- History of Virginia
The recorded History of Virginia began with settlement of the geographic region now known as the Commonwealth of
Virginiain the United Statesthousands of years ago by Native Americans. Permanent European settlement did not occur until the establishment of Jamestown in 1607, by English colonists. As tobaccoemerged as a profitable export, Virginia imported more Africans to cultivate it and hardened boundaries of slavery. The Virginia Colonybecame the wealthiest and most populated British colony in North America.
Virginia was one of the original 13 colonies that won independence from
Great Britainduring the American Revolutionary War. The state produced more national leaders than any other, including four of the first five presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
When the issue of slavery divided the young nation, the slave state Virginia was reluctant to secede in 1861. After it did, Virginia became the major battlefield of the
American Civil War. Virginia shared agricultural recession with other Southern states after the war and struggled to rebuild. As in other former Confederate states, when white Democrats regained power, they passed laws to segregatepublic facilities and a constitution to disfranchise blacks by the turn of the century. The long struggle by African Americans to gain protected rights through education, litigation and nonviolent activism, lasted deep into the 1960s before they gained civil rightslegislation that protected citizens from racial discrimination.
2007 was the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown. An 18-month-long celebration called
Jamestown 2007began in 2006. Events celebrated the Native American, European, and African contributions to the history of Virginia.
The portion of the New World designated Virginia had been inhabited for at least 3,000 years by many groups of Native Americans. Archaeological and historical research by anthropologist Helen Rountree and others established this.
At the end of the 16th century, Native Americans living in what is now Virginia] included the
Cherokee, Chesepian, Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Meherrin, Monacan, Nansemond, Nottoway, Pamunkey, Pohick, Powhatan, Rappahannock, Saponi, and Tuscarora. The natives are divided into three groups, based chiefly on language differences. The largest group, known as the Algonquian, numbered over 10,000. The other groups are the Iroquoian(numbering 2,500) and the Siouan. [ [http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/education/projects/webunits/vahistory/tribes.html Virginia Indian Tribes ] ]
When the first English settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607, Algonquian tribes controlled most of Virginia east of the
fall line. Nearly all were united in what has been historically called the Powhatan Confederacy. Researcher Rountree has noted that empiremore accurately describes their political structure. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a Chief named Wahunsunacockcreated this powerful empire by conquering or affiliating with approximately 30 tribes whose territories covered much of eastern Virginia. Wahunsunacock called this area Tenakomakah("densely inhabited Land"). [ [http://www.wm.edu/niahd/journals/index.php?browse=entry&id=4965 "c.f." Anishinaabe language: "danakamigaa": "activity-grounds", "i.e." "land of much events [for the People] "] He was known as Chief Powhatan. The empire was advantageous to some tribes, who were periodically threatened by other Native Americans, such as the Monacans.
The Native Americans had a different culture than the English. Despite some successful interaction, issues of ownership and control of land, and trust between the peoples, became areas of conflict. Virginia has drought conditions an average of every three years. The colonists did not understand that the natives were ill-prepared to feed them during hard times. In the years after 1612, the colonists cleared land to farm export
tobacco, their crucial cash crop. As tobacco exhausted the soil, the settlers continually needed to clear more land for replacement. This reduced wooded land which Native Americans could use for hunting to supplement their food crops. As more colonists arrived, they wanted more land.
The tribes tried to fight the encroachment by the colonists. Major conflicts took place with the
Indian massacre of 1622and another in 1644, both under the leadership of the late Chief Powhatan's younger brother, Chief Opechancanough. By the mid-17th century, the Powhatans were in serious decline. The European colonists had expanded so that they controlled virtually all the land east of the fall line on the James River. Fifty years earlier, this territory had been the empire of the mighty Powhatan Confederacy.
Members of many tribes assimilated into the general population of the colony. Some retained their identity and heritage. In the 21st century, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi maintain reservations in King William County. Active groups of other tribes have preserved portions of their heritage and they have renewed interest in seeking state and Federal recognition since the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown in 2007. State celebrations gave Native American tribes prominent formal roles to celebrate their contributions to the state.
After their discovery of the New World in the 15th century, European states began trying to establish New World colonies.
England, the Dutch Republic, France, Portugal, and Spain were the most active. When Englandbegan to colonize North America, "Virginia" was the name Queen Elizabeth I of England(who was known as the "Virgin Queen" because she never married) gave to the whole area explored by the 1584 expedition of Sir Walter Raleighalong the coast of North America. The name was applied to the coast from South Carolinato Maineand the Canadian Maritimes.
In the much smaller area now known as Virginia, the Spanish were the first to attempt to establish a colony, although they failed. More than 36 years later, the English established their first permanent settlement in the same area, at a swampy mosquito-infested island they named "Jamestown" in honor of their King,
James I of England.
panish Mission on the Virginia Peninsula
A Spanish exploration party had come to the lower
Chesapeake Bayregion of Virginia about 1560 and met the Native Americans living on the Virginia Peninsula. A 17-year-old Powhatanboy from the village of Chiskiack(located on the lands of the present-day U.S. Naval Weapons Station Yorktown), who was the son of a chief, agreed to leave with them. He was baptized and renamed Don Luis, in honor of his sponsor, Luis de Velasco. Don Luis was educated in Mexicoand Madrid, Spain.
In the fall of 1570, ten years later, the native-convert Don Luis returned to Virginia to help as a guide and translator in the establishment of the
Jesuits planned Ajacan Missionto be named for St. Maryon the lower peninsula. Shortly after they were left by a Spanish ship, Don Luis abandoned the group, returning to his people, where he became a Weroance. The following February, Don Luis and a group of Powhatans returned and killed the eight Jesuit missionaries, stealing their clothes and possessions, sparing only the life of a Spanish servant boy named Alonzo. This young boy escaped and made his way to a rival tribe, where he stayed until later rescued by another Spanish ship bringing supplies. [Price, 11]
When told of the events by young Alonzo, in the early part of 1572, the Spanish governor of Florida,
Pedro Menendez de Aviles, returned to Virginia to retaliate. The Spanish ultimately captured and hanged some of the Indians believed responsible for the massacre, but they were unable to locate Don Luis. While this marked the end of Spanish efforts to colonize the area which became Virginia, there is some speculation over 400 years later that Don Luis and Opechancanough, who was later Chief of the Powhatan Confederacy, may have been the same individual. [Boyer, 39, 41] The name Opechancanough meant "He whose Soul is White" in the Algonquinlanguage used by the Powhatan people.
Roanoke Island: the lost colony
Between 1584 and 1587, there were two major groups of settlers sponsored by Sir
Walter Raleighwho attempted to establish a permanent settlement at Roanoke Island, and each failed. The final group disappeared completely after supplies from England were delayed three years by a war with Spain. Their disappearance and the fact that their fate has never been authoritatively ascertained is the source of the continuing mystery of what came to be called "The Lost Colony".
Virginia Company: Plymouth and London branches
After the death of Queen Elizabeth I, in 1603 King James I assumed the throne of England. After years of war, England was strapped for funds, so he granted responsibility for England's New World colonization to the
Virginia Company, which became incorporated as a joint stock companyby a proprietary charter drawn up on April 10, 1606. There were two competing branches of the Virginia Company and each hoped to establish a colony in Virginia in order to exploit gold (which the region did not actually have), to establish a base of support for English privateering against Spanish ships, and to spread Protestantism to the New World in competition with Spain's spread of Catholicism. [In 1570, the Spanish tried to establish Ajacan Missiona Jesuitmission. It was destroyed by Indians in February 1571. ]
Within the Virginia Company, the
Plymouth Companybranch was assigned a northern portion of the area known as Virginia, and the London Companyarea to the south. An overlapping portion in between was part of the competition.
In the late summer of 1607, the Plymouth Company established their
Popham Colonyin what is now the U.S. state of Maine. However, it only lasted a year, and was abandoned in 1608.
By the time a successor to the Plymouth Company sent Pilgrims aboard the "
Mayflower" to establish a permanent settlement in what became Massachusettsin 1620, the area was no longer considered part of Virginia, but had been renamed New England. However, 12 years before then, the competing London Company branch of the Virginia Company was more successful in establishing a permanent settlement at Jamestown.
