WPA Guide to Virginia: Virginia History

When on May 14, 1607 the Susan B. Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery landed at Jamestown the colonists sent by the Virginia Company of London, years of futile effort to achieve British colonization in America were terminated in the establishment of a permanent settlement in the New World. All North America not Spanish or French was then called Virginia, in honor of the Virgin Queen. In 1578 Sir Humphrey Gilbert had obtained authority from Elizabeth to colonize lands on the Western Hemisphere not already claimed by any Christian prince or people, but he had failed to plant an enduring settlement. Groups of adventurers sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh either returned disheartened to England or mysteriously disappeared.

In 1606, however, King James granted a joint charter to two companies one, with headquarters in London, authorized to settle southern Virginia; and the other, with headquarters in Plymouth, authorized to settle northern Virginia; but neither to plant within 100 miles of the other. The expeditions sent out by the Plymouth Company met with failure, but the London Company established the settlement at Jamestown. The years between 1607 and 1624, encompassing the overlordship of the Virginia Company of London, assured the permanence of the first English colony in America.

On April 26, 1607 (O.S.) the colonists landed on a point of land they called Cape Henry, opposite another point they named Cape Charles, honoring two sons of their king. An indication of future trouble came toward evening when a band of Indians arrived 'creeping upon all foures from the Hills, like Beares, with their Bowes in their mouthes.' The adventurers ascended the river and landed at a place they named 'James Towne to honor the king himself.

Leadership aboard the three little boats left much to be desired; the men had quarreled grievously among themselves; malaria lurked in the marshy lands; and supplies were insufficient. John Smith, the most able man in the company and the one fitted for almost any emergency by a life of incredible adventure, was in chains when the little band reached Virginia a. Fortunately, however, the opening of the sealed orders of the king named him a member of the council along with Edward Maria Wingfield, Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gosnold, John Ratcliffe, John Martin, and George Kendall. The incompetent Wingfield was made president of the council. Smith demanded trial for the charges that had been preferred against him, was released, and by force of personality became the acknowledged leader. On June 22, Newport sailed for England, leaving in Virginia 100 men, more than half of whom were 'gentlemen,' unfit for the tasks involved in making a wilderness habitable. Bickering was the order of the day. In September Wingfield was deposed; and Ratcliffe, who subsequently proved himself unequal to the responsibility, was elected president of the council. Whether or not credence can be given to the story of Pocahontas's saving John Smith's life, there is no doubt that Smith became the hero of Jamestown, exploring the new land, wheedling supplies from the Indians, and effectively using the strong arm in emergencies.

The London Company, with stockholders looking toward gains that might be derived from the finding of a passage to the South Sea and from the discovery of precious metals in the New World, was guilty of inadequate stewardship. The 'First Supply,' brought by Newport on January 2, 1607 (January 12, 1608, N.S.), contained insufficient provisions and 70 new colonists. Likewise Newport's 'Second Supply,' arriving in September of the same year, bringing again some 70 settlers, added little to the welfare of the colony. Then it was that John Smith, having been chosen president of the council, composed the letter known as 'Smith's Rude Answer,' in which he replied to the London Company's demand that the colonists send commodities sufficient to pay the cost of the voyage, a lump of gold, assurance that they had found the South Sea, and one member of the lost Roanoke Colony. He wrote:

When you send againe I entreat you rather send but thirty Carpenters, husbandmen, gardiners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons and diggers up of trees, roots, well provided; than a thousand of such awe have: for except wee be able both to lodge them and feed them, the most will consume with want of necessaries before they can be made good for anything.

