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Chapter Sixteen
The New State of West Virginia

West Virginia voters went to the polls on May 28, 1863, to elect their government officials. The Constitution Union Party candidate, Arthur I. Boreman of Wood County, won election as the state's first governor. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the thirty-fifth state in the Union. Inaugural ceremonies were held in Wheeling, the capital of the new state. In his inaugural address, Governor Boreman referred to West Virginia as "the child of the rebellion," and stated that "to-day after many long and weary years of insult and injustice, culminating on the part of the East, in an attempt to destroy the Government, we have the proud satisfaction of proclaiming to those around us that we are a separate State in the Union." Citizens in Jefferson and Berkeley counties voted to become part of West Virginia, and the federal government affirmed this action. Governor Arthur I. Boreman inaugurating the new state
Governor Arthur I. Boreman
inaugurating the new state.
Sketch by Joseph H. Diss Debar
Map of the New State of West Virginia
Map of the New State
of West Virginia
The road to West Virginia statehood was a rocky one, with determined statehood leaders overcoming opposition both from within the state and outside its borders. The war was still being waged, but as historian George E. Moore noted, "the loyal men of West Virginia took comfort from the fact that their devotion to a cause had placed in the American flag a new star - there to bear witness for the Constitution and the Union."*

*George E. Moore, A Banner In The Hills: West Virginia's Statehood (New York: Appleton- Century-Crofts, 1963), 207.

Primary Documents:

Map of the New State of West Virginia
Arthur Boreman's Union Ballot, May 28, 1863
"The Inauguration"
"The Inauguration of the New State of West virginia"
"The Day We Celebrate" (West Virginia Inauguration)
Order of Ceremonies for "The Inauguration Of The New State"
Letter, James S. Wheat to Arthur I. Boreman Regarding the Inaugural Ceremonies
Inaugural Address of Governor Arthur I. Boreman
West Virginia State Seal
Speech, Senator Peter Van Winkle on Reorganization of Virginia and Admission of West Virginia
Return of Votes on Berkeley County (Gerrardstown District) Becoming a Part of West Virginia
Congressional Recognition and Consent to Transfer of Berkeley and Jefferson Counties to West Virginia
Proclamation of Governor Pierpont to Governor Boreman announcing Berkeley County Vote to Join West Virginia
Legislative Act Making Berkeley County a Part of West Virginia
Legislative Act Making Jefferson County a Part of West Virginia

Other Sources:

"The Makers of West Virginia
"Statehood for West Virginia: An Illegal Act"

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West Virginia Statehood

West Virginia Archives and History