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Commonwealth of Virginia

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for Queen Elizabeth I of England, the "Virgin Queen."

NICKNAME: The Old Dominion.

CAPITAL: Richmond.

ENTERED UNION: 25 June 1788 (10th).

SONG: "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia" was formally retired from use in 1997 but has not yet been replaced.

MOTTO: Sic semper tyrannis (Thus ever to tyrants).

FLAG: On a blue field, the state seal is centered on a white circle.

OFFICIAL SEAL: obverse: the Roman goddess Virtus, dressed as an Amazon and holding a sheathed sword in one hand and a spear in the other, stands over the body of Tyranny, who is pictured with a broken chain in his hand and a fallen crown nearby. The state motto appears below, the word "Virginia" above, and a border of Virginia creeper encircles the whole. reverse: the Roman goddesses of Liberty, Eternity, and Fruitfulness, with the word "Perseverando" (by persevering) above.

BIRD: Cardinal.

FLOWER: Dogwood.

TREE: Dogwood.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Lee-Jackson Day, 13 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November and the day following; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.


Situated on the eastern seaboard of the United States, Virginia is the fourth-largest of the South Atlantic states and ranks 36th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Virginia is 40,767 sq mi (105,586 sq km), of which land occupies 39,704 sq mi (102,833 sq km) and inland water 1,063 sq mi (2,753 sq km). Virginia extends approximately 440 mi (710 km) e-w, but the maximum point-to-point distance from the state's noncontiguous Eastern Shore to the western extremity is 470 mi (756 km). The maximum n-s extension is about 200 mi (320 km).

Virginia is bordered on the nw by West Virginia; on the ne by Maryland and the District of Columbia (with the line passing through the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay); on the e by the Atlantic Ocean; on the s by North Carolina and Tennessee; and on the w by Kentucky. The state's geographic center is in Buckingham County, 5 mi (8 km) sw of the town of Buckingham.

Virginia's offshore islands in the Atlantic include Chincoteague, Wallops, Cedar, Parramore, Hog, Cobb, and Smith. The boundaries of Virginia, including the Eastern Shore at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, total 1,356 mi (2,182 km), of which 112 mi (180 km) is general coastline; the tidal shoreline extends 3,315 mi (5,335 km).


Virginia consists of three principal physiographic areas: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, or Tidewater; the Piedmont Plateau, in the central section; and the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains of the Appalachian chain, in the west and northwest.

The long, narrow Blue Ridge rises sharply from the piedmont, reaching a maximum elevation of 5,729 ft (1,747 m) at Mt. Rogers, the state's highest point. Between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains of the Appalachian chain in the northwest lies the Valley of Virginia, consisting of transverse ridges and six separate valleys. The floors of these valleys ascend in altitude from about 300 ft (90 m) in the northern Shenandoah Valley to 2,400 ft (730 m) in the Powell Valley. The Alleghenies average 3,000 ft (900 m) in height. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 950 ft (290 m).

The Piedmont, shaped roughly like a triangle, varies in width from 40 mi (64 km) in the far north to 180 mi (290 km) in the extreme south. Altitudes in this region range from about 300 ft (90 m) at the fall line in the east to a maximum of about 1,000 ft (300 m) at the base of the Blue Ridge in the southwest. The Tidewater, which declines gently from the fall line to sea level (the lowest point of the state), is divided by four long peninsulas cut by the state's four principal riversthe Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and Jamesand the Chesapeake Bay. On the opposite side of the bay is Virginia's low-lying Eastern Shore, the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. The Tidewater has many excellent harbors, notably the deep Hampton Roads estuary. Also in the southeast lies the Dismal Swamp, a drainage basin that includes Lake Drummond, about 7 mi (11 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide near the North Carolina border. Other major lakes in Virginia are Smith Mountainat 31 sq mi (80 sq km) the largest lake wholly within the stateClaytor, and South Holston. The John H. Kerr Reservoir, covering 76 sq mi (197 sq km), straddles the Virginia-North Carolina line.


A mild, humid coastal climate is characteristic of Virginia. Temperatures, most equable in the Tidewater, become increasingly cooler with the rising altitudes as one moves westward. The normal daily average temperature at Richmond is about 58°f (14°c), ranging from 38°f (3°c) in January to 78°f (25°c) in July. The record high, 110°f (43°c), was registered at Balcony Falls (near Glasgow) on 15 July 1954; the record low, 30°f (34°c), was set at Mountain Lake on 22 January 1985. The frost-free growing season ranges from about 140 days in the mountains of the extreme west to over 250 in the Norfolk area.

Annual precipitation at Richmond averages about 42.7 in (108 cm); at Norfolk, annual precipitation averages 44.8.7 in (113 cm) per year. The average annual snowfall amounts to nearly 13.9 in (35 cm) at Richmond but only 7.4 in (18 cm) at Norfolk.


Native to Virginia are 12 varieties of oak, 5 of pine, and 2 each of walnut, locust, gum, and popular. Pines predominate in the coastal areas, with numerous hardwoods on slopes and ridges inland; isolated stands of persimmon, ash, cedar, and basswood can also be found. Characteristic wild flowers include trailing arbutus, mountain laurel, and diverse azaleas and rhododendrons. In 2006, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed 14 plant species as threatened or endangered in Virginia, including the Virginia round-leaf birch, Virginia sneezeweed, Northeastern bulrush, and small whorled pogonia.

Among indigenous mammalian species are white-tailed (Virginia) deer, elk, black bear, bobcat, woodchuck, raccoon, opossum, nutria, red and gray foxes, and spotted and striped skunks, along with several species each of moles, shrews, bats, squirrels, deermice, rats, and rabbits; the beaver, mink, and river otter, once thought to be endangered, have returned in recent decades. Principal game birds include the ruffed grouse (commonly called pheasant in Virginia), wild turkey, bobwhite quail, mourning dove, woodcock, and Wilson's snipe. Tidal waters abound with croaker, hogfish, gray and spotted trout, and flounder; bass, bream, bluegill, sunfish, perch, carp, catfish, and crappie live in freshwater ponds and streams. Native reptiles include such poisonous snakes as the northern copperhead, eastern cottonmouth, and timber rattler.

In April 2006, 47 animal species were listed as threatened or endangered in Virginia, including the puma; Indiana, gray, and Virginia big-eared bats; bald eagle; red-cockaded woodpecker; Virginia fringed mountain snail; Lee County cave isopod; four species of pearly mussel; three species of pigtoe; tan riffleshell; and three species of whale. At least one-fourth of the rare or endangered species in the state are found in the Dismal Swamp.


The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), established in 1993, is under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Natural Resources. The mission of the DEQ is to protect the environment of Virginia in order to promote the health and well-being of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The DEQ administers state and federal environmental programs; issues environmental permits and ensures compliance with regulations; and coordinates planning among Virginia's environmental programs. The DEQ provides staff support to assist the State Water Control Board in administering the federal Clean Water Act and enforcing state laws to improve the quality of surface water and groundwater for aquatic life and human health; the State Air Pollution Control Board in administering the federal Clean Air Act and enforcing state laws and regulations to improve air quality; and the Waste Management Board in administering waste management programs created by legislation such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Virginia Waste Management Act.

In 2002, Virginia waste treatment facilities received about 12% less total solid waste (municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, sludge and other types of waste), or about 824,000 tons less that they received in 2001.

The Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries manages land wildlife and freshwater fish resources, while the Marine Resources Commission manages the wetlands, commercial fishery resources, and the use of the marine environment in the Tidewater area. About 1 million acres (404,685 hectares) of wetlands are found in the state. These areas are generally regulated by the Virginia Water Protection Permit. The Chesapeake Bay Estuarine Complex, the largest estuary and most important wetland in the United States, was designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1987.

Virginia has implemented programs to improve air quality in the Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads regions; to enhance water quality monitoring for streams and lakes statewide; to continue restoration efforts for the Chesapeake Bay; and to promote voluntary cleanups of contaminated industrial sites.

In 2003, Virginia had 250 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 29 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Langley Air Force Base and NASA Langley Research Center, The Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Norfolk Naval Shipyards. Also in 2003, 74.2 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2005, the EPA spent over $3.4 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $22 million for the wastewater revolving loan fund and $11.4 million for the drinking water revolving fund.


Virginia ranked 12th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 7,567,465 in 2005, an increase of 6.9% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Virginia's population grew from 6,187,358 to 7,078,515, an increase of 14.4%. The population is projected to reach 8.4 million by 2015 and 9.3 million by 2025. The population density in 2004 was 188.5 persons per sq mi. In 2004 the median age was 36.9. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 24.2% of the population while 11.4% was age 65 or older.

From the outset, Virginia was the most populous of the English colonies, with a population that doubled every 25 years and totaled more than 100,000 by 1727. By 1790, the time of the first US census, Virginia's population of 821,287 was about 21% of the US total and almost twice that of second-ranked Pennsylvania. Although surpassed by New York State at the 1820 census, Virginia continued to enjoy slow but steady growth until the Civil War. During the 1860s, the loss of its western counties (which became the new state of West Virginia) and wartime devastation caused a decline of 23%. The population passed the 2 million mark in 1910, and the number of Virginians doubled between 1920 and 1970. The population growth rates for the five decades following 1940 were 23.9%, 19.5%, 17.2%, 15%, and 15.7%, in each case above the US average.

VirginiaCounties, County Seats, and County Areas and Populations
Accomack Accomac 476 39,424 King William King William 278 14,732
Albemarle Charlottesville 725 90,717 Lancaster Lancaster 133 11,593
Alleghany Covington 446 16,715 Lee Jonesville 437 23,686
Amelia Amelia 357 12,273 Loudoun Leesburg 521 255,518
Amherst Amherst 478 32,134 Louisa Louisa 497 30,020
Appomattox Appomattox 336 13,967 Lunenburg Lunenburg 432 13,194
Arlington Arlington 26 195,965 Madison Madison 322 13,398
Augusta Staunton 989 69,725 Mathews Mathews 87 9,194
Bath Warm Springs 537 4,937 Mecklenburg Boydton 616 32,529
Bedford Bedford 747 65,286 Middlesex Saluda 134 10,493
Bland Bland 359 6,943 Montgomery Christiansburg 390 84,303
Botetourt Fincastle 545 32,027 Nelson Lovingston 475 15,101
Brunswick Lawrenceville 563 17,920 New Kent New Kent 213 16,107
Buchanan Grundy 504 24,755 Northampton Eastville 226 13,548
Buckingham Buckingham 583 16,058 Northumberland Heathsville 185 12,874
Campbell Rustburg 505 52,339 Nottoway Nottoway 317 15,560
Caroline Bowling Green 536 25,563 Orange Orange 342 30,246
Carroll Hillsville 478 29,438 Page Luray 313 23,831
Charles City Charles City 181 7,119 Patrick Stuart 481 19,209
Charlotte Charlotte 476 12,404 Pittsylvania Chatham 995 61,854
Chesterfield Chesterfield 434 288,876 Powhatan Powhatan 261 26,598
Clarke Berryville 178 14,205 Prince Edward Farmville 354 20,455
Craig New Castle 330 5,154 Prince George Prince George 266 36,725
Culpeper Culpeper 382 42,530 Prince William Manassas 3,392 348,588
Cumberland Cumberland 300 9,378 Pulaski Pulaski 318 35,081
Dickenson Clintwood 331 16,243 Rappahannock Washington 267 7,271
Dinwiddie Dinwiddie 507 25,391 Richmond Warsaw 193 9,114
Essex Tappahannock 263 10,492 Roanoke Salem 251 88,172
Fairfax Fairfax 393 1,006,529 Rockbridge Lexington 603 21,242
Fauquier Warrenton 651 64,997 Rockingham Harrisonburg 865 71,251
Floyd Floyd 381 14,649 Russell Lebanon 479 28,949
Fluvanna Palmyra 290 24,751 Scott Gate City 536 22,962
Franklin Rock Mount 683 50,345 Shenandoah Woodstock 512 39,184
Frederick Winchester 415 69,123 Smyth Marion 452 32,640
Giles Pearisburg 362 17,098 Southampton Courtland 603 17,585
Gloucester Gloucester 225 37,787 Spotsylvania Spotsylvania 404 116,549
Goochland Goochland 281 19,360 Stafford Stafford 271 117,874
Grayson Independence 446 16,366 Surry Surry 281 7,013
Greene Standardsville 157 17,418 Sussex Sussex 496 12,071
Greensville Emporia 300 11,088 Tazewell Tazewell 522 44,795
Halifax Halifax 816 36,284 Warren Front Royal 219 35,556
Hanover Hanover 468 97,426 Washington Abingdon 578 52,085
Henrico Richmond 238 280,581 Westmoreland Montross 250 17,227
Henry Martinsville 283 56,501 Wise Wise 405 41,997
Highland Monterey 416 2,475 Wythe Wytheville 460 28,421
Isle of Wight Isle of Wight 319 33,417 York Yorktown 122 61,758
James City Williamsburg 153 57,525 Independent Cities 1,605 2,400,181
King and Queen King and Queen 317 6,796 TOTALS 42,705 7,567,465
King George King George 180 20,637

In the 1990s approximately three-fourths of all Virginians lived in metropolitan areas, the largest of which in 2004 was the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News area, with an estimated 1,644,250 people; the Richmond metropolitan area had 1,154,317 people. Virginia's most populous cities proper with their estimated 2004 populations are Virginia Beach, 440,098; Norfolk, 237,835; Chesapeake, 214,725; Richmond, 192,494; Arlington, 186,117; Newport News, 181,913; Hampton, 145,951; and Alexandria, 128,206.


When the first federal census was taken in 1790, more than 306,000 blacksof whom only 12,000 were freemade up more than one-third of Virginia's total population. After emancipation, blacks continued to be heavily represented, accounting in 1870 for 512,841 (42%) of the 1,225,163 Virginians. Blacks numbered 1,390,293 in 2000, and their proportion of the total estimated population was 19.6%. That percentage had increased slightly, to 19.9%, by 2004.

In 2000, Virginia had 329,540 Hispanic and Latino residents, chiefly Mexicans and Salvadorans. In 2004, 5.7% of the population was Hispanic or Latino. The 2000 census counted some 261,025 Asians, including 47,609 Filipinos, 45,279 Koreans, 36,966 Chinese, 37,309 Vietnamese, 48,815 Asian Indians, and 9,080 Japanese. In 2000, Pacific Islanders numbered 3,946. In 2004, 4.4% of the population was Asian and 0.1% Pacific Islander. Equal to the national average, 1.5% reported origin of more than one race. An estimated 570,279 Virginians8.1% of all state residentswere of foreign birth in 2000, compared with 177,000 in 1980. The Native American population, including Eskimos and Aleuts, numbered 21,172 in 2000. In 2004, 0.3% of the population was American Indian or Alaskan Native.


English settlers encountered members of the Powhatan Indian confederacy, speakers of an Algonkian language, whose legacy includes such place-names as Roanoke and Rappahannock.

Although the expanding suburban area south of the District of Columbia has become dialectically heterogeneous, the rest of the state has retained its essentially Southern speech features. Many dialect markers occur statewide, but subregional contrasts distinguish the South Midland of the Appalachians from the Southern of the piedmont and Tidewater. General are batter bread (a soft corn cake), batter cake (pancake), comfort (tied and filled bed cover), and polecat (skunk). Widespread pronunciation features include greasy with a /z/ sound; yeast and east as sound-alikes, creek rhyming with peek, and can't with paint; coop and bulge with the vowel of book; and forest with an /ah/ sound.

The Tidewater is set off by creek meaning a saltwater inlet, fishing worm for earthworm, and fog as /fahg/. Appalachian South Midland has redworm for earthworm, fog as /fawg/, wash as /wawsh/, Mary and merry as sound-alikes, and poor with the vowel of book. The Richmond area is noted also for having two variants of the long /i/ and /ow/ diphthongs as they occur before voiceless and voiced consonants, so that the vowel in the noun house is quite different from the vowel in the verb house, and the vowel in advice differs from that in advise. The Tidewater exhibits similar features.

In 2000, Virginia residents five years of age and over who spoke only English at home numbered 5,884,075, or 88.9% of the total population, down from 92.7% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali. The category "Other Indic languages" includes Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, and Romany. The category "Other Asian languages" includes Dravidian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, and Turkish.

Population 5 years and over 6,619,266 100.0
  Speak only English 5,884,075 88.9
  Speak a language other than English 735,191 11.1
Speak a language other than English 735,191 11.1
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 316,274 4.8
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 40,117 0.6
  Korean 39,636 0.6
  Tagalog 33,598 0.5
  German 32,736 0.5
  Vietnamese 31,918 0.5
  Chinese 29,837 0.5
  Arabic 25,984 0.4
  African languages 21,164 0.3
  Persian 19,199 0.3
  Urdu 15,250 0.2
  Other Indic languages 13,767 0.2
  Other Asian languages 12,115 0.2
  Hindi 11,947 0.2
  hahan 10,099 0.2


The Anglican Church (later the Episcopal Church), whose members founded and populated Virginia Colony in the early days, was the established church during the colonial period. The first dissenters to arrive were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the late 17th century; they were followed by large numbers of German Lutherans, Welsh Baptists, and English Quakers, who settled in the Valley of Virginia in the early 18th century. The General Assembly's adoption in 1785 of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, disestablished the Episcopal Church and made religious toleration the norm in Virginia. Although the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches retained the allegiance of the landed gentry during the 19th century, the Methodists and Baptists became the largest church groups in the state.

Protestant denominations combined had the greatest number of known adherents in 2000. That year, the leading group was the Southern Baptist Convention, with 774,673 adherents. The United Methodist Church is considered to be the second-largest denomination in the state, with 343,580 members reported in 2003. Other major denominations in 2000 included the Presbyterian Church USA, 135,435 members, and the Episcopal Church, 126,874. In 2004, there were about 603,190 Roman Catholics in the state. The Jewish population in 2000 was estimated at 76,140 and there were an estimated 51,021 Muslims. Over 4.1 million people (about 58.4% of the population) were not counted as members of any religious organization.

Headquarters for the Baptist World Alliance are located in Falls Church.


Virginia has one of the nation's most extensive highway systems, one of the leading portsHampton Roadsand two of the nation's busiest air terminals.

Virginia was a leader in early railroad development. Rail lines were completed between Richmond and Fredericksburg in 1836, from Portsmouth to Roanoke in 1837, and from Richmond to Washington, DC, in 1872. Virginia's 1,290 mi (2,076 km) of track formed a strategic supply link for both the Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War. Railroads remained the primary system of transportation until the rise of the automobile in the 1920s. As of 2003, there were nine railroads operating in the state, with a combined track mileage of 3,428 mi (5,519 km). Of these, two were Class I railways with a combined trackage of 3,184 rail mi (5,126 km). The two Class I railroads were CSX, and Norfolk Southern. As of 2006, Amtrak passenger trains served 18 communities in Virginia providing north-south and east-west services.

Virginia's road network, at first built mainly for hauling tobacco to market, had expanded across the Blue Ridge by 1782, to the Cumberland Gap by 1795, and into the Shenandoah Valley by means of the Valley Turnpike in 1840. As of 2004, Virginia had 71,534 mi (115,169 km) of public roads, some 6.486 million registered vehicles, and 5,112,523 licensed drivers. Major interstate highways are I-95 extending north-south from Washington, DC, via Richmond to the North Carolina border (and, eventually, to Florida); I-81, connecting northern Virginia with the southwest; and I-64, linking the Hampton Roads area with West Virginia via Clifton Forge and Covington in the west. The 18-mi (29-km) Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, completed in 1964, connects the Eastern Shore with the southeastern mainland. Popular scenic highways include the Blue Ridge Parkway, Colonial National Historical Parkway, and George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Virginia's District of Columbia suburbs are linked to the nation's capital by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's bus and rail systems. Norfolk, Newport News-Hampton, and Richmond have extensive bus systems.

