West Virginia State Day, Motto, and Nickname
DATE OF ADMISSION TO UNITED STATES
June 20, 1863
RANKING IN STATE ADMISSION
Commonwealth of Virginia
West Virginia was originally part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. From the earliest days of the Commonwealth there were problems with adequately governing the counties that were located in the mountainous regions of the west and northwest. Over time, the residents of that region perceived themselves as being isolated and disenfranchised. They sought redress through political means without success. In 1850, the Commonwealth Congress attempted compromise, but it turned out to be too little, too late.
On the eve of the Civil War, the counties of western Virginia attempted to secede from the commonwealth and form a separate state. Ironically, at this time Virginia was deeply embroiled in the question of whether to secede from the United States over the issue of slavery. When events forced the issue and Virginia voted to secede from the Union, the western counties of the Commonwealth chose not to follow. In June 1861 delegates consisting of representatives of the western counties of Virginia met at the Second Wheeling Convention and formed the Reorganized Government of Virginia. Finally, on October 24, 1861, 39 counties in western Virginia voted for the formation of the new state of West Virginia.
Controversy still exists today as to the constitutional legality of West Virginia’s actions, but as history shows, the leaders of West Virginia chose the right moment in time to strike for their independence. Events of the time conspired to open doors and remove roadblocks to the creation of the state and its inclusion in the Union. On December 31, 1862, President Lincoln signed the bill approving the creation of West Virginia and on June 20, the State of West Virginia became the 35th state in the Union.
Montani semper liberi ("Mountaineers are always free")
The motto of West Virginia appears on the Great Seal of the State of West Virginia and was officially adopted in 1863. It reflects the spirit of the citizens of the state, both when the state was created and today, as well as West Virginia's mountainous terrain.
"The Mountain State," "The Panhandle State"
The Appalachian Mountains are the most prominent geological feature of the state, leading to West Virginia's "Mountain State" nickname. Originally, West Virginia was a part of Virginia and was called the "Panhandle of the Commonwealth" due to the outline of political boundaries. When West Virginia was created, it became "The Panhandle State."
-World Trade Press