By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
West Virginia is unique in its own way and has set standards and broken barriers.
The state holds claim to many “firsts,” and one of those firsts resulted in the creation of West Virginia as a state.
On June 20, 1863 — 150 years ago today — West Virginia became the first and only state to be granted sovereignty by a presidential proclamation.
According to information from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, in January 1861 Virginia passed a bill providing for a convention to pass on the question of whether the state should secede from the Union. The convention was held in February that year, and it passed an ordinance declaring that Virginia was no longer part of the Union.
In August 1861, at a convention in Wheeling, an ordinance passed providing for the formation of a new state out of part of Virginia. Later that year, after debate and discussion, state leaders decided on the name West Virginia for the new state.
President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 allowed the western part of Virginia to enter the Union as West Virginia, making it the only state to be granted sovereignty by a presidential proclamation.