West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a state on June 20, 1863, by proclamation of President Lincoln. West Virginia had seceded from the Confederate state of Virginia at the onset of the Civil War.
Long culturally and economically distinct from the remainder of Virginia, the mountainous regions of the northwestern part of the state had sought separation even before the Civil War. According to the U.S. Constitution, however, no state can be formed out of an existing state without the consent of the existing state's legislature. When the majority of Virginia seceded from the Union, its remnant Unionist government approved the split, later constituting itself as the new state's government.