Seceding from Secession: The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia

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Wittenberg/Sargus, Jr./Barrick
Pub Date:
June 2020
Hardcover, 6 x 9
43 images, 4 maps, 288 pp.
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Foreword by Frank J. Williams (former Chief Justice of Rhode Island)

Chapter 1: Sectional Differences

About the Book

“West Virginia was the child of the storm,” concluded early Mountaineer historian and Civil War veteran, Maj. Theodore F. Lang. The northwestern third of the Commonwealth of Virginia finally broke away in 1863 to form the Union’s 35th state. In Seceding from Secession: The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia, authors Eric J. Wittenberg, Edmund A. Sargus, and Penny L. Barrick chronicle those events in an unprecedented study of the social, legal, military, and political factors that converged to bring about the birth of the West Virginia.

President Abraham Lincoln, an astute lawyer in his own right, played a critical role in birthing the new state. The constitutionality of the mechanism by which the new state would be created concerned the president, and he polled every member of his entire cabinet before signing the bill. Seceding from Secession includes a detailed discussion of the 1871 U.S. Supreme Court decision Virginia v. West Virginia, in which former Lincoln cabinet member Salmon Chase presided as chief justice over the court that decided the constitutionality of the momentous event.

Seceding from Secession is grounded in a wide variety of sources and persuasively presented. Add in a brilliant Foreword by Frank J. Williams, former Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and Chairman Emeritus of the Lincoln Forum, and it is an indispensable source for everyone interested in understanding the convergence of military, political, social, and legal events that brought about the birth of the state of West Virginia.

Eric J. Wittenberg is an accomplished American Civil War cavalry historian and author. An attorney in Ohio, Wittenberg has authored nearly two dozen books on various Civil War subjects, with particular focus on cavalry operations, as well as three dozen articles in popular magazines such as North & South, Blue&Gray, America’s Civil War, and Gettysburg Magazine. His first book, Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions won the prestigious 1998 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award (the second revised edition won the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award, for Reprint, 2011). His 2014 book “The Devil’s to Pay”: John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour was awarded the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable’s 2015 Book Award. Wittenberg is a favorite speaker at Civil War Roundtables, conducts tours of various Civil War battlefields, and is an active preservationist. He lives in Columbus with his wife Susan and their beloved dogs. Visit Eric J. Wittenberg’s website: . . . . Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. serves as a Federal district judge in Columbus, Ohio, worked as the U.S. Attorney heading Federal prosecutions in the district from 1993 through 1996, and since 2005 has been an adjunct professor at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, where he teaches Trial Advocacy and an evidence seminar. . . . Penny L. Barrick graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in history education and later with a J.D., with honors, from The Ohio State University College of Law. She is a senior lawyer with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. She has a love of Civil War history and particularly its intersection with constitutional law.