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West Virginia

A History

Otis Rice

Publication Year: 1993

" An essential resource for scholars, students, and all lovers of the Mountaineer State. From bloody skirmishes with Indians on the early frontier to the Logan County mine war, the story of West Virginia is punctuated with episodes as colorful and rugged as the mountains that dominate its landscape. In this first modern comprehensive history, Otis Rice and Stephen Brown balance these episodes of mountaineer individualism against the complexities of industrial development and the growth of social institutions, analyzing the events and personalities that have shaped the state. To create this history, the authors weave together many strands from the past and present. Included among these are geological and geographical features; the prehistoric inhabitants; exploration and settlement; relations with the Indians; the land systems and patterns of ownership; the Civil War and the formation of the state from the western counties of Virginia; the legacy of Reconstruction; politics and government; industrial development; labor problems and advances; and cultural aspects such as folkways, education, religion, and national and ethnic influences. For this second edition, the authors have added a new chapter, bringing the original material up to date and carrying the West Virginia story through the presidential election of 1992. Otis K. Rice is professor emeritus of history and Stephen W. Brown is professor of history at West Virginia Institute of Technology.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x

The first edition of West Virginia: A History, published in 1985, was designed for informed West Virginians and others interested in the history of the state. The approach was primarily narrative and based upon the belief that most readers desired essential information and a faithful recreation of the past rather than one predominantly interpretive or analytical. ...

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Chapter 1: Prehistoric Times

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pp. 1-10

A Land of Grandeur. In 1784, nearly two hundred years before a popular song referred to West Virginia as "almost Heaven," Thomas Jefferson wrote that the contrast between the "placid and delightful" Shenandoah Valley and the "wild and tremendous" mountains at Harpers Ferry, the Potomac gateway to the state, was worth a journey across the Atlantic Ocean.1 ...

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Chapter 2: Exploration and Early Settlements

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pp. 11-17

An Unknown West For about one hundred and twenty-five years after English colonists landed at Jamestown, settlements in Virginia did not extend beyond the Tidewater and Piedmont regions. Virginians kept busy with the burdensome tasks of taming a wilderness and with transplanting and adapting essential political and social institutions. ...

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Chapter 3: At the Vortex of Imperial Conflict

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pp. 18-25

Tension in the Ohio Valley. Unlike the peaceful advance of settlement into the Valley of Virginia, occupation of trans-Allegheny West Virginia proceeded amid considerable peril. French and Indian claimants contested nearly every move by the Virginia settlers into the area. ...

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Chapter 4: Advance Across the Alleghenies

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pp. 26-36

The Lure of Transmontane Lands. The English victory over the French in 1763 did not open the Ohio Valley to settlement. On the contrary, in the very year that Forbes occupied the Forks of the Ohio, Sir William Johnson, acting in behalf of Pennsylvania, promised the Iroquois in the Treaty of Easton to close the part of the colony west of the Alleghenies to settlement. ...

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Chapter 5: The Revolutionary Era

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pp. 37-46

The Response to Revolution. Satisfaction with the intervention of Lord Dunmore in land affairs and the victory at Point Pleasant did not divert the attention of western Virginians from events in Boston and Philadelphia in 1774. On November 5, before they returned home from the campaign, officers and soldiers in Dunmore's War issued the Fort Gower Resolves. ...

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Chapter 6: Adapting to a New Nation [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 47-56

A New Immigrant Wave. With the end of the Revolutionary War, Americans, long since grown mobile by habit, resumed their course westward in search of new lands in trans-Allegheny West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Old Northwest. Each year thousands of immigrants gathered at Wheeling and Pittsburgh for the journey down the Ohio. ...

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Chapter 7: The Quality of Mountain Life

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pp. 57-67

The Mountain Environment. Mountainous regions of the world have always been conservative and slow to change. Isolation from the mainstream of national and world events entrenches within their people beliefs, attitudes, and customs that in more accessible places retreat under the pressure of new ideas and changing interests. ...

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Chapter 8: Educational and Cultural Foundations

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pp. 68-79

A Sea of Illiteracy. When West Virginia separated from Virginia in 1863, the Old Dominion had no statewide system of free schools. Illiteracy prevailed throughout the state and was appalling in mountainous sections. Robert Hager, a Boone County Representative in the West Virginia constitutional convention of 1861, asserted that he knew men and women in his county who had never even seen a schoolhouse. ...

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Chapter 9: Antebellum Economic Life

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pp. 80-89

Economic Diversity. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, economic life in West Virginia centered on agriculture. The amount and distribution of rainfall, length of the growing season, retention of moisture and soil fertility by vast forestlands, and exceedingly rich lands along the streams and in mountain valleys favored the cultivation of a wide variety of crops and the promotion of...

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Chapter 10: Conflict with Eastern Virginia

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pp. 90-98

The Seeds of Diversity. The dramatic separation of West Virginia from Virginia during the Civil War sprang from no sudden impulse but from an accumulation of differences and grievances. Physiographically, economically, and culturally, the Eastern Panhandle was an integral part of the upper Potomac Valley and, like adjacent parts of Virginia and Maryland, a hinterland of coastal...