Virginia's Hampton Roads has one of the largest and strongest commercial port complexes in the world. Three state-owned general cargo marine terminals: Newport News Marine Terminal; Norfolk International Terminals; and Portsmouth Marine Terminal, share the harbor with more than 20 privately owned bulk terminals. The Hampton Roads harbor has the greatest volume of total tonnage on the US east coast and leads the world in coal exports. In 2004, the Port of Hampton Roads handled 48.446 million tons of cargo, making it the 15th-busiest port in the United States. Located on a naturally deep, ice-free harbor, 18 mi (29 km) from the open sea, Virginia's ports have the largest landside inter-modal facilities on the US east coast. Each general cargo terminal in the port has on-site rail connections that offer single and double-stack train service from the docks. Virginia's mid-Atlantic location and transportation infrastructure offer users of the port access to two-thirds of the US population within 24 hours. In addition to the marine terminals, the Virginia Inland Port (VIP) terminal, just west of Washington, DC, in Front Royal, Virginia, offers daily rail service to the marine terminals in Hampton Roads and allows direct access to the international trade routes of the 75 international shipping lines calling at the ports. In addition to the movement of international export and import cargo, the VIP is a full-service domestic rail ramp for Norfolk Southern's domestic service. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 50.033 million tons. As of 2004, Virginia had 674 mi (1,085 km) of navigable inland waterways.

In 2005, Virginia had a total of 429 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 291 airports, 130 heliports, 3 STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing), and 4 seaplane bases. Dulles International Airport located in the Washington, DC, suburb of Chantilly is the state's main airport, with 10,961,614 passengers enplaned in 2004, followed by Ronald Reagan Washington National in Arlington with 7,661,532 enplanements in that same year, making these two airports the 21st- and 30th-busiest airports in the United States, respectively. Other major airports in the state were Norfolk International, with 1,895,472 enplanements and Richmond International with 1,251,406 enplanements in 2004.


Distinctively fluted stone points found at Flint Run in Front Royal and at the Williamson Site in Dinwiddie County testify to the presence in what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia of nomadic Paleo-Indians after 8000 bc. Climatic changes and the arrival of other Indian groups about 3500 bc produced the Archaic Culture, which lasted until about ad 500. These Indians apparently were great eaters of oysters, and shell accumulations along riverbanks mark their settlement sites. The Woodland Period (ad 500-1600) marked the Indians' development of the bow and arrow and sophisticated pottery. At the time of English contact, early in the 17th century, Tidewater Virginia was occupied principally by Algonkian-speakers, planters as well as hunters and fishers, who lived in pole-framed dwellings forming small, palisaded towns. The piedmont area was the home of the Manahoac, Monacan, and Tutelo, all of Siouan stock. Cherokee lived in Virginia's far southwestern triangle.

The first permanent English settlement in America was established at Jamestown on 13 May 1607 in the new land named Virginia in honor of Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen." The successful settlement was sponsored by the London Company (also known as the Virginia Company), a joint-stock venture chartered by King James I in 1606. The charter defined Virginia as all of the North American coast between 30° and 45°n and extending inland for 50 mi (80 km). A new royal charter in 1609 placed Virginia's northern and southern boundaries at points 200 mi (320 km) north and south of Point Comfort, at the mouth of the James River, and extended its territory westward to the Pacific; a third charter issued in 1612 pushed Virginia eastward to embrace the Bermuda Islands. Thus, Virginia at one time stretched from southern Maine to California and encompassed all or part of 42 of the present 50 states, as well as Bermuda and part of the Canadian province of Ontario.

Upon landing at Jamestown, the 100 or more male colonists elected from among 12 royally approved councillors a governor and captain general, Edward Maria Wingfield. Much internal strife, conflict with the Indians, and a "starving time" that reduced the settlers to eating their horses caused them to vote to leave the colony in 1610, but just as they were leaving, three supply ships arrived; with them came Thomas West, Baron De La Warr (Lord Delaware), who stayed to govern the Virginia Colony until 1611. Finally, however, it was the energy, resourcefulness, and military skill of Captain John Smith that saved the colony from both starvation and destruction by the Indians. He also charted the coast and wrote the first American book, A True Relation, which effectively publicized English colonization of the New World.

Smith's chief Algonkian adversary was Powhatan, emperor of a confederacy in eastern Virginia that bore his name. Although Smith was taken prisoner by Powhatan, he was able to work out a tenuous peace later cemented by the marriage in 1614 of the emperor's favorite daughter, Pocahontas, to John Rolfe, a Jamestown settler who founded the colonial tobacco industry.

Three events marked 1619 as a red-letter year in Virginia history. First, women were sent to the colony in large numbers. Any man marrying one of a shipment of 90 "young maids" had to pay 120 lb of tobacco for the cost of her transportation. The women were carefully screened for respectability, and none had to marry if she did not find a man to her liking. The second key event was the arrival in Jamestown of the first blacks, probably as indentured servants, a condition from which slavery in the colony evolved (the first legally recognized slaveholder, in the 1630s, was Anthony Johnson, himself black). The third and most celebrated event of 1619 was the convening in Jamestown of the first representative assembly in the New World, consisting of a council chosen by the London Company and a House of Burgesses elected by the colonists. Thus, self-government through locally elected representatives became a reality in America and an important precedent for the English colonies.

King James I, for whom the colonial capital was named, was at first content with colonization under the London Company's direction. But in 1624, he charged the company with mismanagement and revoked its charter. Virginia remained a royal colony until 1776, although royal governors such as Sir Francis Wyatt and Sir George Yeardley continued to convoke the General Assembly without the Crown's assent. A serious challenge to self-government came in 162935 with Governor John Harvey's "executive offenses"including the knocking out of a councillor's teeth and the detaining of a petition of protest to the kingwhich sparked a rebellion led by Dr. John Pott. Harvey was bloodlessly deposed by the council, which turned, significantly, to the House of Burgesses for confirmation of the action the council had taken.

Despite serious setbacks because of Indian massacres in 1622 and 1644, the colony's population expanded rapidly along the James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac rivers, and along the Eastern Shore. In 1653, the General Assembly attempted to collect taxes from the Eastern Shore although that area had no legislative representation. At a mass meeting, Colonel Thomas Johnson urged resistance to taxation without representation. The resulting Northampton Declaration embodied this principle, which would provide the rallying cry for the American Revolution; the immediate result was the granting of representation to the Eastern Shore.

Virginia earned the designation Old Dominion through its loyalty to the Stuarts during England's Civil War, but the superior military and naval forces of Oliver Cromwell compelled submission to parliamentary commissioners in 1652. In the eight years that followed, the House of Burgesses played an increasingly prominent role. Colonial governors, while at least nominally Puritan, usually conducted affairs with an easy tolerance that did not mar Virginia's general hospitality to refugee Cavaliers from the mother country.

With the restoration of the royal family in 1660, Sir William Berkeley, an ardent royalist who had served as governor before the colony's surrender to the Commonwealth, was returned to that office. In his first administration, his benign policies and appealing personality had earned him great popularity, but during his second term, his dictatorial and vindictive support of royal prerogatives made him the most hated man in the colony. When he seemed unable to defend the people against Indian incursions in 1676, they sought a general of their own. They found him in young Nathaniel Bacon, a charismatic planter of great daring and eloquence, whose leadership attracted many small planters impatient by this time with the privileged oligarchy directing the colony. Bacon's war against the Indians became a populist-style revolt against the governor, who fled to the Eastern Shore, and reform legislation was pushed by the burgesses. Berkeley regained control of the capital briefly, only to be defeated by Bacon's forces; but Jamestown was burned by the retreating Bacon, who died of fever shortly afterward. Berkeley's subsequent return to power was marked by so many hangings of offenders that the governor was summoned to the court of Charles II to answer for his actions. Bacon's Rebellion was cited as a precedent when the colonies waged war against George III a century later.

The 17th century closed on a note of material and cultural progress with the gubernatorial administration of Francis Nicholson. The College of William and Mary, the second institution of higher learning in America, was chartered in 1693, and Middle Plantation (renamed Williamsburg in 1722), the site of the college, became the seat of government when the capital was moved from Jamestown in 1699. The new capital remained small, although it was crowded when the legislature was in session. A new era of cultural and economic progress dawned with the administration of Alexander Spotswood (171022), sometimes considered the greatest of Virginia's colonial governors. He discouraged the colony's excessively heavy dependence on a single crop, tobacco; promoted industry, especially ironwork; took a humane interest in blacks and Indians' strengthened fortification; ended the depredations of the notorious pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard; and, by leading his "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe" across the Blue Ridge, dramatized the opening of the transmontane region.

In the decades that followed, eastern Virginians moving into the Valley of Virginia were joined by Scotch-Irish and Germans moving southward from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Virginians caught up in western settlement lost much of their awe of the mother country during the French and Indian War (175663). A young Virginia militiaman, Colonel George Washington, gave wise but unheeded advice to Britain's Major General Edward Brad-dock before the Battle of Monongahela, and afterward emerged as the hero of that action.

Virginia, acting independently and with other colonies, repeatedly challenged agents of the Crown. In 1765, the House of Burgesses, swept by the eloquence of Patrick Henry, adopted five resolutions opposing the Stamp Act, through which the English Parliament had sought to tax the colonists for their own defense. In 1768, Virginia joined Massachusetts in issuing an appeal to all the colonies for concerted action. The following year, Virginia initiated a boycott of British goods in answer to the taxation provisions of the hated Townshend Acts. In 1773, the Old Dominion became the first colony to establish an intercolonial Committee of Correspondence. And it joined the other colonies at the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia in 1774 and elected Virginia's Peyton Randolph president.

Virginia was the first colony to instruct its delegates to move for independence at the Continental Congress of 1776. The congressional resolution was introduced by one native son, Richard Henry Lee, and the Declaration of Independence was written by another, Thomas Jefferson. In the same year, Virginians proclaimed their government a commonwealth and adopted a constitution and declaration of rights, prepared by George Mason. The declaration became the basis for the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution. Virginians were equally active in the Revolutionary War. George Washington was commander in chief of the Continental Army, and other outstanding Virginia officers were George Rogers Clark, Hugh Mercer, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, William Campbell, Isaac Shelby, and an adopted son, Daniel Morgan. In addition, the greatest American naval hero was a Scottish-born Virginian, John Paul Jones. Virginia itself was a major battlefield, and it was on Virginia soil, at Yorktown on 19 October 1781, that British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to Washington, effectively ending the war.

During the early federal period, Virginia's leadership was as no-table as it had been during the American Revolution. James Madison is honored as the "father of the Constitution," and Washington, who was president of the constitutional convention, became the first US president in 1789. Indeed, Virginians occupied the presidency for all but four of the nation's first 28 years. Far more influential than most presidents was another Virginian, John Marshall, who served as US chief justice for 34 years, beginning in 1801.

During the first half of the 19th century, Virginians became increasingly concerned with the problem of slavery. From the early 1700s, the General Assembly had repeatedly prohibited the importation of slaves, only to be overruled by the Crown, protecting the interests of British slave traders. In 1778, no longer subject to royal veto, the legislature provided that any slave brought into the state would automatically be freed upon arrival. (There was no immediate legal termination of the bondage of those already enslaved, or of their offspring.) The number of free blacks grew tenfold by 1810, and though some became self-supporting farmers and artisans, many could find no employment. Fearing that unhappy free blacks might incite those who were still slaves to rebellion, the General Assembly in 1806 decreed that each slave emancipated in due course must then leave Virginia within a year or after reaching the age of 21. Nat Turner's slave revoltwhich took the lives of at least 55 white men, women, and children in Southampton County in 1831increased white fears of black emancipation. Nevertheless, legislation to end slavery in Virginia failed adoption by only seven votes the following year.

The slavery controversy did not consume all Virginians' energies in the first half of the 19th century, an era that saw the state become a leading center of scientific, artistic, and educational advancement. But this era ended with the coming of the Civil War, a conflict about which many Virginians had grave misgivings. Governor John Letcher was a Union man, and most of the state's top political leaders hoped to retain the federal tie. Even after the formation at Montgomery, Alabama, of the Confederate States of America, Virginia initiated a national peace convention in Washington, DC, headed by a native son and former US president, John Tyler. A statewide convention, assembled in Richmond in April 1861, adopted an ordinance of secession only after President Abraham Lincoln sought to send troops across Virginia to punish the states that had already seceded and called upon the commonwealth to furnish soldiers for that task. Virginia adopted secession with some regret and apprehension but with no agonizing over constitutional principles, for in ratifying the Constitution the state had reserved the right to secede. Shortly afterward, Richmond, the capital of Virginia since 1780, became the capital of the Confederacy. It was also the home of the Tredegar Ironworks, the South's most important manufacturer of heavy weaponry.

Robert E. Lee, offered field command of the Union armies, instead resigned his US commission in order to serve his native state as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and eventually as chief of the Confederate armies. Other outstanding Virginian generals included Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, J. E. B. "Jeb" Stuart, Joseph E. Johnston, and A. P. Hill. Besides furnishing a greater number of outstanding Confederate generals than any other state, the Old Dominion supplied some of the Union's military leaders, George H. Thomas, the "Rock of Chickamauga," among them. More than 30 Virginians held the rank of brigadier general or major general in the federal forces.

Virginia became the principal battlefield of the Civil War, the scene of brilliant victories won by General Lee's army at Bull Run (about 30 mi/48 km southwest of Washington, DC), Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville (Spotsylvania County). But the over-whelming numbers and industrial and naval might of the Union compelled Lee's surrender at Appomattox on 9 April 1865. Virginia waters were the scene of one of the most celebrated naval engagements in world history, the first battle of the ironclads, when the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (Merrimac), rebuilt in the Portsmouth Shipyard, met at Hampton Roads. The war cost Virginia one-third of its territory when West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a separate state on 20 June 1863. Richmond was left in ruins, and agriculture and industry throughout the commonwealth were destroyed. Union General Philip H. Sheridan's systematic campaign of demolition in the Shenandoah Valley almost made good his boast that a crow flying over the valley would have to carry its own rations.

In 1867, Virginia was placed under US military rule. A constitutional convention held in Richmond under the leadership of carpetbaggers and scalawags drafted a constitution that disqualified the overwhelming majority of white Virginians from holding office and deprived about 95% of them of the right to vote. In this crisis, a compromise was negotiated under which white Virginians would accept Negro suffrage if they themselves were permitted to vote and hold office. The amended constitution, providing for universal manhood suffrage, was adopted in 1869, and Virginia was readmitted to the Union on 26 January 1870.

Although the bankrupt state was saddled with a debt of more than $45 million, the Conservative Democrats undertook repayment of the entire debt, including approximately one-third estimated to be West Virginia's share. Other Democrats, who came to be known as Readjusters, argued that the commonwealth could not provide education and other essential services to its citizens unless it disclaimed one-third of the debt and reached a compromise with creditors concerning the remainder. William Mahone, a railroad president and former Confederate major general, engineered victory for the Readjusters in 1880 with the aid of the Republicans. His election to the US Senate that year represented another success for the Readjuster-Republican coalition, which was attentive to the needs of both blacks and underprivileged whites.

Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, life in public places in Virginia continued in an unsegregated fashion that sometimes amazed visitors from northern cities. As the 19th century neared an end, however, Virginia moved toward legal separation of the races. In 1900, the General Assembly by a one-vote majority enacted segregation on railroad cars. The rule became applicable the following year to streetcars and steamboats. In 1902, the Virginia constitutional convention enacted a literacy test and poll tax that effectively reduced the black vote to negligible size.

Two decades later, just when the Old Dominion seemed permanently set in the grooves of conservatism, two liberals, each with impeccable old-line backgrounds, found themselves battling for the governor-ship in a Democratic primary campaign that changed the course of Virginia's political history. Harry F. Byrd defeated G. Walter Mapp in the election of 1925 and immediately after taking office launched the state on an era of reform. In a whirlwind 60 days, the General Assembly revised the tax system, revised balloting procedures, and adopted measures to lure industry to Virginia. The Anti-Lynch Act of 1927 made anyone present at the scene of a lynching who did not intervene guilty of murder; there has not been a lynching in Virginia since its passage. Byrd also reorganized the state government, consolidating nearly 100 agencies into 14 departments. Later, as US Senator, Byrd became so renowned as a conservative that many people forgot his earlier career as a fighting liberal.

Following the depression of the 1930s, Virginia became one of the most prosperous states of the Southeast. It profited partly from national defense contracts and military and naval expansion, but also from increased manufacturing and from what became one of the nation's leading tourist industries. Few states made so great a contribution as Virginia to the US effort in World War II. More than 300,000 Virginians served in the armed forces; 9,000 lost their lives, and 10 were awarded the Medal of Honor. Virginians were proud of the fact that General George C. Marshall was a Virginia resident and a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, and even delighted in the knowledge that both General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander in the European theater, and General Douglas MacArthur, commander in the Pacific, were sons of Virginia mothers.

The postwar period brought many changes in the commonwealth's public life. During the first administration of Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr. (196670), the state abandoned its strict pay-as-you-go fiscal policy, secured an $81-million bond issue, and enacted a sales tax. Much of the increased revenue benefited the public school system; funding for the four-year colleges was greatly expanded, and a system of low-tuition community colleges was instituted.

In 1970, A. Linwood Holton Jr., became the first Republican governor of Virginia since 1874. Pledging to "make today's Virginia a model in race relations," Holton increased black representation on state boards and in the higher echelons of government. He reversed the policies of his immediate predecessors, who had generally met the US Supreme Court's desegregation ruling in 1954 with a program of massive resistance, eschewing violence but adopting every legal expedient to frustrate integration. By the mid-1970s, public school integration in Virginia had been achieved to a degree not yet accomplished in many northern states.

The northeast and Virginia Beach/Norfolk area of Virginia boomed in the early 1980s, spurred by an expansion of federal jobs and a national military build-up. The population in Virginia Beach grew by 50% between 1980 and 1990. Non-agricultural employment rose by 29% between 1980 and 1988. The economies of rural parts of the state to the west and south, however, remained stagnant.

In the late 1980s, Virginia was hit by a recession. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first black governor and a moderate Democrat, responded to a significant shortfall in state revenues by refusing to raise taxes and by insisting on maintaining a $200 million reserve fund. Instead, Wilder reduced the budgets and staff of state services and of the state's college and university system. Wilder's cuts created particular hardship for the less affluent counties that relied heavily on state aid for their funding of schools, libraries, and road maintenance. Wilder, limited by law to one term in office, was succeeded in 1993 by conservative Republican Richard Allen. In 1994, nationwide attention was focused on the US Senate race in which the Democratic incumbent, Charles S. Robb, defeated Republican challenger Oliver North, known for his role in the Iran-contra affair of the 1980s.

In the mid-1990s Virginia's economy was strong, thanks to its diversified base of agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries (the latter dominated by federal government employment). Pollution from industry and agricultural chemicals remained a significant concern, and the state was investing in cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1994, the Walt Disney Company abandoned its much-publicized plan to build a history theme park, "Disney's America," in Virginia, following strong opposition from residents, environmentalists, and historians.

Virginia was in the midst of its worst state revenue performance in 40 years in 2003. To help it overcome massive budget deficits, the state cut funding for higher education by more than 25% over the previous two years. Nearly all state universities raised tuition in response. Despite this fact, the State Council of Higher Education said Virginia needed to come up with an additional $350 million per year to maintain the quality of its public higher education system.

In November 2005, Democratic Lt. Governor Tim Kaine defeated Republican nominee Jerry Kilgore to become governor of Virginia. Whether justified or not, the votealong with Senator Jon Corzine's defeat of Republican nominee Doug Forrester for governor of New Jerseywas seen to be a referendum on President George W. Bush's stewardship of the nation.


Since 1776, Virginia has had six constitutions, all of which have expanded the power of the executive branch. The last constitution, framed in 1970 and effective 1 July 1971, governs the state today. As of January 2005, this document had been amended 40 times.

The General Assembly consists of a 40-member Senate, elected to four-year terms, and a 100-member house of delegates, serving for two-year terms. Senators and delegates must be US citizens, at least 21 years old, state residents for at least one year, district residents, and qualified voters. The assembly convenes annually on the second Wednesday in January for 60-day sessions in even-numbered years and 30-day sessions in odd-numbered years, with an option to extend the annual session for a maximum of 30 days or declare a special session by two-thirds vote of each house. In 2004 legislative salaries were $18,000 for state senators and $17,640 for delegates, unchanged from 1999.

