How did West Virginia split from Virginia?

These events led to the split of West Virginia from Virginia.

The Ruffner Pamphlet

In the West, most liked the idea of liberty and independence as outlined by Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. In the East slavery was more of an economic issue rather than a moral issue. Eastern Virginans defended slavery and bitterly attacked Western emancipationists. Henry Ruffner addressed the Franklin Society of Lexington in 1847. The address ended up being one of the most significant antislavery writings of the 1830s and 1840s. While his pamphlet found little support in the Valley, settlers in the Trans-Allegheny sections of the state favored the ideas Ruffner presented. This further separated the people of Virginia.

The Virginia Convention of 1861

Of the 47 members of the Virginia convention that were from "West Virginia", 32 opposed withdrawal from the Union. The vote clearly showed a divide between East and West and the reality of dismemberment became clear to most delegates. There has always been a sense of turmoil in Virginia politics, between East and West. It seems the many laws being passed in Virginia originated and benefited the East. The West felt they were not being represented fairly in congress. Laws written based on the Eastern markets and infrastructure seemed to have an adverse effect on the settlements to the West.

The secession of South Carolina

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union after Lincoln's election in December of 1860. This prompted Virginia to call a special session of congress to address the rising crisis. Prominent leaders of Virginia began calling for secession. This further divided East and West because the West did not want to abandon what they thought was the best Constitution ever written by some of the wisest and most patriotic of Americans.

The Raid at Harper's Ferry

Harper's Ferry is very significant in both Virginia's secession from the Union, as well as, West Virginia's dismemberment. The raid really made everyone think about which side they were on. The Union was anti-slavery and Virginia was pro-slavery. The West liked the Union and didn't want to break away like the rest of the state. Brown's Raid while really small had had a huge impact. It helped unite the Confederacy and fuel the secession of Virginia. As a result of Virginia leaving the Union, the formation of West Virginia was expedited.