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April 17, 1861: Virginia Politicians Vote to Secede from the Union
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On April 17, 1861, Virginia politicians voted to secede from the Union. The move came just days after the Civil War had erupted at Fort Sumter and after President Abraham Lincoln had called for 75,000 volunteers. For months, Virginia and other states in the Upper South had refused to join the new Confederate States of America. But, Lincoln’s call for volunteers tipped the balance.
After the secession vote, Virginia officials moved quickly to seize U.S. facilities within its borders. The next day, a small U.S. Army force set fire to the federal armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry before it could be captured by pro-Southern militia. The Confederacy was able to salvage much of the machinery and ship it south, but the armory never operated again.
Virginia’s secession sparked the West Virginia statehood movement. More than two-thirds of the delegates from present-day West Virginia voted against secession. Afterward, John Carlile of Clarksburg and other pro-Union delegates, primarily from northwestern Virginia, returned home and mobilized citizens against secession. Weeks later, 37 counties sent representatives to the First Wheeling Convention—the first step in West Virginia’s two-year path to statehood.
Politically, Appalachia encompasses 423 counties across 13 states — and West Virginia’s the only state entirely inside the region. That leaves so much room for geographic and cultural variation, as well as many different views on what Appalachia really is. For Inside Appalachia, we turned our entire episode over to the question, “What is Appalachia?”
This week on Inside Appalachia, Rev. George Mills Dickerson of Tazewell, Virginia was born in the years after slavery ended. He’s remembered today through his poetry. And a new wave of black lung disease is ravaging Appalachia. We’ll hear more from a black lung town hall in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Coal miners have their own thoughts about black lung, too.
Flat Five Studio has frequently evolved to keep track with the rapidly changing music industry. Now, as a new owner takes the helm, the studio is trying new things while still remaining grounded in the fundamental art of expert music production.