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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


The statehood bill passed in the House of Representatives in December and was sent to President Lincoln for his signature.

Lincoln worried that the bill violated a provision in the Constitution that said no state could be divided against its will. In giving its consent, Lincoln wondered, had the Wheeling government spoken for Virginia?

“Mr. President, as your friend, as an original, unconditional, and unchangeable Union man, I say that you can never afford to veto this new state bill. A veto would be the death warrant of Unionism in western Virginia. Very sincerely, and respectfully, Archibald Campbell.”

Pierpont threatened to resign if Lincoln vetoed the bill.

Finally, on December 31st, Lincoln signed it. “The division of a state is dreaded as a precedent,” he said, “but a measure made expedient by a war is no precedent for times of peace.”

Richard O. Curry: Lincoln couldn’t have done anything else but sign the statehood bill and one of the things he talks about is that we need every West Virginian, every mother’s son to fight in the army to volunteer. We need West Virginia regiments already in the field to re-volunteer. He was very conscious that if he hadn’t signed the bill this would have been so disappointing that he would have lost the support perhaps of the populace.

Narrator: West Virginia became the thirty-fifth state in the union and the only one torn from the body of another.

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