Sunday, June 24, 2007

The 35th State

I've been saving the state quarters. I finally got this year's earlier releases, Montana and Washington. Montana was so elusive, I loudly bemoaned the fact that I couldn't even find it in the cash register at work. A mystery co-worker taped one to my locker. I'm pretty sure I know who it was. That same day, I found the Idaho quarter, so new the US Mint website doesn't even say yet, "Now in circulation."

I've been talking about this so long, back in April I was having the same conversations. Here's one I recorded back then:

A co-worker said, "So Oregon became a state before Washington." I replied, "Oh yeah, Oregon became a state before West Virginia." She: "I wonder why?" Me: "I don't know, I suppose it has something to do with the civil war. Well, I guess I could look it up." We looked it up.

Sure enough, the World Book Encyclopedia tells me that the Western Counties of Virginia disagreed with Virginia's secession from the Union in 1861. Already for several decades Western Virginians had differed with the rest of Virginia on the question of slavery. Within two years they formed a new state. At first they were going to call it Kanawha. Once a Union state, there were still divided loyalties.

Further investigation shows West Virginia had a history of being different. It roughly shares the border of Vandalia. The plans for this 14th colony collapsed with the Revolutionary War.

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