Seceding from Secession: The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia
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Date: February 2021
Duration: 6 hours 54 minutes
'West Virginia was the child of the storm,' concluded early Mountaineer historian and Civil War veteran, Maj. Theodore F. Lang. The northwestern third of the Commonwealth of Virginia finally broke away in 1863 to form the Union's thirty-fifth state. In Seceding from Secession: The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia, authors Eric J. Wittenberg, Edmund A. Sargus, and Penny L. Barrick chronicle those events in an unprecedented study of the social, legal, military, and political factors that converged to bring about the birth of the West Virginia.
President Abraham Lincoln, an astute lawyer in his own right, played a critical role in birthing the new state. The constitutionality of the mechanism by which the new state would be created concerned the president, and he polled every member of his entire cabinet before signing the bill. Seceding from Secession includes a detailed discussion of the 1871 US Supreme Court decision Virginia v. West Virginia, in which former Lincoln cabinet member Salmon Chase presided as chief justice over the court that decided the constitutionality of the momentous event.