The year 2013 marks the 150th birthday of West Virginia. To help citizens gain a deeper understanding of how and why the state was created our speakers bureau focuses on statehood related topics in observance of the state sesquicentennial.
The bureau features five respected scholars who have agreed to present their listed topic for three different groups. The Humanities Council pays the fees and expenses of the speakers. We require only that groups hosting a speaker publicize and promote the event so that an audience of at least 40 people can be expected.
- Each of the five speakers is available for three presentations of their listed talk beginning January 1, 2013 through October 31, 2013.
- Speaker fees and travel are paid directly by the Humanities Council.
- Publicity material is provided to host organizations and press releases sent to area media about each presentation by the Humanities Council.
- All lectures must be publicized as free and open to the public with an audience of no fewer than 40 persons.
- Requests for speakers should be received no later than the 10th of the month prior to the presentation month, e.g. May 10 for a June 20 presentation.
- Booking in advance is advised.
Contact program officer Mark Payne at 304-346-8500 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule one of the following presentations through October 31, 2013.
Available speakers and their topics for 2013 are:
The writing of a constitution was an essential step toward the creation of the new state. When Virginia seceded from the United States voters in Western Virginia authorized a constitutional convention for Wheeling in November 1861. Delegates relied on the Virginia constitution but made several significant reforms to address inequities that had long provoked Western Virginians. A second constitutional convention was later held in Charleston in 1871. State constitution scholar Robert Bastress of the West Virginia University College of Law discusses how the new state’s framers chose the structure for its government.
The Making of the West Virginia Constitutions,
Enemies of the State: Methodists, Secession,
and the Civil War in Western Virginia
Shepherd University history professor Matthew Foulds maintains that Western Virginians felt relegated to the fringe of the state political structure that was dominated by eastern Virginia’s slaveholding oligarchy. Feeling powerless to seek reforms through a political system that had failed them, westerners turned to the traveling ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church to voice their discontent. These itinerant ministers actively defended western interests, provided political leadership when war broke out, helped hold Western Virginia in the Union, and championed the statehood movement.
The 35th Star: West Virginia Statehood
Joe Geiger is director of the Archives and History Section of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and adjunct professor of history at Marshall University. He describes the issues and processes that led to the creation of the Mountain State including Lincoln’s election, the outbreak of war, the Reorganized Government of Virginia and the Wheeling constitutional conventions.
Species of Legal Fiction: The Wheeling Conventions
Opposing their state’s vote to secede and join the Confederate States of America, Western Virginians held two conventions at Wheeling to plan a secession of their own from the Old Dominion. Why did these Unionists choose Wheeling? How and why did they create a Reorganized Government of Virginia? And how did a new state evolve from the deliberations at Wheeling’s Custom House? David Javersak who is Dean Emeritus of the School of Liberal Arts at West Liberty State College where he also taught history for 39 years considers these and other questions.
The Revolution That Forged a State
Ronald L. Lewis
Virginia’s decision to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in 1861 precipitated the separation of Western Virginians from the commonwealth. If Virginia’s secession constituted a revolution, then the decision of loyal westerners to secede from Virginia and create a new state represented a revolution within a revolution. A separate identity had been evolving among westerners for decades, forged by a common frontier experience, and by grievances similar to those expressed by the Founding Fathers themselves, most notably discriminatory taxation and representation policies. Ronald L. Lewis, West Virginia Historian Laureate and professor emeritus of history at West Virginia University, describes how the two sections came to this impasse and how Union loyalists resolved it by creating the state of West Virginia.
Contact Program Officer.