Virginia - History, Facts and Quotes
Virginia was one of the original thirteen colonies and has a long and interesting history as part of the United States. Before European colonization, Virginia was populated by numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Since colonization, the state has played an integral role in the development of the United States. Home to several presidents, to key locations in historical events, and to a culturally vibrant landscape today, Virginia is a very interesting state indeed!
As of July 2017, Virginia was estimated to have a population of nearly nine million people, with the vast majority living in Northern and Eastern Virginia. Richmond is the capital of Virginia, while Alexandria, in an area of Northern Virginia just south of Washington, DC., is the most populous city. Virginia has several large metro areas, but also has vast areas of rural farmland and forest as well as a multitude of small towns.
- United States Census: Quick facts Virginia
- Virginia Places: Population density, land use, and transportation
History of Virginia
Virginia, named for Elizabeth I, was originally populated by various Native American tribes, including the famous Algonquian people, the tribe to which Pocahontas and her father, Chief Powhatan, belonged. There was a flourishing society of unified tribes. The first English settlers in Virginia landed in 1607 and founded the famed settlement of Jamestown. Although Native American communities had thrived, English colonists found the land difficult to work and had difficulty surviving in the climate and environment.
Planting tobacco in Virginia helped to stabilize and increase the infrastructure of the colony, as it brought great wealth from England, but it also introduced the slave trade to Virginia. While white indentured servants had originally worked much of the land, by the early eighteenth century the majority of the population of Virginia was composed of black slaves, ruled over by a small group of white landowners. This reliance on slavery and the huge disparity in population would have serious consequences for Virginia in the nineteenth century, when it would join the Confederacy and face harsh economic repercussions.
As the largest and oldest colony, Virginia also played a major role in the American Revolution, producing several founding fathers and leaders, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Mason. Virginia began supporting the revolution early, convening a congress after harsh restrictions began impacting the colonies in 1774. Virginia’s leaders and economic might played a major role in the success of the American Revolution.
- Encyclopedia Virginia: Colonial Virginia
- The Society of the Cincinnati: Virginia in the American Revolution
- Library of Congress: Evolution of the Virginia colony, 1611, 1624
Quotes About Virginia
Virginia has been immortalized in historical writings, film, song, and more. Captain John Smith, explorer, part of the Jamestown expedition, and well-known acquaintance of Pocahontas, said famously, of Jamestown’s politics and society, “He that will not work, shall not eat.”
Perhaps the most well-known quote is Virginia’s unofficial tourism motto, “Virginia is for Lovers.” It was created in 1969 for the Virginia State Travel Service and has become one of the most famous state slogans. In fact, it is still in use today.
- Historic Jamestown: John Smith
- Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia: Virginia is for lovers
Virginia Genealogy Sites
Genealogy is very interesting to study in Virginia. As it has such a long history and well-preserved historical sites and archives, many of its founding families can trace their genealogy back to pre-colonial times, and there is great interest in tracing that history for many families with roots in the area. There are many resources and special projects devoted to genealogy in Virginia, and extensive archives and resources are easily accessible for academics and amateurs alike.
- Virginia Genealogical Society: About us
- Library of Virginia: Using the collections
- University of Virginia Library: Virginia genealogy
Museums and Historical Sites
Virginia has a wealth of historical sites. Many of these are still in use. For example, the University of Virginia is a historical treasure but also an active research university. There are multiple colonial sites, including Colonial Williamsburg and Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. There are also several art museums, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Chrysler Museum of Art.
- Colonial Williamsburg: Explore the historic area
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon: The mansion
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: At the museum
- Chrysler Museum of Art: About the Chrysler Museum of Art
Virginia History for Kids
Virginia is also a great place for kids! There are a lot of history resources and activities for children, including natural history museums, state parks, and more. Kids can learn about colonial and Civil War history at multiple historical sites. It is worth noting that many towns, such as Alexandria and Richmond, also have historic downtown areas with historical markers.
- Virginia Museum of Natural History: Uncovering Virginia
- National Geographic Kids: Virginia
- Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation: State parks
Virginia, probably due to its long history and importance as a center of colonial and early US history, has a large number of historical societies and antiquarian groups. These societies are important in keeping the long history of Virginia alive and present today. These historical societies serve an important purpose for researchers and residents alike. They also put on events and lectures to educate and inform us about the state’s rich history and to help keep the old memories and stories of Virginia alive today.
- The Historical Society of the Eastern Shore of Virginia: Home
- Virginia Historical Society: Collections and resources
- The Franklin County Historical Society: Home
Regional Virginia Resources
Virginia has a wealth of regional resources. Although it has a long history, it is also a bustling, thriving state with a large population, and is home to many national and international companies, universities, and attractions. Regional resources for Virginia are crucial for both the historical sites and resources as well as the day to day lives of Virginians. These resources are also essential for visitors to the state who are looking for guidance in traveling through and in Virginia.