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This Day in History

January 1, This Day in History – June 20th: The Birth of West Virginia



On June 20th, 1863, amidst the tumult of the American Civil War, the United States saw the birth of a new state – West Virginia. This marked the only instance in U.S. history when a state was created by seceding from a Confederate state.

West Virginia’s creation was a direct result of the political and economic differences that existed between the eastern and western regions of Virginia. The eastern region, with its plantation economy, was largely pro-slavery, whereas the western area, characterized by small farms and industry, leaned anti-slavery. When Virginia declared its secession from the Union in 1861, the western counties refused to join the Confederacy. Instead, they broke away to form their own government, loyal to the Union.

The journey to statehood was complex. It required presidential and congressional approval, a process expedited by President Abraham Lincoln, who recognized the strategic and symbolic value of admitting a new Union-loyal state. West Virginia was officially admitted to the Union as the 35th state on June 20th, 1863.

This day remains significant, shedding light on the deep divisions that marked the Civil War era. As we commemorate West Virginia’s birth, we remember not only the state’s unique genesis but also the complex historical forces that shaped the United States during one of its most tumultuous periods.

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