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June 22, 1863: West Virginia becomes 31st state

Jun. 22, 2013 - 01:44PM   |  
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WHEELING, W.V. — Adopting the motto “Mountaineers are always Free,” West Virginia has become the 31st state admitted into the United States of America.

The hard-working, coal-rich state was formally admitted to the Union on June 20 in a ceremony at the new state capital in Wheeling.

In his inauguration, Gov. Arthur Boreman described the fledging state as “the child of the rebellion.”

“Today after many long and weary years of insult and injustice, culminating on the part of the East, in an attempt to destroy the government, we have the proud satisfaction of proclaiming to those around us that we are a separate state in the Union,” he told the gathered crowd.

Carving itself from the largely slave-holding eastern stretches of Virginia, which voted to secede into the Confederacy two years ago, the rugged western section of the state has sought its own identity for years.

In October, with Federal troops stationed at the polls, 39 counties in western Virginia voted to form a new Union state. After delegates gathered the following month, fifty counties were drawn into the new West Virginia map, including some with Southern-leaning sympathies in the eastern panhandle.

Now, leaders of the new state say they will focus their energies on defeating the Confederacy.

“We want no compromise: we want no peace, except upon the terms that those in rebellion will lay down their arms and submit to the regularly constituted authorities of the government of the United States. Then, and not till then, will the people of West Virginia agree to peace,” said Boreman.

“We have done much and suffered much already, but we will do more, and suffer on for years, if need be, rather than consent to a dissolution of the Union, which would be nothing less than a surrender of the last hope of human liberty on the face of the earth.”

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