We come here to carry out and execute, and it may be, to institute a government for ourselves. We are determined to live under a State Government in the United States of America and under the Constitution of the United States. It requires stout hearts to execute this purpose; it requires men of courage - of unfaltering determination; and I believe, in the gentlemen who compose this Convention, we have the stout hearts and the men who are determined in this purpose.
Arthur Boreman, First Session of the Second Wheeling Convention, June 12, 1861
The Civil War was one of the pivotal events in the history of the United States, one that determined once and for all the question of slavery and strengthened the role of the federal government. For Virginians, the 1861-1865 conflict was momentous for another event - the rending of Virginia into two parts, east and west, and the formation of a new state called "West Virginia." The events that led to the creation of West Virginia in 1863 - from the decades-long divisions between the eastern counties of Virginia and their sister counties to the west, through the formation of a loyal Virginia government by western counties after the state government in Richmond seceded from the Union and the meeting of various conventions to formulate a new government, to Abraham Lincoln's signing of the statehood bill and the inauguration of Arthur Boreman as West Virginia's first governor - are the focus of West Virginia Archives and History's online exhibit "A State of Convenience: The Creation of West Virginia."
This exhibit offers historians, students, and others interested in West Virginia's statehood period the opportunity to read the actual words of the participants themselves. Through transcriptions of the proceedings of the First and Second Wheeling conventions, President Lincoln's opinion on the admission of West Virginia, and other primary-source documents, individuals will learn about the process by which West Virginia became the thirty-fifth state in the Union. Illustrations of participants in the process, as well as secondary resource materials, are also available as part of the online exhibit.
"A State of Convenience" is a work in progress, and additional documents will be added over the coming months. Archives and History welcomes donations to its collections. Individuals who would like to donate original statehood materials, or items that document other aspects of the state's history, should contact Joe Geiger by e-mail or by phone at (304) 558-0230.