The governor and lieutenant governor (elected separately), and attorney general, all serving four-year terms, are the only officials elected statewide. Elections for these offices are held in odd-numbered years, following presidential elections. The governor, who must be at least 30 years old, a US citizen, and a state resident and qualified voter for five years, may not serve two successive terms. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $124,855. Most state officialsincluding the secretaries of administration and finance, commerce and resources, education, human resources, public safety, and transportationare appointed by the governor but must be confirmed by both houses of the legislature.

Bills become law when signed by the governor or left unsigned for seven days (including Sundays) while the legislature is in session; a bill dies if left unsigned for 30 days after the legislature has adjourned. A two-thirds majority of those present in each house is needed to override a gubernatorial veto. The constitution may be amended by constitutional convention or by a majority vote of two sessions of the General Assembly; ratification by the electorate is required.

Voters must be US citizens, at least 18 years old, and residents of their voting precinct. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.


Virginia has exercised a unique role in US politics as the birthplace not only of representative government but also of one of America's two major parties. The modern Democratic Party traces its origins to the original Republican Party (usually referred to as the Democratic-Republican Party, or the Jeffersonian Democrats), led by two native sons of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Virginians have also been remarkably influential in the political life of other states: a survey published in 1949 showed that 319 Virginia natives had represented 31 other states in the US Senate and House of Representatives.

From the end of Reconstruction through the 1960s, conservative Democrats dominated state politics, with few exceptions. Harry F. Byrd was the state's Democratic political leader for 40 years, first as a reform governor (192630) and then as a conservative senator (193395). During the 1970s, Virginians, still staunchly conservative, turned increasingly to the Republican Party, whose presidential nominees carried the state in every election from 1952 through 1984, except for 1964. Linwood Holton, the first Republican governor since Reconstruction, was elected in 1969. His Republican successor, Mills E. Godwin Jr., the first governor since the Civil War to serve more than one term, had earlier

Virginia Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election
**Candidates of the nationwide Citizens and Socialist Workers parties were listed as independents on the Virginia ballot; another independent, John Anderson, won 95,418 votes.
1948 11 *Truman (D) 200,786 172,070 43,393 2,047 726 234
1952 12 *Eisenhower (R) 268,677 349,037 504 1,160
1956 12 *Eisenhower (R) 267,760 386,459 42,964 444 351
1960 12 Nixon (R) 362,327 404,521 4,204 397
1964 12 *Johnson (D) 558,038 481,334 2,895
1968 12 *Nixon (R) 442,387 590,319 320,272 1,680 4,671
1972 12 *Nixon (R) 438,887 988,493 19,721 9,918
1976 12 Ford (R) 813,896 836,554 16,686 4,648 7,508 17,802
1980 12 *Reagan (R) 752,174 989,609 12,821 **14,024 1,9861
1984 12 *Reagan (R) 796,250 1,337,078
1988 12 *Bush (R) 859,799 1,309,162 14,312 8,336
IND. (Perot) IND. (laRouche)
1992 13 Bush (R) 1,038,650 1,150,517 3,192 5,730 348,639 11,937
1996 13 Dole (R) 1,091,060 1,138,350 9,174 159,861
2000 13 *Bush, G. W. (R) 1,217,290 1,437,490 59,398 15,198
WRITE-IN (Nader) CONSTITUTION. (Peroutka) WRITE-IN (Cobb).
2004 13 *Bush, G. W. (R) 1,454,742 1,716,959 2,393 11,032 10,161 104

won election as a Democrat. The election in 1977 of another Republican, John N. Dalton, finally proved that Virginia had become a two-party state. In 1981, however, the governorship was won by Democrat Charles S. Robb, who appointed a record number of blacks and women to state offices. Robb, prohibited by law from seeking a consecutive second term, was succeeded by Democrat Gerald L. Baliles in 1985 when Virginians also elected L. Douglas Wilder as lieutenant governor and Mary Sue Terry as attorney general. Wilder became the highest-ranking black state official in the United States, and Terry was the first woman to win a statewide office in Virginia. Wilder was elected governor in 1989, followed by Republican George Allen in 1993. Another Republican, James S. Gilmore III, was elected to the office in the 1997 election. Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine were elected governor in 2001 and 2005, respectively.

Former governor Robb won election to the US Senate in 1988 and reelection in 1994 when he was opposed by Republican Oliver North, a former Marine and Reagan White House aide who gained fame for his role in the Iran-contra affair. Republican George F. Allen won the seat in 2000. Senior Senator John Warner, a Republican, was elected to a fifth term in 2002.

After the 2004 elections, Virginia's delegation to the US House of Representatives consisted of three Democrats and eight Republicans. As of the 2005 state legislative elections, control of the state Senate and house was in the hands of the Republicans. Republicans controlled the state House, 58-39, with 3 independents; the state Senate was split 24-16, Republicans to Democrats.

In 2000, Republican George W. Bush won 52% of the presidential vote; Democrat Al Gore received 45%; and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader garnered 2%. In 2004, incumbent Bush won 54% over Democratic challenger John Kerry's 45%. In 2004 there were 4,528,000 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state. The state had 13 electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.


As of 2005, Virginia had 125 counties and 229 municipal governments, as well as 196 special districts and 135 school districts.

During the colonial period, most Virginians lived on plantations and were reluctant to form towns. In 1705, the General Assembly approved the formation of 16 "free boroughs." Although only Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Norfolk chose at that time to avail themselves of the option and become independent municipalities, their decision laid the foundation for the independence of Virginia's present-day cities from county government. In 1842, Richmond became the commonwealth's first charter city. Cities elect their own officials (typically including council members and city managers), levy their own taxes, and are unencumbered by county obligations. Incorporated towns, on the other hand, remain part of the counties.

In general, counties are governed by elected boards of supervisors, with a county administrator or executive handling day-today affairs; other typical county officials are the clerk of the circuit court (chief administrator of the court), the county treasurer, the commissioner of the revenue, the commonwealth's attorney, and the sheriff. Incorporated towns have elected mayors and councils.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 298,240 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Virginia operates under executive order and state statute; a special assistant to the governor is designated as the state homeland security advisor.

Under the jurisdiction of the secretary of education are the Department of Education, which administers the public school system, and the State Council of Higher Education, which coordinates the programs of the state-controlled colleges and universities. The secretary of transportation oversees the Department of Transportation, Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Department of Aviation, Virginia Port Authority, Department of Motor Vehicles, the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board. The Virginia National Guard falls under the authority of the Department of Military Affairs.

Within the purview of the secretary of health and human resources are the Department of Health; Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services; Department of Health Professions, Department of Social Services, and Department of Rehabilitative Services, as well as special offices dealing with problems that affect women, children, the elderly, and the disabled. The departments of State Police, Corrections, Criminal Justice Services, Fire Programs, and Alcoholic Beverage Control are under the aegis of the secretary of public safety.

The secretary of commerce and trade oversees the departments of Housing and Community Development, Labor and Industry, Business Assistance, the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, and the Tourism Corporation, as well as a profusion of boards, councils, offices, divisions, and commissions. The secretary of administration exercises jurisdiction over budgeting, telecommunications, accounting, computer services, taxation, the state treasury, records, and personnel, as well as over the State Board of Elections. Regulatory functions are concentrated in the quasi-independent State Corporation Commission, consisting of three commissioners elected by the legislature to staggered six-year terms. The commission regulates all public utilities; licenses banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and small loan companies; enforces motor carrier and certain aviation laws and sets railroad rates; supervises the activities of insurance companies; and enforces laws governing securities and retail franchising. Natural resources are protected by the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Forestry, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.


The highest judicial body in the commonwealth is the Supreme Court, consisting of a chief justice and six other justices elected to 12-year terms by the General Assembly. The court of appeals has ten judges serving 8-year terms. The state is divided into 31 judicial circuits/districts. Each city and county has a circuit court, a general district court, and a juvenile and domestic relations district court. Circuit court judges are elected by the legislature for eight-year terms. General district courts hear all misdemeanors, including civil cases involving $1,000 or less, and have concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts in claims involving $1,000 to $15,000. General district courts also hold preliminary hearings concerning felony cases. Each of the 31 judicial districts has a juvenile and a domestic relations court, with judges elected by the General Assembly to six-year terms. Each city or county has at least one local magistrate.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 35,564 prisoners were held in Virginia's state and federal prisons, an increase from 35,067 of 1.4% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 2,706 inmates were female, up from 2,681 or 0.9% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Virginia had an incarceration rate of 473 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Virginia in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 275.6 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 20,559 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 199,668 reported incidents or 2,676.6 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Virginia has a death penalty which allows prisoners to choose either lethal injection or electrocution. From 1976 through 5 May 2006, the state has carried out 95 executions (the second-highest in the United States, after Texas), of which the most recent execution took place in 2006 (prior to May 5). There were no executions in 2005 As of 1 January 2006, Virginia had 22 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Virginia spent $1,958,536,955 on homeland security, an average of $267 per state resident.


In 2004, there were 90,088 active-duty military personnel and 78,792 civilian personnel stationed in Virginia. The Hampton Roads area, one of the nation's major concentrations of military facilities, includes Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, the Norfolk naval air station and shipyard, the naval air station at Virginia Beach, the Marine Corps air facility and command and staff college at Quantico, and Forts Eustis, Belvoir, and Lee. Langley hosts the 1st Fighter Wing which operates and maintains one of the largest fighter bases in Air Combat Command. The wing flies the F-15 Eagle. Norfolk is the home base of the Atlantic Fleet, and several major army and air commands are in Virginia. Virginia's major defense establishments also include an army base at Arlington. Also, located there is Arlington National Cemetery established by Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs for use as a military cemetery on June 15, 1864.

In 2004, Virginia firms received more than $23.5 billion in defense contracts, second to California. In addition, Virginia had the highest defense payroll outlays in the United States, $15.99 billion, highest in both civilian pay and military active duty pay.

In 2003, there were 750,950 veterans of US military service living in Virginia. Of these, 70, 802 saw service in World War II; 60,921 during the Korean conflict; 216,388 during the Vietnam era; and 168,444 during the Persian Gulf War. Veterans' benefits allocated to Virginia totaled more than $1.7 billion in 2004.

As of 31 October 2004, the Virginia State Police employed 1,840 full-time sworn officers.


Virginia's earliest European immigrants were Englishonly a few hundred at first, but 4,000 between 1619 and 1624, of whom fewer than 1,200 survived epidemics and Indian attacks. Despite such setbacks, Virginia's population increased, mostly by means of immigration, from about 5,000 in 1634 to more than 15,000 in 1642, including 300 blacks. Within 30 years, the population had risen to more than 40,000, including 2,000 blacks. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, immigrants came not only from England but also from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Poland. In 1701, about 500 French Huguenots fled Catholic France to settle near the present site of Richmond, and beginning in 1714, many Germans and Scotch-Irish moved from Pennsylvania into the Valley of Virginia.

By the early 19th century, Virginians were moving westward into Kentucky, Ohio, and other states; the 1850 census showed that 388,000 former Virginians (not including the many thousands of slaves sold to other states) were living elsewhere. Some of those who leftHenry Clay, Sam Houston, Stephen Austinwere among the most able men of their time. The Civil War era saw the movement of thousands of blacks to northern states, a trend that accelerated after Reconstruction and again after World War I. Since 1900, the dominant migratory trend has been intrastate, from farm to city. Urbanization has been most noticeable since World War II in the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas. At the same time, the movement of middle-income Virginians to the suburbs and increasing concentrations of blacks in the central cities have been evident in Virginia as in other states. During the 1980s, the urban population grew from 66% to 69.4% of the total population; during the 1990s it reached 77.9%.

Between 1940 and 1970, Virginia enjoyed a net gain from migration of 325,000. In the 1970s, the net gain was 239,000, and during 198590, 377,000 (fourth highest among the states for that period). Between 1990 and 1998, Virginia had net gains of 68,000 in domestic migration and 131,000 in international migration. In 1996, 372,000, or about 6%, of the state's population was foreign-born. In 1998, 15,686 foreign immigrants arrived in Virginia, the ninth-highest total of any state. Of that total, 1,509 came from El Salvador, 921 from the Philippines, and 910 from India. Between 1990 and 1998, Virginia's overall population increased 9.7%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 139,977 and net internal migration was 103,521, for a net gain of 243,498 people.


Regional bodies in which Virginia participates include the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, Southern Growth Policies Board, Southern States Energy Board, Southeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, Ohio River Basin Commission, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Southern Regional Education Board, Appalachian Regional Commission, Potomac River Fisheries Commission (with Maryland) and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The Delmarva Advisory Council, representing Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, works with local organizations on the Delmarva Peninsula to develop and implement economic improvement programs. The state also has a number of border compacts, including ones with Maryland, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In fiscal year 2005, Virginia received federal grants worth $5.269 billion, an estimated $5.495 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $5.744 billion in fiscal year 2007.


Early settlements in Virginia depended on subsistence farming of native crops such as corn and potatoes. Tobacco, the leading export crop during the colonial era, was joined by cotton during the early statehood period. Although cotton was never "king" in Virginia, as it was in many other southern states, the sale of slaves to Deep South plantations was an important source of income for Virginians, especially during the 1830s, when some 118,000 slaves were exported for profit. Eventually, a diversified agriculture developed in the piedmont and the Shenandoah Valley. Manufacturing became significant during the 19th century, with a proliferation of cotton mills, tobacco-processing plants, ironworks, paper mills, and shipyards.

Services, trade, and government are important economic sectors today. Because of Virginia's extensive military installations and the large number of Virginia residents working for the federal government in the Washington DC metropolitan area, the federal government plays a larger role in the state's economy than in any other except Hawaii. The industries that experienced the most growth in the 1990s were printing, transportation equipment, electronic and other electrical equipment. Between 1992 and 2000, job growth in Virginia averaged 2.7% a year, and in northern Virginia, the rate was 4% a year. The state's economy as a whole grew briskly, averaging 7.13% a year from 1998 to 2000. However, the high con-centration of high-technology industries in Virginia, the two largest being computer and data processing services, and electronic equipment, meant that the collapse of the bubble in the national recession of 2001 would have negative impacts, despite counter-cyclical increases in government spending. The growth rate moderated to 4.7% in 2001, employment contracted., and for 2000/01 tax revenues, growth fell by more than half. By November 2002 employment was still 1.5% below the peak reached in March 2001. Tax revenues in 2001/02 declined 4%, facing the state with a billion dollar deficit after successive years of budget surpluses.

In 2004, Virginia's gross state product (GSP) was $329.332 billion, of which the real estate sector accounted for the largest share at $40.274 billion or 12.2% of GSP, followed by manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) at $38.345 billion (11.6% of GSP) and professional and technical services at $33.911 billion (10.2% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 567,830 small businesses in Virginia. Of the 172,785 businesses that had employees, an estimated total of 169,053 or 97.8% were small companies. An estimated 24,134 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, up 9.4% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 19,919, down 3% from 2003. There were 750 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 21.5% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 583 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Virginia 22nd in the nation.


In 2005 Virginia had a gross state product (GSP) of $353 billion which accounted for 2.8% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 11 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Virginia had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $36,160. This ranked ninth in the United States and was 109% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.5%. Virginia had a total personal income (TPI) of $270,521,697,000, which ranked 10th in the United States and reflected an increase of 7.7% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.8%. Earnings of persons employed in Virginia increased from $196,522,936,000 in 2003 to $213,341,529,000 in 2004, an increase of 8.6%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $53,275 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 9.8% of the population was below the poverty line as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Virginia 4,013,400, with approximately 134,100 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 3.3%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 3,724,800. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Virginia was 7.8% in January 1983. The historical low was 2.2% in January 2001. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 7% of the labor force was employed in construction; 7.9% in manufacturing; 17.8% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 5.2% in financial activities; 8.9% in professional and business services; 10.7% in education and health services; 8.9% in leisure and hospitality services; and 17.9% in government.

Although the state has no equal-employment statute, an equal-pay law does prohibit employers from wage discrimination on the basis of sex, and the Virginia Employment Contracting Act established as state policy the elimination of racial, religious, ethnic, and sexual bias in the employment practices of government agencies and contractors. The labor movement has grown slowly, partly because of past practices of racial segregation that prevented workers from acting in concert.

The BLS reported that in 2005, a total of 165,000 of Virginia's 3,406,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 4.8% of those so employed, down from 5.3% in 2004, and well below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 211,000 workers (6.2%) in Virginia were covered by a union or employee association contract, which included those workers who reported no union affiliation. Virginia is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Virginia had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $5.15 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 47.4% of the employed civilian labor force.


Virginia ranked 31st among the 50 states in 2005 with farm marketings of more than $2.6 billion. The commonwealth is an important producer of tobacco, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, tomatoes, potatoes, and peaches. There were an estimated 47,500 farms in 2004, covering 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares).

The Tidewater is an important farming region, as it has been since the early 17th century. Crops grown include corn, wheat, tobacco, cotton, peanuts and truck crops. Truck crops and soybeans are cultivated on the Eastern Shore. The piedmont is known for its apples and other fruits, while the Shenandoah Valley is one of the nation's main apple growing regions. In 2004, Virginia ranked fourth among states in tobacco, seventh in peanuts, and sixth in apples. In 2004, greenhouse/nursery products accounted for 8.7% of farm receipts.


In 2005, Virginia farms and ranches had 1.6 million cattle and calves, valued at $1.26 billion. During 2004, the state had around 375,000 hogs and pigs, valued at $32.6 million. The state produced 3.5 million lb (1.6 million kg) of sheep and lambs in 2003, and an estimated 226,000 lb of shorn wool in 2004.

Dairy farmers produced 1.73 billion lb (0.79 billion kg) of milk from 113,000 milk cows in 2003. That same year, poultry farmers produced 744 million eggs, worth around $73.2 million; 492.2 million lb (223.7 million kg) of turkey, worth almost $177.2 million; 1.3 billion lb (590 million kg) of broilers, valued at $441.7 million; and 21.7 million lb (9.9 million kg) of chicken sold for over $1.5 million.


The relative importance of Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic fisheries to Virginia's economy has lessened considerably in recent decades, although the state continues to place high in national rankings. In 2004, Virginia's commercial fish landings totaled 481.6 million lb (218.9 million kg), ranking the state third in the nation for volume of landings. The catch was worth $160.3 million. Landings at the Reedville port totaled over 400.5 million lb (182 million kg), the second highest volume of all US ports. The port at Hampton Road Area ranked third in the nation in catch value with $100.6 million. The bulk of the catch consists of shellfish such as crabs, scallops, and clams, and finfish such as flounder and menhaden. The sea scallop catch in 2004 was at 19.6 million lb (8.9 million kg), the second largest in the nation (after Massachusetts).

In 2003, there were 28 processing and 57 wholesale plants in the state, with about 1,801 employees. In 2001, the commercial fishing fleet had 261 vessels.

Both saltwater and freshwater fish are avidly sought by sport fishermen. A threat to Virginia fisheries has been the chemical and oil pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. In 2004, the state issued 619,853 fishing licenses. The Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery is located in Charles City.


As of 2004, Virginia had 15,844,000 acres (6,412,000 hectares) of forestland, representing more than 63% of the state's land area and 2.1% of all US forests. Virtually every county has some commercial forestland and supports a wood products industry. In 2004, 1,474 million board feet of lumber were produced.

Reforestation programs initiated by the Division of Forestry in 1971 have paid landowners to plant pine seedlings, and state-funded tree nurseries produce 60-70 million seedlings annually. The Division of Forestry's tree seed orchards have developed improved strains of loblolly, shortleaf, white, and Virginia pine for planting in cutover timberland.

For recreational purposes, there were 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) of forested public lands in 2004, including Shenandoah National Park, Washington and Jefferson National Forests, 24 state parks, and eight state forests.


According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated value of nonfuel mineral production by Virginia in 2003 was $727 million, an increase from 2002 of about 5%. The USGS data ranked Virginia as 19th among the 50 states by the total value of its nonfuel mineral production, accounting for almost 2% of total US output.

