How did your ancestors vote on whether or not to secede from the Union at the start of the Civil War?

This document records the votes of Clarksburg residents on May 23, 1861, on whether Virginia, which included all of West Virginia at the time, should secede.

A vote in favor of the amendment was a vote for secession.

The amendment passed 125,950 to 20,373 with many of the no votes coming from the north and west parts of the state which are now West Virginia. Citizens in those areas had already elected pro-union leaders and would soon breakaway from Virginia to form a new state.

An editorial in the Staunton Vindicator said a no vote on the secession of Virginia “will be regarded as an endorsement of Lincoln’s policy to overrun and devastate our homes and heritage and make Virginia the booty of a hireling soldiery.”

In Wheeling, the Daily Intelligencer countered: “It is of great importance that the Union column be swelled to overshadowing dimensions. Let the demonstration in favor of liberty and democracy and constitutional government be so strong and so overpowering that the hideous rattlesnake will never show its head hereafter within our borders.”

Voters in Ohio County, of which Wheeling was the county seat, rejected secession by 3,368 to 157.