History, Slavery

West Virginia was the first southern state to end slavery

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bwv-largesealy Frederick H. Lowe

NorthStar News Today.com readers Sharon Gale and General Parker were the only ones to  participate in last week’s contest about the first southern state to abolish slavery.

Gale said is was South Carolina. Later Gale wrote she had to do more research.

Sharon, thanks for participating, but your answer was incorrect. South Carolina was the first southern state to secede from the Union to protect slavery.

South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860, a month after voters elected Abraham Lincoln president.

General Parker, however, can go to  the head of the class. Parker said it was West Virginia.

West Virginia abolished slavery on July 4, 1863. Any African-American person born after that date in 1863 was free.

When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Unionists meeting in Wheeling repudiated Virginia’s decision to join the Confederacy.

John Brown
John Brown

Voters elected Francis Pierpoint, a railroad attorney and a coal mine operator, the state’s legitimate governor. In 1863 West Virginia, which had been a part of Virginia, was admitted to the Union if it agreed to abolish slavery.

West Virginia has played a historical role in the anti-slavery movement. White abolitionist John Brown and 21 men, including five black men, raided Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) on October 16 and 18, 1859.  The raid on the United States armory mission was to spark a slave revolt.

Brown planned his raid on Harpers Ferry in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada, a town of 6,000. Half the residents either were escaped slaves or free black men.

Martin Delany
Martin Delany

On May 10, 1859, Brown held a constitutional convention in Chatham-Kent with the help of Dr. Martin Delany, a Harvard- educated physician and the only black field officer to serve in the Civil War.

Brown and his men were defeated and hanged at Harpers Ferry by U.S. Marines led by Robert E. Lee.

Brown’s raid, however, was considered the meteor that sparked the Civil War.

John Brown Days were celebrated in Chatham-Kent. It is not clear if the celebration is still being held.

Next week’s question

What was Reconstruction and how long did it last? Why did it end?

1). One year

2). Two years

3).  Fourteen years


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  1. Larry Delano Coleman

    Reconstruction effectively ended when Federal troops were removed from the South by Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877. It had begun in 1865, at the close of the Civil War. Among your choices 14 years is the closest to being correct😃.

  2. Thank you for your participation. Your answer is correct.

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