Jamestown and surrounding area
First landing: April 1607
In December, 1606, the London Company dispatched a group of 104 colonists in three ships: the "
Susan Constant", "Godspeed", and "Discovery", under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. The voyage was a rough and lengthy one. After 144 days, the colonists finally arrived in Virginia on April 26, 1607at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. They named the Virginia capes after the sons of their king, Cape Henryfor Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Cape Charlesfor his younger brother, Charles, Duke of York. At Cape Henry, they went ashore, erected a cross, and did a small amount of exploring, an event which came to be called the "First Landing."
Under orders from London to seek a more inland and ostensibly safer location ( primarily from ships of other Europeans, such as the Spanish), they explored the
Hampton Roadsarea and sailed up the newly christened James River to the fall lineat what would later became the cities of Richmond and Manchester.
Jamestown and Captain John Smith: 1607-1609
After weeks of exploration, the colonists selected a location and founded Jamestown on
May 14, 1607. It was named in honor of King James I (as was the river). However, while the location at Jamestown Islandwas favorable for defense against foreign ships, the low and marshy terrain was harsh and inhospitable for a settlement. It lacked drinking water, access to game for hunting, or much space for farming. While it seemed favorable that it was not inhabited by the Native Americans, within a short time, the colonists were attacked by members of the local Paspaheghtribe.
The colonists arrived ill-prepared to become self-sufficient. They had planned on trading with the Native Americans for food, were dependent upon periodic supplies from England, and had planned to spend some of their time seeking gold. Leaving the "Discovery" behind for their use, Captain Newport returned to England with the "Susan Constant" and the "Godspeed", and came back twice during 1608 with the First Supply and Second Supply missions. Trading and relations with the Native Americans was tenuous at best, and many of the colonists died from disease, starvation, and conflicts with the Natives. After several failed leaders, Captain John Smith took charge of the settlement, and many credit him with sustaining the colony during its first years, as he had some success in trading for food and leading the discouraged colonists.
However, in August 1609, Smith was injured in an accident and forced to return to England a few months later for medical treatment. In one of history's ironies, he left just as a drought was creating a shortage of food for the Native Americans and the English colonists, and as a weather disaster had disrupted the supply missions from England.
1609-1610: the "starving time"
After Smith's departure, there was an interruption in the scheduled arrival of supplies due to the shipwreck on
Bermudaof the " Sea Venture", the new flagshipof the Third Supplymission from England as a result of a massive three-day hurricane. The "Sea Venture" had became separated from the other ships of the Third Supply mission, seven of which had arrived at Jamestown with hundreds of additional colonists, but little in the way of food and supplies, which had been aboard the flagship.
During the winter of 1609-10 and continuing into the spring and early summer, no more ships arrived. The colonists faced what became known as the "starving time". The leader who had replaced John Smith, Captain
John Ratcliffeof the "Discovery", was captured and killed by the Powhatans, who were much more aggressive after Smith's departure. Only a small amount of food was traded, and at very high prices, as the colonists gave up valuable tools and equipment. The colonists had no way of knowing if help would ever come. However, they had not been forgotten, and separate events were underway at Bermuda and in England to re-supply them.
Shipwrecked on the uninhabited archipelago of Bermuda, over a period of 10 months, the leaders of the Third Supply and the survivors of the "Sea Venture" constructed two smaller ships, using many parts from their destroyed flagship. Leaving a few men on Bermuda to retain possession, they set sail again for Jamestown. (The Virginia Company remained in physical possession of Bermuda from the time of the "Sea Venture" wreck, and its Third Charter, in 1612, extended the boundaries of Virginia far enough out to sea to include Bermuda, also known as the Somers Isles. A separate company, the
Somers Isles Company, was formed by the same shareholders in 1615, administering Bermuda until 1684. Immigrants would continue to come from Bermuda in large numbers to Virginia, and other southern colonies, until US independence closed the door [ [http://www.genealogymagazine.com/bermuda.html Geneaology Magazine] ] ).
When Captain Newport, his Admiral, Sir
George Somers, and the new governor, Sir Thomas Gates, finally arrived at Jamestown on May 23, 1610, they anticipated finding a thriving colony. Instead, they discovered something much different. Over 80% of the 500 colonists had perished, and many remaining alive were sick. On their two small ships, the "Sea Venture" survivors had brought few supplies from Bermuda. The stark reality was that the situation was only slightly improved at Jamestown with their arrival. It appeared that using the two ships to leave the hostile environment was the only viable option, one which the leaders were reluctant to embrace. Finally, they began to sail down the James River.
Meanwhile, back in England, the Virginia Company had been reorganized under its Second Charter, ratified on
May 23, 1609, which gave most leadership authority of the colony to the governor, the newly-appointed Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr(known in modern times as "Lord Delaware"). Word had reached England through Samuel Argall, captain of one of the other ships of the Third Supply, that the "Sea Venture" (with most of the supplies of that mission) had not arrived at Jamestown, and that food and supplies there were quite low, despite an increased number of colonists.
aving Jamestown: Lord Delaware and John Rolfe
April 1, 1610, De La Warr left for Jamestown with 150 men and additional food and supplies to rescue to colonists and assume leadership over the colony. Upon his arrival in June, as he sailed up the James River, he was met by two ships sailing downriver near Mulberry Island. There is little doubt that he was as surprised to learn of the fate of the "Sea Venture" and that its survivors had made it to Jamestown as they were to see English ships arriving.
Lord Delaware was likely less surprised to find them all preparing to abandon the colony. Instead, he required them to stay in Virginia and work with his fresh colonists and supplies to continue the settlement. The timing of Lord Delaware's arrival must have been a disappointment to those who hoped to leave Jamestown forever. However, neither they, nor Lord Delaware, could have known that the man who held the key to Virginia's economic future was also returning to Jamestown with them.
One of the "Sea Venture" survivors was a businessman named
John Rolfe. Despite leaving England with great expectations aboard the beautiful new "Sea Venture", his trip thus far with Captain Newport had not gone well at all. His wife and son had died on the voyage since leaving London. He himself had finally made it to Jamestown, only to discover the result of the "Starving Time." Although he had some marketing ideas and some new seeds for sweeter strains of tobaccowith him, both were as yet untried. That was about to change.
As he became established, De La Warr began a violent campaign,
First Anglo-Powhatan War, against the natives. Under his leadership, Samuel Argallkidnapped Pocahontas, daughter of the Powhatan chief, and hold her at Henricus. Attempts at ransom failed, however.
The economy of the Colony was another problem. Gold had never been found, and efforts to introduce profitable industries in the colony had all failed until Rolfe introduced his two foreign types of
tobacco: Orinoco and Sweet Scented. These produced a better crop than the local variety and with the first shipment to England in 1612, the customers found the flavor to be favorable. This identification of a cash cropto exportmarked the beginning of Virginia's economic viability. While ransoming the chief's daughter had not worked, the First Anglo-Powhatan War ended when John Rolfe married Pocahontas in 1614. The union seemed to create good feelings between the vastly different cultures. If only for a few years, a comparative peace was established. Their son, Thomas Rolfe, was born in 1615.
The Virginia Colony began to prosper with a thriving tobacco industry, but required more and more of the land the natives considered their own. Especially after the death of Pocahontas in 1617 during a trip to England and her father, Chief Powhatan in 1618, conflicts with the Powhatans escalated again. There were also conflicts among the colonists. De La Warr's deputy, Samuel Argall, who had been left in charge of the colony, ran Jamestown as an autocrat. Responding to accusations of Argall's abuses, De La Warr left to return to the colony in 1618 but died en route.
1619: a watershed year
1619 was a watershed year for the Virginia Company.
George Yeardleytook over as Governor of Virginiain 1619. In the long view, the most important development was that he reformed the old autocratic system and created a more democratic one. He established the House of Burgesses, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World, which first met on July 30, 1619in the Jamestown church (the current House of Delegates in the Virginia General Assemblytraces its roots to the Burgesses).
Also in 1619, the Virginia Company sent 90 single women as potential wives for the male colonists to help populate the settlement. Prior to that time, the only females to arrive had been wives and children.
That same year the colony acquired a group of "twenty and odd" Angolans, brought by two English privateers. They were probably the first Africans in the colony. They, along with many European
indentured servants helped to expand the growing tobacco industry which was already the colony's primary product. Although these black men were treated as indentured servants, this marked the beginning of America's history of slavery. Major importation of African slaves by both African and Europeans profiteers did not take place until much later in the century.
