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Sic Juvat Transcendere Liberi: How Newspapers Built the Case for West Virginia Statehood
Unformatted Document Text:  allowed to directly elect the governor. Senate representation would be based on total population, with slaves counting for three-fifths a person, which neutralized the western gains in power. 25 The breaking point In the autumn of 1860, newspaper publishers throughout western Virginia began to write about the damning consequences the region would face if Virginia seceded from the Union. The Wheeling Intelligencer, a Republican-leaning newspaper, republished an editorial from the Kanawha Republican in Charleston begging readers to use common sense as tensions rose between the North and South. The editorial argued that the real reason the southern states wanted secession was to preserve slavery, not to strengthen states’ rights, as their leaders often cited. 26 The editorial also argued that the government in Richmond was not concerned with the interests of the mountain people and was primarily interested in protecting the growers and manufacturers of the east: “We do not raise cotton, and we will be overpowered by the cotton interests, for bear in mind that our Confederacy is to be founded on the idea that “Cotton is King,” and all other interests are to be made subservient to that. Again: We are as yet without manufacturers, and our supplies must come from a distance. So far, we have gone on the presumption that the Union will be dissolved peaceably, but who dreams of any such thing? No one, except such ‘retired philosopher’ as Willoughby Newton. 27 The other Disunion leaders are of the same stamp. But West Virginia, 11 25 Granville Davisson Hall, The Rending of Virginia, (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2000), 59-60 26 Anonymous, “The cotton confederacy — the effect on the border slave states.” The Wheeling Intelligencer, November 12, 1860, 1. In West Virginia State Archives, Charleston, W.Va., Microfilm. 27 Willoughby Newton (2 December 1802-23 May 1874) lived in Westmoreland County and represented Virginia in Congress from 1843-45 and served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1826-32 and 1861-63.

Authors: Haught, Matthew.
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allowed to directly elect the governor. Senate representation would be based on total population, 
with slaves counting for three-fifths a person, which neutralized the western gains in power.
The breaking point
 
In the autumn of 1860, newspaper publishers throughout western Virginia began to write 
about the damning consequences the region would face if Virginia seceded from the Union. The 
Wheeling Intelligencer, a Republican-leaning newspaper, republished an editorial from the 
Kanawha Republican in Charleston begging readers to use common sense as tensions rose 
between the North and South. The editorial argued that the real reason the southern states wanted 
secession was to preserve slavery, not to strengthen states’ rights, as their leaders often cited.
The editorial also argued that the government in Richmond was not concerned with the interests 
of the mountain people and was primarily interested in protecting the growers and manufacturers 
of the east: “We do not raise cotton, and we will be overpowered by the cotton interests, for bear 
in mind that our Confederacy is to be founded on the idea that “Cotton is King,” and all other 
interests are to be made subservient to that. Again: We are as yet without manufacturers, and our 
supplies must come from a distance. So far, we have gone on the presumption that the Union will 
be dissolved peaceably, but who dreams of any such thing? No one, except such ‘retired 
philosopher’ as Willoughby Newton.
 The other Disunion leaders are of the same stamp. But 
West Virginia, 11
25
 Granville Davisson Hall, The Rending of Virginia, (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2000), 59-60
26
 Anonymous, “The cotton confederacy 
 the effect on the border slave states.” The Wheeling Intelligencer
November 12, 1860, 1. In West Virginia State Archives, Charleston, W.Va., Microfilm.
27
 Willoughby Newton (2 December 1802-23 May 1874) lived in Westmoreland County and represented Virginia in 
Congress from 1843-45 and served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1826-32 and 1861-63.


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