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West Virginia Independence Hall to host “Wheeling and the Coming of the Civil War” lecture


Dr. Ken Fones-Wolf, professor of history at West Virginia University (WVU), will present a talk “Wheeling and the Coming of the Civil War” at the West Virginia Independence Hall Museum in Wheeling on Thursday, Oct. 2,, 2003 at 7 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Even though Wheeling was home of the most well-known anti-slavery newspaper in the state, The Wheeling Intelligencer, Abraham Lincoln finished fourth in Wheeling’s vote for president in 1860. Fones-Wolf will focus on other conflicting opinions in the city prior to the war, despite the fact that most historians think of Wheeling as a center of Union and Republican sentiment. The presentation also will look at the factors that shaped the politics of Wheeling in the 1850s and the group that helped create a favorable climate for the birth of West Virginia.

Fones-Wolf teaches 19th-century American history and American working-class history at WVU. Previously, he was head of the archives and manuscripts department at the University of Massachusetts. Fones-Wolf is the author of Trade Union Gospel: Christianity and Labor in Industrial Philadelphia, and co-editor of three other books. He is currently writing a new book Glass Towns: Social Change and Political Economy of West Virginia, 1890-1940, and working on another project titled City on the Edge: Wheeling in the Civil War Era.

For more information about the Oct. 2 lecture, call Gerry Reilly, director of West Virginia Independence Hall, at (304) 238-1300.

West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is owned and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays, and is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling. The facility is closed on Sundays in January and February.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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