Also in 1619, the plantations and developments were divided into four "incorporations" or "citties" (sic), as they were called. These were Charles Cittie, Elizabeth Cittie, Henrico Cittie, and James Cittie, which included the relatively small seat of government for the colony at Jamestown Island. Each of the four "citties" (sic) extended across the James River, the main conduit of transportation of the era. Elizabeth Cittie, know initially as Kecoughtan (a Native word with many variations in spelling by the English), also included the areas now known as
South Hampton Roadsand the Eastern Shore.
In some areas, individual rather than communal land ownership or leaseholds were established, providing families with motivation to increase production, improve standards of living, and gain wealth. Perhaps nowhere was this more progressive at than Sir
Thomas Dale's ill-fated Henricus, a westerly-lying development located along the south bank of the James River, where natives were also to be provided an education at the Colony's first college.
About 6 miles south of the falls at present-day Richmond, in Henrico Cittie the
Falling Creek Ironworkswas established near the confluence of Falling Creek, using local oredeposits to make iron. It was the first in North America. Extant records indicate the production of iron had begun, but the events of March, 1622 interrupted continued operations.
1622-1646: fundamental conflict grows: colonists vs. natives
While the developments of 1619 and continued growth in the several following years were seen as favorable by the English, many aspects, especially the continued need for more and more land to grow tobacco were the source of increasing concern to the Native Americans most affected, the Powhatans.
The central issue was who would be in charge. The Powhatans formally and ritually admitted Virginia into their political system in 1607 and 1608, and for years under the rule of Chief Powhatan, and even later, they fought to enforce the control they felt was rightfully theirs. The colonists, however, never recognized Powhatan authority, and they also acted to take control.
By this time, the remaining Powhatan Empire was led by Chief Opechancanough, chief of the
Pamunkeys, and brother of Chief Powhatan. He had earned a reputation as a fierce warrior under his brother's chiefdom. Soon, he gave up on hopes of diplomacy, and resolved to eradicate the English colonists.
March 22, 1622, a Good Friday, about 400 colonists were killed in an event which came to be called the Indian Massacre of 1622. Coordinated attacks struck almost all the English settlements along the James River, on both shores, from Newport News Point on the east at Hampton Roadsall the way west upriver to Falling Creek, a few miles above Henricus and John Rolfe's plantation, Varina Farms.
At Jamestown itself, the death and destruction would have been worse had an Indian boy named
Chanconot defied orders to kill his employer, Richard Pace, and instead warned him of the attack the night before. Pace secured his plantation, and rowed across the river during the night to alert Jamestown, allowing for some preparation. However, there had been no time to spread the warning to other English outposts. There were deaths and some colonists were captured at almost every outpost. Several entire communities were essentially wiped out, including Henricusand Wolstenholme Towneat Martin's Hundred. At the Falling Creek Ironworks, which had been seen as so promising for the Colony, two women and three children were among the 27 killed, leaving only two colonists alive. The facilities were destroyed.
However, despite the losses, two thirds of the colonists survived that fateful day. After initially withdrawing to Jamestown, many of them returned to the outlying plantations, although some were abandoned. There were reprisals against the Powhatans by the English as well. The colonists and natives fought for about a year until a truce was struck.
Meeting at Jamestown, a toast of liquor was proposed. However, Dr. John Potts and some of the Jamestown leadership had poisoned the natives' share of the liquor, which killed about 200 of them. Another 50 Indians were killed by hand.
The period between the coup of 1622 and another Powhatan attack on English colonists along the James River (see ) in 1644 marked a turning point in the relations between the Powhatans and the English, from a situation where both sides felt that they not only could dictate, but were dictating, the terms of the relationship, to the period after 1646, where the colony was clearly in control.
The colonists defined the 1644 coup as an "uprising", but even at that late date, Chief Opechancanough expected the outcome would reflect what he considered the morally correct position that the colonists were violating their pledges to the Powhatans. During the 1644 event, Chief Opechancanough was captured. While imprisoned, he was murdered by one of his guards.
After the death of Opechancanough, and following the repeated colonial attacks in 1644 and 1645, the remaining Powhatan tribes had little alternative but to accede to the demands of the settlers. [ [Gleach p. 199] ]
Virginia as a royal colony
In 1624, the Virginia Company's charter was revoked and the colony transferred to royal authority as a
crown colony, but the elected representatives in Jamestown continued to exercise a fair amount of power. Under royal authority, the colony began to expand to the North and West with additional settlements. In 1630, under the governorship of John Harvey, the first settlement on the York River was founded. In 1632, the Virginia legislature voted to build a fort to link Jamestown and the York River settlement of Chiskiackand protect the colony from Indian attacks. This fort would become Middle Plantationand later Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1634, a palisade was built near Middle Plantation. This wall stretched across the peninsula between the York and James rivers and protected the settlements on the eastern side of the lower Peninsula from Indians. The wall also served to contain cattle.
Also in 1634, a new system of local government was created in the Virginia Colony by order of the King of England. Eight
shires were designated, each with its own local officers. These shires were renamed as counties only a few years later. They were:
*Accomac (now Northampton County)
Charles City Shire(now Charles City County)
Charles River Shire(now York County)
Elizabeth City Shire(extinct)
*Henrico (now Henrico County)
James City Shire(now James City County)
Warwick River Shire(extinct)
Warrosquyoake Shirenow (Isle of Wight County)
Of these, as of 2007, five of the eight original
shires of Virginiaare considered still extant in essentially their same political form (county), although some boundaries have changed in almost 400 years. Also, including the earlier names of the cities (sic) in their names resulted in the source of some confusion, as that resulted in such seemingly contradictory names as "James City County" and "Charles City County". (Citizens of the now-extinct "Elizabeth City County" voted to be consolidated with the independent cityof Hampton in 1952, and also voted to assume the better-known and less cumbersome name).
The first significant attempts at exploring the Trans-Allegheny region occurred under the administration of Governor
William Berkeley. Efforts to explore farther into Virginia were hampered in 1644 when about 500 colonists were killed in another Indian massacre led, once again, by Opechancanough. Berkeley is credited with efforts to develop others sources of income for the colony besides tobacco such as cultivation of mulberrytrees for silkwormsand other crops at his large Green Spring Plantation, now a largely unexplored archaeological site maintained by the National Park Servicenear Jamestown and Williamsburg.
Most of Virginian colonists were loyal to the English monarchy during the
English Civil War, but, in 1652 Oliver Cromwellsent a force to remove and replace Gov. Berkeley with governors loyal to the Commonwealth of England. These governors were moderate Puritanswho allowed the local legislature to exercise most controlling authority.
Many royalists fled to Virginia after their defeat in the English Civil War. Many of them established what would become the most important families in Virginia. After the Restoration, in recognition of Virginia's loyalty to the crown, King
Charles II of Englandbestowed Virginia with the nickname "The Old Dominion", which it still bears today.
Berkeley, who remained popular after his first administration, returned to the governorship at the end of Commonwealth rule. However, Berkeley's second administration was characterized with many problems. Disease, hurricanes, Indian hostilities, and economic difficulties all plagued Virginia at this time. Berkeley established autocratic authority over the colony. To protect this power, he refused to have new legislative elections for 14 years in order to protect a House of Burgesses that supported him. He only agreed to new elections when rebellion became a serious threat.
Berkeley finally did face a rebellion in 1676. Indians had begun attacking encroaching settlers as they expanded to the north and west. Serious fighting broke out when settlers responded to violence with a counter-attack against the wrong tribe, which further extended the violence. Berkeley did not assist the settlers in their fight. Many settlers and historians believe Berkeley's refusal to fight the Indians stemmed from his investments in the fur trade. Large scale fighting would have cut off the Indian suppliers Berkeley's investment relied on.