Chiefly because of Smith's leadership, most of the 200 settlers survived the winter and in the spring set about planting and building cheerfully enough. In August seven of the nine ships that had left England with Sir Thomas Gates landed their colonists at Jamestown. In October John Smith, having been severely injured, returned to England for medical treatment, and the settlers faced the long and terrible winter capable of intimidating or cajoling the Indians; the water was unfit for drinking; 'sicknesse' took its ghastly toll. In May when Gates, whose ship had been wrecked on the Bermudas, reached Jamestown as first governor, he found only a few wretched survivors. Five hundred strong at the beginning of winter, the colonists-numbering but 65 pitiable creatures --started back to England on June 7, 1610. They had reached Mulberry Island, 14 miles distant, when Lord De la Warre arrived-with supplies and new settlers. All turned back, weary but determined to carry on. The kindly De la Warre,- returning to England in the spring of 1611, left as deputy governor George Percy, succeeded soon by Sir Thomas Dale, whose absolutism the colonists found difficult to endure. Meanwhile, by two clever strokes, John Rolfe became the savior of Virginia: in 1612 he introduced the cultivation of tobacco, ending the futile search for gold; and in 1614 he married Pocahontas, effecting a convenient alliance with the Powhatan confederacy. George Yeardley, who became deputy governor in 1616, set up the first windmill in America, imported a herd of blooded cattle, turned his attention to the fertilization of the soil, and encouraged the cultivation of tobacco. But Sir Samuel Argall, appointed in May 1617, virtually reduced the colonists to the status of slaves until his flagrant misconduct caused his removal. By April 1619 the colony under Sir George Yeardley, now governor, had apparently achieved a degree of stability that augured wen for continued prosperity. Plantations had been established eastward and westward on both sides of the James River. A few women had crossed the Atlantic to convert the wilderness into a home, and plans were afoot for the sending of 150 maids, who arrived by 1621 to become wives of the settlers. From a Dutch man-of-war were obtained in 1619 the first Negroes landed in Virginia, who were received as indentured servants and not as slaves for life.


But the most far-reaching event of 1619 was the meeting of the house of burgesses, the first democratically elected legislative body to convene in the New World. Each of the 11 duly constituted plantations sent two members to represent it in this epoch making body. The early deliberations of the burgesses centered about education. In 1618 the City of Henricus had been selected as suitable site for a proposed university. The East India School, which was to be established at Charles City Point, was planned to prepare students for the college; money had been subscribed named him a member of the council along with Edward Maria Wingfield, Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gosnold, John Ratcliffe, John Martin, and George Kendall. The incompetent Wingfield was made president of the council. Smith demanded trial for the charges that had been preferred against him, was released, and by force of personality became the acknowledged leader. On June 22, Newport sailed for England, leaving in Virginia 100 men, more than half of whom were 'gentlemen,' unfit for the tasks involved in making a wilderness habitable. Bickering was the order of the day. In September Wingfield was deposed; and Ratcliffe, who subsequently proved himself unequal to the responsibility, was elected president of the council. Whether or not credence can be given to the story of Pocahontas's saving John Smith's life, there is no doubt that Smith became the hero of Jamestown, exploring the new land, wheedling supplies from the Indians, and effectively using the strong arm in emergencies.

The London Company, with stockholders looking toward gains that might be derived from the finding of a passage to the South Sea and from the discovery of precious metals in the New World, was guilty of inadequate stewardship. The 'First Supply,' brought by Newport on January 2, 1607 (January 12, 1608, N.S.), contained insufficient provisions and 70 new colonists. Likewise Newport's 'Second Supply,' arriving in September of the same year, bringing again some 70 settlers, added little to the welfare of the colony. Then it was that John Smith, having been chosen president of the council, composed the letter known as 'Smith's Rude Answer,' in which he replied to the London Company's demand that the colonists send commodities sufficient to pay the cost of the voyage, a lump of gold, assurance that they had found the South Sea, and one member of the lost Roanoke Colony. He wrote:

When you send againe I entreat you rather send but thirty Carpenters, husbandmen, gardiners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons and diggers up of trees, roots, well provided; than a thousand of such aswe have: for except wee be able both to lodge them and feed them, the most will consume with want of necessaries before they can be made good for anything.