According to the preliminary data for 2003, crushed stone was the state's top raw nonfuel mineral, by value, accounting for around 59% of Virginia's total nonfuel mineral output, and was followed by cement (portland and masonry), construction sand and gravel, and lime. Collectively, these four commodities accounted for around 86% of all nonfuel mineral output, by value. Virginia in 2003 was the only state to mine kyanite, while it ranked (by value) second in the production of feldspar, zirconium concentrates, and titanium. Virginia was also second (out of two states) in the production of vermiculite and was fourth in the output of iron oxide pigments.

The preliminary data for 2003 showed crushed stone output at 63 million metric tons, with a value of $428 million, with construction sand and gravel production that same year as totaling 11.1 million metric tons, with a value of $63.8 million. Kyanite production in 2003 was estimated at 90,000 metric tons, with a value of $13.4 million.

Virginia in 2003 also produced dimension stone and common clays.


As of 2003, Virginia had 39 electrical power service providers, of which 16 were publicly owned and 13 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, five were investor owned, one was federally operated, one was the owner of an independent generator that sold directly to customers, one was an energy-only supplier and two were delivery-only providers. As of that same year there were 3,301,904 retail customers. Of that total, 2,728,215 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 411,861 customers, while publicly owned providers had 159,588 customers. There was only one federal customer, one independent generator or "facility" customer, and 2,238 energy-only supplier customers. There was no data on the number of delivery-only customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 21.257 million k W, with total production that same year at 75.309 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 82.1% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 37.093 billion kWh (49.3%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear generating plants in second place at 24.816 billion kWh (33%) and petroleum fueled plants in third at 5.780 billion kWh (7.7%). Other renewable power sources, natural gas fueled plants, hydroelectric and pumped storage facilities accounting for the remaining generation.

As of 2006, Virginia had two nuclear power plants: the North Anna plant in Louisa County; and the Surry plant near Williamsburg.

As of 2004, Virginia had proven crude oil reserves of less than 1% of all proven US reserves, while output that same year averaged 52 barrels per day. Including federal offshore domains, the state that year ranked 32nd (31st excluding federal offshore) in production among the 31 producing states. In 2004 Virginia had 10 producing oil wells and accounted for under 1% of all US production. As of 2005, the state's single crude oil refinery at Yorktown had a distillation capacity of 58,600 barrels per day.

The state is supplied with natural gas by three major interstate pipeline companies. Liquefied natural gas plants operate in Chesapeake, Roanoke, and Lynchburg, and a synthetic gas plant is in service at Chesapeake. There is underground natural gas storage facilities in Scott and Washington Counties and in Saltville.

In 2004, Virginia had 3,870 producing natural gas and gas con-densate wells. In that same year, the production of dry or consumer-grade natural gas totaled 152.495 billion cu ft (4.33 billion cu m). As of 31 December 2004, proven reserves of dry natural gas totaled 1,742 billion cu ft (49.47 billion cu m).

Virginia in 2004 had 123 producing coal mines, 46 of which were surface operations and 77 were underground. Coal production that year totaled 31,420,000 short tons, down from 31,596,000 short tons in 2003. Of the total produced in 2004, underground mines accounted for 20,437,000 short tons. All of the coal produced was bituminous. Recoverable coal reserves in 2004 totaled 250 million short tons. One short ton equals 2,000 lb (0.907 metric tons).


Beginning with the establishment of a glass factory at Jamestown in 1608, manufacturing grew slowly during the colonial era to include flour mills and, by 1715, an iron foundry. During the 19th century, the shipbuilding industry flourished, and many cotton mills, tanneries, and ironworks were built. Light industries producing a wide variety of consumer goods developed later.

Richmond is a principal industrial area for tobacco processing, paper and printing, clothing, and food products. Nearby Hopewell is a locus of the chemical industry. Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk are centers for shipbuilding and the manufacture of other transportation equipment. In the western part of the state, Lynchburg is a center for electrical machinery, metals, clothing, and printing, and Roanoke for food, clothing, and textiles. In the south, Martinsville has a concentration of furniture and textile-manufacturing plants, and textiles are also dominant in Danville.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Virginia's manufacturing sector covered some 19 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $87.842 billion. Of that total, beverage and tobacco product manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $12.856 billion. It was followed by transportation equipment manufacturing at $12.211 billion; food manufacturing at $10.007 billion; chemical manufacturing at $7.864 billion; and plastics and rubber products manufacturing at $4.864 billion.

In 2004, a total of 284,076 people in Virginia were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 206,060 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the transportation equipment manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees, with 38,533 (27,606 actual production workers). It was followed by food manufacturing, with 30,982 (23,946 actual production workers); plastics and rubber products manufacturing, with 20,032 (15,772 actual production workers); wood product manufacturing, with 18,753 (14,802 actual production workers); and furniture and related product manufacturing, with 17,633 (14,738 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Virginia's manufacturing sector paid $11.915 billion in wages. Of that amount, the transportation equipment manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $1.836 billion. It was followed by computer and electronic product manufacturing at $1.222 million; food manufacturing at $936.758 million; chemical manufacturing at $920.204 million; and plastics and rubber products manufacturing at $804.629 million.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Virginia's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $69.2 billion from 7,712 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 4,990 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 2,182 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 540 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $33.8 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $27.06 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $8.3 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Virginia was listed as having 28,914 retail establishments with sales of $80.5 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: clothing and clothing accessories stores (3,924); gasoline stations (3,623); food and beverage stores (3,383); and miscellaneous store retailers (3,313). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $20.1 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $12.5 billion; food and beverage stores at $11.8 billion; and gasoline stations at $7.8 billion. A total of 401,921 people were employed by the retail sector in Virginia that year.

Virginia is a major container shipping center, with almost all shipments handled through the Hampton Roads estuary. Coal is the leading exported commodity and residual fuel oil the principal import. Exports of goods originating within Virginia totaled $12.2 billion in 2005.


Consumer protection issues are generally the responsibility of the state's Office of Consumer Affairs, which is under the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, although the Office of the Attorney General does have limited authority to act on consumer protection issues. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs regulates food processors and handlers, product labeling, the use of pesticides, and product safety, and through its Office of Consumer Affairs is also responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws as well as acting as the central clearing-house for consumer complaints in Virginia.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil proceedings and to a limited extent, criminal proceedings. The office can represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies, but can only offer legal opinions regarding the administration of consumer protection and education programs and in the handling of formal consumer complaints. In consumer matters the Attorney General's Office has limited subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; initiate criminal proceedings; and represent counties, cities and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

The offices of the state's Office of Consumer Affairs, and the Antitrust and Consumer Litigation Section of the Attorney General's Office are located in Richmond. County government consumer affairs offices are located in the cities of Arlington and Fairfax. City government consumer protection offices are located in Alexandria and Virginia Beach.


As of June 2005, Virginia had 140 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, in addition to 61 state-chartered and 161 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria market area, which includes portions of Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 103 institutions and $130.985 billion in deposits, followed by the Richmond market area with 36 institutions and $33.475 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 16.1% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $48.182 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 83.9% or $250.480 billion in assets held.

The median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) as of fourth quarter 2005 stood at 4.25%, up from 3.94% in 2004 and 3.95% in 2003. The median percentage of past-due/nonaccrual loans to total loans in fourth quarter 2005 stood at 0.99%, down from 1% in 2004 and 1.52% in 2003.

Regulation of Virginia's state-chartered banks and other state-chartered financial institutions is the responsibility of the State Corporation Commission's Bureau of Financial Institutions.


Virginians held over 4.5 million individual life insurance policies worth over $338.8 billion in 2004; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was over $597 billion. The average coverage amount is $73,800 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $1.6 billion.

As of 2003, there were 19 property and casualty and 14 life and health insurance companies domiciled in the state. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled over $9.8 billion. That year, there were 84,492 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $14.2 billion. About $3.6 billion of coverage was held through FAIR plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high risk areas.

In 2004, 59% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 7% held individual policies, and 19% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 14% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 19% for single coverage. The employee contribution rate of 30% for family coverage is one of the highest averages among the fifty states. The state does not offer a health benefits expansion program in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 5.6 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $20,000. Uninsured motorist coverage is also required. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $657.37.


There are no securities exchanges in Virginia. In 2005, there were 3,130 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 5,060 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 215 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 83 NASDAQ companies, 47 NYSE listings, and 10 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state 18 Fortune 500 companies; Sprint Nextel (based in Reston) ranked first in the state and 59th in the nation with revenues of over $34.6 billion, followed by General Dynamics (Falls Church), Dominion Resources (Richmond), Capital One Financial (McLean), and Smithfield Foods (Smith-field). All of these top five companies are listed on the NYSE.


Virginia's resources are divided equally into two portions: the general fund (which comes from general state taxes), and the non-general fund (which is used for set purposes). Total general funds for fiscal year 2002 were over $12 billion, 64% from individual income taxes, 20% from sales taxes, and 4% from corporate taxes. The governor's fiscal year 200002 budget emphasized a property tax phase-out.

Fiscal year 2006 general funds were estimated at $15.8 billion for resources and $15.2 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Virginia were $7.9 billion.


In 2005, Virginia collected $15,919 million in tax revenues or $2,104 per capita, which placed it 26th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 0.1% of the total, sales taxes 19.4%, selective sales taxes 15.0%, individual income taxes 52.5%, corporate income taxes 3.8%, and other taxes 9.2%.

As of 1 January 2006, Virginia had four individual income tax brackets ranging from 2.0% to 5.75%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 6.0%.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $7.8 billion or $1,031 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 21st nationally. Local governments collected $7,694,442,000 of the total and the state government $20,778,000.

Virginia taxes retail sales at a rate of 4%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 1%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 5%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is taxable, but at a lower rate. The tax on cigarettes is 30 cents per pack, which ranks 45th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Virginia taxes gasoline at 17.5 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Virginia citizens received $1.66 in federal spending, which ranks the state seventh nationally.


The state government actively promotes a pro-business climate. Conservative traditions, low tax rates, low wage rates, a weak labor movement, and excellent access to eastern and overseas markets are the general incentives for companies to relocate into Virginia. Five duty-free foreign trade zones have been established in Virginia.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership extends low-interest loans to creditworthy companies to purchase land, buildings, and machinery if conventional financing is not available. The state also issues revenue bonds to finance industrial projectsa

VirginiaState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols:zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 35,739,829 4,777.41
  General revenue 27,971,743 3,739.04
    Intergovernmental revenue 6,237,933 833.84
    Taxes 14,233,065 1,902.56
      General sales 2,977,401 398.00
      Selective sales 2,234,662 298.71
      License taxes 613,910 82.06
      Individual income tax 7,422,071 992.12
      Corporate income tax 422,119 56.43
      Other taxes 562,902 75.24
    Current charges 4,472,170 597.80
    Miscellaneous general revenue 3,028,575 404.84
  Utility revenue - -
  Liquor store revenue 407,574 54.48
  Insurance trust revenue 7,360,512 983.89
Total expenditure 30,370,027 4,059.62
  Intergovernmental expenditure 8,819,067 1,178.86
  Direct expenditure 21,550,960 2,880.76
    Current operation 15,602,380 2,085.60
    Capital outlay 1,772,815 236.98
    Insurance benefits and repayments 2,383,042 318.55
    Assistance and subsidies 1,070,788 143.13
    Interest on debt 721,935 96.50
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 6,831,680 913.20
Total expenditure 30,370,027 4,059.62
  General expenditure 27,618,308 3,691.79
    Intergovernmental expenditure 8,819,067 1,178.86
    Direct expenditure 18,799,241 2,512.93
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 10,308,063 1,377.90
    Public welfare 5,618,854 751.08
    Hospitals 1,966,021 262.80
    Health 724,350 96.83
    Highways 2,477,512 331.17
    Police protection 549,489 73.45
    Correction 1,215,898 162.53
    Natural resources 181,365 24.24
    Parks and recreation 77,446 10.35
    Government administration 1,005,575 134.42
    Interest on general debt 721,935 96.50
    Other and unallocable 2,771,800 370.51
  Utility expenditure 18,759 2.51
  Liquor store expenditure 349,918 46.77
  Insurance trust expenditure 2,383,042 318.55
Debt at end of fiscal year 15,314,018 2,047.05
Cash and security holdings 57,642,635 7,705.20

popular method of financing because the return to investors is tax-free. The bonds are issued for small as well as large companies and may be used to finance the installation of pollution control equipment. Localities allow total or partial tax exemptions for such equipment and for certified solar energy devices. The Virginia Small Business Financing Authority's loan guarantee program helps small companies obtain working capital by guaranteeing up to $150,000 of a bank loan.

Counties, cities, and incorporated towns may form local industrial development authorities to finance industrial projects and various other facilities, and may issue their own revenue bonds to cover the cost of land, buildings, machinery, and equipment. The authority's lease of the property normally includes an option to buy at a nominal price on the expiration of the lease. In addition, some 110 local development corporations have been organized. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development offers grants for projects which will generate employment in economically depressed areas, and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority extends loans to new or growing companies in southwestern Virginia. For minority-owned entre-preneurships, Virginia maintains the Office of Minority Business Enterprise to give advice on special problems. With Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC, Virginia has been recognized as part of an international life sciences hub, dubbed the BioCapital hub. Virginia companies and agencies have participated in bioscience "hotbed" campaigns, concerted efforts by groups made up of government development agencies, pharmaceutical and bioscience companies, research institutes, universities, and nonprofits to attract capital, personnel and resources to develop a life sciences cluster.

In 2006, the US Chamber of Commerce ranked all 50 states on legal fairness towards business. The chamber found Virginia to be one of five states with the best legal environment for business. The other four were Iowa, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Delaware.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 7.4 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 13.7 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 18.1 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 85.3% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 81% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 7.9 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 205; cancer, 186.5; cerebrovascular diseases, 54.3; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 37.7; and diabetes, 21.4. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 3.6 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 10.7 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 56.4% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 20.8% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Virginia had 84 community hospitals with about 17,200 beds. There were about 758,000 patient admissions that year and 11.2 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 12,000 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,277. Also in 2003, there were about 278 certified nursing facilities in the state with 31,472 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 87.7%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 73.5% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Virginia had 264 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 712 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there were a total of 4,395 dentists in the state.

About 10% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid programs in 2003; 13% were enrolled in Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 14% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $5.4million.


In 2004, about 126,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $240. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 488,481 persons (215,817 house-holds); the average monthly benefit was about $85.25 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $499.7 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. Virginia's TANF program is called VIEW (Virginia Initiative for Employment, Not Welfare). In 2004, the state program had 27,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $129 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 1,114,210 Virginians. This number included 693,350 retired workers, 111,370 widows and widowers, 155,830 disabled workers, 58,240 spouses, and 95,420 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 14.9% of the total state population and 91.1% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $940; widows and widowers, $860; disabled workers, $898; and spouses, $474. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $492 per month; children of deceased workers, $645; and children of disabled workers, $273. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 134,531 Virginia residents, averaging $375 a month. An additional $1.7 million of state-administered supplemental payments were distributed to 6,301 residents.


In 2004, Virginia had an estimated 3,116,827 housing units, 2,846,417 of them occupied; 69.2% were owner-occupied. About 62.7% of all units were single-family, detached homes. Electricity and utility gas were the most common energy sources for heating. It was estimated that 118,489 units lacked telephone service, 8,701 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 8.175 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.54 members.

In 2004, 63,200 new privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $179,191. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,323. Renters paid a median of $757 per month. In 2006, the state received over $19.5 million in community development block grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


Although Virginia was the first English colony to found a free school (1634), the state's public school system developed very slowly. Thomas Jefferson proposed a system of free public schools as early as 1779, but it was not until 1851 that such a system was establishedfor whites only. Free schools for blacks were founded after the Civil War, but they were poorly funded. Opposition by white Virginians to the US Supreme Court's desegregation order in 1954 was marked in certain communities by public school closings and the establishment of all-white private schools. In Prince Edward County, the most extreme case, the school board abandoned public education and left black children without schools from 1959 to 1963. By the 1970s, however, school integration was an accomplished fact throughout the commonwealth.

In 2004, 88.4% of all state residents 25 years of age or older were high school graduates, and 33.1% had four or more years of college.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Virginia's public schools stood at 1,177,000. Of these, 832,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 346,000 attended high school. Approximately 61.3% of the students were white, 26.8% were black, 6.6% were Hispanic, 4.7% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.5% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 1,186,000 in fall 2003 and expected to be 1,202,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 2.1% during the period 200214. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $11.25 billion. There were 104,304 students enrolled in 604 private schools in fall 2003. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005 eighth graders in Virginia scored 284 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 404,966 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 27.6% of total postsecondary enrollment. In 2005 Virginia had 104 degree-granting institutions including, 15 public four-year schools, 24 public two-year schools, and 32 nonprofit, private four-year schools. Virginia has had a distinguished record in higher education since the College of William and Mary was founded at Williamsburg (then called Middle Plantation) in 1693, especially after Thomas Jefferson established the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1819. In addition to the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary, public state-supported institutions include Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond; Virginia Military Institute, Lexington; Old Dominion University, Norfolk; and George Mason University, Fairfax. Well-known private institutions include the Hampton Institute, Hampton; Randolph-Macon College, Ashland; University of Richmond; Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar; and Washington and Lee University, Lexington. Tuition assistance grants and scholarships are provided through the State Council of Higher Education, while the Virginia Student Assistance Authority provides guaranteed student loans.


The Virginia Commission for the Arts was founded in 1968 and is comprised of 13 commissioners appointed by the governor for five-year terms. In 2005, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and other Virginia arts organizations received 32 grants totaling $1,197,200 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) was established in 1974; as of 2005 VFH had sponsored over 40,000 humanities programs. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $4,267,066 for 46 state programs.

Richmond, Norfolk, and the northern Virginia metropolitan area are the principal centers for the creative and the performing arts in Virginia, although the arts flourish throughout the state. Richmond's Landmark Theater (formerly known as The Mosque) has been the scene of concerts by internationally famous orches-tras and soloists for generations. As of 2005, Richmond's Landmark Theater had the largest proscenium stage on the East Coast. The Barksdale Theatre and its repertory company presents a variety of performances at both Willow Lawn and Hanover Tavern. The 2005/06 season performances included The Syringa Tree, The Full Monty, and Barefoot in the Park.

In Norfolk, the performing arts are strikingly housed in Scope, a large auditorium designed by Pier Luigi Nervi; Chrysler Hall, an elegant structure with gleaming crystal; and the Wells Theatre, an ornate building that has hosted such diverse performers as John Philip Sousa, Will Rogers, and Fred Astaire. The internationally recognized Virginia Opera Association is housed in the Harrison Opera House. As of 2004, the Virginia Opera's Education and Outreach program reached more than 200,000 students and community members annually.

The Wolf Trap Foundation, in northern Virginia, provides theatrical, operatic, and musical performances featuring internationally celebrated performers. The College of William and Mary's Phi Beta Kappa Hall in Williamsburg is the site of the Virginia Shakespeare Festival, an annual summer event inaugurated in 1979. Abingdon is the home of the Barter Theatre (1933), the first state-supported theatre in the United States, whose alumni include Ernest Borgnine and Gregory Peck. This repertory company has performed widely in the United States and at selected sites abroad. The 2006 season included performances of Romeo and Juliet, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Robin Hood, and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

There are orchestras in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Lynch-burg, Petersburg, and Roanoke. Richmond is home to the Richmond Ballet, Richmond Choral Society, Richmond Jazz Society, Richmond Philharmonic, and the Richmond Symphony. The Virginia Symphony, founded in 1920, has been recognized as one of the nation's leading regional symphony orchestras. The symphony provides an education and outreach program; as of 2005 it offered programs such as "The Peanut Butter and Jam Family Series," "Young People's Concerts," and "Beethoven Play-Along."

The annual Virginia Arts Festival has drawn national attention since its inception in 1997. In 2004, the festival presented 134 performances of music, theater, and dance in 32 days and more than 22,000 students and 1,546 artists participated. The annual Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, established in 1963, is held in Orkney Springs and features arts and crafts presentations as well as musical performances.

In 2004 former US Poet Laureate (19931995), Rita Dove, was named Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Her books of poetry include American Smooth (2004), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), Mother Love (1995), Pulitzer Prize-winning Thomas and Beulah (1986), and The Yellow House on the Corner (1980). She has also published a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985) and a novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992).


