- The partition of Virginia -- the Dilemma of the Old Dominion in 1861 -- preparations for war -- organization of troops in Western Virginia -- the Unionist convention -- organization of the State of West Virginia.
The partition of Virginia was called by the Hon. S. S. Cox, ‘one of the whimsical excesses of secession or vicissitudes of war.’ In a vigorous expression of his repugnance to the movement he exclaimed, ‘Forty western counties of Virginia agree to secede and form a new State without the consent of the old one! It is anomalous and unconstitutional. It is a new phase of secession made by the war. It is vigorously opposed, but in vain. The first beginning of reconstruction thus, and in the very midst of the war, came out of this despoiling of Virginia. It is one of the scars made by the war. It remains to commemorate the policy of force. It inevitably led to the successful attack which was soon to be made upon State institutions, including slavery.’ Thaddeus Stevens, with his characteristic frankness, said that ‘We know it is not constitutional, but it is necessary.’ The justification of the existence—the right to be—of the State of West Virginia was ‘military necessity,’ but its Statehood has been achieved and is now no longer questioned, though its birth was Caesarian and roughly accomplished at that. The Old Dominion which had voluntarily donated the vast Northwest to the Union and dedicated it to the use of white labor, was cloven by the hand it had nurtured into strength. Yet Virginia and all the South hail West Virginia and rejoice in its progress as one of the States of the Union, notwithstanding the nature of its origin.