The Virginia Territory had a long history full of strife and opposition to many things around the nation. It was not until the Civil War when Virginia wanted to secede with the other southern states and join the Confederacy that the small population in the more rugged areas, primarily in the mountains, decided they did not want to join them. That was the birth of West Virginia, a state that did not support slavery and wanted to be part of the Union. They were granted their wish to become a state in 1863, during the Civil War. The state now relies on tourism for its economy, though at one time, they were huge in the coal industry.
Though the state is small, it has 55 counties within its borders. Fifty of these were counties already established before West Virginia seceded from Virginia and became a state. Only five–Grant, Mineral, Lincoln, Summers, and Mingo–were established after the state was its own entity in 1863.
Because the area went through a secession during the Civil War, and consequently became a separate state, the Constitution as well as the state government had to be changed, updated, and reorganized. As with all states, it is modeled after that of the Federal government, with the three main branches taking the responsibility of law making and law enforcing. It is still a largely Democratic state and has been since the 1930s.
The Supreme Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state, as with most states. There is no intermediate court of appeals in West Virginia. Interestingly enough, the justices’ terms are long, at twelve years. They work to uphold the Constitution, and with only five justices on the court, they rotate the position of Chief Justice on a yearly basis.