WV secession from VA effects on VA?

Keiri

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#1
I can find plenty of articles and other sources on when and how and why WV seceeded from VA, but I can't seem to find out if there was any effect - economic or otherwise, upon VA. If nothing else they probably all voted much more in a solid bloc than prior, but that's just a guess.

Does anyone have any source or idea? Thank you.
 

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16thVA

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#3
I can find plenty of articles and other sources on when and how and why WV seceeded from VA, but I can't seem to find out if there was any effect - economic or otherwise, upon VA. If nothing else they probably all voted much more in a solid bloc than prior, but that's just a guess.

Does anyone have any source or idea? Thank you.
There are unfortunately no studies that address this question. The destruction of the state of Virginia, which is what it was, has been largely ignored by historians since it happened. "Ramp Hollow, The Ordeal of Appalachia" is a recent study of land rights and the extraction industry in West Virginia and the development of the "banana republic" status that West Virginia has held for much of its history. The loss to what is left of Virginia of over one-third of its territory, vast holdings of natural resources and, at the time of the Civil War, one-fourth of its population, seems to be a subject of complete indifference to historians. Of course, it enters into the status of a "what if" question, but it is something that should be addressed.
 

BlueandGrayl

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#4
There are unfortunately no studies that address this question. The destruction of the state of Virginia, which is what it was, has been largely ignored by historians since it happened. "Ramp Hollow, The Ordeal of Appalachia" is a recent study of land rights and the extraction industry in West Virginia and the development of the "banana republic" status that West Virginia has held for much of its history. The loss to what is left of Virginia of over one-third of its territory, vast holdings of natural resources and, at the time of the Civil War, one-fourth of its population, seems to be a subject of complete indifference to historians. Of course, it enters into the status of a "what if" question, but it is something that should be addressed.
Seems as though it's secession (get it?) into the Union didn't make much of a difference.
 

16thVA

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#5
Seems as though it's secession (get it?) into the Union didn't make much of a difference.
I don't really get what you mean. The future of the Virginia of 1860 in no way would resemble the future of the Virginia of 1865, I would say the loss of territory made a big difference to Virginia and the sequestering of western Virginia into a new state derailed the future of the people contained there.

As James G. Blaine wrote:

To the old State of Virginia the blow was a heavy one. In the
years following the war it added seriously to her financial embarrass-
ment, and it has in many ways obstructed her prosperity. As a
punitive measure, for the chastening of Virginia, it cannot be de-
fended. Assuredly there was no ground for distressing Virginia by
penal enactments that did not apply equally to every other State of
the Confederacy. Common justice revolts at the selection of one
man for punishment from eleven who have all been guilty of the
same offense. If punishment had been designed there was equal
reason for stripping Texas of her vast domain and for withdrawing
the numerous land grants which had been generously made by the
National Government to many of the States in rebellion. But
Texas was allowed to emerge from the contest without the forfeiture
of an acre, and Congress, so far from withdrawing the land grants
by which other Southern States were to be enriched, took pains to
renew them in the years succeeding the war. The autonomy of
Virginia alone was disturbed. Upon Virginia alone fell the penalty,
which if due to any was due to all.
Another consideration is of great weight. An innocent third
party was involved. Virginia owed a large debt, held in great part
by loyal citizens of the North and by subjects of foreign countries.
The burden was already as heavy as she could bear in her entirety,
and dismemberment so crippled her that she could not meet her
obligations.
...

Nor should it be forgotten that the State of Virginia before the
war might well be regarded as the creditor and not the debtor of
the National Government. One of her earliest acts of patriotism as
an independent State was the cession to the General Government of
her superb domain on the north side of the Ohio River, from the sale
of which more than one hundred millions of dollars have been paid
into the National Treasury. A suggestive contrast is presented to-
day between the condition of Virginia and the condition of Texas
and Florida. It was the aggressive disunionism of the two latter
States which aided powerfully in dragging Virginia into rebellion.
But for the urgency of the seven original Confederate States, in
which Texas and Florida were numbered, Virginia Loyalists would
have been able to hold their State firm in her National allegiance.
Since the war Texas has traveled the highway to wealth and power,
founded on the ownership of her public lands, of which the National
Government could have deprived her with as little difficulty as was
found in dividing Virginia. Florida has likewise enjoyed general
prosperity, and secured rapid development from the resources of land
which the National Government had generously given her before
the war and of which she was not deprived for her acts of rebellion.
True-hearted Americans rejoice in the prosperity of these States
which adorn the southern border of the Republic; but they cannot
help seeing, and seeing with regret, how differently the ancient
Commonwealth of Virginia has fared at the hands of the National
Government.
 
