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First Wheeling Convention
November 12, 1860 In Preston County, Western Virginia holds its first organizational meeting, expressing a desire to "adhere to the Union". West Virginia
January 1, 1861 A pro-Union meeting in Parkersburg (now West Virginia) resolves that "secession is revolution." West Virginia
April 20, 1861 Guyandotte calls for the state to approve the actions of the Virginia legislature West Virginia
April 22, 1861 The Clarksburg (present-day West Virginia) Convention calls for a anti-secessionist convention to be held in May, 1861 West Virginia
May 13, 1861
May 15, 1861
The First Wheeling Convention West Virginia

First Wheeling Convention

As quickly as the Southern states seceded, pockets of resistance developed, the largest of which began in western Virginia and followed the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains south to Georgia. Within these high mountain regions slavery was normally not common among the subsistence farm owners.

West Virginia voters had long complained about Eastern Virginia gaining in power as it became more populated than its western counties. Attempts in 1827 and 1850-1851 failed to garner the western counties the power they wanted in state affairs, although the 1850-51 Constitutional Convention did address some of their grievances.

Early meetings in Clarkesburg, Parkersburg and Preston County gave strength to the early drive for "separation" in western Virginia. John Carlile and Charles Lewis, nominees to the Virginia Secession Convention were strongly pro-Union and vowed separation if the convention backed secession. Another representative, Chester Hubbard from Ohio County, vowed he would "..never sign an ordinance of secession should it be passed."

The Convention finally adopted a pro-secession resolution to be put before the Virginia voters (all of whom were white males). Even before the vote, western Virginians began working on a plan to avoid seceding with Virginia. Since its mountainous western region was contiguous to the United States, western Virginians quickly began work on forming a state to join the Union. The First Wheeling Convention was West Virginia's first official state body, although the earliest organizational meetings occurred shortly after Abraham Lincoln was elected President. Lincoln pledged his support for a state.

The first day of the convention was mostly taken up with parliamentary actions. A heated debate arose on the second day with between the two major factions of the Convention. One wanted immediate separation from Virginia while the other wanted a structured separation.

At the time, the Virginia Secession Convention had voted to secede but the people of Virginia had not ratified the Articles of Secession. After 3 days of debate it was decided that the Convention should wait until after the popular vote to decide what it was going to do. Essentially, the convention passed resolutions dictating the election of delegates on June 4 and the convening of the Second Wheeling Convention on June 11.

On May 23, Virginians voted to ratify the Articles of Secession and West Virginians organized the Second Wheeling Convention

Links appearing on this page:

Abraham Lincoln
Second Wheeling Convention
Virginia Secession Convention
West Virginia

First Wheeling Convention was last changed on - March 22, 2008
First Wheeling Convention was added in 2005

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