June 20, 1863, ushered in the thirty-fifth state of the Union. West Virginia was to be the model of sustained growth and progress. It would take less than fifty years, however, for this industrialized state to be lagging far behind the rest of the nation in nearly every measure of personal and institutional achievement. What went wrong? By examining those first fifty years of statehood through the lives of four influential West Virginians--Johnson M. Camden, Henry G. Davis, Steven B. Elkins, and Nathan B. Scott--John Alexander Williams answers this complex question.