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#6
This is an interesting topic. Our family farm is located in Tazewell county which borders the WV line to the north. My grandad and many in his generation held a huge grudge against their neighbors just a few miles away in what is now West Virginia. My grandfather's grandfather was a veteran and served in the 45th VA Inf. My grandfather would rarely cross the border and certainly would not spend any money there. They didn't think too highly of WV seceding from VA and this sentiment persisted well into the 1900's.
 

Tom Elmore

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#7
Interesting question. Lee's army passed through the eastern most counties in summer 1863 and generally met with a cordial reception among the local citizens (except at Martinsburg). It was home to some of his men, but strange to say, I do not recall seeing any mention of the issue in their correspondence, unlike, for instance, the fall of Vicksburg. Perhaps it had already been already been written off as a loss at that point in the war - a fait accompli. A few recollections by Confederate soldiers as they marched through the towns and villages of (West) Virginia at that time:

Charles Town (Jefferson County)
-Courthouse, jail and other buildings in the center of town, all loop-holed for musketry – defended by Federals in October 1863. ... In that month the Federals captured a Confederate wagon loaded with mess pans and small bake ovens (from Brig. Gen. Imboden’s force). ... Major Locke, Imboden’s Commissary had his residence in Charles Town. (Four Valiant Years in the Lower Shenandoah Valley, by Laura V. Hale, pp. 305-306)
-Hundreds of lovely women greeted us with waving handkerchiefs, with an abundance of meat, bread, buttermilk, cakes, custards, etc. (reminiscences of Chaplain Charles H. Dobbs, 12th Mississippi)
-The ladies turned out in large numbers to see us. I scarcely ever before heard such cheering as the boys gave. (War Talks of George S. Bernard, 12th Virginia)

Shepherdstown (Jefferson County)
-Town appeared to be quite loyal. The ladies waved their flags and white handkerchiefs at us. (diary of Samuel Eaton, 57th North Carolina)
-25 June 1863, notwithstanding having been under Yankee rule for two years, large numbers of beautiful ladies cheered us (with) marks of approval as we passed. (diary of Chaplain F. M. Kennedy, 28th North Carolina)

Smithfield / Middleway (Jefferson County)
-24 June 1863, the patriotism of the ladies (who were numerous and pretty) was quite demonstrative as we passed. They surrounded General Lee and shook his hand. (Chaplain F. M. Kennedy, 28th North Carolina)

Martinsburg (Berkeley County)
-Inhabitants were principally employees of the railroad and were unfriendly. (reminiscences of Thomas Catesby Jones, Carter’s artillery battery)
-Half or two-thirds Union, but there were many pretty ladies out with water for southern soldiers. (diary of John Henry Vest, 2nd Company Richmond Howitzers)
-I found Martinsburg the foulest Union hole that I have yet been in. But still there are many staunch and true Confederates who have passed through the ordeal of oppression in the place. Some ladies would shout and point which way the Yankees ran. Some with tears in their eyes would seize our hands in joy, while others looked sulky and would scowl at us with snaky hate. One young lady, whose Yankee sweetheart was late in bidding her goodbye, actually struck me when I espied him running away and bade one of my men to shoot him. (Capt. John Calvin Gorman, 2nd North Carolina, Memoirs of a Rebel)
 
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#8
Well of course there was no "dead" line between the seceding counties and the staunchly Confederate ones.

That is to say that the farther North you went the more loyally Federal the people were, while the more southern counties tended to have more mixed emotions.

It's equally true that the more northern counties in Virginia itself had more Union sympathizers, and as you traveled towards the North Carolina border, the citizens tended to be more reliably rebel.

It's also true that at least 30,000 West Virginians voluntarily served in the Union army, and many more had earlier enlisted in Ohio or PA units. (Entire regiments of Ohio Infantry were formed, early on, in Parkersburg). It's one of the big reasons why Lincoln refused to hear of reunion after the war; West Virginians had fought and died for the Union, and to turn his back on them would have been rightly seen as a gross betrayal.

As for Blaine's opinion above, I'm very sorry that trying to destroy the country had some consequences for Dear Old Virginia, but that's what happens. Nobody held a gun to their heads. Well, except Grant and Sheridan, but that was later.

And the fact that Texas did better after the war than Virginia, well again, those are the breaks. The alternative would have been not to secede. Ohio did fine, thanks.

