Rosemary V. Hathaway est Virginia's state motto, "Montani semper liberi" ("Mountaineers are always free"), began life as a declaration of the state's independence from Virginia and continues to reflect an iconoclastic spirit with which contemporary residents still identify. From the beginning, West Virginians embraced their new identity as Mountaineers, though what it meant to be a Mountaineer at that time, and since that time, has varied considerably and has been profoundly influenced by West Virginia University's adoption of the Mountaineer as its mascot in the early twentienth century. The Mountaineer identity predates the formation of the state: long before the Civil War, residents of the western part of Virginia felt themselves to be culturally and economically different from their eastern counterparts. Most mountain residents were independent and geographically dispersed farmers who did not own the relatively small parcels of land that they farmed, whereas the eastern part of the state was dominated by wealthy, slave-holding landowners. When the state of Virginia drew up its constitution in 1776, it granted voting rights only to "white males owning at least 25 acres of improved or 50 acres of unimproved land."1 This requirement clearly favored residents in the more level and
West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: Dec 18, 2014
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