Shepherd University professor writes book about state’s founding
Dr. John E. Stealey III, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Shepherd University, has written his fourth book, “West Virginia’s Civil War-Era Constitution: Loyal Revolution, Confederate Counter-Revolution, and the Convention of 1872,” which was published by Kent State University Press June 7.
It took the author 40 years to research and write the 831-page study about the state’s early history when it separated from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It examines Virginia loyalists, state confederates, and the establishment of a state constitution.
“This, I firmly believe, will be the most substantial volume to appear about West Virginia’s creation in West Virginia’s sesquicentennial year,” Stealey said.
In his writing, the author looks at the biographies of the members of the constitutional convention of 1872, examining wealth, familial relations, slave ownership, professions, and political affiliations and opinions. The volume relates all the debates and actions of the convention that wrote the state’s present constitution.
“West Virginians don’t know themselves as well as they should,” he said. “The work on the Civil War era was badly needed. This is the most thorough study about that period.”
Though Stealey started college in pursuit of a law degree, he said a class about West Virginia history and Appalachia he took in his junior year changed his course.
“I was interested in Appalachia and the problems of Appalachia,” he said. “I wanted to be a college history professor specializing in that field.”
Doing so at Shepherd allowed him to conduct research and write, as well.
Of completing his latest work he said, “It shows you what you can do if you have diligence. If you have a goal in mind you can attain it.”