The Republican Party arose in 1854. The Democratic Party was an advocate of slavery and the Republican Party opposed it. There was a lot of turmoil in Virginia with the rise of the Republican Party. When the Civil War reached Western Virginia, there was a rise in violence against those who opposed slavery. In May 1861, people traveled to Richmond, Virginia, to vote on secession of the state. Many Republicans had to leave the city because of the threats. Those who fled and others who lived in Western Virginia went to Wheeling to create their own government and began creating a new state, in which they were successful.
The Civil War helped the Republican Party gain recognition in the state. The Civil War in West Virginia often split families apart. The Boggs family lived in Pendleton County and one son was the head of the Confederate County Court while another son was the head of the Union Home guards in the north. Today, the northern party of Pendleton County is still strongly Republican. Republicans in Hampshire and Hardy counties left after the war to form Mineral and Grant counties, which are still primarily Republican. Republicans held the control in the state until the 1870s and the Confederates began voting and holding offices. In the 1870s, the party was so weak that it endorsed a Democratic governor.
Major Nathan Goff Jr. a veteran of the Civil War restructured the party. He was able to get the party to raise money and voters and recruit leaders. He led the party until the 1880s. He ran for governor in 1888 and was defeated by Aretas B. Fleming despite having more votes. The Republicans were the dominant party until the Great Depression. Since the Depression, Democrats have controlled the state.
Arch Moore Jr. was elected the Republican governor in the 1960s. In 1985, Moore helped raise money and supervised recovery efforts for the flood of 1985. The state voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. Betty Ireland was also elected as Secretary of State in 2004.
In the 2014 elections, the West Virginia Republican Party made major gains in West Virginia, capturing one of its two Senate seats, all of its congressional House seats for the first time since 1921, and gained control of both the West Virginia House of Delegates and the West Virginia Senate for the first time in 80 years. In the 2016 elections, the Republicans held on to their seats and made gains in the State Senate and gained three statewide offices.