You also need to bear in mind that West Virginians were frightened to death - literally - of being forced back into Virginia. One big reason they split, aside from the abhorrence of small farmers to slavery, was that the Eastern Counties, which were far more populous, ran the state to suit themselves and the Appalachian counties had pretty much no voice in anything, ever. They were treated like dirt.

With respect to Blaine, asking these same people, who had sacrificed to save the Union, to return to subservience to Richmond, the tidewater planters and city folks, would have been a gross injustice. He wants to complain about Virginia losing coal deposits, which is typical: to heck with what the people who lived there wanted, the rich folks in the flatlands were entitled to the natural resources. It's shameful, and typical of how the Mountaineers were viewed.

The whole thing is well illustrated by the Battle of Lewisburg, (WV border) where Union forces under George Crook met a force under our old pal Gettysburg shoe-scrounger Henry Heth, who assured the townspeople that he was about to annihilate the Federals.

So they (being on the very edge of Virginia and largely Confederate in sentiment) actually started assembling a big celebration of the victory before the battle was even fought. As it was, Heth was his typical incompetent self and Crook blasted them - and the celebration - back across the VA border.

Mostly though, West Virginians wanted the right to self determination. If Blaine thinks that's terrible, well, he's allowed an opinion. Too bad he didn't express that opinion in Wheeling or Morgantown or Parkersburg, where he would simply have been hung.
 
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Keiri

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#9
I think of it a lot about what would happen if California and the rest of the coastal "liberal" states would secede now, just because so much of the income comes from those states. I think probably it hurt WV much more than VA, because VA had the wealthier farms etc, and WV had mining and poorer farms. I don't know whether it would have gotten WV better roads or schools any faster in the long run, because of the historic treatment of the poor and miners throughout history. But it may have helped, and that'd be an interesting thought too.
 

Keiri

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#10
This is fascinating! was this widespread? Did a lot of people boycott WV from VA?
This is an interesting topic. Our family farm is located in Tazewell county which borders the WV line to the north. My grandad and many in his generation held a huge grudge against their neighbors just a few miles away in what is now West Virginia. My grandfather's grandfather was a veteran and served in the 45th VA Inf. My grandfather would rarely cross the border and certainly would not spend any money there. They didn't think too highly of WV seceding from VA and this sentiment persisted well into the 1900's.
 

Keiri

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#11
Thank you for so thoroughly answering and including all of these wonderful quotes. I have no doubt many of the WV were loyal southerners throughout the war, and your evidence confirms my thoughts. A friend of mine who lives there now says he sees a lot of confederate flags and is always tempted to remind the owners about which side of the war WV was on (by choice or not...)

I am fascinated by WV. I began studying it for work and now I'm engulfed in reading about its amazingly painful series of disasters... strikes (including Matewan), the Battle of Blair Mountain, mining accidents (including Monongah), Hawk's Nest (which is truly an example of the rich using the poor with not only negligence, but full awareness they would die), the Shinnston tornado, the Silver Bridge, the Yablonski murders, Buffalo Creek flood, and "We are Marshall" - has any other state endured so many painful unnecessary tragedies? So many lives cut short?

Interesting question. Lee's army passed through the eastern most counties in summer 1863 and generally met with a cordial reception among the local citizens (except at Martinsburg). It was home to some of his men, but strange to say, I do not recall seeing any mention of the issue in their correspondence, unlike, for instance, the fall of Vicksburg. Perhaps it had already been already been written off as a loss at that point in the war - a fait accompli. A few recollections by Confederate soldiers as they marched through the towns and villages of (West) Virginia at that time:
 
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#12
A few items to consider:
  1. Before the war western Virginia was more or less treated as the red haired stepchild of the state. Representation in the legislature and infrastructure development was skewed toward the Tidewater and Piedmont areas. This led to disaffection in areas that became WV.
  2. That being said, many of the counties incorporated into WV were selected to make the new state a viable entity, not because of their pro-Union sentiments. The northwestern panhandle area was the most pro-Union. When the western Virginia Confederates returned to the new state after the War the Democratic Party regained control, which they have mostly held until recent years.
  3. The final decision as to whether Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in the eastern panhandle were to be included in the new state was decided by the Supreme Court in 1871. As recently as 2011 a WV legislator attempted to allow for those counties and Morgan County to rejoin Virginia if they chose to do so by popular vote.
 
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#13
Here's a terrific summary of West Virginia Confederate memorials. You'll be surprised at how many there are, with favorite son Stonewall Jackson represented in many:

https://sites.google.com/site/wvotherhistory/confederate-monuments-of-west-virginia

Most are touchingly modest, and many, like this one, are on private property where you need to ask permission to visit but in WVA a polite request, even from a Yankee, is seldom denied.



