Legislative Branch

June Feature: West Virginia Statehood

The West Virginia Constitution was ratified by voters on November 26, 1861. In May 1862, Senator Waitman T. Willey (Unionist-VA) submitted a bill, S. 365, to Congress for the admission of West Virginia to the Union. He then proposed an amendment to the bill calling for West Virginia to amend their constitution to include the gradual emancipation of slaves in the state. On July 14, the Senate approved West Virginia’s admission to the Union, with statehood conditioned on its approval of the Willey Amendment. The House approved the bill in December. Lincoln signed the bill admitting West Virginia to the Union, on December 31. On March 26, 1863, West Virginia ratified the revised constitution to include the gradual emancipation of slaves.

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