State of Kanawha

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State of Kanawha
Unorganized proposed state of the United States

 

1861–1863
 

Location of Kanawha
The Civil War, 1864. Note West Virginia.
Capital Wheeling, West Virginia
Historical era American Civil War
 -  Commonwealth of Virginia secedes from the United States and joins the Confederacy April 16, 1861
 -  Wheeling Convention secedes from Virginia August 20, 1861
 -  Area is admitted to the Union as "West Virginia" June 20, 1863

Kanawha was a proposed name for what later became the main body of the U.S. state of West Virginia, formed on October 24, 1861. It consisted of most of the northwestern counties of Virginia, which voted to secede from Virginia after Virginia joined the Confederate States of America on April 17, 1861 at the beginning of the American Civil War (1861–1865). The separation had been approved by the loyalist Wheeling Convention on August 20, 1861. The name of "Kanawha", based on the Kanawha River, was proposed by the convention as the name for the new state.

Wheeling Convention[edit]

During the First Constitutional Convention, on December 3, 1861, Harmon Sinsel, of Taylor County, made a motion to strike the word Kanawha from the new state constitution. The discussion regarding the motion revealed concerns of possible confusion between the State of Kanawha and the County of Kanawha within the same state. Additionally, there was an expressed desire among the convention members to reflect their Virginian heritage. After much debate, the motion passed 30-14 and a new name was sought.

During the subsequent discussion, where names such as "Allegheny", "Augusta", "Columbia", "New Virginia", "Vandalia", "West Virginia" and "Western Virginia" were suggested, it was decided that roll would be called and each member of the Convention would answer their name with their preferred name for the new State. If one of the names reached a majority vote, it would be selected as the new name for the State. Upon vote, 30 of the 44 members had selected "West Virginia". Having reached a majority, the name for the new State officially became West Virginia.

West Virginia[edit]

About eighteen months later, West Virginia was formally admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863. West Virginia was made a state by President Abraham Lincoln on April 20, 1863 effective sixty days thereafter.

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