The Second Wheeling Convention, 1861

Dear Delegates,

My name is Tyler Jenkins and I will be serving as your director for the Second Wheeling Convention of 1861 committee for HNMUN’s sixty-fourth session. I am Junior at Harvard College living in Quincy House. However, my real home is in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Martinsburg is a town in the state’s Eastern Panhandle, home to the B&O Railroad’s Historic Roundhouse and the Battle of Falling Waters. In college, I am concentrating in History with a secondary in Government. I am currently serving as the head of the Harvard Political Union in the Institute of Politics, alongside being an active member of the Harvard International Relations Council. Both organizations promote a key principle that I try to advocate for on campus: free political discourse and the idea of open debate.

As a member of Harvard’s competitive Model UN team, I understand it is possible to lose sight of what makes Model UN a valuable experience. Amid all the scheming to further agendas, the persuasive tactics to convince other delegates to vote for directives, and especially the competition for awards, we sometimes forget about the substantive side of MUN. The Specialized Agencies offers an opportunity to gain skills in negotiation and cooperation that we will take with us in all future endeavors. I encourage you to talk to the people in committee outside of session; learn from the stories and experiences we all bring with us. At HNMUN, we have an opportunity to hear from people in all walks of life across the world. I value that more than any award I could ever hand out at the end.

Many people may have chosen this committee without even knowing that West Virginia is a separate state from Virginia today. When we designed this committee, we knew that the topic was not a commonly addressed subject. Due to this, I am excited to share the rich history of the Civil War in Appalachia. The history of this area is underdiscussed, but that does not make it any less valuable or beautiful. It is a story of sectionalism, struggle, defiance, and innovation that the people of Appalachia live to this day. West Virginia is a state that I love, and I can’t wait to share the place that shaped my life with each of you.

Tyler Jenkins
Director, The Second Wheeling Convention, 1861
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the Second Wheeling Convention! My name is Allison Toledo and I am thrilled to be your Crisis Director. The Second Wheeling Convention, which ultimately ended with the secession of West Virginia from Virginia to join the Union, was a pivotal moment in both the Civil War and in U.S. history as a whole. Though it may not be the first thing you read about when it comes to U.S. history, it has undoubtedly shaped the trajectory of the country, and I am truly looking forward to the crises and excitement that lie ahead.

For a little bit about myself, I am a junior at Harvard College studying Social Studies with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. I compete on the Model UN circuit with our traveling team and serve as the Under-Secretary-General for Business at our high school conference, HMUN. I have also been lucky enough to chair committees in Boston, Lima, Beijing, and Hyderabad. Aside from Model UN, I serve as the co-director of the Harvard Program for International Education and perform with my a cappella group, the Harvard LowKeys, as well as in various theater productions on campus.

This committee will be fast-paced and challenging, forcing you to make snap decisions that will affect the course of the Civil War and of the United States as we know it. Representing various delegates at the Convention, you will need to balance your region’s concerns with the greater good at stake in the war, perhaps even coming into contact with Union President Lincoln or Confederate President Davis as you do so. Be prepared to think on your feet—the fate of the United States rests on the decisions you make.

I look forward to meeting each of you and exploring this time period together! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Tyler or myself via email.

Allison Toledo
Crisis Director, The Second Wheeling Convention, 1861
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018

The year is 1861 and the United States is splitting at its seams. The state of South Carolina decided to secede from the Union over the issue of slavery and the election of Abraham Lincoln as president. After the shelling of Ft. Sumter, South Carolina, the people of the state of Virginia voted in favor of joining their southern counterparts in secession. The plans were underway for Virginia to join the Confederate States and rebel against the country it helped build less than a century ago. However, the referendum was far from unanimous; Western Virginia citizens have voted in favor of staying in the Union, and now feel disillusioned with the future of their state. They are outraged and have called for an assembly of community leaders to address the future of Western Virginia: The Second Wheeling Convention of 1861.

The citizen leaders in Western Virginia must decide at the Second Wheeling Convention. Will the counties of Western Virginia break away from Virginia and side with President Lincoln and the Union orr will they join Virginia in the rebellion against the North? Union and Confederate soldiers stand at the ready throughout the border counties of Western Virginia; awaiting a decision from the delegates. Clashes in the region appear inevitable. Each county’s unique attributes, concerns, and needs must be addressed and balanced against the demands of U.S. President Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Conditions of the region are threatening the stability and cooperation at the Convention. Delegates must lead their citizens through the tumult of sectionalism and conflict throughout Western Virginia.

The future of the county you represent in Western Virginia and the United States is at stake. The region is in many ways the key to victory in the Civil War. The choices you make will shape the events and the outcome of the war. You must decide for the people of Western Virginia, and you must handle the consequences. The decision to create the new state of West Virginia or to join the rebellion is in your hands.