For the fiscal year ending in June 2001, Virginia had 90 public library systems, with a total of 338 libraries, of which 259 were branches. In that same year, they had a combined 18,659,000 volumes of books and serial publications one their shelves, and had a combined circulation of 63,075,000. The system also had 810,000 audio and 448,000 video items, 13,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and 35 bookmobiles. The Virginia State Library in Richmond and the libraries of the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) and the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg) have the personal papers of such notables as Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Robert E. Lee, William H. McGuffey, and William Faulkner. The University of Virginia also has an impressive collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts, and the library of colonial Williamsburg has extensive microfilms of British records. In fiscal year 2001, operating income for the state's public library system totaled $199,658,000 and included $1,384,000 in federal funds and $21,181,000 in state funding.

There were 260 museums in 199697. In Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the first state museum of art in the United States, has a collection that ranges from ancient Egyptian artifacts to mobile jewelry by Salvador Dali. The Science Museum of Virginia has a 280-seat planetarium that features a simulated excursion to outer space. Other museums in Richmond are Wilton, the Randolphs' handsome 18th-century mansion, and the Maymont and Wickham-Valentine houses, elaborate 19th-century residences; Agecroft Hall and Virginia House, Tudor manor houses that were moved from England, are also open to the public. Norfolk has the Chrysler Museum, with its famous glassware collection; Myers House, an early Federal period home with handsome art and furnishings; and the Hermitage Foundation Museum, noted for its Oriental art. The Mariners Museum in Newport News has a superb maritime collection, and the much smaller but quite select exhibits of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum are also notable. Perhaps the most extensive "museum" in the United States is Williamsburg's mile-long Duke of Gloucester Street, with such remarkable restorations as the Christopher Wren Building of the College of William and Mary, Bruton Parish Church, the Governor's Palace, and the colonial capital.

More historic sites are maintained as museums in Virginia than in any other state. These include Washington's home at Mt. Vernon (Fairfax County), Jefferson's residence at Monticello (Charlottesville), and James River plantation houses such as Berkeley, Shirley, Westover, Sherwood Forest, and Carter's Grove. The National Park Service operates a visitors' center at Jamestown.


The state's communications network has expanded steadily since the first postal routes were established in 1738. Airmail service from Richmond to New York and Atlanta began in 1928.

In 2004, 94.0% of Virginia's occupied housing units had telephones. Additionally, by June of that same year there were 4,392,319 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 66.8% of Virginia households had a computer and 60.3% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 1,134,059 high-speed lines in Virginia, 1,022,318 residential and 111,741 for business.

In 2005, broadcasters operated 23 major AM radio stations and 82 major FM stations. In the same year, Virginia had 26 major television stations. The Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News area had 629,100 television households, 76% of which ordered cable in 1999. Approximately 187,445 Internet domain names were registered with the state in the year 2000.


Although the Crown forbade the establishment of a printing press in Virginia Colony, William Parks was publishing the Virginia Gazette at Williamsburg in 1736. Three newspapers were published regularly during the Revolutionary period, and in 1780 the General Assembly declared that the press was "indispensable for the right information of the people and for the public service." The oldest continuously published Virginia daily, tracing its origins to 1784, is the Alexandria Gazette. The first Negro newspaper, The True Southerner, was started by a white man in 1865; several weeklies published and edited by blacks began soon after. By 1900 there were 180 newspapers in the state, but the number has declined drastically since then because of fierce competition, mergers, and rising costs.

USA Today, the nation's largest daily newspaper in 2004 with a circulation of 2,220,863, is based in Arlington, Virginia. In 2002, the Arlington Journal and the Fairfax Journal merged to form the Northern Virginia Journal. In 2005, Virginia had 21 morning dailies, 4 evening, and 17 Sunday papers.

Leading dailies and their approximate circulation rates in 2005 were:

*Absorbed Richmond's News Leader in 1992.
Alexandria Northern Virginia Journal (m,S) 62,910 386,000
Arlington USA Today (m) 2,665,815
Newport News Daily Press (m,S) 91,307 112,955
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot (m,S) 200,055 234,508
Richmond Times-Dispatch (m,S)* 184,950 225,293
Roanoke Times (m,S) 96,687 108,564

The newspaper group, Gannett Co, Inc, is based in Virginia. This group owns about 90 daily newspapers nationwide, including USA Today, as well as over 1,000 non-daily papers and shoppers bulletins. Gannett's UK subsidiary, Newsquest plc, publishes 17 daily newspapers and more than 300 non-daily publications.


In 2006, there were over 8,990 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 6.072 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations.

Service and educational groups headquartered in the state include the United Way of America, American Astronautical Society, American Society for Horticultural Science, and American Geological Institute, all located in Alexandria; and the National Honor Society, Music Educators National Conference, and National Art Education Association, located in Reston. Art and cultural organizations include Army Historical Foundation, the Association for the protection of Virginia Antiquities, the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society, the Folk Art Society of America, and the Virginia Historical Society.

Veterans' organizations include the Veterans of World War I of the USA and the Retired Officers Association, Alexandria, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Springfield. The United Daughters of the Confederacy has national offices in Richmond. Among the business and professional groups based in Virginia are the American Academy of Audiology, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Chiropractic Association.

Sports societies headquartered in the state include the American Canoe Association, the United States Parachute Association, and the Boat Owners Association of the United States. The headquarters of the National Rifle Association are in Fairfax. Environmental and conservation associations include, Nature Conservancy, the American Bird Conservancy, and the American Seed Tree Association.

Other groups operating out of Virginia include the National Sojourners, National Alliance of Senior Citizens, and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.


In 2004, travelers spent over $15 billion in Virginia on day trips and overnight stays. The tourism and travel industry is the state's third-largest employer, supporting over 203,000 jobs. Attractions in the coastal region alone include the Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement in America) and Yorktown historic sites (Jamestown will celebrate its 400 anniversary in 200607), the Williamsburg restoration, and the homes of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Also featured are the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Langley Research Center, Assateague Island National Seashore, and the resort pleasures of Virginia Beach.

The interior offers numerous Civil War Sites, including Appomattox; Thomas Jefferson's Monticello as well as The University of Virginia, founded by Jefferson; Booker T. Washington's birthplace near Smith Mountain Lake; and the historic cities of Richmond, Petersburg, and Fredericksburg. Visitors can also tour nearby Civil War battlefields and cemeteries. In the west, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park, traversed by the breathtaking Skyline Drive, are favorite tourist destinations, as are Cumberland Gap and, in the Lexington area, the Natural Bridge, the home of Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, the George C. Marshall Library and Museum, and the Virginia Military Institute. A number of historic sites in Arlington and Alexandria attract many visitors to the Washington, D.C, area. The colonial city of Williamsburg attracts visitors to its historic pre-Revolutionary sites. Nearby are the James River Plantation homes.

The state's many recreation areas include state parks, national forests, a major national park, scenic parkways, and thousands of miles of hiking trails and shoreline. Some of the most-visited sites are Mt. Rogers National Recreational Area, Prince William Forest Park, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (where wild ponies are rounded up each year), and the Kerr Reservoir. Part of the famous Appalachian Trail winds through Virginia's Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains. Virginia has more than 1,500 mi (2,400 km) of well-stocked trout streams.


Although Virginia has no major professional sports teams, it does support two Triple-A baseball teams: the Richmond Braves and Norfolk Tides. Other minor league baseball teams play in Bristol, Danville, Lynchburg, Pulaski, Salem, Martinsville, and Wood-bridge. There is also minor league hockey in Richmond and Norfolk.

In collegiate sports, the University of Virginia belongs to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the Virginia Military Institute competes in the Southern Conference. Virginia won college basketball's National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 1980 and 1992; Virginia Tech won the NIT in 1973 and has appeared in thirteen consecutive postseason college football bowl games.

Stock car racing is also popular in the state. The Richmond International Raceway and Martinsville Speedway host four NASCAR Nextel Cup races each year.

Participant sports popular with Virginians include tennis, golf, swimming, skiing, boating, and water skiing. The state has at least 180 public and private golf courses.

Among the many notable persons that call Virginia their home, several are legendary athletestennis great Arthur Ashe, football's Fran Tarkenton, and golf's Sam Snead all were born and raised in the state.


Virginia is the birthplace of eight US presidents and many famous statesmen, noted scientists, influential educators, distinguished writers, and popular entertainers.

The first president of the United States, George Washington (173299), also led his country's armies in the Revolutionary War and presided over the convention that framed its Constitution. Washingtonwho was unanimously elected president in 1789 and served two four-year terms, declining a thirdwas not, as has sometimes been assumed, a newcomer to politics: his political career began at the age of 27 with his election to the House of Burgesses.

Thomas Jefferson (17431826), the nation's third president, offered this as his epitaph: "author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia." After serving as secretary of state under Washington and vice president under John Adams, he was elected president of the United States in 1800 and reelected in 1804. Honored now as a statesman and political thinker, Jefferson was also a musician and one of the foremost architects of his time, and he has been called the first American archaeologist.

Jefferson's successor, James Madison (17511836), actually made his most important contributions before becoming chief executive. As a skillful and persistent negotiator throughout the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he earned the designation "father of the Constitution"; then, as coauthor of the Federalist papers, he helped produce a classic of American political philosophy. He was more responsible than any other statesman for Virginia's crucial ratification vote. Secretary of State during Jefferson's two terms, Madison occupied the presidency from 1809 to 1817.

Madison was succeeded as president in 1817 by James Monroe (17581831), who was reelected to a second term starting in 1821. Monroewho had served as governor, US senator, minister to France, and secretary of stateis best known for the Monroe Doctrine, which has been US policy since his administration. William Henry Harrison (17731841) became the ninth president in 1841 but died of pneumonia one month after his inauguration; he had been a governor of Indiana Territory, a major general in the War of 1812, and a US representative and senator from Indiana. Harrison was succeeded by Vice President John Tyler (17901862), a native and resident of Virginia, who established the precedent that, upon the death of the president, the vice president inherits the title as well as the duties of the office.

Another native of Virginia, Zachary Taylor (17841850), renowned chiefly as a military leader, became the 12th US president in 1849 but died midway through his term. The eighth Virginia-born president, (Thomas) Woodrow Wilson (18561924), became the 28th president of the United States in 1913 after serving as governor of New Jersey.

John Marshall (17551835) was the third confirmed chief justice of the United States and is generally regarded by historians as the first great American jurist, partly because of his establishment of the principle of judicial review. Five other VirginiansJohn Blair (17321800), Bushrod Washington (17621829), Philip P. Barbour (17831841), Peter V. Daniel (17841860), and Lewis F. Powell Jr. (190798)have served as associate justices.

George Washington's cabinet included two Virginians, Secretary of State Jefferson and Attorney General Edmund Randolph (17531813), who, as governor of Virginia, had introduced the Virginia Plandrafted by Madison and calling for a House of Representatives elected by the people and a Senate elected by the Houseat the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Among other distinguished Virginians who have served in the cabinet are James Barbour (17751842), secretary of war; John Y. Mason (17991859), secretary of the Navy and attorney general; Carter Glass (18581946), secretary of the treasury, author of the Federal Reserve System, and US senator for 26 years; and Claude Augustus Swanson (18621939), secretary of the Navy and earlier, state governor and US senator.

Other prominent US senators from Virginia include Richard Henry Lee (173294), former president of the Continental Congress; James M. Mason (b.District of Columbia, 17981871), who later was commissioner of the Confederacy to the United Kingdom and France; John W. Daniel (18421910), a legal scholar and powerful Democratic Party leader; Thomas S. Martin (18471919), US Senate majority leader; Harry F. Byrd (18871966), governor of Virginia from 1926 to 1930 and US senator from 1933 to 1965; and Harry F. Byrd Jr. (b.1914), senator from 1965 to 1982. In 1985, Virginia was represented in the Senate by Republican John W. Warner (b.District of Columbia, 1927), former secretary of the Navy, and Republican Paul S. Trible Jr. (b.Maryland, 1946), a US representative from 1976 to 1982.

Some native-born Virginians have become famous as leaders in other nations. Joseph Jenkins Roberts (180976) was the first president of the Republic of Liberia, and Nancy Langhorne Astor (18791964) was the first woman to serve in the British House of Commons.

Virginia's important colonial governors included Captain John Smith (b.England, 1580?1631), Sir George Yeardley (b.England, 1587?1627), Sir William Berkeley (b.England, 160677), Alexander Spotswood (b.Tangier, 16761740), Sir William Gooch (b.England, 16811751), and Robert Dinwiddie (b.Scotland, 16931770).

Virginia signers of the Declaration of Independence, besides Jefferson and Richard Henry Lee, were Carter Braxton (173697); Benjamin Harrison (1726?1791), father of President William Henry Harrison; Francis Lightfoot Lee (173497); Thomas Nelson Jr. (173889); and George Wythe (17261806). Wythe is also famous as the first US law professor and the teacher, in their student days, of Presidents Jefferson, Monroe, and Tyler, and Chief Justice Marshall. Virginia furnished both the first president of the Continental Congress, Peyton Randolph (172175), and the last, Cyrus Griffin (17481810).

Other notable Virginia governors include Patrick Henry (173699), the first governor of the commonwealth, though best remembered as a Revolutionary orator; Westmoreland Davis (18591942); Andrew Jackson Montague (18621937); and Mills E. Goodwin Jr. (b.1914). A major historical figure who defies classification is Robert "King" Carter (16631732), greatest of the Vir-ginia land barons, who also served as acting governor of Virginia and rector of the College of William and Mary.

Chief among Virginia's great military and naval leaders besides Washington and Taylor are John Paul Jones (b.Scotland, 174792); George Rogers Clark (17521818); Winfield Scott (17861866); Robert E. Lee (180770), the Confederate commander who earlier served in the Mexican War and as superintendent of West Point; Joseph E. Johnston (180791); George H. Thomas (181670); Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (182463); James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart (183364); and George C. Marshall (b.Pennsylvania, 18801959). Virginians' names are also written high in the history of exploration. Daniel Boone (b.Pennsylvania, 17341820), who pioneered in Kentucky and Missouri, was once a member of the Virginia General Assembly. Meriwether Lewis (17741809) and William Clark (17701838), both native Virginians, led the most famous expedition in US history, from St. Louis to the Pacific coast (18046). Richard E. Byrd (18881957) was both an explorer of Antarctica and a pioneer aviator.

Woodrow Wilson and George C. Marshall both received the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1919 and 1953, respectively. Distinguished Virginia-born scientists and inventors include Matthew Fontaine Maury (180673), founder of the science of oceanography; Cyrus H. McCormick (180984), who perfected the mechanical reaper; and Dr. Walter Reed (18511902) who proved that yellow fever was transmitted by a mosquito. Among educators associated with the state are William H. McGuffey (b.Pennsylvania, 18001873), a University of Virginia professor who designed and edited the most famous series of school readers in American history; and Booker T. Washington (18561915), the nation's foremost black educator.

William Byrd II (16741744) is widely acknowledged to have been the most graceful writer in English America in his day, and Jefferson was a leading prose stylist of the Revolutionary period. Edgar Allen Poe (b.Massachusetts, 180949), who was taken to Richmond at the age of three and later educated at the University of Virginia, was the father of the detective story and one of America's great poets and short-story writers. Virginia is the setting of historical romances by three natives: John Esten Cooke (183086), Thomas Nelson Page (18531922), and Mary Johnston (18701936). Notable 20th-century novelists born in Virginia include Willa Cather (18731947), Ellen Glasgow (18741945), and James Branch Cabell (18791958). Willard Huntington Wright (18881939), better known as S. S. Van Dine, wrote many detective thrillers. Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography and often regarded as the greatest American master of that genre was Douglas Southall Freeman (18861953). Other important historians were Lyon Gardiner Tyler (18531935), son of President Tyler and also an eminent educator; Philip A. Bruce (18561933); William Cabell Bruce (18601946); Virginius Dabney (190195); and Alf J. Mapp Jr. (b.1925). Some contemporary Virginia authors are poet Guy Carleton Drewry (190191); television writer-producer Earl Hamner (b.1923); novelist William Styron (b.1925); and journalists Virginia Moore (19031993) and Tom Wolfe (Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr., b. 1931).

Celebrated Virginia artists include sculptors Edward V. Valentine (18381930) and Moses Ezekiel (18441917), and painters George Caleb Bingham (181179) and Jerome Myers (18671940). A protégé of Jefferson's, Robert Mills (b.South Carolina, 17811855), designed the Washington Monument.

The roster of Virginians prominent in the entertainment world includes Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (18781949), Francis X. Bushman (18831966), Freeman Gosden (18991982), Randolph Scott (19031987), Joseph Cotten (190594), Margaret Sullavan (191160), John Payne (19121989), George C. Scott (192799), Shirley MacLaine (b.1934), and Warren Beatty (b.1938).

Outstanding musical performers include John Powell (18821963), whose fame as a pianist once equaled his prominence as a composer. Virginia's most eminent contemporary composer is Thea Musgrave (b.Scotland, 1928). Popular musical stars include Kathryn Elizabeth "Kate" Smith (19071986), Pearl Bailey (19181990), Ella Fitzgerald (19181996), June Carter (19292003), Roy Clark (b.1933), and Wayne Newton (b.1942).

The Old Dominion's sports champions include golfers Bobby Cruickshank (18961975), Sam Snead (19122002), and Chandler Harper (19142004); tennis star Arthur Ashe (19431993); football players Clarence "Ace" Parker (b.1912), Bill Dudley (b.1921), and Francis "Fran" Tarkenton (b.1940); and baseball pitcher Eppa Rixey (18911963). At age 15, Olympic swimming champion Melissa Belote (b.1957) won three gold medals. Helen Chenery "Penny" Tweedy (b.1922) is a famous breeder and racer of horses from whose stables have come Secretariat and other champions. Equestrienne Jean McLean Davis (b.1929) won 65 world championships.


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Dabney, Virginius. Richmond: The Story of a City. Rev. and enl. ed. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990.

Diversity and Accommodation: Essays on the Cultural Composition of the Virginia Frontier. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997. (orig. 1964).

Ferris, William (ed.). The South. Vol. 7 in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Goodwin, Bill. Virginia. London: Frommers/Transworld, 2000.

Holzer, Harold, and Tim Mulligan (eds.). The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005.

Horn, James P. P. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Mapp, Alf J. Jr. Frock Coats and Epaulets: The Men Who Led the Confederacy. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 1996.

Pratt, Robert A. The Color of their Skin: Education and Race in Richmond, Virginia, 195489. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992.

Ragsdale, Bruce A. A Planters' Republic: The Search for Economic Independence in Revolutionary Virginia. Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1996.

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Virginia (state, United States)

Virginia, state of the S Middle-Atlantic United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), North Carolina and Tennessee (S), Kentucky and West Virginia (W), and Maryland and the District of Columbia, largely across the Potomac River (N and NE).

Facts and Figures

Area, 40,817 sq mi (105,716 sq km). Pop. (2010) 8,001,024, a 13% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Richmond. Largest city, Virginia Beach. Statehood, June 25, 1788 (10th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution). Highest pt., Mt. Rogers, 5,729 ft (1,747 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Old Dominion. Motto,Sic Semper Tyrannis [Thus Always to Tyrants]. State bird, cardinal. State flower, dogwood. State tree, dogwood. Abbr., Va.; VA


The most northerly of the Southern states, Virginia is roughly triangular in shape. The small section of the state that, along with Maryland and Delaware, occupies the Delmarva peninsula between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is separated from the main part of Virginia and is called the Eastern Shore. The coastal plain or tidewater region of E Virginia, generally flat and partly swampy, is cut by four great tidal rivers—the Potomac (forming most of the border with Maryland and beyond which also lies Washington, D.C.), the Rappahannock, the York, and the James—all of which empty into Chesapeake Bay. In the tidewater region stretch vast forests of pine and hardwood, highlighted in early spring by flowering redbud and dogwood.