Nathaniel Baconof Henrico organized his own militia of settlers who retaliated against the Indians. Bacon became very popular as the primary opponent of Berkeley, not only on the issue of Indians, but on other issues as well. Berkeley condemned Bacon as a rebel, but pardoned him after Bacon won a seat in the House of Burgesses and accepted it peacefully. After a lack of reform, Bacon rebelled outright, captured Jamestown, and took control of the colony for several months. The incident became known as Bacon's Rebellion. Berkeley returned himself to power with the help of the English militia. Bacon burned Jamestown before abandoning it and continued his rebellion, but died of disease. Berkeley severely crushed the remaining rebels. In response to Berkeley's harsh repression of the rebels, the English government removed him from office. After the burning of Jamestown, the capital was temporarily moved to Middle Plantation, located on the high ground of the Virginia Peninsulaequidistant from the James and York Rivers.
Following a failure at
Henricusearlier in the century, under Governor Francis Nicholson, Virginia's first permanent institute of higher learning was founded. In 1691, with urging and support of the House of Burgesses, Reverend Dr. James Blair, the colony's top religious leader, went back to England and in 1693, obtained a charter from King William and Queen Mary II of England. The college was named the College of William and Maryin honor of the two monarchs.
The rebuilt statehouse in Jamestown burned again in 1698. After that fire, upon suggestion of students of the College of William and Mary, the colonial capital was permanently moved to nearby Middle Plantation again, and the town was renamed Williamsburg, in honor of William of Orange, King William III.
The colony of
Marylandand Virginia had a long series of border disputes of which one continues to this day. The dispute revolved around the boundary that King Charles I granted the charter to George Calvertthe baron of Maryland in 1632. It granted him feudal rights of the region between lat. 40°N and the Potomac Riverwhich Virginia claimed. The disputes over the area were mostly resolved in 1930. However Maryland and Virginia still dispute the usage of the Potomac and water rights.
Exploration; Shenandoah Valley
Alexander Spotswoodbecame lieutenant governor, or acting royal governor, of Virginia in 1710, and in 1716 he led an expedition of westward exploration, later known as the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition. Spotswood's party reached the top ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountainsat Swift Run Gap(elevation 2,365 feet).
Historian Douglas Southall Freeman has explained the social structure of the 1740s:
West of the fall line... the settlements fringed toward the frontier of the Blue Ridge and the Valley of the Shenandoah. Democracy was real where life was raw. In Tidewater, the flat country East of the fall line, there were no less than eight strata of society. The uppermost and the lowliest, the great proprietors and the Negro slaves, were supposed to be of immutable station. The others were small farmers, merchants, sailors, frontier folk, servants and convicts. Each of these constituted a distinct class at a given time, but individuals and families often shifted materially in station during a single generation. Titles hedged the ranks of the notables. Members of the Council of State were termed both "Colonel" and "Esquire." Large planters who did not bear arms almost always were given the courtesy title of "Gentlemen." So were Church Wardens, Vestrymen, Sheriffs and Trustees of towns. The full honors of a man of station were those of Vestryman [of the Church] , Justice [lifetime member of the County Court, appointed by the legislature] and Burgess [elected member of the legislature] . Such an individual normally looked to England and especially to London and sought to live by the social standards of the mother country. [Freeman, "Washington" 1:79]
Church of England and the new Virginia Colony
When the English colony was established in Virginia, the role of the
Church of Englandand its relationship to the government had been established by King Henry VIII some years earlier. The same relationship was established in the new colony.
At Jamestown, worship services and a primitive chapel were early priorities even as the first fort was built, with Robert Hunt as the spiritual leader. Hunt was the spiritual leader of the three ship expedition headed by Christopher Newport. He lit the candle for the Anglican Church in Virginia a few weeks earlier when he first prayed on
April 29, 1607, when the settlers made their "First Landing" in the New Worldand planted a cross at Cape Henry, near the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. In his role as religious leader, he was a peacemaker, often bringing harmony to a quarreling group of men. [ htp://www.nps.gov/archive/colo/Jthanout/RHunt.html ]
Parishes: functionally, a local governmental unit
After five very difficult years, during which the majority of the continually arriving colonists also did not survive, the colony began to grow more successfully. As in England, the "parish" became a unit of local importance equal in power and practical aspects to other entities such as the courts and even the House of Burgesses and the Governor's Council (the precursors of the
Virginia General Assembly). (A "parish" was normally led spiritually by a "rector" and governed by a committee of members generally respected in the community which was known as the "vestry"). A typical parish contained three or four churches, as the parish churches needed to be close enough for travel to worship, which was basically expected of everyone. Virtually all parishes had a church farm (or " glebe") to help support it financially. [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~johns/njfrg/reference/parishes.htm The Johns Family History Associa ] ]
Expansion and subdivision of the church parishes and after 1634 the "shires" (or "counties") each followed the growth. The intention of the Virginia parish system was to place a church not more than six miles-easy riding distance-from every home in the colony. The shires, soon after initial establishment in 1634 known as "counties", were planned to be not more than a day's ride from all residents, so that court and other business could be attended to in a practical manner.
In his "Notes on the State of Virginia" published in 1781-82,
Thomas Jeffersondescribed the parish arrangement: "The state, by another division, is formed into parishes, many of which are commensurate with the counties: but sometimes a county comprehends more than one parish, and sometimes a parish more than one county. This division had relation to the religion of the state, a Parson of the Anglican church, with a fixed salary, having been heretofore established in each parish. The care of the poor was another object of the parochial division." [ http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JefVirg.sgm&
Missionaries to educate and convert the natives
Religious leaders in England felt they had a duty as missionaries to bring
Christianity(or more specifically, the religious practices and beliefs of the Church of England), to the Native Americans. There was an assumption that their own "mistaken" spiritual beliefs were largely the result of a lack of education and literacy, since the Powhatan did not have a written language. Therefore, teaching them these skills would logically result in what the English saw as "enlightenment" in their religious practices, and bring them into the fold of the church, which was part of the government, and hence, a form of control.
The leaders of the Virginia Colony had long desired a school of higher education, for the sons of planters, and for educating the natives. An earlier attempt to establish a permanent university at
Henricusfor these purposes around 1618 had gotten off to a start, and had been promising, but failed after the Indian Massacre of 1622wiped out the entire settlement, which was not rebuilt.
Almost 70 years later, with encouragement from the Colony's
House of Burgessesand other prominent individuals, Blair prepared a plan, believed by some historians to be modeled after the earlier one from Henricus, and returned to England in 1691to petition the monarchy for a new college.
Control of the Powhatan was no longer a priority in the Colony, as they had been largely decimated and reduced to reservations after the last major conflict in 1644, but the religious principle of educating them in Christianity was nevertheless retained, perhaps as a moral incentive to help successfully gain support and approval in London for the new
College of William and Mary, which received its Royal Charterin 1693. However, the efforts to educate and convert the natives there to Christianity were minimal and short-lived once the school was established.
Bruton Parish was located in the tiny community of
Middle Plantation, on high ground midway across the Virginia Peninsula about 8 miles north of Jamestown. Colonel John Page, a merchant who had emigrated from Middlesex, Englandwith his wife Alice Lucken Page in 1650, was chiefly responsible for developing Middle Plantation into a substantial town. Bruton Parish Church, a fine but small brick church, was built there, financed mostly by Colonel Page, who also donated the land. Complete by November 29, 1683, the building was dedicated on Epiphany, January 6, 1684by the first rector, the Reverend Rowland Jones. [http://www.brutonparish.org/history.htm]
The capital of the colony and the College of William and Mary were relocated to Middle Plantation in 1699. The community was renamed Williamsburg in honor of King William III). Plans were made to construct a capitol building and plat the new city according to the survey of
Bruton Parish Church held a prominent location in the new plan. Historians from
Colonial Williamsburg Foundationhave noted that the brick church stood near the center of Williamsburg's original survey map, suggesting the church's importance to the colonial community's life. [http://www.history.org/Almanack/places/hb/hbbruch.cfm Bruton Parish Church ] ] During the colonial period, all those in public office were required to attend church. Government and college officials in the capital city of Williamsburg attended Bruton Parish Church. The influx of students, the governor and his entourage, and the legislature, as well as townspeople, overwhelmed the small church.
1715: a new church building
In 1706, the vestry of Bruton Parish began considering building a larger church. However, with only 110 families as late as almost 20 years later (in 1724), the parish vestry could only afford to plan a small church, and invited the colony's government to finance an enlargement to accommodate the needs not arising from the local residents. Four years later the General Assembly agreed to fund pews for the governor, council, and burgesses. Royal Governor
Alexander Spotswooddrafted plans for the structure: a cruciform-shaped church (the first in Virginia) 75 feet long, 28 feet wide, with 19 foot long transepts (wings.)
