On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th president of the United States. His election started a political cascade in which seven southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederates States of America. Four more states would join the Confederacy when the Civil War started five months later.
In the 1860 election, Lincoln received virtually all of his support from northern and western states. The Deep South went almost solidly for the Southern Democrat, John Breckendridge, while Virginia and two other states went for the supposed middle-of-the-road candidate, John Bell.
While Lincoln would later be considered the political father of West Virginia, he actually received little support from counties that would make up the Mountain State. In fact, Breckenridge and Bell captured 86 percent of the vote in Western Virginia, while Lincoln registered only three percent. Almost all of Lincoln’s support came from five northern counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Preston, and Wood.
On New Year’s Day 1863, Lincoln signed off on West Virginia becoming a state. When he ran for re-election in 1864, he received more than two-thirds of the vote in West Virginia.