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Sic Juvat Transcendere Liberi: How Newspapers Built the Case for West Virginia Statehood
Unformatted Document Text:  commitment because of the southern portion of the state’s reluctance to separate from Virginia. “I was born in the State of Virginia and I have always lived in it, and I hope to die in the State of West Virginia,” Porter said to applause, as the transcript noted. “The question before you gentlemen is this. Do you wish a new State now, to be called the State of West Virginia, or do you wish to postpone it indefinitely? Because if you should not at the coming election decide to come into the Union as a State, there is no way suggested or devised, by any of the opponents of the measure to admit us at any future time. Should they attempt any such a thing you would be met by numberless objections — the same arguments you have to meet now.” Porter raised and addressed the complications of establishing a new state, complications that later spawned a lawsuit between the two states, but dismissed them, saying that the United States government recognized the government meeting in Wheeling as the government of Virginia, and therefore the actions taken in the meeting would be considered valid. Porter then talked about the advantages of statehood, focusing on the ability to build a free, public education system, to allocate money to fund new colleges, and to increase the value of property in the new state. 49 Porter then addressed the strategic differences between eastern and western Virginia, casting those differences as a reason to unite the westerners in imagining themselves as fundamentally different from the east: “But fellow citizens, there are a great many reasons we cannot remain attached to Eastern Virginia. The habits of the people are entirely different. Their trade is different. They are separated by a great range of mountains — God has separated them, and man has never tried to unite them.” Porter then posed a series of pointed questions to provoke opinions about eastern and western Virginia. The questions highlighted the differences West Virginia, 21 49 George Porter “Untitled speech” The Weekly Register, March 4, 1863, 1. In West Virginia State Archives, Charleston, W.Va. (Bound volume).

Authors: Haught, Matthew.
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commitment because of the southern portion of the state’s reluctance to separate from Virginia.  
“I was born in the State of Virginia and I have always lived in it, and I hope to die in the State of 
West Virginia,” Porter said to applause, as the transcript noted. “The question before you 
gentlemen is this. Do you wish a new State now, to be called the State of West Virginia, or do 
you wish to postpone it indefinitely? Because if you should not at the coming election decide to 
come into the Union as a State, there is no way suggested or devised, by any of the opponents of 
the measure to admit us at any future time. Should they attempt any such a thing you would be 
met by numberless objections — the same arguments you have to meet now.” Porter raised and 
addressed the complications of establishing a new state, complications that later spawned a 
lawsuit between the two states, but dismissed them, saying that the United States government 
recognized the government meeting in Wheeling as the government of Virginia, and therefore the 
actions taken in the meeting would be considered valid. Porter then talked about the advantages 
of statehood, focusing on the ability to build a free, public education system, to allocate money 
to fund new colleges, and to increase the value of property in the new state.
 
Porter then addressed the strategic differences between eastern and western Virginia, 
casting those differences as a reason to unite the westerners in imagining themselves as 
fundamentally different from the east:  “But fellow citizens, there are a great many reasons we 
cannot remain attached to Eastern Virginia. The habits of the people are entirely different. Their 
trade is different. They are separated by a great range of mountains — God has separated them, 
and man has never tried to unite them.” Porter then posed a series of pointed questions to 
provoke opinions about eastern and western Virginia. The questions highlighted the differences 
West Virginia, 21
49
 George Porter “Untitled speech” The Weekly Register, March 4, 1863, 1. In West Virginia State Archives, 
Charleston, W.Va. (Bound volume).


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