“I want to have the new State, not merely in substance, but even in name.”
Delegate Daniel Lamb of Wheeling. Nov. 26, 1861.
Lamb favored the name “Kanawha” over “West Virginia.”

“I admit that Virginians have done wrong–that many of them in this rebellion have disgraced themselves; but that has not weaned me from the name.”
Delegate Harmon Sinsel of Pruntytown. Nov. 26, 1861.
Sinsel favored the name “West Virginia” over “Kanawha.”

The debate over what to call the country’s 35th state will be brought to life during a special sesquicentennial event Nov. 26 at West Virginia Independence Hall in downtown Wheeling.

The special program titled “To Guide Our New State: The West Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1861” begins at noon and will celebrate 150 years since the state’s first constitutional convention.

As part of the program, historic character actors will recreate some of the speeches delegates gave in 1861. Those lively exchanges included the debate over what to call the only state born of the Civil War. West Virginia celebrates its 150th birthday in 2013.

Five new historic characters also will tell stories about the state’s birth as they guide visitors through the National Historic Landmark. Originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, West Virginia Independence Hall served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863.

Robert Bastress, West Virginia University law professor and author of “The West Virginia Constitution,” will discuss the disagreements that had been festering for decades between western and eastern Virginia, the events that occurred in Virginia that ultimately led to West Virginia’s statehood, and some of the key characters that propelled the movement to that end.

A reception will follow. All events are free, and the public is invited to attend.

For more information, contact site manager Travis Henline at (304) 238-1300.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum at Independence Hall is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. It is located on the corner of 16th and Market streets in Wheeling.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Nov. 26 schedule for sesquicentennial celebration:

12 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Special focus tours of West Virginia Independence Hall

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: West Virginia University Law Professor Robert Bastress will present “The Historic Roots of the West Virginia Constitution.”

3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Dramatic reenactment of the first constitutional convention.

3:30 p.m.: Reception.