Reorganized Government of Virginia

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.

WV statehood
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia entered the Union as the nation’s 35th state. It was the end of an unprecedented ladder to statehood that began with the outbreak of the Civil War.

Although some Western Virginians had been frustrated with the Virginia state government in Richmond for decades, it took Virginia’s secession from the Union in April 1861 to get the West Virginia statehood process moving.

Crafty politicians—now remembered as our founders—used Virginia’s secession as an excuse to create a separate government of Virginia—one that remained loyal to the Union.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Statehood leader Francis Pierpont died on March 24, 1899, at age 85. He was born near Morgantown in 1814 and raised for part of his childhood in Marion County. As a young adult, he was as an attorney for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and a pioneer coal operator.

When the Civil War began, he helped form the pro-Union Reorganized Government of Virginia with its capital in Wheeling. In June 1861, he was unanimously elected the first and only governor of this government.