CHARLES TOWN – Charles Town author Bob O’Connor’s ninth book – his third non-fiction work – traces the roots of the Mountain State and makes its debut as West Virginia marks its 150th birthday this year.
In “Countdown to West Virginia Statehood,” O’Connnor chronicles the struggles of the residents of western Virginia ahead of West Virginia’s admission to the Union on June 20, 1863.
“Most people are of the belief that the reason West Virginia broke off from Virginia was because of Virginia’s decision to secede from the Union in 1861,” the author explained. “But in actuality, the struggles of the western Virginian’s can be traced all the way back to the state’s first constitution in 1776.”
Virginia made land ownership a requirement for voting O’Connor explained. “Those from the eastern section of the state were more likely to be land owners and thus had a majority of seats in the Virginia legislature,” he said.
Because Virginia’s governor and judges were elected by the Legislature rather than by popular vote, western Virginians were left out, the author said.
O’Connor’s book examines the myriad conflicts between eastern Virginians (“the planters”) and those in the western section (called “the mountaineers”) long before the Civil War. He points out that Virginians living on the eastern side of the Allegheny Mountains tended to own slaves and trade toward the Atlantic Ocean while western Virginians were more likely to not own slaves and trade along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
The author is a four-time finalist for national book awards and has delivered more than 150 history lectures to audiences locally and in 16 other states just since 2011.
His other books are “A House Divided Against Itself”; “The Perfect Steel Trap Harpers Ferry 1859″; “The Virginian Who Might Have Saved Lincoln”; “The U.S. Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison”; “The Centennial History of Ranson, West Virginia”; “The Life of Abraham Lincoln as President”; “Catesby: Eyewitness to the Civil War” and “The Return of Catesby.”
Many of the books are for sale as e-books and his biography on Ward Hill Lamon, “The Virginian Who Might Have Saved Lincoln,” also is available as an audio book.
For more about O’Connor’s work, go to boboconnorbooks.com.