Abraham Lincoln

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Humanities Council

On February 13, 1899, newspaperman Archibald Campbell died at age 65. A graduate of Bethany College, he became editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer in 1856.

At the time, the Intelligencer was the only daily Republican newspaper in Virginia. During Campbell’s first years at the paper, the country was rapidly plunging toward civil war.

 Sumner was the first school for African American children in present-day West Virginia and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Robert Simmons died at his Parkersburg home on January 16, 1892. A free black man during the days of slavery, he moved to Parkersburg in 1841 and earned a living as a barber. He and his wife Sarah worried that their nine children wouldn’t receive a proper education.

So, in 1862, he and other free black men established Sumner School in Parkersburg. Sumner was the first school for African American children in present-day West Virginia and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Abraham Lincoln
Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

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.

Many western Virginia residents had few options because the U.S. Constitution forbids any state to be carved from another state without the original state’s approval.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / 1872, Western Virgnia, Reorganized Government of Virginia

On October 24, 1861, voters formally approved the formation of West Virginia. Many western Virginia residents had been frustrated with the Virginia state government for years. But, they had few options at their disposal because the U.S. Constitution forbids any state to be carved from another state without the original state’s approval.

The Virginia state government in Richmond would not have willingly given away one-third of its territory. But, when Virginia left the Union at the beginning of the Civil War, western Virginia politicians seized their window of opportunity.

At the end of the Civil War, Lamon was dispatched to Richmond, making him unavailable to guard the president on that fateful night at Ford’s Theater.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 6, 1828, Ward Hill Lamon was born in Jefferson County. He was raised at Bunker Hill, in Berkeley County, before moving to Danville, Illinois, at age 18. In 1852, Lamon’s life took a historic twist when he became the law partner of a former congressman—Abraham Lincoln.

Hanks Commission Marker
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On September 21, 1929, a state commission ruled that Nancy Hanks—the mother of Abraham Lincoln—was born in what is now West Virginia.

The commission concluded that Hanks was born on February 5, 1784, near Antioch on Mikes Run in what would become Mineral County. Within four years of the finding, West Virginia had erected a replica cabin and stone memorial on the supposed site of her birth near Antioch.

BotMultichillT / wikimedia Commons

On December 31, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln paced the halls of the White House contemplating whether West Virginia should become a state.

Lincoln had supported the Restored Government of Virginia—a pro-Union government of Virginia established in Wheeling in 1861. However, the question of making West Virginia a separate state from Virginia gave Lincoln pause. The U.S. Constitution says one state cannot be carved from an existing state without the original state’s approval.

In this case, the Virginia government in Wheeling had given its permission, but did the Wheeling government have the authority to do so? Or could only the pro-Confederate state government in Richmond give its blessing?