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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


As the war intensified, pro-Union leaders meeting at the Custom House in Wheeling declared the Richmond government null and void. They formed the reorganized government of Virginia with Wheeling as its capital and named a new Virginia governor loyal to the Union.

Secure behind the Union lines, Pierpont’s government chose John S. Carlile and Waitman T. Willey as United States senators from loyal Virginia.

Carlile immediately called for the formation of a new state.

“Borne down by an eastern governmental majority we have endured the disastrous results that ever must flow from an unnatural connection. Cut the knot now, cut it now. Apply the knife.” John Carlile

Supporters haggled over the state’s name, suggesting New Virginia, Allegheny, then Kanawha.

“The name Kanawha is a very hard name to spell. I think the rose would smell sweeter by some other name.” Waitman Willey

Finally, they compromised on West Virginia.

A proposed new state contained fifty counties including several in the northeast where the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad operated.

John Hankey: Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire Counties, Jefferson County; those were tied very much to the old Virginia plantation economy. If they didn’t go with the new state of West Virginia, part of the B&O would continue to operate through a Confederate state, through hostile territory.

The United States government, the new government of West Virginia, the management of the B&O, pretty much every body decided it was in the best interest of everybody if the B&O lay entirely within this new state of West Virginia.

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