Re-Union of Virginia

January 2, 1866


The Dispatch argues for the reunion of East and West Virginia, gives reasons for the split, and explains how reunification benefits both states.


The subject of the re-union of Virginia, which elicited some discussions in the House of Delegates before the Christmas recess, is one which is near to the heart of every true Virginian. In Eastern Virginia the desire for restoration is almost unanimous. The resolutions offered in the House of Delegates appealing to the people of Western Virginia to cooperate with the East to this end seemed to enlist general favor. The motion to postpone indefinitely received only seventeen votes. When the select committee, to who the resolutions were finally referred, shall report, the initiative will be taken, so far as Eastern Virginia is concerned, to restore the former era of good feeling and re-establish the two States in their old unity of government. We are better able, however, to speak of the sentiments of Virginia than of West Virginia upon the proposed re-union. One of the speakers in the House, Mr.Pendleton, of Gildes, said that he lived within six miles of the line dividing the two States, and knew of no one along a line of a hundred miles opposed to the reunion of Virginia. There are, however, conflicting accounts. Whilst we hear from some quarters that the state of sentiment which has come under Mr.Pendleton's observation is general throughout West Virginia, we hear from others that the majority of the people do not desire re-union. Of course no other union than that which was of the cordial choice and sides of both parties could be wished for here. We might regret, deeply that members of the same household should be perpetually separated; but even if we ha the power to compel them to live again under the same roof, we would never consent to its exercise; for a family that cannot agree will live more harmoniously and happily apart. As the older member of the household- as the mother of the family- if we may so speak- it becomes Eastern Virginia to invite the return, of her Western offspring to the old hearthstone; but if they do not wish it, there is, of course, an end of the matter. Only we hope it will be understood that, in any event, we shall desire their prosperity as well as our own, and that we shall exercise the right of kinsmen to be proud of their success and good fortune, wether it is achieved under their present State organization or in the same State government with ourselves. We will not believe, however, until we see more satisfactory testimony that has yet been offered that the asperities and alienations of the past will be permitted to become chronic, and that the hearts of divided brethren do not yearn for a reconciliation. It is true that we have been separated by war, and that among the moat determined and gallant enemies Whom Eastern Virginia met in the field were the men of her own flesh and blood in the West. But that war has ended, and it has ended with the triumph of the cause which West Virginia espoused. Surely, in the hour of victory, her people can afford to gorget the past, and to dismiss the antagonism which the contest engendered for fraternal and generous sentiments. It is true that, before the war, there existed a cause of alienation which had prepared the way for the formal separation which has since occurred. But that cause- slavery- has been since removed, and the two Commonwealths are not identical in their institutions as in their lineage and character. What reason can now exist to entail upon the people of East and West Virginia the expenses of two State governments when one would suffice, where the advantages of a union are reciprocal, and when it must be the natural desire of all men of Virginian descent, living on the old Virginia soil, to share the past renown and the future glory of this great Commonwealth. We, therefore, hope sincerely that the fraternal overtures of this State will be met in a like spirit by our Western brethren. Together, East and West Virginia will become the most enterprising, wealthy and populous State of the American Union. No country losses a more hardy, gallant and energetic population than that of Western Virginia. The momentum which the progress of the State will receive from the enterprising and active spirit would be felt in every department of improvement, whilst out system of public works, the peculiar products of our soil, and fine seabird harbors and rivers, would present great commercial advantages which they ought not to lose.
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Justin Barlow


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“Re-Union of Virginia,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023,