Almost at once the government of the colonists became the talking point of liberals in Parliament, who wanted to increase the rights enjoyed by British subjects in the face of Stuart absolutism. It was under the more liberal charter of 1612, also drafted by Sandys, that the colonists were able to achieve representative government. More important, however, were the reaffirmation of those privileges the second charter had granted and the clear statement that all laws governing Virginia were to be made by the London Company. The execution of the order was delayed, however, by Argall, who arrived as deputy governor in May 1617; connived with Sir Robert Rich in England to plunder the 'common stock'; and continued martial law in the colony. As Lord De la Warre, sent by the London Company with authority to arrest Argall, died on his way across the ocean, it was not until the arrival of Yeardley, on April 19, 1619, that the new government was put into effect, incorporating the principles of 'the Great charter of privileges, orders, and laws' drawn up in 1618 by Sir Edwin Sandys and Sir Thomas Smyth. Settlers were given their own tracts of land; martial law and common holding came to an end; lands to be tilled by servants during indentureship were laid out for the support of officials, in order to relieve the people of taxation 'as much as may be'; four 'corporacouns' were constituted, each with a proposed capital city; and through the creation of the house of burgesses the colonists shared in making the laws.

Soon after affairs had begun to run smoothly in the colony, Virginia narrowly escaped an invasion of the Pilgrim Fathers, whose expedition financed mainly by members of the London Company was authorized to settle south of the Hudson River in southern Virginia. Thrown off their course, the Pilgrims set foot on a rock off the coast of northern Virginia. So did chance take a hand in determining the course of history. A 'deadly stroake' was dealt the southern colony in 1622 when the Indians attempted by wholesale butchery to rid the country of white invaders. From the marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas in 1614 tin the death of Powhatan in 1618 a state of comparative peace had emboldened the colonists to spread their plantations along both banks of the James River and to neglect their stockades. But the implacable Opechancanough, who had succeeded Powhatan as chief of the Indian confederacy, was scheming with diabolical cleverness. On March 22, 022, at precisely the same hour the Indians struck along a 140-mile front. Three hundred and forty-seven colonists were killed instantly and 18 died later, reducing the settlement by more than a third. Jamestown suffered less, however, than the outlying plantations, for Chanco, a converted Indian, working at the plantation of Richard Pace across the river, informed his master of the plot. Though the surviving settlers did not desert Virginia and though others arrived almost at once, it was many years before the colony recovered from the disaster. Plans were abandoned for the East India School and the university, which were to be established to Christianize and educate the Indians.

The days of the Virginia Company of London, moreover, were numbered. The widening breach between the liberals and the king had been reflected in James's denunciation of Sir Edwyn Sandys. In answer to the king's command in 1620, 'Choose the devil if you will, but not Sir Edwin Sandys' as company treasurer, Sandys stepped aside in favor of his friend, the Earl of Southampton, whom the king found equally unacceptable. It was Sandys, however, who drew up the liberal instrument known as the Virginia Constitution of 1621. In 1622 the king granted the London Company a monopoly of the sale of tobacco in England. The condition that 40,000 pounds of Spanish tobacco be also imported was not satisfactory to Spain, whose favor James sought as he looked toward an alliance between his son and the Infanta. Through the scheming of the wily Count of Gondomar, Spanish ambassador, an investigation was ordered of the London Company both in England and Virginia. When the commission returned from the colony in June 1624 with an unfavorable report, only partially true, the King's Bench revoked the charter of the London Company and Virginia became a royal colony, extending from modem Pennsylvania to Florida and indefinitely westward.

Anglo-Saxon love of personal liberty continued to express itself in the Virginia colony. All the revolutionary pronouncements that emanated from Virginia between 1763 and 1776 had their antecedents in the period that immediately followed the dissolution of the London Company. Just before the revocation of the company's charter the general assembly had resolved, forecasting the words of Parliament's petition to Charles five years later and in amazing prophecy of the doctrine condemning taxation without representation, that 'the governor shall not lay any taxes or impositions upon the colony, their lands or commodities, other than by authority of the General Assembly

The king's failure to provide for a house of burgesses in the govemmental plans he instituted after the demise of the London Company had little effect upon the progress of the democratic principle. After James had commissioned a council to take charge of affairs in Virginia, had appointed the governor, and, forthwith, had died, Virginians sent Yeardly across the ocean to urge the king to 'avoid the oppression of governors in colonial affairs' and to continue the general assemblies. Until royal recognition of the house of burgesses came in 1628, governors Francis Wyatt, George Yeardley, and Francis West were wise enough to allow the burgesses to assist the council unofficially in the passing of 'proclamations, ordinances, and orders.' The principle of taxation by representation was reiterated in resolutions passed in 1631, in 1632, in 1642, in 1652, and many other times before a Virginian gave the Declaration of Independence to the world.

