West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s sesquicentennial celebration will present a lecture by Dr. Ronald L. Lewis, WVU professor of history emeritus and state historian laureate. The program is Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. in the College Theatre. The presentation, “The Revolution that Forged a State,” is free and open to the public.
Virginia’s decision to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in 1861 precipitated the separation of Western Virginians from the commonwealth. If Virginia’s secession constituted a revolution, then the decision of loyal westerners to secede from Virginia and create a new state represented a revolution within a revolution. Lewis will describe how the two sections came to this impasse and how Union loyalists resolved it by creating the State of West Virginia.
Lewis joined WVU as a history faculty member in 1985, served as history department chair, Eberly Family Professor of History, and Robbins Chair in History, until his retirement in 2008. He received many awards including the Claude Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award and William Miernyk Award for Career Scholarly Achievement. He also received the Governor’s Award for West Virginia History and Literature from Governor Cecil Underwood in 2000 and was appointed historian laureate of West Virginia by Senator Joe Manchin in 2010.
He is also the author of several books including “Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation, and Social Change in West Virginia, 1880-1920” and “Aspiring Greatness: West Virginia University Since World War II.”
Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Akron. The lecture is sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council. Lecture attendees will have an opportunity to visit an exhibit, “Born of Rebellion,” also sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council. WVU Parkersburg’s sesquicentennial celebration is presented with support from the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission.
Remaining sesquicentennial events at WVU Parkersburg include: