• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court decided the terms of the financial settlement between Virginia and West Virginia after their separation as a result of the Civil War.

Virginia wanted West Virginia to pay about one-third of the pre-Civil War debt based on the total square miles of territory it lost when West Virginia separated from the state in 1863. West Virginia wanted to pay only for the proportion of the debt actually spent in its portion of the preexisting state a much smaller sum. The special master appointed to resolve the issue determined that West Virginia should pay a sum based on excluding nonslave property value at the time of separation a sum that fell between the two figures. When West Virginia still refused to pay, Virginia sought judicial enforcement. Chief Justice Melville W. FullerFuller, Melville W.;Virginia v. West Virginia[Virginia v. West Virginia] wrote the unanimous decision for the Court, ratifying the findings of the special master. Eventually West Virginia agreed to pay, taking until 1939 to finish paying this debt.States’ rights;Virginia v. West Virginia[Virginia v. West Virginia]Interstate compacts;Virginia v. West Virginia[Virginia v. West Virginia]

Civil War

Federalism

Interstate compacts

States’ rights and state sovereignty

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