New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress. (Emphasis added)West Virginia was formed from part of Virginia. According to the Constitution, Virginia's legislature would have had to accede to that, which would have meant the largest state in the Confederacy ceding a quarter of its territory to its enemy. Needless to say, that didn't happen. As I understand it, a Union occupation government in Virginia's northwestern counties simply declared itself to be the legitimate government of Virginia and passed the statehood resolution.
The Constitution doesn't offer the federal government the power to slice apart states to create new ones in the event of insurrection. So I'm wondering how this is even legal. Anyone?
Update: A reader points me to this amazing, if slightly tortured, defense from Abe Lincoln:
The consent of the Legislature of Virginia is constitutionally necessary to the bill for the admission of West Virginia becoming a law. A body claiming to be such Legislature has given its consent.... The division of a State is dreaded as a precedent. But a measure made expedient by a war, is no precedent for times of peace. It is said the admission of West Virginia is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we can call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession against the Constitution, and secession in favor of the Constitution.The whole thing is worth a read.