Today, June 20,1863, West Virginia celebrates it’s 150 birthday as the 35th state allowed into the United States. The history of the state is found in many places on the web, therefore I see no reason to post it here. The one thing that I did notice about these blogs and websites posting the West Virginia history see to leave out this part—-
December 14, Gordon Battelle, of Ohio county, offered the following resolution, since generally referred to as the “Battelle Resolution”:
Resolved, That at the same time when the constitution is submitted to the qualified voters of the proposed new state, to be voted for or against, an additional section to Article XI, in the words following: I. No slave shall be brought, or free person of color come within this state for permanent residence, after the Constitution goes into operation. 2. That all children born of slave mothers after 1870 shall be free. the males at the age of twenty-eight and the females at the age of eighteen years. And the children of such females shall be free at birth;—shall be separately submitted to the qualified voters of the new state for their adoption or rejection.
On the same day this resolution was tabled without day by a vote of twenty-four yeas and twenty-three nays. Thus the matter remained until February 12, 1862, when John A. Dille, of Preston county, reported the following, which was adopted by a vote of forty-eight yeas to one nay: “No slave shall be brought or free person of color come into the state for permanent residence after this constitution goes into operation.” Thus the question of slavery in \Vest Virginia’s constitution was covered, no further reference being made to it.
The vote on the adoption of the constitution was taken the third
Thursday in April, 1862, and resulted in a total vote of 19,376, of which ‘
18,862 votes were cast for its adoption, and 514 against.
The friends of the “Battelle Resolution,” were not a little disappointed in not having their resolution inserted in the state constitution, but later it was submitted to the people at the April election in several of the counties, receiving over 6,000 votes favorable. While it was informal. it gave its backers much hope for the cause. Granville Parker, ‘of Cabell county, was at the head of this. and ably managed the proposition touching the troublesome question of slavery.
Now if my old welding shop math is still working I estimate under this provision that the last slave in west Virginia would be freed somewhere around 1898.
Now in mind the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, freeing the slaves in only the rebelling areas in January 1863 well before West Virginia became a state.
Lincoln himself knew that admitting a portion of Virginia to the Union may be against the Constitution. Here is a an article that addresses those questions.
(A copyrighted publication of West Virginia Archives and History)