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Chapter 11: Politics and Slavery

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pp. 99-110

Conciliatory Politics.The decade of the 1850s began on a note of harmony in Virginia. The constitutional reforms of 1850-1851 removed some of the political issues that had divided eastern and western sections of the state for half a century. Whigs and Democrats had drawn closer together as a result of threats to Southern "rights" and the "peculiar institution" perceived in the Wilmot Proviso. ...

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Chapter 12: Secession and Reorganized Government

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pp. 111-123

Political Parties in Crisis. At the end of the 1850s national events far overshadowed the internal affairs of Virginia. Disruptive events such as the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the civil strife in Kansas, the Dred Scott decision, and John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry became "wedges of separation" between North and South. ...

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Chapter 13: The Agony of War

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pp. 124-139

The Crystallizing of Allegiances. The adoption of a secession ordinance by Virginia, the firing upon Fort Sumter, the call of President Lincoln for volunteers, and events at Wheeling in early summer 1861 produced deep divisions among West Virginians. The crises "arrayed brother against brother, father against son, and neighbor against neighbor," heightening the tragedy of civil...

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Chapter 14: The Thirty-fifth State

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pp. 140-153

The Voters Approve Dismemberment of Virginia. On October 24, 1861, after most of northwestern Virginia was safely behind Union lines, residents of the thirty-nine counties named in the ordinance adopted by the Second Wheeling Convention, along with those of Hampshire and Hardy, voted on the dismemberment of Virginia. ...

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Chapter 15: Tensions of Reconstruction

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pp. 154-164

The Legacy of War. Although West Virginia was a Union state during the last two years of the Civil War, her political and social history during Reconstruction was scarcely less traumatic than those of the states of the former Confederacy. Most of the tensions and hatreds were rooted in the war and produced permanent schisms even among Unionists. ...

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Chapter 16: The Bourbon Ascendancy

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pp. 165-173

The Democratic Party. When it took over the reigns of government in West Virginia in 1871, the Democratic Party was essentially a coalition of diverse interests. Ex-Confederates mingled with former Unionists, and lifelong Democrats welcomed to their ranks former Whigs who found the Republican Party unacceptable. ...

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Chapter 17: Agriculture and Rural Life

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pp. 174-182

Agriculture in the New State. West Virginia entered the Union as a rural state, with about eighty percent of her people engaged in general agriculture, which included both horticulture and animal husbandry. Corn was by far the most important crop, but wheat, oats, hay, particularly timothy and bluegrass, and potatoes were also produced in abundance. ...

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Chapter 18: The Industrial Age

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pp. 183-204

Post-Civil War Economic Life. West Virginia entered the Union with some ninety percent of its people engaged in agriculture and an economy yet in the domestic stage. Most industrial and commercial establishments, including gristmills, sawmills, carding factories, woolen mills, tanneries, blacksmith shops, and even general stores were farm related. ...

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Chapter 19: Progressivism and Reaction [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 205-219

Disarray in the Republican Party. Following the Democratic victories in 1870, the Republican organization in West Virginia rapidly fell apart. The constitution of 1872 ended procedures which had enabled the Republicans to maintain control of the state during the Reconstruction era. ...

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Chapter 20: Labor Problems and Advances

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pp. 220-238

Genesis of the Labor Movement. A labor consciousness began to stir in West Virginia as early as 1830, when a diversified economy had produced a distinct wage-earning class in the Wheeling area. In 1829 William Cooper Howells, father of the novelist William Dean Howells, founded at Wheeling The Eclectic Observer, and Working People's Advocate, which called for public...

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Chapter 21: The Transformation of Education

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pp. 239-254

The Free School Idea in the First Constitution. Free public education made little progress in West Virginia before the Civil War. Only Kanawha, Ohio, and Jefferson counties provided free schools for all children, although a few others were contemplating adoption of the plan when the war came. ...

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Chapter 22: Literary Endeavors

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pp. 255-265

The Civil War Era. The birth of West Virginia during the tragedy of civil war provided a setting for a great literature, but the conflict left little time for literary pursuits. The most important West Virginia novel set in a wartime context was David Gaunt (1862) by Rebecca Harding Davis (1831-1910). ...

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Chapter 23: Twentieth Century Politics: Kump to Marland

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pp. 266-277

Depression Politics. Prolonged economic depressions have always been deadly enemies of elected governments, and it was inevitable that the economic collapse of 1929, unprecedented in scale or duration, would seriously affect the political situation in both the nation and the states. ...

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Chapter 24: Twentieth Century Politics: Underwood to Rockefeller

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pp. 278-287

Midcentury Political Changes. Historically, the American people have wearied of sustained departures from traditional modes of life, including the demands of liberal idealism, the exertions and regimentation of war, and the responsibilities and frustrations of world leadership. ...

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Chapter 25: Old Problems and New Dilemmas

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pp. 288-303

Continuities and Uncertainties. Most of the distinguishing characteristics of West Virginia in the 1980s and 1990s were part of trends and patterns that had been in evidence at least since the middle of the twentieth century. The population decline, which gathered momentum during the economic dislocations of the 1950s, was temporarily reversed during the 1970s but resumed in...

Selected Bibliography and Suggested Readings

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pp. 304-325


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pp. 326-344

E-ISBN-13: 9780813127330
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813118543

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 1993