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 rednecks which to this day thrives in the hills and valleys of this beautiful state.
In 1829, eastern Virginia made the concession of calling a constitutional convention, and the rich landowners (remember, they're the ones who get to vote) voted down every reform suggested. The rednecks went home empty-handed and grumbling. The eastern Virginians tried various peace offerings including the formation of new counties (and thus more opportunities to vote), and the building of roads throughout western Virginia, but as these reforms did not guarantee their descendants the promised land of beer and TV dinners, the western Virginians continued to be grizzled and angry.
In 1850, Virginia held another convention. This time, every white male 21 or older got the vote, and the constitution was changed to allow for the people to elect the governor and the judges. However, the sneaky eastern Virginians slipped in a provision on property tax reform: property would be taxed at face value -- except for slaves. Eastern Virginians owned lots of slaves because they were rich. Western Virginians were still dirt-poor and couldn't afford slaves to get the discount, so now they got to pay (relatively) higher property taxes than their "gentlemen" neighbors to the east. More grumbling ensued.
Then the War of Northern Aggression came along, and western Virginians had their chance. From 11 June to 25 June 1861, a group of delegates meeting in the city of Wheeling decided that they'd had enough and the Virginia legislature was a bunch of loonies who shouldn't be running the state. To solve this problem, they declared themselves to be the government of the "Reorganized State of Virginia," which re-joined the Union on 24 October of that year.
Unfortunately, there were serious problems with a bunch of guys in Wheeling just declaring themselves to be the legitimate government of the Union state of Virginia, especially when it seemed that Virginia was still quite avidly fighting for the Confederacy. The solution was simple, and founded in the most sacred tradition of American government: the Reorganized State of Virginia's government reasoned that if the United States could secede from Great Britain and Virginia could secede from the United States, then, by God, they could secede from Virginia!
At first it appeared there might be a constitutional issue since secession from a state would require the permission of the state to be seceded from, and the government that sat in Richmond was, by this point, not too happy with the government that sat in Wheeling. There was a happy ending, however, as President Lincoln had officially recognized the Reorganized Government of Virginia and allowed it to send Senators and Representatives to Washington. Having remembered this convenient fact, the Reorganized Government granted itself permission to secede from itself, and submitted a bill recognizing its statehood to Congress.
On 31 December 1862, Lincoln signed a freshly-passed statehood bill, which noticeably did not include provisions for the outlawing of slavery. On 26 March 1863, the (at the time) fifty counties of West Virginia approved the statehood bill (with an amendment abolishing slavery), and on 20 June of that year, the State of West Virginia was officially created, with Arthur I. Boreman (who had run unopposed for the office) as its first governor.
The Reorganized Government of Virginia, sensing that its work was done, promptly got the hell out of the new state, moving to Alexandria and eventually to Richmond. In 1865, after the war was over, the Reorganized Government challenged the legitimacy of West Virginia's statehood and elections were held in a couple of counties to determine which state they would be part of. The federal government, in a "police action" of sorts, sent Union troops to the polls and scared off the pro-Virginia factions. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court, speaking for a Federal government which was by this time rather tired of the whole mess, decided that Reorganized Virginia couldn't have its cake and eat it too, and handed down a ruling which implicitly approved of West Virginia's statehood while establishing a clear boundary between the two states. By 1871 the legal battles were pretty much over; West Virginia was official and had scored some extra counties in the deal.
And that was only the beginning. The tale of West Virginia since that historic day in 1863 is a long and storied one, full of heroic coon-dogs and legendary pickup trucks. But it's a tale for another day, because today, on the 20th of June, West Virginians young and old remember the origins of their state and gather together as one people, united with one voice and one cause. On this day we stand tall and look eastward, toward the state from which we separated in times of strife and turmoil, and we remember the hardships we suffered and how we toiled for our liberty. And we call out with that one voice, with one message, the motto of our great state:
TAKE US BACK!