Under the watchful eye of Reverend Dr. James Blair, who was rector from 1710 to 1743 (and also president of William and Mary from 1693 until his death), the construction of the new church got underway, with the first construction contract awarded in 1711. Finished in 1715, the church soon had all the required furnishings: Bible, prayer books, altar, font, cushions, surplice, bell, and reredos tablets.
In addition to the Royal Governors and officials of the college of William and Mary, prominent Virginians who attended Bruton Parish Church in the 18th century included
George Washington, James Madison, John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson.
18th century clergy
In the 1740s, the established Anglican church had about 70 parish priests around the colony. There was no bishop, and indeed, there was fierce political opposition to having a bishop in the colony. The Anglican priests were supervised directly by the
Bishop of London. Each county court gave tax money to the local vestry, composed of prominent layman. The vestry provided the priest a glebeof 200 or 300 acres, a house, and perhaps some livestock. The vestry paid him an annual salary of 16,000 lbs. of tobacco, plus 20 shillings for every wedding and funeral. While not poor, the priests' living were modest and their opportunities for improvement were slim.
Other religions in the colonial era
Some ethnic groups, especially the German
Lutherans and Scottish Presbyterians, funded their own ministers. A majority of families had no religious affiliation whatsoever. By the 1760s, Baptistmissionaries were drawing Virginians, especially farmers, into a new, much more democratic religion. Many slaves attended Baptist services. Historians have debated the implications of the religious rivalries for the American Revolution. The Baptist farmers did introduce a new egalitarian ethic that largely displaced the semi-aristocratic ethic of the Anglican planters. However, both groups supported the Revolution. George Washington, for example, was active in his vestry.
Changes in the Church after the American Revolution
After the American Revolution, when
freedom of religionand the separation of church and statewere established in the new nation, the Church of England was dis-established in the United States. Many leaders and citizens of the new state and country did not reject the church, but they wanted its independence from Great Britain and any government. Worship continued during and after the difficult years of the Revolution.
The Church was modified and renamed as the
Episcopal Church of the United States. Before the Revolution, Virginia had no bishop. After the war, Right Reverend James Madison (1749-1812) was appointed in 1790 as the first Bishop of Virginia. He was a cousin of the future President of the United States James Madison. A graduate of the College of William and Mary and teacher there as the hostilities broke out, he organized his students into a local militia. In 1777, he served as chaplain of the Virginia House of Delegates. Reverend Madison became the eighth president of the College of William and Mary. [ [http://www.wm.edu/vitalfacts/eighteenth2.php 1750 - 1799 | Historical Facts ] ] [ [http://research.history.org/Historical_Research/Research_Themes/ThemeReligion/Madison.cfm Bishop James Madison ] ]
Revolution: Virginia declares independence
Revolutionary sentiments first began appearing in Virginia shortly after the
French and Indian Warended in 1763. The very same year, the British and Virginian governments clashed in the case of Parson's Cause. The Virginia legislature had passed the Two-Penny Act to stop clerical salaries from inflating. King George III vetoed the measure, and clergy sued for back salaries. Patrick Henryfirst came to prominence by arguing in the case against the veto, which he declared tyrannical.
The British government had accumulated a great deal of debt through spending on its wars. To help payoff this debt, Parliament passed the
Sugar Actin 1764 and the Stamp Actin 1765. The General Assembly opposed the passage of the Sugar Act on the grounds of no taxation without representation. Patrick Henry opposed the Stamp Act in the Burgesses with a famous speech advising George III that "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell..." and the king "may profit by their example." The legislature passed the " Virginia Resolves" opposing the tax. Governor Francis Fauquierresponded by dismissing the Assembly.
Opposition continued after the resolves. The Northampton County court overturned the Stamp Act
February 8, 1766. Various political groups, including the Sons of Libertymet and issued protests against the act. Most notably, Richard Blandpublished a pamphlet entitled "An Enquiry into the Rights of Ike British Colonies". This document would set one of the basic political principles of the Revolution by stating that Virginia was a part of the British Empire, not the Kingdom of Great Britain, so it only owed allegiance to the Crown, not Parliament.
The Stamp Act was repealed, but additional taxation from the
Revenue Actand the 1769 attempt to transport Bostonian rioters to London for trial incited more protest from Virginia. The Assembly met to consider resolutions condemning on the transport of the rioters, but Governor Botetourt, while sympathetic, dissolved the legislature. The Burgesses reconvened in Raleigh Tavernand made an agreement to ban British imports. Britain gave up the attempt to extradite the prisoners and lifted all taxes except the tax on tea in 1770.
In 1773, because of a renewed attempt to extradite Americans to Britain,
Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason, and others created a committee of correspondenceto deal with problems with Britain. Unlike other such committees of correspondence, this one was an official part of the legislature.
Following the closure of the port in Boston and several other offenses, the Burgesses approved
June 1, 1774 as a day of "Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer" in a show of solidarity with Massachusetts. The Governor, Lord Dunmore, dismissed the legislature. The first Virginia Conventionwas held August 1-6 to respond to the growing crisis. The convention approved a boycott of British goods, expressed solidarity with Massachusetts, and elected delegates to the Continental Congresswhere Virginian Peyton Randolphwas selected as president of the Congress.
April 20, 1775, a day after the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Dunmore ordered royal marines to remove the gunpowder from the Williamsburg Magazine to a British ship. Patrick Henry led a group of Virginia militia from Hanover in response to Dunmore's order. Carter Braxtonnegiotiated a resolution to the Gunpowder Incident by transferring royal funds as payment for the powder. The incident exacerbated Dunmore's declining popularity. He fled the Governor's Palaceto the British ship "Fowey" at Yorktown. On November 7, Dunmore issued a proclamation declaring Virginia was in a state of rebellion and that any slave fighting for the British would be freed. By this time, George Washingtonhad been appointed head of the American forces by the Continental Congress and Virginia was under the political leadership of a Committee of Safety formed by the Third Virginia Convention in the governor's absence.
December 9, 1775, Virginia militia moved on the governor's forces at the Battle of Great Bridge. The British had held a fort that guarded the land route to Norfolk. The British feared the militia, who had no cannon for a siege, would receive reinforcements, so they abandoned the fort and attacked. The militia won the 30 minute battle. Dunmore responded by bombarding Norfolk with his ships on January 1, 1776.
The Fifth Virginia Convention met on
May 6and declared Virginia a free and independent state on May 15, 1776. The convention instructed its delegates to introduce a resolution for independence at the Continental Congress. Richard Henry Leeintroduced the measure on June 7. While the Congress debated, the Virginia Convention adopted George Mason's Bill of Rights (June 12) and a constitution (June 29) which established an independent commonwealth. Congress approved Lee's proposal on July 2and approved Jefferson's Declaration of Independence on July 4.
The constitution of the Fifth Virginia Convention created a system of government for the state that would last for 54 years. The constitution provided for a chief magistrate, a bicameral legislature with both the House of Delegates and the Senate. The legislature elected a governor each year (picking Patrick Henry to be the first) and a council of eight for executive functions. In October, the legislature appointed Jefferson,
Edmund Pendleton, and George Wytheto adopt the existing body of Virginia law to the new constitution.After the Battle of Great Bridge, little military conflict took place on Virginia soil for the first part of the American Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, Virginia sent forces to help in the fighting to the North and South, including Daniel Morganand his company of marksmen who fought in early battles in the north. Charlottesville served as a prison camp for the Convention Army, Hessian and British soldiers captured at Saratoga. Virginia also sent forces to the frontier in the Northwest, George Rogers Clarkled forces in this area and captured the fort at Kaskaskiaand won the Battle of Vincennes, capturing the royal governor, Henry Hamilton. Clark maintained control of the Northwest territories throughout the war.
The British brought the war back to Virginia in May, 1779 when George Collier landed troops at
Hampton Roadsand used Portsmouth (after destroying the naval yard) as a base of attack. The move was part of an attempted blockade of trade with the West Indies. The British abandoned the plan when reinforcements from General Henry Clinton failed to arrive to support Collier.
