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Birth of West Virginia

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The beginnings of West Virginia were initiated on this day. A man named, Francis Pierpont, lead an intelligent separation from the Confederate State of Virginia.

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During the secession crisis of 1860 and 1861, Pierpont delivered pro-Union, anti-slavery addresses to large crowds across northwestern Virginia. After meeting in Richmond, Virginia voted to secede in April 1861. Still-Unionist western delegates of the state organized the First Wheeling Convention from May 13–15, 1861 to discuss ways to separate for Virginia. During the meeting, Pierpont promoted the reorganization of the state government, and following the passage of the Virginia Ordinance of Secession by statewide referendum on May 23, Pierpont was elected to attend the Second Wheeling Convention in the city of Wheeling from June 11–25, 1861. On June 20, he was unanimously elected governor of the Restored government of Virginia.

Wheeling initially served as the headquarters of the Restored government of Virginia, but after the formation of West Virginia on June 20, 1863, and Pierpont's reelection as governor governor, that is, of the Restored government and not of West Virginia in December, the reorganized state government relocated to Alexandria. Pierpont dedicated his energies to raising troops and funds for the Union war effort, coordinating with U.S. president Abraham Lincoln's administration, combating Confederate sympathizers, and working to return Virginia to the Union. Pierpont promoted the creation of "free schools," the extension of constitutional rights to freedmen, and in 1864 the convening of state constitutional convention aimed at abolishing slavery. West Virginia was born and added to the Union.



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