West Virginia State Capitol

West Virginia

History of West Virginia

The U.S. State of West Virginia (WV) was admitted as the 35th state of the union on June 20th, 1863.  Like much of North America, the land making up modern day West Virginia was home to several ancient indigenous civilizations that existed in the region for several thousands of years prior to European contact.  These civilizations established small settlements and trading exchanges.

In modern history, several different Native American nations inhabited the region of modern day WV.  Most notably, the Iroquois and the Sioux nations inhabited the region.  After the Beaver Wars of the late 1600’s, the Iroquois Confederacy pushed out nearly every other Native American nation from West Virginia.

During colonial times, the area also came into dispute among colonies.  The colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia frequently disagreed over their territorial boundaries, insisting that the area of WV was a part of their colony.  Prior to the American Revolution, the area of WV was considered a part of the Virginia Colony under British rule.  After the war, the United States also considered it part of the newly admitted state of Virginia.  Dissent among citizens grew rather quickly as prior territorial and representational disputes seemed to be engrained in the culture of WV.  The mountainous terrain of WV was fundamentally different than the lush, flat terrain of Virginia suitable for planting and agriculture.  This led to great economic disparity and a fundamentally different way of life.

By the mid-1800’s, the people of West Virginia had began to secede from the Confederate state of Virginia during the Civil War.  The newly organized government of West Virginia sided with the United States government, while Virginia sided with the Confederacy.  In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln formally admitted West Virginia to the union as the 35th state.

Present West Virginia

The state of Virginia ranks 40th among the fifty states in terms of land area and 38th in terms of population.  In 2016, the United States Census Bureau estimated the population of West Virginia to be 1,831,102.  The cities of Charleston and Huntington are among the largest cities in the state, home to over 100,000 people combined.

West Virginia has a multifaceted economy with its strongest industries being the lumber and mining sectors.  However, the state of West Virginia in recent years has become a global center for chemical production and a national center for biotechnology corporations.  In addition, its manufacturing sector supports an aerospace division, an automotive division, and a telecommunications division.

In addition to these industries, West Virginia’s location among the Appalachian Mountains make it a prime destination for tourists looking to spend time skiing, hiking, cave exploring, fishing, and sightseeing.  With a number of state parks and historic trails, West Virginia is no stranger to outdoor recreation.

Politics of West Virginia

Since the year 2000, West Virginia has consistently voted for the Republican Party candidate in all of its Presidential elections.  Currently, a member of the Democratic Party and a member of the Republican Party represent the state in the United States Senate.  In addition, its three-member delegation to the United States House of Representatives is made up of members entirely of the Republican Party.  The current governor of West Virginia is also a member of the Republican Party.


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