Fearing the vulnerability of Williamsburg, then-Governor
Thomas Jeffersonmoved the capital farther inland to Richmond in 1780. That October, the British made another attempt at invading Virginia. British General Alexander Leslieentered the Chesapeake with 3,000 troops and used Portsmouth as a base; however, after the British defeat at the Battle of King's Mountain, Leslie moved to join Cornwallisfarther south. In December, Benedict Arnold, who had betrayed the Revolution and become a general for the British, attacked Richmond with 1,000 soldiers and burned part of the city. Arnold moved his base of operations to Portsmouth and joined with General William Phillips.
George Washington sent the French General Lafayette to lead the defense of Virginia. Lafayette marched south to Petersburg. Cornwallis, frustrated in the Carolinas, responded by attacking Virginia in pursuit of Lafayette. Lafayette only had 3,200 troops to face Cornwallis's 7,200. The outnumbered Lafayette avoided direct confrontation and harried Cornwallis in a series of skirmishes. Lafayette retreated to Fredericksburg, met up with General
Anthony Wayne, and then marched into the southwest. Cornwallis dispatched two smaller missions: 500 soldiers under Colonel John Graves Simcoeto take the arsenal at Point of Forkand 250 under Colonel Banastre Tarletonto march on Charlottesville and capture Gov. Jefferson and the legislature. The expedition to Point of Fork defeated General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steubenwhile Tarleton's mission captured only seven legislators and some officers thanks to Jack Jouett's all night ride to warn Jefferson and the legislators of Tarleton's coming. [http://www.xenophongroup.com/mcjoynt/laf_va.htm] Cornwallis reunited his army in Elk Hill and marched to the Tidewater region. Lafayette, uniting with von Steuben, now had 5,000 troops and followed Cornwallis.
Under orders from Gen. Henry Clinton, Cornwallis moved down the
Virginia Peninsulatowards the Chesapeake Bay were Clinton planned to extract part of the army for a siege of New York City. Cornwallis passed through Williamsburg and near Jamestown. 800 of Lafayette's troops under Gen. Wayne were caught by the much larger, 5,000 soldier, main body of Cornwallis's forces and the two fought at the minor Battle of Green Springon July 6, 1781. Wayne ordered a charge against Cornwallis in order to feign greater strength and stop the British advance. Causalities were light with the Americans losing 140 and the British 75, but the ploy allowed the Americans to escape.
Cornwallis moved his troops across the James to Portsmouth to await Clinton's orders. Clinton decided that a position on the peninsula must be held and that Yorktown would be a valuable naval base. Cornwallis received orders to move his troops to Yorktown and begin construction of fortifications and a naval yard. The Americans had initially expected Cornwallis to move either to New York or the Carolinas and started to make arrangements to move from Virginia. Once they discovered the fortifications at Yorktown, the Americans began to place themselves around the city. Gen. Washington saw the opportunity for a major victory. He moved a portion of his troops, along with
Rochambeau's French troops, from New York to Virginia. The plan hinged on French reinforcements of 3,200 troops and a large naval force under the Admiral de Grasse. On September 5, Admiral de Grasse defeated British navy at the Battle of the Virginia Capes. The defeat ensured French dominance of the water around Yorktown, thereby preventing Cornwallis from receiving troops or supplies and removing the possibility of evacuation. Between October 6 and 17 the American forces laid siege to Yorktown. Out gunned and completely trapped, Cornwallis decided to surrender. Papers for surrender were officially signed on October 19. As a result of the defeat, the British Prime Minister, Lord North, resigned and the British government offered peace in April, 1782. The Treaty of Paris of 1783 officially ended the war.
Making the Constitution
By the end of the Revolutionary War, the new American states had joined together under the
Articles of Confederation. The Confederation granted very little power to the federal government. Virginia helped begin the move to stronger union by meeting with representatives from Maryland to discuss trade and navigation issues in 1785. The two states invited other to the Annapolis Convention, held in September 1786, to discuss these issues. Washington, Madison, and Alexander Hamiltonall saw the talks as an opportunity for stronger union. The Annapolis Convention agreed to meet again in Philadelphia for a Constitutional Convention. At the Convention, Edmund Randolph promoted the Virginia Plandesigned by Madison. This plan called for a strong national government with a bicameral legislature, where representatives were allocated proportionally based on population. Some of the ideas of the plan were adopted, but smaller states did not like having proportional representation, so compromise was struck and each state received two Senators in the upper house. The Virginia delegates also pushed for a bill of rights. Most agreed to sign the United States Constitutionon the promise that a bill of rights would be quickly adopted, but George Masonand Randolph refused to sign. Madison wrote several of the Federalist papersand took other measures to push for ratification of the Constitution. Mason and Patrick Henry led the political opposition. Many in the Piedmont region and southwest Virginia opposed ratification because of fears over tariffs and since importation of slaves were still allowed. Virginia narrowly ratified the Constitution on June 25, 1788, and became the tenth state to enter the Union.
After declaring independence, Virginia's borders shifted a great deal. In 1779, Virginia extended its southern border with North Carolina westward. In 1784 and 1785, Virginia negotiated its northern border with Pennsylvania. Virginia and Pennsylvania also had disputes along the Virginia-Pennsylvania border areas throughout the colonial period. After the areas in dispute became part of the newly-formed United States, the new states of Virginia and Pennsylvania (each one of the first thirteen states which formed the union) soon reached an agreement, and most of
Yohogania County, claimed by both, became part of Pennsylvania in the 1780s under terms agreed of the state legislatures of both Virginia and Pennsylvania. A small remaining portion left in Virginia was too small to form a county, and was annexed to another Virginia county, Ohio County.
Most significantly, Virginia relinquished its claims to the
Northwest Territoryin 1784. This vast area, consisting of much of the modern Midwest and Great Lakes region, was frontier land at the time. Several of the states claimed the territory, but all eventually agreed to let the federal government take control under the Northwest Ordinance. Virginia did not relinquish all land, it preserved the Virginia Military District, an area of land set aside to reward veterans of the Revolutionary War. In 1790, both Virginia and Marylandceded territory to form the new District of Columbia, but in an Act of the U.S. Congress dated July 9, 1846, the area south of the Potomacthat had been ceded by Virginia was retroceded to Virginia effective 1847, and is now Arlington County and part of the City of Alexandria.
Early Republic and antebellum periods
As the new nation of the
United States of Americaexperienced growing pains and began to speak of Manifest Destiny, Virginia, too, found its role in the young republic to be changing and challenging. Beginning with the Louisiana Purchase, many of the Virginians whose grandparents had created the Virginia Establishment began to expand westward. Famous Virginian-born Americans affected not only the destiny of the state of Virginia, but the rapidly developing American Old West.
Beginning in the 1750s, the Ohio Company of Virginia was created to survey and settle its new lands. Following the
French and Indian War, westward settlement by Virginians was limited to more southern portions of the American Old West. Virginians Meriwether Lewisand William Clark were influential in their famous expedition to explore the Missouri River and possible connections to the Pacific Ocean. Notable names such as Stephen F. Austin, Edwin Waller, Haden Harrison Edwards, and Dr. John Shackelford were famous Texan pioneers from Virginia. Even eventual Civil War general Robert E. Leedistinguished himself as a military leader in Texas during the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War.
Regional differences to secession
As the western reaches of Virginia were developed in the first half of the 19th century, the vast differences in the agricultural basis, cultural, and transportation needs became a major issue for the
Virginia General Assembly. In the older, eastern portion, large tracts of land were farmed with tobacco and cotton as major crops, each requiring a great deal of manual labor. Slavery had become an economic institution upon which the farmers depended. Watersheds on most of this area eventually drained to the Atlantic Ocean. In the western reaches, smaller homesteads were mostly farmed without non-family labor, and mining of minerals and harvesting of timber were expanding activities. The land drained to the Ohio River Valley, and trade tended to also center in that direction.
Representation in the state legislature was heavily skewed in favor of the more populous eastern areas. This was compounded by the partial allowance for slaves when counting population, despite the fact that these individuals (and all women and children) had no vote. Efforts to mediate the disparities several times including a state constitutional convention ended without meaningful resolution. Thus, at the outset of the American Civil War, Virginia was caught not only in national crisis, but a long-standing factional one within its own boundaries. While other "border states" had similar regional differences, Virginia had more than any other Northern or Southern state, and probably as a result, was the only state to actually become subdivided into two separate states during the War.