In the west the tidewater region rises to c.300 ft. (90 m) at the fall line (passing through Richmond) and gives way to the Piedmont—rolling, generally fertile country that broadens gradually as it extends south to the North Carolina line. Rising abruptly in the western Piedmont is the Blue Ridge range, carpeted with bluegrass and ablaze in spring with rhododendron and mountain laurel; the Blue Ridge rises to the state's highest peak, Mt. Rogers (5,720 ft/1,743 m). Between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Plateau, both part of the Appalachian range, lies the valley and ridge province. One of the most prominent of these valleys is the Valley of Virginia; another is the rich and historic Shenandoah Valley.

Virginia's shores, mountains, mineral springs, natural wonders, and numerous historic sites draw millions of visitors annually. Crowning the hilltops and river bluffs from the Chesapeake region west to the Blue Ridge and adding to the grace and elegance of the Virginia landscape are the classic Greek revival homes and public buildings with their stately porticoes. Major tourist attractions include Shenandoah National Park; Colonial Williamsburg; and Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial. Other historic points of interest include Appomattox Court House National Historical Park; Manassas and Richmond national battlefield parks; Booker T. Washington and George Washington Birthplace national monuments; Colonial National Historical Park and Jamestown National Historic Site, both on Jamestown Island; and several national cemeteries and battlefields (see National Parks and Monuments, table).

Richmond is the capital, and Virginia Beach the largest city; other large cities are Norfolk; Newport News; Chesapeake; Hampton; Portsmouth; and Alexandria and Arlington (officially a county), both suburbs of Washington, D.C.


Virginia has an economy that is highly diversified. Agriculture, once its mainstay, now follows other sectors in employment and income generation. Tobacco, Virginia's traditional staple, is still the leading crop, and grains, corn, soybeans, peanuts, sweet potatoes, cotton, and apples (especially in the Shenandoah Valley) are all important. Wine production is also important; but the major sources of agricultural income are now poultry, dairy goods, and cattle, raised especially in the Valley of Virginia. The coastal fisheries are large, bringing in especially shellfish—largely oysters and crabs.

Coal is Virginia's chief mineral; stone, cement, sand, and gravel are also important. Roanoke is a center for the rail transport equipment industry, and a high proportion of the nation's shipyards are concentrated at Hampton Roads, especially in Newport News. Norfolk is a major U.S. naval base, and Portsmouth is a U.S. naval shipyard; Hampton is a center for aeronautical research. N Virginia has become the home of one of the largest concentrations of computer communications firms in the U.S. Other leading industries include tourism and the manufacture of chemicals, electrical equipment, and food, textile, and paper products. Tens of thousands of Virginians work in government, especially in the District of Columbia or in nearby "Beltway" suburbs like Reston and Langley.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Virginia is officially styled a commonwealth. The Virginia constitution was revised extensively in the late 1960s. The legislature (called the general assembly) consists of a house of delegates of 100 members and a senate with 40 members. The governor serves a four-year term and is ineligible for reelection. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat, was elected in 2001; he succeeded James S. Gilmore 3d, a Republican. Warner's lieutenant governor, Democrat Timothy M. Kaine, was elected governor in 2005. Republicans regained the governorship after Robert F. McDonnell was elected in 2009, but Democrat Terry McAuliffe won in 2013. Virginia sends 11 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 13 electoral votes. Long a Democratic stronghold, the commonwealth now has highly competitive two-party politics.

Among Virginia's many institutions of higher learning are the College of William and Mary in Virginia, mainly at Williamsburg; George Mason Univ., at Fairfax; Hampton Univ. (formerly Hampton Institute), at Hampton; Mary Washington College, at Fredericksburg; Randolph College, at Lynchburg; Randolph-Macon College, at Ashland; Sweet Briar College, at Sweet Briar; the Univ. of Virginia, mainly at Charlottesville; Virginia Commonwealth Univ., at Richmond; Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee Univ., at Lexington; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ., at Blacksburg; and Virginia State College, at Petersburg.


Early Settlements of the Virginia Company

Virginia (named for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen) at first included in its lands the whole vast area of North America not held by the Spanish or French. The colony on Roanoke Island, organized by Sir Walter Raleigh, failed, but the English soon made another attempt slightly farther north. In 1606 James I granted a charter to the London Company (better known later as the Virginia Company), a group of merchants lured by the thought of easy profits in mining and trade. The company sent three ships and 144 men under captains Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gosnold, and John Ratcliffe to establish a base, and the tiny force entered Chesapeake Bay in Apr., 1607. On a peninsula in the James River they founded (May 13, 1607) the first permanent English settlement in America, which they called Jamestown. It soon became clear that the company's original plans were unrealistic, and the Jamestown settlers began a long and unexpected struggle to live off the land.

By 1608, despite the firm and resourceful leadership of John Smith, hunger and disease had reduced their numbers to 38. The company responded by sending supplies and men as well as new leadership in the person of Sir Thomas Gates, who was to take charge as deputy governor under the authority of a new charter (1609). Gates arrived in 1610 to find that only a handful of settlers had survived the terrible winter (the "starving time" ) of 1609–10. He decided to take them back to England, but as they were about to abandon the colony in June, 1610, his superior, Governor Thomas West, Baron De la Warr, ordered them to reoccupy Jamestown. Although sickness and starvation continued to take a heavy toll, the settlement at last began to make headway under the harsh regimes of Sir Thomas Dale, De la Warr's successor in 1611, and later under that of Sir Samuel Argall.

Tobacco, first cultivated by John Rolfe in 1612, gave the company new hope of a profitable return on its investment. To encourage settlement and improve agricultural productivity it granted colonists (still technically employees and shareholders) the right to own private gardens, then, at the urging of Sir Edwin Sandys, promised to give 100 acres (40 hectares) of its land to purchasers of stock and 50 acres (20 hectares) to settlers who brought over other settlers at his own expense (the "head-right" system). The company also set up smaller joint-stock companies to settle vast tracts known as "colonies" or "hundreds." In 1619, at the instruction of the company, Governor George Yeardley provided additional incentives to settlers by forming a house of burgesses—the first representative assembly in the New World—and in 1620 by beginning to send women to the colony.

Although these various expedients did succeed in attracting new settlers and strengthening the colony, the company itself failed to prosper. Rolfe's marriage (1614) to Pocahontas, daughter of chief Powhatan, secured good relations with the Native Americans for a time, but in 1622 Powhatan's son Opechancanough led the Powhatan Confederacy in a surprise attack on the colony, killing 350 settlers (about one third of the total community). English retaliation effectively ended Native American resistance, except for a final uprising of the Confederacy in 1644. However, the 1622 attack had delivered a fatal blow to the company, and in 1624, beset by internal dissension, it surrendered its charter to the crown.

A Royal Colony

After almost two decades as a private enterprise, Virginia became a royal colony, the first in English history. Partly because the English kings were occupied with affairs at home, the Virginia house of burgesses was able to continue its functions and won formal recognition in the late 1630s. Thus representative government under royal domain was assured. By 1641, when Sir William Berkeley became governor, the colony was well established and extended on both sides of the James up to its falls.

Three fourths of the European settlers (about 7,500 in 1641) had come as indentured servants or apprentices, but many of them became freemen and small farmers. In 1641 there were also about 250 Africans (the first had arrived in 1619 on a Dutch ship), most of whom were indentured servants rather than slaves. The freeholders, together with the merchant class (from which were descended most of the "first families of Virginia" ), controlled the government. Only white males were enfranchised, and property-owning qualifications for voting continued during and after the colonial period.

Most of the white settlers were Anglicans, and during the civil war in England, many well-to-do Englishmen (mainly Anglicans and supporters of Charles I, if not actually Cavaliers) came to Virginia. The colony was understandably loyal to the crown until 1652, when an expedition sent by Oliver Cromwell forced it to adhere to the Puritan Commonwealth. With the Commonwealth busy at home, Virginia was practically independent until 1660, engaging in free trade with foreigners, especially the Dutch, and enjoying the profits of the expanding tobacco and fur trade. This prosperous era came to an end with the Restoration in 1660.

The Navigation Acts forced the tobacco trade to use only English ships and English ports, which were at first insufficient to handle it; tobacco piled up in Virginia and in England, and prices plummeted. The wealthy planters weathered this depression, but the small farmers faced ruin. Serious discontent spread and was aggravated by Governor Berkeley's high-handed policies, by his favoritism toward the wealthy tidewater planters, and by his refusal to sanction a campaign against the Native Americans who had been attacking frontier settlements. These grievances brought the eruption of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676. The unfortunate death of Nathaniel Bacon left the yeomen leaderless, and they were put down so ruthlessly that Berkeley was recalled to England.

Tidewater Plantations and Westward Migration

Expansion of the plantation system was made possible only with the use of slave labor (first recognized in law in 1662), and tens of thousands of Africans were being imported every year by the end of the century. Small, independent cultivators, unable to compete with the plantation-slave system, formed the nucleus of a poor white class that drifted southward or pioneered to the west. Also contributing to westward settlement were the French Huguenots, who came to Virginia by the end of the 17th cent. and began to settle the Piedmont.

Westward movement was stimulated under Gov. Alexander Spotswood, who himself discovered (1716) the Swift Run Gap in the Blue Ridge Mts., leading into the Shenandoah valley. Spotswood also imported (1714–17) Germans to work his iron furnaces in the Piedmont area, and numerous others followed their countrymen. They helped settle the Shenandoah valley (beginning c.1730) as did many newcomers from Pennsylvania—German Lutherans, English Quakers, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and a lesser number of Welsh Baptists.

Soil exhaustion from continuous tobacco cultivation hastened the westward march, as did the settlement activities of land speculators like Spotswood and William Byrd (d. 1744). Many of these speculators were indebted eastern planters attempting to salvage their fortunes. The Ohio Company grant (1749) furthered exploration beyond the Allegheny Mts. but brought conflict with the French.

The activities and interests of the new frontier settlements contrasted sharply with the plantation life of the tidewater region, where the lavish material life of the planter aristocracy was complemented by high cultural accomplishments and by the spread of the ideas of the Enlightenment. The last of the French and Indian Wars, in which Virginians—notably Col. George Washington—were prominent, ended the French obstacle to westward migration. After the war many indebted planters were disturbed by England's own limitations on westward settlement.

The American Revolution

Along with Massachusetts, Virginia was a leader in the movement that culminated in the American Revolution although, despite the burning oratory of Patrick Henry and the enlightened political writings of Thomas Jefferson and other brilliant native spokesmen, Virginia was never as politically discontent or radical as Massachusetts. In 1773 the burgesses at Williamsburg (the capital since 1699), led by Richard Henry Lee, formed an intercolonial committee of correspondence. The Virginia leaders proposed (May, 1774) a congress of all the colonies, delegates were chosen at the First Virginia Convention (Aug.), and in September Virginia's Peyton Randolph was elected president of the First Continental Congress. The next year, in June, George Washington was made commander in chief of the Continental Army.

After the patriots forced the royal governor, John Murray, earl of Dunmore, to flee, the Fifth Virginia Convention (May 6–June 29, 1776) declared the colony's independence, instructed the Virginia delegates to the Continental Congress to propose general colonial independence (resulting in the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson), and adopted a declaration of rights and the first constitution of a free American state, both drawn up by George Mason. Patrick Henry was elected the first governor.

Although the British had burned Norfolk in Jan., 1776, they did not invade the state in full force until 1779, when they took Portsmouth and Suffolk. Continentals under Lafayette came to Virginia in 1780, and the British cause was lost as American land forces and a French fleet combined to bring about Cornwallis's surrender (Oct. 19, 1781) in the Yorktown campaign. Meanwhile, George Rogers Clark and his Virginians had wrested (1779) the Northwest Territory from the British, and in 1784 Virginia yielded its claim to this area to the federal government.

Virginia's Role in the New Nation

During the Revolution a degree of religious freedom had been instituted in Virginia under the lead of Jefferson. Other reforms had removed entail and primogeniture from land tenure, liberalized the legal code, and abolished further importation of slaves. A liberal law for formal emancipation of slaves was passed in 1782 and remained in force for more than 20 years. In 1786 a statute for religious freedom, championed by James Madison, completed the disestablishment of the Anglican Church and established complete religious equality for all Virginians.

In replacing the unsatisfactory Articles of Confederation with the Constitution of the United States, Virginians, especially James Madison, again played leading roles. Other leaders such as Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, and Edmund Randolph at various times opposed the document, but the state ratified it (June 26, 1788) with both tidewater and western support. Later, another Virginian, Chief Justice John Marshall, later gave the document much of its strength. The Old Dominion ceded (1789) a portion of its Potomac lands to the United States for the creation of the District of Columbia. In 1792, Kentucky, a Virginia county since 1776, was admitted to the Union as a separate state. After Madison and Jefferson raised an opposition to the financial program of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, Virginia supported the emerging Democratic-Republican party's struggle against the Federalists and became a hotbed of states' rights sentiment (see Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions).

Of the first 12 Presidents of the United States, seven were Virginians—Washington, Jefferson, Madison, James Monroe (these four comprising the "Virginia Dynasty" ), William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Zachary Taylor. Later, in the 20th cent., the name of Woodrow Wilson was to further lengthen the generally distinguished list of Virginian presidents.

The native sons who led the country during the 1800s sometimes expanded national power and national development to an extent that many states' rights Virginians deemed unconstitutional. However, Virginia itself, stimulated by western complaints, embarked on a vigorous policy of internal improvements in the second and third decades of the 19th cent. The tidewater majority made few concessions to western demands for male suffrage and other reforms in the constitution of 1830. Economically, however, the whole state benefited from transportation improvements, from the growth of scientific agriculture and the spread of wheat cultivation, and from the growth of such industries as tobacco processing and iron manufacture.

Slavery, Insurrection, and Civil War

As the cotton economy grew in the newer Southern states the tidewater became a breeding ground for the slaves they needed. Elsewhere in the state, especially in the west, antislavery sentiment was strong in the early 19th cent., and following the slave insurrection (1831) led by Nat Turner the house of delegates voted down a bill to abolish slavery by the narrow margin of seven votes. The insurrection did result in harsher laws and more conservative policies regarding African Americans. The constitution of 1851, granted suffrage to "every white male citizen," and thus effected reapportionment of representation.

For the most part Virginians labored to avert conflict between North and South. But "fire-eaters" such as Edmund Ruffin and abolitionists such as John Brown of Harpers Ferry fame, shaped the course that led to the Civil War. Secession came (Apr. 17, 1861) only after all attempts to keep peace had failed. Virginia joined the Confederacy, and Richmond became the Confederate capital. Robert E. Lee entered the military service of the South's new government, but not a few Virginians such as Winfield Scott, George H. Thomas, and David G. Farragut remained loyal to the Union. Most Virginians who lived west of the Appalachians also opposed secession, and on June 20, 1863, this section was admitted to the Union as the new state of West Virginia. As the conflict progressed, Virginia emerged as the chief battleground of the Civil War.

In the beginning the Union armies repeatedly suffered setbacks—at the first battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861), in the Seven Days battles of the Peninsular campaign (April-July, 1862) after the Monitor and Merrimack had clashed in Hampton Roads, and in lesser but related campaigns such as the triumph of Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson in the Shenandoah valley. The second battle of Bull Run (Aug., 1862) was a smashing victory for Lee, but in the Antietam campaign (Sept., 1862) he fared no better than Union Gen. George B. McClellan in invading enemy country. However, in the battles of Fredericksburg (Dec. 13, 1862) and Chancellorsville (May 2–4, 1863), the Federals under Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside and then under Gen. Joseph Hooker were again repulsed.

Thus encouraged, Lee and his lieutenants—James Longstreet, R. S. Ewell, A. P. Hill, and J. E. B. Stuart—undertook another invasion of the North but failed against George G. Meade in the Gettysburg campaign (June–July, 1863). That campaign marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy, although it took considerable bloody pounding by Gen. U. S. Grant in the Wilderness campaign (May–June, 1864) and the siege of Petersburg (1864–65) before Lee surrendered what remained of his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse (see under Appomattox) on Apr. 9, 1865. President Jefferson Davis had already fled Richmond, and the Confederacy soon collapsed.

Postwar Political Reform and a New Economy

The war left its marks on the land and the people. The Shenandoah Valley was particularly desolate after the campaigns of Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early and Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan in 1864. But poverty-stricken as it was after the war, the state, under Gov. Francis H. Pierpont, escaped the worst aspects of Reconstruction. Radical Republicans were but briefly in power. On the recommendation (1869) of President Ulysses S. Grant, Congress allowed Virginia to vote without coercion, and the state passed the essential clauses of a constitution that the Radicals had drafted (1868), providing for free public schools and heavy taxes on land. More importantly, Virginia was allowed to elect to office its own moderate party, the "white Republicans," led by Gen. William Mahone. Radical sway was ended. In 1870, after the Virginia assembly had ratified the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, the state was readmitted to the Union.

The abolition of slavery and the hard agricultural times of postwar decades ended the plantation system in Virginia and brought some increase in farm tenancy, but the economy benefited from diversification as fruit farming and the tobacco industry became important. To offset declines in demand for dark Virginia tobacco, the bright-leaf variety was increasingly grown.

Politics and Industry in the Early Twentieth Century

In 1902 a new state constitution demanded rigorous literacy tests for voters, thus completing the long process of reducing the black electorate. During the years preceding World War I, Virginia's prosperity grew as dairy farming in particular gained importance. During the war agriculture boomed, as did industry. Especially prosperous were the important shipbuilding works at Hampton Roads.

In the mid-1920s, Harry Flood Byrd assumed direction of the state's powerful Democratic organization, formerly headed by U.S. Senator Thomas S. Martin and Methodist Episcopal Bishop James Cannon, Jr. Byrd, governor from 1926 to 1930 and U.S. Senator from 1933 until 1965, became the most influential figure in the state. As chief executive he initiated a sound reorganization of the state government, brought about the passage of the first antilynching law adopted by any state, and improved the highway system. However, the organization's chief boast was that the state was entirely free of debt due to a rigid "pay-as-you-go" policy. Liberals criticized this financial policy for scrimping on public education and welfare.

In the Great Depression of the 1930s Virginia fared better than many states. Its industries had not been overexpanded, and, more important, the state's economy was built around consumer goods—foods, textiles, and tobacco—that remained in relatively high demand. Farmers benefited from the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, but conservative Virginians resisted some of the economic policies of the New Deal. In World War II Virginia was the scene of much military training, and the shipyards at Hampton Roads and other industries again aided the war effort. In the prosperous postwar period the conservative Byrd organization maintained its power.

Desegregation and Growth

After the 1954 Supreme Court decision on public school integration, attempts at desegregating Virginia's schools proceeded slowly. After Virginia courts and federal courts ruled illegal the order by Gov. J. Lindsay Almond, Jr., to close public schools in nine counties, a lame compromise of "local option" was adopted. With the exception of Prince Edward County, where schools remained closed from 1959 until 1964, all parts of Virginia had accepted at least token integration by the mid-1960s. In 1989, L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat, became the first African American elected governor in Virginia.

Virginia has benefited in recent decades from increased federal spending. In the 1980s the Hampton Roads area saw a naval shipbuilding boom. The greatest growth, however, has come in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where expanded federal offices and hundreds of quasi-official and private organizations engaged in lobbying, communications, and other businesses that owe their existence to proximity to the seat of the government have in turn spawned trade and service hubs like Dale City and Tysons Corner.


See F. B. Simkins et al., Virginia: History, Government, Geography (1957); C. H. Ambler, Sectionalism in Virginia from 1776 to 1861 (1910, repr. 1964); P. A. Bruce, Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (1907, repr. 1964), Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (2 vol., 1896; repr. 1966), and Institutional History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (2 vol., 1910; repr. 1964); H. J. Eckenrode, The Political History of Virginia during the Reconstruction (1904, repr. 1971); J. Gottmann, Virginia in Our Century (1969); C. C. Pearson, The Readjuster Movement in Virginia, 1847–1861 (1917, repr. 1969); E. S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (1975); V. Dabney, Virginia, the New Dominion (1971, repr. 1983); D. Staff, Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer (1989); G. Milton, Big Chief Elizabeth: The Adventures and Fate of the First English Colonists in America (2000).