The behavior of liberty-loving Virginians must have sorely tried the royal Stuarts, whose edicts brought forth either argument or disobedience. During the investigation of the London Company, the clerk of the council had lost his ears for giving the king's commissioners certain official papers. Virginians dared to ask that the charter of the London Company be renewed. Other evidences of insubordination followed. There was, for instance, Virginia's protest against Lord Baltimore's proprietary--carved from Virginia territory by royal grant in 1632. For some strange reason there had been no trouble when Sir Robert Heath had received patent in 1629 to that part of southern Virginia styled 'Carolana.' Chief among the agitators against Lord Baltimore was William Claiborne, who, anticipating the grant, had established on the Isle of Kent within the Maryland territory a trading post and colony. The conflict, however, was not between Virginia and Lord Baltimore, but was a contest that Claiborne carried on with the aid of his settlers.

Interposed in the general confusion was the not inconsiderable matter of thrusting' a royal governor out of Virginia. Sir John Harvey was appointed in 1628. His arrival having been delayed, the council continued Captain Francis West as acting governor, and the assembly convened. It refused to agree to the king's demand regarding English monopoly of Virginia tobacco, and sent West abroad as the first of a long line of agents who presented the colony's cause to the king. Dr. John Pott was then named acting governor. When Harvey finally reached Virginia, in 1630, he discredited Pott, usurped the powers of the general assembly, and refused to forward to the king the general assembly's 'denial' of the tobacco monopoly. Finally, when the governor dissolved the assembly, the house of burgesses defiantly continued its sessions. In peaceful revolution the governor was 'thrust out,' and the council in 1635 named John West his successor. Though Harvey took his appeal to the king, who ruled that the deposed governor must return to Virginia as governor if just for a day, Virginia's first popular revolution was successful. In 1639 the king appointed Sir Francis Wyatt governor.

In the meantime new governmental machinery had been installed. In 1634 the four 'corporacouns' that had been created in 1619 gave place to eight shires, later designated as counties. All free male citizens had the right to vote for members of the house of burgesses and for county officers.Then came Sir William Berkeley, who supplanted Wyatt in 1641 and continued in office until 1652. Though the staunchest of royalists, Sir William endeared himself to Virginians at once by exercising justice and good sense. After the massacre of 1644, led by the aged Opechancanough, had wiped out about 300 colonists, Berkeley dealt with the Indians courageously and promptly. The civil war in England was reflected, however, in Berkeley's intolerance toward dissenters. When three pastors from the Massachusetts Bay colony accepted Captain Richard Bennett's invitation to settle in Virginia, they were ordered to return 'with all convenience.' The oppressive act against nonconformists passed in 1647 caused many Puritans in Virginia to migrate to more tolerant Maryland.

Berkeley's intense loyalty to the Crown furnishes the key to his character. He went to England to offer aid to Charles 1; after the execution of his sovereign, he refused to recognize Cromwell; and he extended to Charles 11 an invitation to make his home in Virginia. When Virginia was at last 'reduced' to Parliament, the loyal servant of the king retired to Green Spring near Jamestown. Under the Commonwealth Virginia enjoyed almost complete political freedom. Fortunately, the Navigation Act, first passed in 1651 limiting colonial trade to England and her possessions, was not strictly enforced. That Virginians had learned to govern themselves was attested by the averting of a civil war that was threatened by the inhabitants of the eastern shore. These isolated settlers, in a protest drawn up on March 30, 1652, embodying a complaint that dated back to 1647, based their refusal to pay taxes on the grounds that, since they had received no summons for election of burgesses, they considered themselves 'disjointed and sequestered from the rest of Virginia.' Moreover, without authority from the general assembly, they had made their own reprisals against the Dutch among them, who they claimed had been selling arms to the Indians. No blood was shed in the settlement of the difficulty, and the eastern shore, then Northampton County, remained within Virginia.