Virginia began a convention about secession on
February 13, 1861after six states seceded to form the Confederate States of Americaon February 4. The convention deliberated for several months, but, on April 15Lincoln called for troops from all states still in the Union in response to the firing on Fort Sumter. On April 17, 1861 the convention voted to secede. With the entry of Virginia into the Confederacy, the decision to move the Confederate capital from Montgomery, Alabamato Richmond was made on May 6and enacted on May 29. Virginians ratified the articles of secession on May 23. [http://www.vahistorical.org/onthisday/21361.htm] The following day, the Union armymoved into northern Virginia and captured Alexandria without a fight.
The first major battle of the Civil War occurred on
July 21, 1861. Union forces attempted to take control of the railroad junction at Manassas for use as a supply line, but the Confederate Armyhad moved its forces by train to meet the Union. The Confederates won the First Battle of Manassas(known as "Bull Run"in Northern naming convention) and the year went on without a major fight.
The first and last significant battles were held in Virginia. The first being the
Battle of Manassasand the last being Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. During the American Civil War, Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America. The White House of the Confederacy, located a few blocks north of the State Capital, was home to the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
In April 1865, Richmond was burned by a retreating
Confederate Armyand was returned to Northern control. Virginia was administered as the " First Military District" during the Reconstruction period (1865-1870) under General John Schofield. The state formally rejoined the Union on January 26, 1870.
Various textile production was present prior to 1861 but nothing of great signifigance. A center of iron production during the civil war was located in Richmond at
Tredegar Iron Works. Tredegar was run partially by slave labor, and it produced most of the artillery for the war, making Richmond an important point to defend.
West Virginia split
Virginia was one of the last states to join the Confederacy largely because the lack of support in the North-Western region due to the lack of slavery in this region. After it did join, an upheaval in that region soon followed. After a successful revolt, the area consisting of 48 counties became known as the
State of Kanawhaand later West Virginia. The act was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1870.
Berkeley County and Jefferson County (in the extreme northern edge of the state) remained in the Confederacy and Virginia throughout the Civil War, and were not part of the formation of the State of Kanawha, renamed West Virginia, when it was admitted to the Union with 48 former Virginia counties on
January 1, 1863. Rather, after the War, during Reconstruction, in 1866, these two counties decided in local referendums that they also wanted to be part of the new state of West Virginia, bringing the total to 50.
With the formation of West Virginia, Virginia no longer shared a border with Pennsylvania. However, even the Virginia-West Virginia border was subject to some fluctuation, with two Virginia counties electing to join West Virginia in 1866. Even in the 20th century, there were still some disputes about the precise location of the border in some of the northern mountain reaches of Virginia between Loudoun County and
Jefferson County, West Virginia. In 1991, both state legislatures appropriated money for a boundary commission to look into 15 miles of the border area. [ [http://www.virginiaplaces.org/regions/westva.html How Virginia Split Into "East" and West Virginia (But With Only Three Shenandoah Valley Counties, and Without Southwest Virginia) ] ]
Virginia remained under military control until 1869, since the Union commander, General
John M. Schofield, refused to authorize a vote on the constitution drafted by a Radical convention. President Ulysses S. Grantcalled for a vote in 1869 that included a vote on the Constitution, a separate one on its disfranchisement clause that would have stripped the vote from most former rebels, and a separate vote for state officials. The Radicals nominated Henry H. Wells, a former general and provisional governor who was close to Schofield. The leader of the Democrats was William Mahone, a Democrat who said it was time for a New Departure. That is, Democrats had to accept the results of the war, including civil rightsand the vote for Freedmen. He denounced the Baltimore and Ohio Railroadrailroad as too powerful, and called for new Virginia-based railroads that would lead the state to prosperity. He won over many moderate pro-business Republicans.
Mahone's candidate for governor
Gilbert C. Walkerwas elected and the disfranchisement clause defeated. The new Underwood Constitution was approved by a vote of 210,585 to 9,136, while the disfranchisement clauses were rejected by votes of 124,715 to 83,458 and 124,360 to 84,410 respectively. The state did not experience the corruption and race conflict that characterized the Reconstruction period in other southern states, yet white Virginians generally came to share the bitterness so typical of the southern attitudes. Virginia was thus the only southern state not to have a civilian Radical government.
Disfranchisement and New South
Readjuster Partywas a political faction formed in Virginia in the late 1870s during the turbulent period following Reconstruction. The so-called Readjusters aspired "to break the power of wealth and established privilege" and to promote public education. The Readjusters were led by Harrison H. Riddlebergerof Woodstock, an attorney, and William Mahone, a former Confederate general who was president of several railroads. Mahone was a controlling force in Virginia politics from about 1870 until 1883, when the Readjusters lost control to the "Conservative Democrats."
A division among Virginia politicians occurred in the 1870s, when those who supported a reduction of Virginia's pre-war debt ("Readjusters") opposed those who felt Virginia should repay its entire debt plus interest ("Funders"). Virginia's pre-war debt was primarily for infrastructure improvements overseen by the
Virginia Board of Public Works, largely in canals, roads, and railroads. Prior to 1861, the State had purchased a total of $48,000,000 worth of stock in turnpike, toll bridge, canal, and water and rail transportation enterprises. Many these improvements were heavily damaged or destroyed during the Civil War by Union forces. Much of those remaining were located in the portion of the state which became West Virginiaand much of the debt was held by "northerners", making the issue of debt repayment complex.
After his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1877, Mahone became the leader of the "Readjusters", forming a coalition of conservative Democrats, as a Republicans, and
African-Americans seeking a reduction in Virginia's prewar debt, and an appropriate allocation made to the former portion of the state which constituted the new State of West Virginia. For several decades thereafter, the two states disputed the new state's share of the Virginian government's debt. The issue was finally settled in 1915, when the United States Supreme Courtruled that West Virginia owed Virginia $12,393,929.50. The final installment of this sum was paid off in 1939.
The Readjuster Party promised to "readjust" the state debt, repeal the
poll taxand increase funding for schools and other public facilities. The Readjuster Party was successful in electing its candidate, William E. Cameronas governor, and he served from 1882-1886. Mahone served as a Senator in the U.S. Congress from 1881 to 1887. However, in Congress, he became primarily aligned with the Republican Party, as did fellow Readjuster Harrison H. Riddleberger, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1883-1889. Both Mahone and Riddleberger were replaced in the U.S. Senate by Democrats.
Readjusters effective control of Virginia politics lasted until 1883, when they lost majority control in the state legislature, followed by the election of Democrat
Fitzhugh Leeas governor in 1885. Mahone stayed active in politics, but lost his bid for reelection as U.S. Senator, as well as another bid for Governor (as a Republican). Riddleberger died in 1890, Mahone in 1895.
After the Readjuster Party disappeared, Virginia had white, one-party rule under the Democratic Party for the next 80 years. White state legislators passed statutes to restrict voter registration to complete restoration of white supremacy and reduce voting by African Americans. In 1902 Virginia passed a new constitution that had provisions for voter registration that effectively disfranchised African Americans, through the use of poll taxes and literacy tests subjectively applied. Despite the gains of African Americans since the war and numerous educated free blacks before the war, the result was that the estimated black voter turnout for the Presidential election of 1904 was zero. [cite journal |url= http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=224731 |first= Richard H. |last= Pildes |title= Democracy, Anti-Democracy and the Canon |pages= 12 |journal= Constitutional Commentary |volume= 17 |year= 2000 |accessdate= 2008-03-10 |doi= 10.2139/ssrn.224731] The disfranchisement was devastating and long lasting. Not until Federal civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965 did African Americans recover the power to vote and protection of other basic civil rights.
War and depression
The economic stimulus of [World War II] brought new prosperity to the state. The buildup for the war greatly increased the state's naval and industrial economic base, as did the growth of federal government jobs in Northern Virginia. The
Pentagonwas built there as the largest office building in the world. In the early 1960s, an entirely new airport, Dulles International Airport, was built straddling the Fairfax County-Loudoun County border, another major stimulus. Virginia's status as the northernmost right-to-workstate along the east coast helped attract businesses relocating from other states or expanding.
