Confederate Paper Money Series XXIII: Paper Money of the Southern States (Pt.14)

The secession of the southern states in the early 1860s led to the formation of the Confederacy. After South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860, seven states followed although it was thought that there would be double that initially. Secession was a delegate decision state by state and after the election and fall of Fort Sumter in April of 1861, some states decided against it. However, once the Confederate States were established, currency circulated heavily throughout the South during the American Civil War. But as we have come to learn throughout this blog series, that currency still was not enough in the South. This led to the enactment of individual states issuing their own currency.

West Virginia

Although the Southern states that seceded from the Union in rebellion is well-known, it is not well-known that not all parts of those states wanted to leave the Union. In June of 1861, Eastern Tennessee was a good example of this as they were very much for the Union and, in fact, petitioned Congress to be a separate state. This request was ignored but the western part of Virginia, however, was more successful. Farmers in the state were very different from plantation owners in the South as they had few slaves. People from the western part of Virginia felt isolated from the rest of the state and thought they were treated unfairly.

When Virginia seceded in 1861, the opportunity to leave the state became even greater. An ordinance was created for a new state and was voted in favor of in October of 1861. By 1862 an application was created for the western part of Virginia to enter the Union and sent to Congress for admission. President Abraham Lincoln approved the proposal upon the state’s inclusion for the gradual abolition of slavery in its constitution. That particular provision offers insight on how President Lincoln proposed to end slavery overall in his Emancipation Proclamation which was issued on April 20, 1863. West Virginia then entered the Union on June 20, 1863.

After the Civil War was over, the state of Virginia tried to claim Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in the eastern part of West Virginia. The Supreme Court decided in favor of West Virginia in 1871.

Source: Confederate States Paper Money: Civil War Currency From the South (12th Edition) by George S. Cuhaj & William Brandimore