1851, October 23-25: The ratification referendum was held – and passed – on the new popularly-titled “Reform Constitution.” Among the reform were several which echoed the political moves of Bacon’s Rebellion from nearly two centuries before. From Wikipedia:

As of the 1840 census, western Virginia contained the majority of the white residents of the state, and their increasing proportional underrepresentation greatly compounding the dissatisfaction with the electoral scheme adopted in 1830. Western Virginians made several attempts to win electoral reform in the Virginia legislature but were defeated each time. Their resulting sense of frustration reached the point that some began to openly discuss the abolition of slavery or secession from the state.[8] Ultimately, these pressures could not be ignored by the East, and a new constitutional convention was called met to resolve the continuing tensions.

The most significant change adopted in the resulting 1851 Constitution was that the property requirement for voting was eliminated, meaning that all white male residents of Virginia could now vote. The 1851 Constitution further established that the Governor, the newly created office of Lieutenant Governor, and all Virginia judges would be popularly elected. In light of the progress made toward resolving long festering issues of suffrage and representation, the 1851 Virginia Constitution became known as the “Reform Constitution”.[9]


  • ^ Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy, Jefferson to Lincoln. W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 587–588. ISBN 0-393-05820-4
  • ^ “Constitution of 1851”. West Virginia Encyclopedia.