After 1930, tourism began to grown exponentially with the development of
Colonial Williamsburg, which helped the Historic Trianglearea become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The new U.S. Interstate highway system begun in the 1950s and the new Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnelin 1958 helped transform Virginia Beach from a tiny resort town into one of the state's largest cities by 1963, and spurring the growth of the other Seven Cities of Hampton Roadslinked by the Hampton Roads Beltway. In the western portion of the state, completion of north-south Interstate 81 brought better access and new businesses to dozens of counties over a distance of 300 miles.
Massive resistance and Civil Rights
By the 1980s,
Northern Virginiaand the Hampton Roadsregion had achieved the greatest growth and prosperity, chiefly because of employment related to Federal government agencies and defense, as well as an increase in technology in Northern Virginia. Shipping through the Port of Hampton Roads began expansion which continued into the early 21st century as new container facilities were opened. Coal piers in Newport News and Norfolk had recorded major gains in export shipments by August, 2008. The recent expansion of government programs in the areas near Washington has profoundly affected the economy of Northern Virginia. The subsequent growth of defense projects has also generated a local information technologyindustry. The Hampton Roadsregion has also experienced much growth.
January 13, 1990, Douglas Wilderbecame the first African American to be elected as Governor of a US state since Reconstruction when he was elected Governor of Virginia.
Virginia was targeted in the
September 11, 2001 attacks, as American Airlines Flight 77was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagonin Arlington County.
In 2006 former
Governor of Virginia Mark Warnergave a speech and interview in the massively multiplayer online game Second Life, becoming the first politicianto appear in a video game. [ [http://www.insidevandy.com/drupal/node/488 LIFE: Mark Warner becomes first U.S. politician to campaign in a video game] ] In 2007 Virginia speedily passed the nation's first spaceflightact by a vote of 99-0 in the House of Delegates. [ [http://spacelawprobe.blogspot.com/2007/02/virginia-leads-way.html Virginia leads the way] ] Northern Virginia company Space Adventuresis currently the only company in the world offering space tourism. In 2008 Virginia became the first state to pass legislation on Internetsafety, with mandatory educational courses for 11- to 16-year-olds. [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,347035,00.html Virginia First State to Require Internet Safety Lessons] ]
Local, regional political structure, cooperation issues
The independent cities in Virginia enabled by an 1871 change in the state constitution are unusual in the United States. Combined with the annexation laws, the situation provided both the motivation and methods for almost all the communities in the extreme southeastern section of
Hampton Roadsregion of Virginia to become independent cities. In this status, they were equal to each other and this immune from annexation by adjacent localities, an action much-feared by those in many communities.
However, this transition left the region with some oddities, such as the entire Virginia portion of the
Great Dismal Swampbeing located "entirely within cities" (Chesapeake and Suffolk). It is hard to imagine a less populated portion of a traditional city, save perhaps Central Parkin New York City.
incorporated towns are located within counties, and independent cities are separate, both the towns and the cities long held a powerful tool for growth through Virginia's annexation laws, which basically provided for seizure of unincorporated territory from the counties. However, the annexation laws also have long been felt by many leaders to be a barrier to regional cooperation among localities, causing wounds which took many years to heal, and with some individuals negatively impacted, never did.
A moratorium on major annexations by the larger cities and adjacent counties has been in place since the late 20th century by actions in the
Virginia General Assembly. Other changes have allowed cities to revert to town status and rejoin a county. South Boston and Clifton Forge took such actions, and several other smaller cities have studied doing so. Additionally, some Regional cooperation among the localities has been stimulated by the legislature through favorable funding incentives, with new regional jails as a prime example.
*Colony of Virginia
History of Richmond, Virginia, the current state capital
Lost counties, cities and towns of Virginia
* Dabney, Virginius. "Virginia: The New Dominion" (1971)
* Heinemann, Ronald L., John G. Kolp, Anthony S. Parent Jr., and William G. Shade, "Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia, 1607-2007" (2007). ISBN 978-0-8139-2609-4.
* Rubin, Louis D. "Virginia: A Bicentennial History". States and the Nation Series. (1977; repr. 1984).
* Salmon, Emily J., and Edward D.C. Campbell, Jr., eds. "The Hornbook of Virginia history: A Ready-Reference Guide to the Old Dominion's People, Places, and Past" 4th edition. (1994)
* Wallenstein, Peter. "Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History" (2007). ISBN 978-0-7006-1507-0.
* WPA. "Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion" (1940)
* Younger, Edward, and James Tice Moore, eds. "The Governors of Virginia, 1860– 1978" (1982)
*Boyer, S. Paul., Clark Jr., E. Clifford., Kett, Joseph., Salisbury, Neal., Sitkoff, Harvard., and Woloch, Nancy. "The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People". Fourth Edition. pp39 and 41. (2000)
*Brundage, W. Fitzhugh. "Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880–1930" (1993)
*Buni, Andrew. "The Negro in Virginia Politics, 1902–1965" (1967)
*Crofts, Daniel W. "Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis" (1989)]
*Ferrell, Henry C., Jr. "Claude A. Swanson of Virginia: A Political Biography" (1985) early 20th century
*Gilliam, George H. "Making Virginia Progressive: Courts and Parties, Railroads and Regulators, 1890–1910." "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography" 107 (Spring 1999): 189–222.
*Heinemann, Ronald L. "Depression and the New Deal in Virginia: The Enduring Dominion" (1983)
*Heinemann, Ronald L. "Harry Byrd of Virginia"(1996)
*Heinemann, Ronald L. "Virginia in the Twentieth Century: Recent Interpretations." "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography" 94 (April 1986): 131–60.
*Kerr-Ritchie, Jeffrey R. "Freedpeople in the Tobacco South: Virginia, 1860-1900" (1999)
*Key, V. O., Jr. "Southern Politics in State and Nation" (1949), important chapter on Virginia in 1940s
*Lankford, Nelson. "Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital" (2002)
*Lassiter, Matthew D., and Andrew B. Lewis, eds. "The Moderates’ Dilemma: Massive Resistance to School Desegregation in Virginia" (1998)
*Lebsock, Suzanne D. "A Share of Honour": Virginia Women, 1600-1945" (1984)
*Link, William A. "A Hard Country and a Lonely Place: Schooling, Society, and Reform in Rural Virginia, 1870-1920" (1986)
*Martin-Perdue, Nancy J., and Charles L. Perdue Jr., eds. "Talk about Trouble: A New Deal Portrait of Virginians in the Great Depression" (1996)
*Moger, Allen W. "Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd, 1870-1925" (1968)
*Muse, Benjamin. "Virginia's Massive Resistance" (1961)
*Parramore, Thomas C., with Peter C. Stewart and Tommy L. Bogger. "Norfolk: The First Four Centuries" (1994)
*Pulley, Raymond H. "Old Virginia Restored: An Interpretation of the Progressive Impulse, 1870-1930" (1968)
*Shiftlett, Crandall. "Patronage and Poverty in the Tobacco South: Louisa County, Virginia, 1860-1900" (1982), new social history
*Smith, J. Douglas. "Managing White Supremacy: Race, Politics, and Citizenship in Jim Crow Virginia" (2002)
*Sweeney, James R. "Rum, Romanism, and Virginia Democrats: The Party Leaders and the Campaign of 1928" "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography" 90 (October 1982): 403–31.
*Wilkinson, J. Harvie, III. "Harry Byrd and the Changing Face of Virginia Politics, 1945–1966" (1968)
*Wynes, Charles E. "Race Relations in Virginia, 1870-1902" (1961)
* [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/JefVirg.html Jefferson, Thomas. "Notes on the State of Virginia"]
*Duke, Maurice, and Daniel P. Jordan, eds. "A Richmond Reader, 1733–1983" (1983)
*Eisenberg, Ralph. "Virginia Votes, 1924–1968" (1971), all statistics
* [http://www.vahistorical.org/sva2003/guide.htm Virginia Historical Society] short history of state, with teacher guide
* [http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/VAGuide/indians.html WPA project: Indians in Virginia]
* [http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/VAGuide/history.html WPA Project: History of Virginia]
* [http://www.virginiaplaces.org/military/civwar.html Virginia and the Civil War]
* [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/misc/civilwar/civilwar.htm Civil War timeline]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.