent. But a measure made expedient by war is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is difference enough between secession against the constitution and secession in favor of it.”
 

KianGaf

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I understand. But there are plenty who do question the legitimacy of the state for the reasons I stated above. I would not call it a knee jerk reaction to secession. The people of northwestern Virginia were far more closely aligned with Ohio and Pennsylvania than they were aligned with the eastern part of Virginia. They were strongly opposed to secession. They made it clear at the secession convention that if the vote was to secede, they would not go along with it. There's not much knee jerk to it at all. I believe that a split was inevitable, and it had been brewing for years.

And to be clear: there was no "offer" of statehood. Both houses of Congress had to pass legislation admitting the new state, and then Lincoln had to sign the bill. Lincoln was concerned enough about the constitutionality of it to poll his cabinet as to whether admitting the new state was both constitutional AND politically expedient--the cabinet split 3-3 on the question.

Lincoln summed it up nicely at the end of his written opinion as to why it was both constitutional and politically expedient when he wrote, "The division of a state is dreaded as precedent. But a measure made expedient by war is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is difference enough between secession against the constitution and secession in favor of it.”
Your insight on the issue is much appreciated.
 

Viper21

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I understand. But there are plenty who do question the legitimacy of the state for the reasons I stated above. I would not call it a knee jerk reaction to secession. The people of northwestern Virginia were far more closely aligned with Ohio and Pennsylvania than they were aligned with the eastern part of Virginia. They were strongly opposed to secession. They made it clear at the secession convention that if the vote was to secede, they would not go along with it. There's not much knee jerk to it at all. I believe that a split was inevitable, and it had been brewing for years.

And to be clear: there was no "offer" of statehood. Both houses of Congress had to pass legislation admitting the new state, and then Lincoln had to sign the bill. Lincoln was concerned enough about the constitutionality of it to poll his cabinet as to whether admitting the new state was both constitutional AND politically expedient--the cabinet split 3-3 on the question.

Lincoln summed it up nicely at the end of his written opinion as to why it was both constitutional and politically expedient when he wrote, "The division of a state is dreaded as precedent. But a measure made expedient by war is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is difference enough between secession against the constitution and secession in favor of it.”
In your opinion, do you find the process that led to West Virginia becoming a state, even a little bit shady..? Or are you of the opinion, the entire process was completely legit..?
 
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Eric Wittenberg

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In your opinion, do you find the process that led to West Virginia becoming a state, even a little bit shady..? Or are you of the opinion, the entire process was completely legit..?
I think that the ends justified the means. I believe that the process was questionable, but Lincoln was persuaded that if he vetoed the statehood bill, it would destroy Unionism in Virginia. So, he elected to permit the ends to justify the means.
 

Viper21

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I think that the ends justified the means. I believe that the process was questionable, but Lincoln was persuaded that if he vetoed the statehood bill, it would destroy Unionism in Virginia. So, he elected to permit the ends to justify the means.
Thanks for responding. I can appreciate your position. I've listened to multiple folks over the years, refuse to admit their was anything shady about it at all.

I'm of the opinion Virginia got the shaft on that deal. Admittedly, the circumstances were certainly extraordinary. I'm surprised we didn't see more states split (other direction)ie: MO, KY, MD. Although, I think a military presence prevented some of that from getting further.
 

KianGaf

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Was there ever any desire to renunify Virginia as it was huge part of the revolutionary war or is that a moot point.
 
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Eric Wittenberg

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Was there ever any desire to renunify Virginia as it was huge part of the revolutionary war or is that a moot point.
It was a moot point, but the Commonwealth of Virginia commenced litigation in the United States Supreme Court to seek the return of two counties to Virginia. That case was decided against Virginia in 1871, and with that, it was over.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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Thanks for responding. I can appreciate your position. I've listened to multiple folks over the years, refuse to admit their was anything shady about it at all.

I'm of the opinion Virginia got the shaft on that deal. Admittedly, the circumstances were certainly extraordinary. I'm surprised we didn't see more states split (other direction)ie: MO, KY, MD. Although, I think a military presence prevented some of that from getting further.
I'm a lawyer. I go where the evidence leads me, and I call them as I see them.

There seems little doubt that Virginia got the shaft. But, as I said above, I believe that the split was inevitable. And Lincoln was not about to allow the spirit of Unionism to die by vetoing the statehood bill. As I said, the ends justified the means.
 

Viper21

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Was there ever any desire to renunify Virginia as it was huge part of the revolutionary war or is that a moot point.
I know there was a court case after the war about a couple counties that were taken. Virginia lost, as congress approved it, & the court ruled in WV's favor.

I know there were other issues about pre-war debt also. Eventually Virginia was compensated by WV. Though it took awhile, & the usual court game.
 
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Eric Wittenberg

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I know there were other issues about pre-war debt also. Eventually Virginia was compensated by WV. Though it took awhile, & the usual court game.
There was a second lawsuit in the U. S. Supreme Court in 1911 for the purpose of allocating the pre-war debt. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the opinion in the 1911 case, which divided up the public debt. This case is addressed in an appendix to our book.
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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I'm a lawyer. I go where the evidence leads me, and I call them as I see them.

There seems little doubt that Virginia got the shaft. .
Probably not Virginia, but a considerable number of people in several counties that were included in the new state, Not all the included counties were interested in leaving Virginia.
There is no doubt that the population of far western Virginia was dissatisfied. In fact, for administrative purposes Virginia might have done well to have included some of those counties in its cession of Kentucky to Congress 7 decades previously. Those counties were really too far from the population centers of Virginia to be effectively administered by the state.
But, the map of the new West Virginia included areas that were not disloyal to Virginia in any great way. If there is a considerable inequity here, it is to the people of those counties.
 
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archieclement

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I'm a lawyer. I go where the evidence leads me, and I call them as I see them.

There seems little doubt that Virginia got the shaft. But, as I said above, I believe that the split was inevitable. And Lincoln was not about to allow the spirit of Unionism to die by vetoing the statehood bill. As I said, the ends justified the means.
Just not sure I agree with the ends justify the means...…...Its saying your principles have no principle and everything is conditional and subject to its convenience as a priniciple........
 
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