West Virginia was a slave state

Since the existence of the United States, there have been repeated disputes between the northern and southern states. The main trigger was the differing views on the question of slavery. While the slave owners in the southern states held the view that slavery was the basis of prosperity, economic growth and peace and legitimized by the right to property, the northerners held the view that slavery was not compatible with the founding ideals of the republic.

Economic growth in the USA was unchecked, in particular due to the high growth rate of the population and the associated increase in living space. The gross national product increased sevenfold in the first half of the 19th century. Not least because of the lively export of cotton and agricultural goods to the north and overseas, whereby the cotton could only be harvested by slaves. The high economic growth in the early days was due to the south with its slavery. Later, however, the picture changed. With the construction of the transcontinental railroad and the introduction of the telegraph, the way was clear for the modernization of the economic system. Production for personal use became production for mass sale. Factories were built and goods were largely produced with the help of machines. This development was mostly apparent in the northern states of the USA, while the south was still dependent on the export of its agricultural goods for a long time.

This dependency weakened the South's political power over the Northern states and increased political tensions between the two parties, especially after the North began importing agricultural products from Asia, causing prices to fall further.

It was particularly important to the southern states to maintain the balance between slave states and free states and thus also the political balance. As early as 1820 there was a dividing line - the so-called Mason-Dixon Line - in which slavery was only allowed south of it. The state of Missouri, which was north of this line, was excluded at this time. This compromise was therefore also known as the Missouri Compromise. Each time a state acceded to the Union, there were disputes over the slave question, with individual southern states often threatening to detach from the Union in order to emphasize their demands.

So it went z. In 1848, for example, the question of whether California, New Mexico and Utah should become slave-free states or not. Additional slave-free Union states would have given the north additional political power. After the incumbent President Taylor - who came from the south - declared that no citizen of the north had to fear an expansion of slavery, the Union was in serious danger. As a result, after much back and forth, a compromise was passed, including slavery was forbidden in California, while New Mexico and Utah may or may not be legal, depending on the state constitutions at the time of incorporation.

The situation became particularly critical when in 1854 the then President Franklin Pierce approved a bill according to which the states of Nebraska and Kansas were to be admitted to the Union as slave states (Kansas-Nebraska Act). This draft completely contradicted the Missouri Compromise, since both states were north of the Mason-Dixon Line. This law was ultimately not passed, but the Kansas scandal sparked some armed clashes that could well have led to civil war.

Also through the resistance of the northern states against the slave flight law - which was passed as a federal law in 1793 and renewed in 1850 - the call for secession - as the detachment from the Union was called - was loud again and again. This law authorized slave owners to recapture escaped slaves, even if they were in slave-free states. Since in many cases the wrong people were caught and abducted, some northern states passed their own freedom laws, according to which blacks were given more rights and slavers could be criminalized for kidnapping. In many cases, for example, there were clashes between resistance groups who acted according to their own freedom laws and slave catchers who followed federal laws.

On October 16, 1859, a certain John Brown - a fanatical enemy of slaves - attacked a US arsenal near Harpers Ferry (Virginia) with 21 men in order to spark a slave rebellion with the captured weapons. However, this attack could be foiled by the citizens of the city in time. About 36 hours later, John Brown was arrested by the Virginia and Maryland militia led by Col. Robert E. Lee and Lt. James E.B. Stuart arrested. On December 2, 1859, Brown was hanged in Charlestown, West Virginia. The attack was poorly prepared by Brown. He had no plan of how to proceed after the arsenal had been taken, he did not explore any escape routes before the attack, did not provide provisions and was content with 21 men, although he had planned a lot more beforehand. Ten of his men - including two of his sons - died in the attack, and four were hanged like Brown.

While this attack triggered a wave of indignation in the south and at times also fueled fear of further slave revolts, John Brown was hailed as a martyr in the north. This increased tensions between the northern and southern states. Many slave owners were now ready to defend their property with weapons. Funds were raised to buy weapons and military associations were formed.

In this climate filled with hatred, fear and hostility, the presidential election was held in 1860, from which Abraham Lincoln emerged as the new American president. Lincoln was a slave opponent. He cited the Declaration of Independence, which stated that all human beings were created equal and that slavery was forbidden in the vast Northwest Territories. In Lincoln's opinion, slavery could not be morally justified. However, the constitution protected the states in which slavery already existed and Lincoln did not want to change that. Lincoln loathed the expansion of slavery, as planned in Kansas and Nebraska in 1854. For the southern states, Lincoln's election as president was the drop that broke the barrel.

On December 20, 1860, a convention in South Carolina passed a decree according to which South Carolina separated from the other states of the Union. The adoption of the decree was clear with 169 votes against zero. Now the politicians in South Carolina were hoping that other states would follow suit, and they didn’t really have to wait long. This was followed by Mississippi on January 9, 1961, Florida on January 10, Alabama on January 11, Georgia on January 19, Louisiana on January 26 and Texas on February 1. Seven days later, a new government was formed from the seven states, and a day later the president of that government was elected. His name was Jefferson Davies. As Davies set about expanding the new nation's borders, Lincoln wanted to expand too prevent all means. So he tried not to say anything wrong in his speeches, which he gave before he took office, in order not to lose the states of the upper south as well. As soon as the states of the lower south broke away from the Union, they confiscated a number of properties that were within their borders. Thus forts, arsenals and mints were taken without violence. However, three Fords were still under Union control. They were Ford Monroe in Virginia, Ford Pickens in Florida, and Fort Sumter, which was in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. There were only a few Union soldiers in Fort Sumter. Nevertheless, they were no longer tolerated by the southerners. After negotiations in Washington for the evacuation of the Ford were broken off, the first shot on April 12, 1861 at 4:30 a.m. that sealed the start of the American Civil War.