Virginia Dynasty

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VIRGINIA DYNASTY, a term applied to the succession of Virginia presidents in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Between 1789 and 1825, four Virginians held the presidency for thirty-two of thirty-six years: George Washington, who served from 1789 to 1797; Thomas Jefferson, who served from 1801 to 1809; James Madison, who served from 1809 to 1817; and James Monroe, who served from 1817 to 1825. The only interruption in the Virginia Dynasty's control of the presidency came from 1797 to 1801, when John Adams, a native of Massachusetts, served a single term as president. Although Washington, like Adams, was a member of the Federalist Party, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe all belonged to the Democratic-Republican Party. Jefferson's defeat of Adams in the 1800 presidential election ended the Federalists' control of the presidency and inaugurated an era of growing sectional conflict. Jefferson and his two Virginian successors shared a commitment to limited government, states' rights, and slavery, views that generated sharp political opposition from northeastern Federalists. Resentful of the South's political influence in the federal government, the Federalists accused the Virginia Dynasty of pursuing policies biased toward southern interests. The dynasty finally ended in 1825 with the inauguration of John Quincy Adams, a resident of Massachusetts and son of John Adams, as the sixth president of the United States. A native Virginian would not hold the White House again until William Henry Harrison became president in 1841. The last Virginia native to become president was Woodrow Wilson, who served from 1913 to 1921.


Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Knopf University Press, 1998.

McCoy, Drew R. The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America. New York: Norton, 1982.

———. The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Styron, Arthur. The Last of the Cocked Hats: James Monroe and the Virginia Dynasty. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1945.

James ElliottWalmsley/a. g.

See alsoFederalist Party ; Jeffersonian Democracy ; President, U.S. ; Republicans, Jeffersonian ; Virginia .

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Virginia Dynasty

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Virginia Dynasty