(I happen to own property in Greenbrier County, but I'm a New Yorker so nothing can be taken for granted)

Forgot to mention - not that it's at all germane, but it's interesting to CW buffs:

The Battle of Lewisburg is interesting in several particulars. One of my favorites is that one of the cannons that the Confederate side brought to town was actually a British piece which had been surrendered by Cornwallis at Yorktown.

The Federals captured it when Heth's regiments ran for the border, but the trail goes cold after that and nobody knows what happened to it. No one believes the Union army would have bothered taking it along, so the supposition is that they left it there someplace.

If you're ever in the area, there's a very nice memorial to the Confederates who died there. The dead were originally buried in a church yard in town, but the bodies were later moved to a hilltop a mile or so away. Since identification was impossible, they were laid out together in the form of a cross. It's estimated that around 100 men were laid to rest there.

 
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#14
Without going too far into it I know the Union never saw the southern states as seceding they were just rebellious in the Constitution it says that you can't make a state out of any other part of the state so how in the union view did West Virginia become a state without it being a violation of the Constitution?
 
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#15
Without going too far into it I know the Union never saw the southern states as seceding they were just rebellious in the Constitution it says that you can't make a state out of any other part of the state so how in the union view did West Virginia become a state without it being a violation of the Constitution?
Great question!!!

On the creation of new states, the Constitution is indeed pretty clear.:

Article IV, Section 3, reads that “no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State … without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

The rationale was this:

While the Virginia government in Richmond seceded from the Union in the spring of 1861, up in the town of Wheeling, delegates from the northwestern part of the state got together to counter-secede.

These delegates said the government in Richmond had no right to leave the Union, and as such they now constituted the state of Virginia. They called themselves “The Restored Government of Virginia”

By 1862, the “Restored Government of Virginia” had written up a new Constitution and applied for statehood for the area called West Virginia, the theory being that, as the legal government of Virginia, they had a right to carve out a section of itself.

Is all of this pretty shaky, legally? You betcha. But, as always, Lincoln himself was a staunch supporter of the constitution, unless and until it got in his way.
 
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#18
Great question!!!

On the creation of new states, the Constitution is indeed pretty clear.:

Article IV, Section 3, reads that “no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State … without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

The rationale was this:

While the Virginia government in Richmond seceded from the Union in the spring of 1861, up in the town of Wheeling, delegates from the northwestern part of the state got together to counter-secede.

These delegates said the government in Richmond had no right to leave the Union, and as such they now constituted the state of Virginia. They called themselves “The Restored Government of Virginia”

By 1862, the “Restored Government of Virginia” had written up a new Constitution and applied for statehood for the area called West Virginia, the theory being that, as the legal government of Virginia, they had a right to carve out a section of itself.

Is all of this pretty shaky, legally? You betcha. But, as always, Lincoln himself was a staunch supporter of the constitution, unless and until it got in his way.
If you study the history of the formation of West Virginia you will probably notice that Lincoln, the Restored Government of Virginia and the Congress followed the letter of the law. Most were lawyers and had a very good handle on what they were doing. The fact that a majority of the residents didn't see the situation as the politicians did was of no importance.
 
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#19
The other side of the argument is here: http://www.wvculture.org/history/journal_wvh/wvh30-1.html I will add more as I find them for the reasoning from the union side. This was just a quick look.
With all due respect Sir, the IS no "other side of the argument".There was no argument in the first place.

It was entirely clear to everyone that the guys in Wheeling did not really represent the whole State of Virginia, that they had not gotten the state readmitted to the Union and thus could not legally carve out a chunk of the state.

It was simply a rationale. It was entirely political.

And they were able to do it for one simple reason: Virginia had no recourse.

They couldn't complain to the Supreme Court, and if they had it wouldn't have done much good.

And by the time they could,in fact, take it to the Supes, Salmon P. Chase was the Chief Justice, there were zero southerners on the court and there were thousands of West Virginians in honored patriot graves.

There was literally no sympathy for Virginia and no chance of having it overturned, regardless of how unconstitutional it might have been.

It wasn't a legal argument, it was a political one, and Lincoln tended to win those.
 
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#20
This is fascinating! was this widespread? Did a lot of people boycott WV from VA?
I am not sure. I can only go by my grandfather's opinion but I would guess there was widespread animosity especially in the Virginia counties that border WV. I can tell you that he certainly wasn't fond of West Virginia for his entire life and I assume that many others felt the same way. To them, WV betrayed Virginia so they did not want to have anything to do with them.
 


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