There is little doubt in my mind that West Virginia was created illegally_or, if one wants to draw a distinction, extralegally_during the Civil War. Whether, as the license tags claim, the state is "almost heaven," West Virginia's split from parental Virginia in 1863 was_as I read history_constitutionally flawed. And, let's admit, I'm philosophically on the Yankee side

But West Virginia's sovereign existence has become a habit, not subject to reverse. Or is it?

Elben Barnette, president of the West Virginia Taxpayers Association, wrote Virginia Gov. Charles S. Robb in March promoting reunification. Not only that, but suggesting Staunton, a charming small Virginia city in the Shenandoah Valley, as the capital of the reunified state. Staunton Mayor Thomas E. Roberts, picking up the cue, wrote Robb and the governor of West Virginia asserting the city's cause.

The replies:

From West Virginia Gov. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV--West Virginians "would never give up the statehood that they have justifiably earned." (Earned? They stole it!)

From Virginia Gov. Robb--"You make a very strong case for Staunton and I share your high regard for the 'Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley.' I don't expect the Capitol to be moving, however." (The Capitol sure isn't going to be moved. But the capital, maybe?)

Robb also wrote to Barnette that reunification "does not appear to me to be a practical possibility." (Not even practicable?)