What is the origin of the phrase “West By God Virginia”?
This was a phrase proudly taken up when the residents split-off from Virginia and decided to stay in the Union. Here is the rather long story of how West Virginia split, and why “by god” became part of the phrase. It all began when the pig-headed state of Virginia passed a silly constitution in 1776, which granted suffrage only to white males who owned at least 50 acres of land (25 if it was “improved” land). This was wonderful for rich eastern Virginian “gentlemen farmers” who owned big plantations, but it kind of sucked for the western half of the state which (then, as now) was populated by poor, ignorant, savage rednecks whose greatest asset was an ability to breed faster than starvation and feuding could kill them off. Those earliest hillbilly ancestors of the great state of West Virginia displayed the true mountaineer spirit, surviving in the face of overwhelming evolutionary and economic factors which were against them, and were the founders of the great lineage of West Virginia