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VIRGINIA. Before the arrival of Europeans in the New World, several groups of Indians related to the Iroquois, Algonquins, and Cherokees occupied the present state of Virginia. The Powhatans were the most powerful and numerous. They inhabited the eastern shore and tidewater regions and lived in settled villages. The Powhatans and other Virginia Indians maintained themselves through hunting, fishing, and growing garden crops. The Indian population of Virginia was never great, numbering perhaps 17,000 at the time of English settlement, and fell sharply after the coming of the colonists. English settlers adopted many Indian place names, such as Appomattox, Nansemond, Rappahannock, and Shenandoah.

On 24 May 1607, English colonists established their first permanent settlement on a peninsula of the James River. Operating under a charter granted by James I, the London Company organized an expedition to colonize Virginia. The company, seeking to gain profit, instructed the colonists to search for the ill-fated colony established by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587, to seek a northwest passage, and to prospect for gold and other treasure. They realized none of these goals, and for several years, the settlement suffered through great adversity. The stockade village, called Jamestown in honor of the king, unfortunately stood in a malarial swamp. Little fresh water or tillable soil was available in the immediate area. Disease, "starving times," low morale, poor leadership, bickering, and Indian attacks combined to threaten the struggling settlement with extinction on several occasions. Having gained no profit from the venture, the London Company was bankrupt by 1624. Tired of the mismanagement and scandal attending the failure of the enterprise, James I revoked the company's charter, and thereafter the colony came under the direct administration of the crown.

After the establishment of royal administration, the colony enjoyed greater stability and growth. However, the real catalyst in the eventual prosperity of Virginia was the discovery that tobacco could be grown for a profit and that black slaves could be exploited to the advantage of the spreading tobacco agriculture. These three factors of British royal government, tobacco, and slavery produced in Virginia a distinctive culture that spread from there through much of the North American south. British institutions transformed into a system of deferential democracy, while tobacco and slavery produced an economic, social, and political organism dominated by a native oligarchy of superior farmers called the planter aristocracy.

The early settlement of Virginia generally proceeded up the main waterways that empty into Chesapeake Bay. The James, the York, and the Rappahannock rivers served first as avenues into the wilderness and then as convenient outlets for trade. Eventually, the estates of the slaveholding elite were located adjacent to the important watercourses of the tidewater region. During the early eighteenth century, the pattern of settlement shifted as German and Scotch-Irish emigrants began to enter Virginia down the Allegheny ridges from Pennsylvania. These self-sufficient people established small farms in the upper piedmont and Shenandoah Valley regions and generally manifested little interest in acquiring slaves or participating in the culture of the east. Thus the planters of

the tidewater and the farmers of the west had little in common. A dichotomy of interests developed early, which periodically disturbed the social and political stability of Virginia until after the Civil War.

Civil government in provincial Virginia evolved from a modification of the British system. Under the London Company, an appointed governor and council, with, after 1619, an elected assembly called the House of Burgesses, administered the colony. After royal authority replaced the London Company, the king appointed the governor and council while the qualified citizenry elected the burgesses. During the second half of the seventeenth century, the council and the burgesses gradually developed into a two-house legislature known as the General Assembly. The General Assembly eventually enjoyed considerable power over the affairs of the province and jealously guarded its power against encroachments from the governor or the crown. Experience in the assembly raised the political leadership of the province to a high degree of maturity. A property qualification for voting and officeholding somewhat restricted the electorate, but the House of Burgesses was fairly representative of the sentiments and interests of the farmers and planters of the tidewater region.

Toward the end of the seventeenth century, considerable political and social instability plagued the colony as planters and newcomers competed for land, position, and influence. Nathaniel Bacon, a recent arrival from England, led an unsuccessful uprising of those dissatisfied with the prevailing order in 1676 (see Bacon's Rebellion). Once a home-grown elite firmly entrenched themselves in power in the tidewater, political and social affairs became stable during the first half of the eighteenth century. This elite dominated the council and burgesses, and the citizenry deferred in judgment to those considered superior in status and experience. Although all recognized a distinct social hierarchy, the gentlemen moved with ease and grace among the people, and in turn the masses respected them.

Black slavery was intimately associated with the growth of provincial Virginia. The first blacks arrived in 1619 and, like many whites entering the colony at that time, became indentured to the London Company. The spreading tobacco culture encouraged the cultivation of large landholdings, and eventually the emerging aristocracy found indentured servitude unsatisfactory. Masters freed indentured servants after a short period of time. Thus, they became potential competitors for land and position. Chattel slavery, limited to blacks, became institutionalized during the second half of the seventeenth century, an occurrence that coincided with the growing unrest among poorer whites during the era of Bacon's Rebellion. After a series of preliminary measures defining the status of slaves in the 1670s and 1680s, the General Assembly issued a comprehensive slave code in 1705, which stated that all blacks should "be held, taken, and adjudged real estate." As late as 1670, blacks constituted only 4 percent of the population of the province, but by 1730, the proportion had risen to 40 percent. During the 1660s and 1670s, there were reports and rumors of unrest and conspiracy among slaves. Fear of insurrection thus contributed to the urge of the planters to fix slavery.

While Virginia remained a predominantly rural area for three centuries, villages and towns played an important role in its culture. Jamestown never became important, owing largely to its unfavorable location. In 1699 Williamsburg became the capital of the province; Richmond was laid out on land owned by William Byrd II in 1737 and became the seat of government in 1779. Williamsburg reigned as capital during the colony's golden age. Nurtured by the College of William and Mary, the General Assembly, and the town's several law offices and taverns, the Williamsburg environment spawned a generation of political leaders of unusual ability and intellect. The chief port of the province was Norfolk, which had achieved a population of 6,000 by the eve of the American Revolution. During the eighteenth century, the population of Virginia grew from an estimated 72,000 to over 807,000, with about 42 percent of that population enslaved.

Virginians played a major role in the American independence movement and the founding of the new nation. Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and James Madison were foremost revolutionary theoreticians, while George Washington pulled the dispirited continental forces into an army capable of forcing the British out of the thirteen colonies. Virginia was a major scene of battle during the latter stages of the war for independence; the final surrender of British forces took place at Yorktown on 19 October 1781. Jefferson's Declaration of Independence and Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Mason's Declaration of Rights for Virginia serve as no-table examples of American revolutionary ideology and theory. Madison, widely schooled in classical and modern political philosophy, was a major author of the U.S. Constitution of 1787 and The Federalist. Virginians dominated the presidency from the beginning of the new nation until 1824. Four of the first five chief executives, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and James Monroe, were natives of Virginia, giving rise to the term "Virginia Dynasty." As a consequence of the independence movement, these men gained a national reputation and experience that allowed them successfully to transcend provincial and sectional interests and to make a lasting contribution to the establishment of a truly national edifice of government in the United States.

Agriculture remained the chief occupation of a majority of Virginians after the founding of the nation. Soil exhaustion and erosion caused by decades of overplanting tobacco resulted in the abandonment of many acres of land in the tidewater and southside areas. Many planters moved to Alabama and Mississippi in order to recoup declining fortunes in the ongoing cotton boom of the Deep South. Advocates of scientific farming gradually convinced farmers of the advantages to be gained from deep plowing, the use of fertilizers, and crop diversification. Tobacco remained an important staple in the southside, but increasingly farmers planted wheat, other grains, and garden crops in the tidewater and lower piedmont. Richmond became one of the nation's important flour-milling centers. Cattle raising and orchard cultivation were important in the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge foothills. A slight decline in slavery attended the changing pattern of agriculture. Slaves composed 40 percent of the population of Virginia in 1810, but only 33 percent by 1850. Many impoverished planters sold unwanted slaves to the flourishing cotton planters of the Deep South.

By the early national period, the free white population of the tramontane region outnumbered that of eastern Virginia, but the General Assembly remained under the control of traditional tidewater and piedmont interests. As early as 1816, a convention of westerners met in Staunton to call for reapportionment, suffrage expansion, and constitutional reform. The increasing numbers of workers in the iron foundries and textile mills of Wheeling found difficulty in meeting the property qualification for voting and resented that the slaveholders in the east refused to recognize the peculiarity of western interests. In addition, western appeals for internal improvements frequently fell on deaf ears.

In 1829 a convention took place in Richmond to revise the state constitution. The western part of the state received slightly increased representation in the General Assembly, but the convention refused to allow full white manhood suffrage. Concern that uncertain democratic forces in the west would take over the state led the convention to vote to continue the control of Virginia by the slaveholding elite.

In the wake of the 1829 convention, a broad discussion of slavery occupied the attention of the General Assembly session of 1831–1832. Thomas Jefferson Randolph presented a plan for the gradual emancipation of slaves in Virginia, but a vote of seventy-three to fifty-eight in the House of Delegates defeated the proposition. The recent memory of a slave uprising on 21–22 August 1831, led by Nat Turner, no doubt influenced the decision. In addition to defeating gradual emancipation, the 1831–1832 assembly imposed a more rigid slave code as a response to the Turner insurrection. Democratic ferment in the western part of the state and black upheaval thus conspired to create an atmosphere of fear in which the entrenched elements in Virginia were able to reinforce traditional institutions. The choice associated Virginia with the South in the developing sectional controversy, and it ultimately led the western counties to form the separate state of West Virginia during the Civil War.

After Virginia cast its lot with the South and joined the Confederacy, the state became the scene of almost continuous warfare between 1861 and 1865. About 170,000 Virginians served in the Confederate Army. A native son, Robert E. Lee, led the Army of Northern Virginia against the Union and became the major Confederate hero. The contest largely destroyed extensive areas of the state, including Petersburg and Richmond. The war came to a practical end when Lee surrendered his forces to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on 9 April 1865. Earlier, on 20 June 1863, the fifty western counties of the Old Dominion joined the Union as the state of West Virginia. The state thus lost nearly 35 percent of its land area and about 25 percent of its population.

As a result of the Civil War, nearly 500,000 Virginia slaves gained their freedom, and the state had to accept the provisions of the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 in order to regain statehood in the Union. In October 1867, a convention met in Richmond. The resulting constitution contained all the required measures, and on 6 July 1869, the new electorate approved it. In January 1870, Virginia returned to the Union. Not surprisingly, the Constitution of 1869, frequently referred to as the Underwood Constitution, was never popular among the large numbers of Virginians who cherished antebellum institutions.

The post-Reconstruction period witnessed many changes in Virginia. The present-day city of Roanoke had a population of 669 in 1880; it had grown to the size of 16,159 by 1890. In the 1880s, a political insurgency called the Readjuster movement disturbed the state. At issue was the state's burdensome debt, which maintained taxes at a high level and almost destroyed the new public school system. Movement leader Gen. William Mahone raised the specter of class antagonism by appealing to poor whites and blacks to unite in a movement of self-interest and reform. He spent a term in the U.S. Senate as a Republican, but a rejuvenated Democratic party defeated his party and principles in 1883. The Democrats successfully exploited the baiting and intimidation of blacks in their effort to drive the Readjuster-Republicans out of office.

Conservatism and white supremacy became the talisman of Virginia's Democratic party. The first political objective of the organization was the replacement of the 1869 Underwood Constitution and the establishment of white control over the electorate. In 1902 Democrats accomplished this with the promulgation of a new frame of government, which set forth a literacy test and a poll tax as requisites for voting, which halved the electorate and denied nearly all blacks the right to vote. Two early-twentieth-century governors, Andrew J. Montague and Claude A. Swanson, led the state in the adoption of many progressive reforms, such as a revitalized public school system, penal reform, the passage of a pure food and drug statute, and the establishment of a state corporation commission that other states widely copied. The organization was able to survive over the years by adopting and exploiting potentially popular issues, such as prohibition, and opposing unpopular federal programs that appeared to encroach on state sovereignty. After the adoption of the constitution of 1902, the Republican party ceased to be an important force in state politics until revived in the 1960s.

The issue of school integration brought profound changes to the political and social system of Virginia. In 1956 the Democratic party under Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd announced a firm intention to preserve segregation. A campaign of massive resistance opposed implementation of the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brownv. Board of Education of Topeka. Rather than comply with court-ordered integration, Gov. J. Linsey Almond Jr. closed public schools in Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Warren County. In 1959 the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals condemned such action, but the controversy continued when in the same year, the supervisors of Prince Edward County decided to abandon public schools altogether. White students attended hastily prepared private academies while black children were without schools for five years. At length the impetus behind massive resistance died down, as adverse publicity drove prospective investors from the state and parents tired of the uncertainty in the schools. The Democratic party became divided over massive resistance and related issues, eventually splitting into warring conservative and liberal camps. Many organization supporters defected to the Republican party in the 1960 national elections. The Democratic party began to disintegrate rapidly after the death of Byrd in 1966.

Political changes dating from the 1960s continued over the ensuing decades. In 1964 the Twenty-fourth Amendment ended the poll tax as a condition of voting in federal elections, and in a 1966 case that arose in Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the tax in state elections as well. The Supreme Court rendered decisions that forced reapportionment in elections to Congress and to the Virginia state legislature. These changes led to the defeat of long-term incumbents, such as U.S. Senator A. Willis Robertson and U.S. Representative Howard W. Smith. The newly reapportioned legislature enacted a sales tax in 1966, and in 1969 a Republican, A. Linwood Holton, won the governorship, which broke the stranglehold of rural white Democrats on Virginia politics and delivered the final blow to the Virginia Democratic party. The Republican party controlled the governorship during the 1970s, but the Democrats took over in the 1980s and early 1990s. In the later 1990s, Virginia again had Republican governors, but in the most recent election, Mark R. Warner, a conservative Democrat, won the office. In legislative races, Republicans and Democrats faced each other as equals in the l990s. As late as 1975, the hundred-member Virginia House of Delegates included only seventeen Republicans, but by 1994 the number

was forty-seven. By 2000, the Republicans enjoyed a sixty-four to thirty-six majority in the House of Delegates. Meanwhile, Virginia became a Republican state in presidential elections. As early as 1948, although President Harry S. Truman took the state that year, Virginia Democrats had begun to abandon their party in presidential elections. Black Virginians abandoned the Republican party and embraced the Democrats but were swamped by the stream of white voters heading in the other direction, who together with many new residents voted Republican. From 1952 through 2000, the Democratic presidential candidates won Virginia's electoral votes only in 1964.

In terms of race and gender, Virginia politics in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries differed greatly from the l960s. In the late 1960s, for the first time since the 1880s, black candidates won election to the state legislature, and the number of women, most of them white, increased slowly as well. By the 2001 session, fifteen of the legislature's 140 members were black and twenty-two were women. Meanwhile, after the 1985 elections, Mary Sue Terry began the first of two four-year terms as state attorney general. L. Douglas Wilder, after sixteen years in the state senate, became lieutenant governor in 1985 and in 1989 became the first African American elected governor of any state. The declining significance of race in Virginia politics is obvious in that while a majority of white voters pulled the Republican lever, Wilder's victory depended on the support of far more whites than blacks. After the 1992 elections, Virginia's congressional delegation, like the state legislature, was no longer all white and all male. Robert C. Scott became only the second African American to win a seat from the Old Dominion, 104 years after John Mercer Langston's election in 1888, and Leslie L. Byrne became the first woman ever elected to Congress from Virginia, although Byrne lost her bid for reelection in 1994. In 2002, while neither of Virginia's senators was female or black, one woman and one African American did serve in the House of Representatives as part of the state's eleven-person delegation.

Major changes also occurred in higher education in Virginia in the last decades of the twentieth century. Such changes involved finance, numbers of students, the racial desegregation that came to Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s, and expansion of opportunities for women. The 1966 legislature inaugurated a statewide system of community colleges. By the 1990s, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, and Northern Virginia Community College each enrolled more than 20,000 students. The University of Virginia was not far behind. Before the 1950s, only one public institution of higher education in Virginia, now known as Virginia State University, admitted black students. By the 1990s, blacks attended every school although the numbers were still well below the African American percentage of Virginia residents. The University of Virginia only first admitted women as undergraduates in 1970, but by the 1990s, men and women were attending in almost equal numbers. Although women had begun attending law school there in 1920, they comprised 10 percent of the total number of law students only after congressional enactment of Title IX in 1972. By the 1990s, women comprised one-third of each graduating class. In the 1990s, the state reversed a quarter-century-long trend and trimmed its spending on higher education. Those budget cuts drove up tuition costs.

Virginia's economic prosperity in the twentieth century depended more on industry and government than on traditional agriculture. Until the 1990s, government was the second largest source of employment in Virginia, but the reduction of the United States military in that decade has meant the loss of thousands of military-related jobs. Tourism had developed into a billion-dollar-a-year enterprise by 1970 and remains an important industry. In the sphere of Virginia agriculture, which continues to decline in relative importance, the most significant changes came in the development of increasing numbers of dairy farms in the northern part of the state and of truck farms on the eastern shore. Peanut growing and processing centered around Suffolk, and the production of Smithfield hams replaced tobacco as the standard staple among a large number of southside farms. The significance of manufacturing also has fallen recently in Virginia's economy, with jobs in trade and service increasing to replace it. Nonetheless, the per capita income of Virginians remains almost 10 percent above the national average.

The population of Virginia more than tripled between 1900 and 2000, growing from 1,854,000 to nearly 7,079,000. Net immigration accounted for fully half the growth during the last forty years, which illustrates significant changes in Virginia's recent history, as the state had been a large exporter of people throughout the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. During the same period, the population of the state also became highly urbanized, with nearly a 70 percent urban concentration in 1990 compared to only 18 percent in 1900. Thus northern and southeastern Virginia have become part of the "urban corridor" that stretches from Boston down the Atlantic seaboard, and the formerly rural counties of Henrico and Loudoun have found themselves absorbed into metropolitan Washington, D.C. From 1900 to 1970, the proportion of black people residing in the state steadily declined from over 35 percent to 18 percent, as many thousands of black Virginians decided to join the general tide of migration out of the south. Between 1970 and 2000, however, the black population began to stabilize at around 19 percent. Meanwhile, residents of Asian ancestry increased from a negligible number at the time of the 1965 Immigration Act to a figure approaching 4 percent in 2000. Hispanics make up about 3 percent of Virginia's population.


Blair, William A. Virginia's Private War: Feeding Body and Soul in the Confederacy, 1861–1865. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Brundage, W. Fitzhugh. Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880–1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Dailey, Jane Elizabeth. Before Jim Crow: The Politics of Race in Postemancipation Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Faggins, Barbara A. Africans and Indians: An Afrocentric Analysis of Relations between Africans and Indians in Colonial Virginia. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Hadden, Sally E. Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Lassiter, Matthew D., and Andrew B. Lewis, eds. The Moderates' Dilemma: Massive Resistance to School Desegregation in Virginia. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998.

Lewis, Charlene M. Boyer. Ladies and Gentlemen on Display: Planter Society at the Virginia Springs, 1790–1860. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001.

Morgan, Edmund S. American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia. New York: Norton, 1975.

Sobel, Mechal. The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Raymond H.Pulley

PeterWallenstein/a. e.

See alsoCivil War ; Colonial Assemblies ; Confederate States of America ; Desegregation ; Plymouth ; Reconstruction ; Revolution, American: Political History ; Slavery ; South, the ; Suffrage: African American Suffrage ; Tidewater ; Tobacco Industry andvol. 9:The History and Present State of Virginia .

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The Virginia Company. Even before there was a Virginia Company there was Sir Walter Raleigh and his dream of a colony in America. The colony at Roanoke had been his venture, and even though it failed he still had hopes for an English settlement in the New World. But Raleigh was bankrupt, and in seeking support for a colony he turned to traders and businessmen such as Sir Thomas Smith, first president of the East India Company, which had just been chartered in 1600. It would be men like Smith, wealthy merchants, rather than men like Raleigh, gentlemen-adventurers, who bankrolled early colonies as business ventures. That they all lost money must be attributed not to their foolishness but to ignorance of what settlements in the New World truly cost. By 1605 England was poised for greater adventures overseas. That year it had signed a peace with Spain that meant energy and monies could go elsewhere. Several investors petitioned the Crown to incorporate two companiesthe London Company and Plymouth Company.

In 1606 the Virginia Company of London and of Plymouth was chartered, gfiving them rights to the land between the Cape Fear River of North Carolina and Bangor, Maine. The northern part of this huge grant fell to the Plymouth part of the company, the southern half to the London part. Government of each colony was administered by a thirteen-man council in America that took its orders from a joint royal council of thirteen in England. The charter further provided that the colonists and their descendants shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunities as if they had been living in Englandin other words, the rights of Englishmen.

