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Sectionalism in West Virginia from 1776-1861

Charles H. Ambler with a new introduction by Barbara Rasmussen

Publication Year: 2008

West Virginia statehood was long in the making and its start in politics driven by economic interests, not abolition. Dr. Ambler’s 1910 study of sectionalism in Virginia clearly shows how the East and West of Virginia were always destined to separate. First published in 1910, Ambler’s masterpiece and West Virginia’s first foundation history, has long been out of print. Barbara Rasmussen, professor of public history and director of Cultural Resource Management at West Virginia University, does all West Virginians and historians of American history a truly great service by writing a new introduction to Sectionalism in Virginia, setting Ambler’s grand achievement into the context of its production. “By pointing to the economic and political basis for the differences in Virginia, Professor Ambler created a historical process for studying West Virginia history that asked clearer questions and shunned cultural biases.” —from the Introduction by Barbara Rasmussen.

Published by: West Virginia University Press

Series: West Virginia and Appalachia

Title Page, Copyright

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Introduction to the Second Edition

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pp. vii-lx

The birth of the state of West Virginia, as the only territorial adjustment to come because of the Civil War, is unique to the nation and poses the question of whether there would ever have been a West Virginia without that dark passage of 1861–65. From the perspective of...

List of Maps

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pp. lxi

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pp. lxiii-lxiv

My interest in things pertaining to both West Virginia and Virginia is due largely to the fact that I was reared and educated in the former state and born of parents who, like all true Virginians, never forgot the latter, the state of their nativity. Quite early in my...

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I. Introduction

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pp. 1-23

The surface of Virginia is divided into two unequally inclined planes and a centrally located valley. The eastern plane is subdivided into the Piedmont and the Tidewater; the western into the Alleghany Highlands, the Cumberland Plateau, and the Ohio Valley...

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II. Revolution, Confederation, and the Constitution, 1776–90

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pp. 24-60

With more tangible grievances to redress, the inhabitants of the interior were ahead of the lowlanders in the movement for independence. While the Tidewater men were deliberating on peaceful reconciliation, large numbers in the Piedmont and the Valley were...

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III. Federalists and Republicans

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pp. 61-99

Hamilton's plans of large powers for the new government and, in particular, his schemes for a national bank, direct taxes, heavy duties, and the assumption of the state debts were strongly opposed in Virginia on the ground not only of expediency but...

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IV. The Era of Good Feeling and the Rise of the National Republican Party, 1817–28

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pp. 100-136

As in national politics, so in Virginia, the period following the second British war was one of accord, giving place, as years passed, to one of dashing sectional interests. In the congressional election of 1817 nationalism made no stand in the state, except in the...

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V. The Constitutional Convention of 1829–30

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pp. 137-174

The constitutional convention of 1829-30 was the result of a half-century of conflict between the east and the west over representation, suffrage, and abuses in the state and local governments. In 1828 the House of Delegates consisted of two hundred and fourteen...

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VI. Internal Improvements, Negro Slavery, and Nullification, 1829–33

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pp. 175-218

The internal improvement schemes urged by advocates of the American System and the railways in process of construction westward from Baltimore were the important factors in shaping the internal improvement policies in Virginia during this...

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VII. Parties in the Whig Period, 1834–50

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pp. 219-250

The compromise tariff and the attempt to distribute the proceeds of the sales of the public lands increased Clay's popularity in the west, but they brought confusion in the ranks of the Union party. The tariff satisfied the desire for protection, and the nationalists...

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VIII. The Reform Convention of 1850–51

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pp. 251-272

During the two decades following 1830, population and wealth increased rapidly in western Virginia. The construction of turnpikes and railroads in the trans-Alleghany and the projection of still more of such improvements attracted thither immigrants and aroused...

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IX. Sectionalism in Education and the Church, 1830–61

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pp. 273-299

The sectional contest in educational policy was a gradual growth. It was the vote of the west which caused the state to establish the free-school system of 1796, called the "Aldermanic System,"

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X. History of Political Parties, 1851–61

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pp. 300-338

The years immediately following 1851 marked a brief period of political accord. In local politics the constitution of that year produced much the same effect as the compromise of the previous year had produced in national politics. Sectional controversies in the...


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pp. 339-349


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pp. 351-366

E-ISBN-13: 9781935978169
E-ISBN-10: 1935978160
Print-ISBN-13: 9781933202211
Print-ISBN-10: 1933202211

Page Count: 444
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: Second
Series Title: West Virginia and Appalachia