Valuable Lessons. Experience soon showed that the council in Virginia was unworkable, and in 1609 the company rewrote the charter, putting one man in charge. Gone too was the royal council, and instead the company in England took charge. It also reorganized its stockholders since it needed more money. Now called The Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the First Colony in Virginia, or the Virginia Company for short, it counted among its investors various corporations such as the Company of Ironmongers and the Company of Fishmongers {mongers means sellers) as well as 659 individuals. Yet problems in the colony undermined these efforts as well. Once tobacco was found to be a profitable crop, those hired to work the company lands chose to work their own instead, and laborers sent to work for the company found their way onto the personal farms of local officials. By 1616, the year that profits were to be divided among those who invested in 1609, no profits existed. Since Virginia needed people the company promised free land. In 1618 the company reorganized again, this time promising a more liberal and less authoritarian government and division of Virginia into four large settlements. The next year the company sent over 1,216 people of whom about half were laborers for the company; it also permitted a general assembly. Called the House of Burgesses, it was the first representative elected body in America. But the days of the company were limited. Even though it continued to send over settlers, high mortality rates considerably reduced their numbers. In 1622 came the crowning blow when the local Indians rose up and murdered one-third of the settlers, 347 men, women, and children, most by their owne weapons. On 24 May 1624 King James I dissolved the bankrupt Virginia Company, and Virginia became the first royal colony. Other companies in Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and New Netherland would try to underwrite colonies, but in the end the needs of such a complicated enterprise outstripped the available financial resources; none would succeed in North America.


Even in an age used to early death, the mortality rates in Virginia between 1655 and 1724 were considered disastrous. The following table shows what happened in Middlesex County. Along with parental death it shows child mortality (infants, who comprise the most deaths in any population, are not included here since the table picks up children already aged one year). Of the 239 children aged one who comprised the population at risk, 164, or 69 percent, lived to reach the age of twenty-one or married, whichever came first. Of this 164, only 26.8 percent still had both parents living; 37.2 percent had only one parent still alive; and a full 36 percent had lost both parents.

Achieved age Children known to survive to age Children with both parents at age Children with but one parent at age Children orphaned at age
*indicates age 21 or age at marriage, whichever came first.
Source: Darrett B. Rutman and Anita H. Rutman, Now-Wives and Sons-in-Law: Parental Death in a Seventeenth-Century Virginia County, in The 1 I Chesapeake in the Seventeenth-Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society, edited by Thad W. Tate and David L. Ammerman (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979), p. 161.
1239 (100%)222 (92.9%)17 (7.1%)0 (0.0%)
5227 (100%)174 (76.7%)47 (20.7%)6 (2.6%)
9211 (100%)124 (58.8%)67 (31.8%)20 (9.5%)
13194 (100%)90 (46.4%)66 (34.0%)38 (19.6%)
18173 (100%)57 (32.9%)62 (35.8%)54 (31.2%)
*164 (100%)44 (26.8%)61 (37.2%)59 (36.0%)

Jamestown. The settlement of the new colony of Virginia began under an unlucky star. First, the three ships carrying the new settlers were kept by adverse winds for a full six weeks within sight of England. They finally arrived on the shore of Virginia almost five and one-half months later, in May 1607, only to place their settlement on a small peninsula on the James River surrounded by a marsh. This location proved to be especially unhealthy as

during the late summer and early autumn the force of the water coming down the river from the mountains was not enough to get past the tide coming up from the Chesapeake Bay. Not only did the colonists suffer from salt poisoning by drinking brackish water, but also the river became an open sewer and a breeding ground for dysentery and typhoid. Disease was not the only problem facing this first English colony. The Virginia Company had organized a government by committee, but the names of those in charge were kept secret until the ships reached Virginia.

Smith. The seven-man council of state was composed of men who despised and feared one another. Capt. John Smith, the most able of the seven, was already under arrest when they landed. He eventually became the leader of the colony only because three of the seven had returned to England and the other three had died. It fell to Smith to organize his unruly and unsuitable settlers into some sort of workforce. The ships he arrived in had carried 104 men, but 48 of these were gentlemen, defined as men who did not earn their living with their own hands. Only 24 were laborers. By September 46 settlers had died. Smith also had to contend with a well-organized and suspicious Indian population already living on the river. Relations were difficult from the beginning, with Smith eager to negotiate peaceful relations and wary of the excesses of his own men but also willing to force the Indians to provide grain for the settlers. Fall brought some relief as migrating wildfowl returned to the rivers and the Indians were willing to trade meat and corn. In January 1608 the town burned. Only the arrival of supply ships from England kept the colony afloat. In the fall of 1609 Smith was badly injured in a gunpowder accident and left for England, never to return. The colony quickly fell apart, and the winter of 16091610 became known as the starving time, brought about by not only a shortage of foodstuffs but also the hoarding and selling of what there was so that some ate while others died. Of the 490 settlers in Virginia when Smith left, only 60 had survived the winter. In 1610 a new governor, Lord De La Warr, a seasoned soldier with experience in Ireland, arrived. Jamestown was now under a form of martial law, and the men there were forced to work. But Virginias viability was not yet assured. In 1614 the settler John Rolfe was responsible for helping the colony find its moorings. First, his marriage to Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, head of a loose federation of neighboring Indians, brought about a truce. Second, Rolfe experimented with growing a West Indian species of tobacco and found that he could produce a crop of high enough quality to fetch good prices in England. Virginias tobacco boom began, and Jamestown settlers started growing tobacco in the very streets of the town. With its economic destiny set, Jamestown and the Virginia colony began the path toward a plantation economy that it continued throughout the colonial period.

Tobacco. The emergence of tobacco as a cash crop changed the destiny of Virginia. Whereas in 1616 the colony exported 2,300 pounds of tobacco, by 1626 it sent to England 260,000 pounds of tobacco. What James I had called a stinking weed and threatened to outlaw now paid enough in taxes that he quickly came to rely upon it. The emergence of an export crop changed the labor situation in Virginia. Even before the tobacco boom the company had sent over indentured servants, who usually worked four to seven years in exchange for free passage to Virginia, room, board, and maybe a little land at the end of their service. With the discovery of tobacco the need for labor increased. Virginians also fanned out, occupying small settlements along the James River. Many of these were crude, and life was harsh and often short. Indentured male servants aged fourteen to forty worked on meager rations and less protection. As Richard Frethorne wrote to his parents in 1623, And when we are sick there is nothing to comfort us; for since I came out of the ship I never ate anything but peas, and loblollie (that is water gruel). As for deer or venison I never saw any since I came into this land. There is indeed some fowl, but we are not allowed to go and get it, but must work hard both early and late for a mess of water gruel and a mouthful of bread and beef.

Field Hands. The labor needs of tobacco were met by Englishmen for the first fifty years or so of Virginias history, but beginning in the 1660s black slaves began to replace white indentures even though there had been a few slaves in Virginia since 1619. Reasons for this shift in labor included Virginias reputation as a death trap for whites, better job prospects in England, the opening of new colonies in America that needed labor, and the increasing availability and decreasing cost of slaves. Virginians also learned that tobacco impoverished soils, and in order to grow a high-quality plant they needed to put fresh lands into cultivation. Planters spread out along the various rivers since this was where the better soils lay and rivers provided the easiest way to transport the heavy casks of tobacco leaf. This settlement pattern assured a more scattered population and an isolated one. Virginia did not attract many nationalities other than the English until after the 1740s when the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania brought in Scotch-Irish and Germans. For the tidewater region the chief diversity was racial. Close ties to England forged by tobacco also affected the religious diversity of the colony. Most were members of the Church of England, although Quakers were tolerated. In the eighteenth century Presbyterians and Baptists emerged, especially in the backcountry.

Mortality. The history of colonial Virginia (and Maryland as well) was in many ways shaped by the high mortality rates for those who lived there. The earliest years under company rule were a disaster as far more people died than came in and few children were born to offset the losses. More than half of those who stepped off the boat with Captain Smith died within a few months. Dysentery and typhoid did most of the damage, but poor nutrition, overwork, and occasional losses to Indians added to the chance of early death. Richard Frethorne listed 20 people who had died in his masters household in a four-month period. He estimated that of the 150 that come over with him, two-thirds had died before the first year. In the three years before the Indian massacre of 1622 some 3,470 people had been sent to Virginia to join the 700 already there, for a total of 4,170. But right after the massacre only 1,240 survived. The Indians had killed 347, but another 2,700 souls had also perished in three years. Virginias climate, marshes, and seasonally slow rivers undermined the colonys health.

Malaria. Once malaria was introduced into America, first a less virulent strain from England and then a more deadly type from Africa that came with the slaves, rivers and swamps provided the breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carried the disease. (South Carolina and Georgia, which both grew wetland rice in low-country marshes, fared even worse.) High mortality rates had an especially depressing effect upon family formation, already undermined by the high ratio of men to women sent to the colony. In late-seventeenth-and early-eighteenth-century Middlesex County, Virginia, of 239 children born between 1655 and 1724, only 44 reached either marriage or age twenty-one (whichever came first) with both parents alive. In some cases the parents had died; in some the children had died. Grandparents rarely survived long enough to know their grandchildren. Men and women married serially as spouses died, leaving them with young children. Children, in turn, lived in households with stepparents and stepsiblings. Many growing up had no adult relative to turn to for help and advice. Among the indentured servants, age at first marriage was high since servants were not allowed to marry. Late marriages for women also meant fewer births. For those not servants, men and women married younger than they did in Old England or New England where ages at death were much higher and more parents lived to see their children into adulthood. Virginias population grew relatively slowly. In 1625 the total population was 1,300; in 1653, 14,300; and in 1699, 62,800. These figures include Africans, but their number is hard to determine; one estimate suggests that by 1699 there were between 6,000 and 10,000. The eighteenth century saw a large growth in the black population. In 1754 there were 168,000 whites and 116,000 blacks in Virginia.


Philip L. Barbour, The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1964);

Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: Norton, 1975);

Richard L. Morton, Colonial Virginia, volume 1 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Virginia Historical Society, 1960);

Darrett B. Rutman and Anita H. Rutman, Now-Wives and Sons-in-Law: Parental Death in a Seventeenth-Century Virginia County, in The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth-Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society, edited by Thad W. Tate and David L. Ammerman (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979), pp. 153182.

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Norfolk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 611

Richmond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 625

Virginia Beach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 641

The State in Brief

Nickname: Old Dominion Motto: Sic semper tyrannis (Thus always to tyrants)

Flower: Dogwood

Bird: Cardinal

Area: 42,774 square miles (2000; U.S. Rank: 35th)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 5,729 feet above sea level

Climate: Mild, cooler in mountains; rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year

Admitted to Union: June 25, 1788

Capital: Richmond

Head Official: Governor Mark Warner (D) (until 2006)


1980: 5,347,000

1990: 6,187,358

2000: 7,078,515

2004 estimate: 7,459,827

Percent change, 19902000: 14.4%

U.S. rank in 2004: 12th

Percent of residents born in state: 57.1% (2000)

Density: 178.8 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 229,039

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 5,120,110

Black or African American: 1,390,293

American Indian and Alaska Native: 21,172

Asian: 261,025

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 3,946

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 329,540

Other: 138,900

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 461,982

Population 5 to 19 years old: 1,475,104

Percent of population 65 years and over: 11.2%

Median age: 35.7 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 101,303

Total number of deaths (2003): 58,264 (infant deaths, 758)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 7,735


Major industries: Tobacco, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, tourism, services, government, electrical equipment, food, textiles, paper products

Unemployment rate: 3.3% (December 2004)

Per capita personal income: $33,651 (2003; U.S. rank: 10th)

Median household income: $52,587 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 9.3% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 5.75%

Sales tax rate: 4.5%

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Virginia State in e USA, on the Atlantic coast, the most northerly of the ‘southern states’ the capital is Richmond. The coastal plain is low-lying. In the w, the Piedmont Plateau rises to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are extensive forests. The first permanent British settlement in North America was at Jamestown (1607). Virginia evolved an aristocratic plantation society based on vast tobacco holdings. Virginia's leaders were in the forefront of the American Revolution. During the Civil War, Richmond acted as the Confederate capital, and Virginia was the main battleground of the war. In 1870, Virginia rejoined to the Union. Farming is a vital part of Virginia's economy, and the chief crops include tobacco, peanuts, grain, vegetables, and fruits. Dairying and poultry are also widespread. Industries: chemicals, shipbuilding, fishing, transport equipment. Coal is the most important mineral deposit. Stone, sand, and gravel are quarried. Area: 105,710sq km (40,814sq mi). Pop. (2000) 7,078,515.

Statehood :

June 25, 1788

Nickname :

Old Dominion

State bird :


State flower :

Flowering dogwood

State tree :

Flowering dogwood

State motto :

Thus always to tyrants

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Virginia, home of presidents and cradle of American tradition, has a special place in the consciousness of the nation. Its economic history is perhaps less well-known than its political history. Supported, at first, by slave-owning plantations, the state depended for many years on tobacco and cotton crops. After the devastation brought about by the American Civil War (18611865), Virginia rebuilt its economy, adding industry to its agricultural base. Modern Virginia contains a healthy mix of farming, industrial, and service employment.

Virginia has claim to being the first permanent English settlement in America. The colonists who established Jamestown in 1607 named their colony Virginia in honor of the "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I. The London Company, a joint-stock venture sponsored by King James I, claimed nearly all of the eastern coast of America, a great deal more land than now encompasses Virginia. Many in this expedition were gentlemen who had no clear idea of how to survive in the wilderness. Captain John Smith finally took matters into his own hands, declaring, "He that will not work neither shall he eat." As journalist Alistair Cooke wrote in his book, Alistair Cooke's America, this statement was "rooted . . . early and deep in the American consciousness." The colony weathered times of starvation, attacks by Indians, and the deaths of many people, but it somehow survived and even established its own form of representative government. After James I revoked the London Company's charter in 1624, Virginia became a royal colony.

The colony continued to grow along the James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac rivers. It depended largely on the growing of tobacco (and later of cotton) with the help of indentured servants, both white and black. It is thought that the institution of slavery developed from the first black servants sent to Virginia. As eastern Virginians moved into the western part of the country, they began to lose much of their loyalty toward England, especially during the French and Indian War. The Virginia House of Burgesses engaged in repeated protests against British policy, which culminated in a boycott of British goods in response to the Townshend Acts. Virginia was the first colony to begin the move for independence from England in 1776 and it was a major player in the American Revolution (17751783). Virginia was so influential in this period that Virginians occupied the U.S. presidency for all but four of the nation's first 28 years.

In the early nineteenth century Virginia's influence began to decline. The eastern half of the state disputed constantly with the western half (later, the state of West Virginia), as eastern aristocrats held most of the political and economic power. Life all over the state remained largely rural and self-sufficient while roads were poor and mail delivery slow. Cities which did grow in the state, like Richmond and Norfolk, grew less rapidly than cities in other parts of the country.

By the mid-nineteenth century Virginia was entering another period of prosperity. The Valley Turnpike, completed in 1840, made transportation through the Shenandoah Valley easier. Agricultural experimentalists like Edmund Ruffin used new scientific methods to revitalize agricultural land worn out by years of tobacco farming. Land values rose with crop diversification, livestock production, and the use of new machinery. Industrial development was beginning too, as railroads began to form in a network across the state.

Closely tied to the economy of Virginia, especially on the eastern plantations, was the issue of slavery. In the 1830s the state was a major purveyor of the slave trade. Thus the growing antislavery movements of the 1850s were quite threatening to many Virginians. John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry (then in Virginia) was a wake-up call to the state, which in the end reluctantly seceded from the Union in 1861.

As the main battlefront during the American Civil War (18611865), much of Virginia's countryside, as well as the city of Richmond, was left in ruins when the hostilities ended. The state also lost about half its territory when West Virginia seceded in 1863 to side with the North. A postwar debt of more than $45 million and corrupt Reconstruction leadership left Virginia in turmoil. After Reconstruction wealthy planters lost some of their political power. According to Louis D. Rubin, Jr., "Landed wealth, which had previously constituted a sufficient economic foundation for most Virginians, no longer sufficed." New leaders were rather "men who saw opportunity for themselves and their community in business, industrial development, railroading, [and] finance. . . ." This period was marked by significant expansion of railroads in the state, the most powerful being the Pennsylvania Central.

The state expanded greatly during this time, as suburbs of cities like Norfolk and Richmond developed and other towns like Hampton Roads and Roanoke grew rapidly due to their access to coal routes. Real estate boomed and manufacturing and mining companies sprang up. In 1893, however, a nationwide financial panic gripped the state. Small farmers in particular were devastated, with cash and credit in short supply. Blacks in the state were even worse off, lacking education and living with the legacy of slavery. In 1901 a state constitutional convention moved to eliminate black voting privileges, which had been in force since Reconstruction, thus reinforcing the continued segregation of society.

Conservative Democrats seemed destined to control the state after the turn of the century. In 1925, however, Harry Byrd, a liberal Democrat, won the governorship and embarked on an era of reform. During his tenure the state tax system was revised, along with a number of social reforms, and measures were taken to attract industry to the state.

After the Great Depression (19291939), Virginia entered a new era of prosperity, benefiting from defense contracts, manufacturing, and a growing tourist industry. Notable among the state's tourist attractions were the newly restored colonial capital city of Williamsburg and historic sites such as Jamestown, Monticello, and Civil War battlefields. Franklin D. Roosevelt's (19331945) New Deal, supported by Harry Byrd, was also responsible for the creation of Blue Ridge Parkway, part of the Shenandoah National Forest.

In the 1960s Virginia began to put its financial affairs in better order by enacting a sales tax and a multi-million-dollar bond issue which benefited the public school system. In the early 1980s the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area grew rapidly, largely as a result of federal jobs and new military spending. Between 1980 and 1990 the population of Virginia Beach grew by 50 percent. As non-agricultural employment increased, however, the economy of rural areas did not improve.

Virginia's economy experienced a recession in the late 1980s. Democratic governor Douglas Wilder responded by cutting state services and reducing budgets, thus creating significant hardships for education and less affluent counties. By the mid-1990s, however, Virginia's economy had rebounded, largely because of its diversified economy that included agriculture, manufacturing, as well as service industriesthe latter mostly in federal government employment. In the late 1990s the port of Hampton Roads was one of the busiest in the country, with the largest amount of tonnage on the East Coast. In 1996 Virginia ranked fourteenth among the states in per capita income, at just under $25,000, and its unemployment rate in 1997 was just 4.5 percent, below the national average. The percentage of labor union membership in the state was only 6.8 percent of all workers. The state maintained a pro-business climate, which was aided by the state's conservative history, low wages, low tax rates, and weak labor movement. The Virginia Economic Development Corporation gave low-interest loans and other incentives to businesses, as did the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority.

See also: Africans Arrive in Virginia, Civil War (Economic Impact of)


Ashe, Dora J. Comp. Four Hundred Years of Virginia, 15841984: An Anthology. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1985.

Cooke, Alistair. Alistair Cooke's America. New York: Knopf, 1973.

Gottmann, Jean. Virginia in Our Century. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1969.

Moger, Allen W. Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1968.

Rubin, Louis D., Jr. Virginia: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1977.

John Smith, Jamestown Settlement">

he that will not work neither shall he eat.

captain john smith, jamestown settlement

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Virginia (city, United States)

Virginia, city (1990 pop. 9,410), St. Louis co., NE Minn., on the Mesabi range; inc. 1892. In addition to its iron mines—both open-pit and underground—the city has foundries, lumbering, and food-processing and manufacturing plants. Dairy cattle and poultry are raised and oats and alfalfa are grown. Tourism is economically important, and many recreational and ski areas are nearby. The Minnesota Museum of Mining is there.

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Virginia (in Roman legend)

Virginia, in Roman legend, daughter of the centurion Virginius. Her father stabbed her to save her from the lust of Appius Claudius Crassus, decemvir. This precipitated the fall of the decemvirs. The story occurs often in literature.

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Virginia (ship)

Virginia, Confederate name for the ironclad Merrimack. See Monitor and Merrimack.

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