The Restoration ushered in one of Virginia's darkest eras. The chaotic situation in England and the death of Governor Matthews in 1660 caused Virginia to turn again to their old leader. Accordingly, the house of burgesses elected Sir William Berkeley governor, and soon thereafter Charles II reappointed him. Though it was quite another Berkeley who resumed office, he worked at first in the interest of the colonists. The Navigation Act of 1660, more thoroughly enforced than Cromwell's, imposed real hardship upon Virginia planters by requiring all trade with Virginia to pass through English ports with payment of high duties. Governor Berkeley traveled to England in 1661 to make personal protest against the obnoxious regulation that was reducing the price of Virginia tobacco, and in 1664 he endeavored to obtain the cooperation of Carolina and Maryland in concerted restriction of tobacco planting. The governor also had a hand in the general assembly's inauguration of a works program, by means of which factories were established both to provide employment and to furnish the colonists with needed commodities.

His philosophy, however, was that of the benevolent despot, who would brook no opposition to his authority. Satisfied with the representatives whose election he had influenced in 1661, when reaction against the Commonwealth had increased his popularity, he issued no other writ for an election until forced to do so by the rebellion that ended his career. Accordingly, control of the colony fell into the hands of an oligarchy that controlled Virginia for 15 years. Restriction of the franchise to 'freeholders and housekeepers' who were 'answerable . . . for levies' further strengthened the throttle hold of Berkeley's political machine. Charles II's grant of the Northern Neck-the area lying between the Potomac and the Rappahannock from the Chesapeake back to the headwaters of both rivers -- to four royal favorites in 1669 was deeply resented by Virginians.


In 1674 a young man came out of England with courage to defy autocratic rule. His name was Nathaniel Bacon; his family was old and distinguished; he had been educated at Oxford, and he had traveled extensively. Upon taking up lands in Virginia, he was almost at once made a member of the council. Though the fundamental cause of unrest in Virginia was economic and brought about by dire distress of the small farmers, liberty-loving Anglo-Saxons were holding responsible for their plight the arrogant rule of the governor, who they believed had deprived them of the freeman's right to petition for redress. The immediate occasion of what is known as Bacon's rebellion was an Indian uprising, which Berkeley failed to handle with dispatch.

Following depredations of the Susquehannock in northern Virginia in 075, which Berkeley had sent troops to punish, and the unfortunate killing of Indians who came bearing a flag of truce, the Susquehannock had sought revenge upon the whites and had enlisted other tribes as allies. Although the governor authorized an expedition to be led by Sir Henry Chicheley, suddenly disbanding the militia, he remained inactive while atrocities continued. When Virginians petitioned for commanders to lead them in defense of their 'lives and estates,' the governor not only refused but forbade further requests 'under great penalty.' Then it was that Nathaniel Bacon assumed leadership and sent messengers to the governor asking that he be given a commission. When Berkeley lost no time in refusing and in declaring Bacon a rebel, the affair took on the nature of an insurrection. An autocratic governor had arrogantly offended a man who became over night the spokesman of the aroused masses.

While fighters flocked to Bacon's ranks, the governor issued a writ for the elect on of a new house of burgesses. Having already dealt summarily with the Indians, Bacon was elected a burgess. Though Berkeley had dubbed him 'the greatest rebel that ever was in Virginia,' he was pardoned and again took his seat as a member of the council. The rebellion was not at an end, however. Soon Bacon, hearing that Berkeley plotted against him, left Jamestown, again without a commission to proceed against the Indians. Thenceforth the rebels concentrated their attack upon Berkeley's government. With his motley followers, Bacon appeared again at Jamestown and forced the governor to sign the commission so long sought. Under Bacon's influence the burgesses liberalized the laws of the colony. The unhappy governor left Jamestown, finally going to the eastern shore, and Nathaniel Bacon was for a time the virtual head of government. From Middle Plantation, now Williamsburg, he issued a proclamation calling upon Virginians to 'consult with him for the present settlement of His Majesty's distressed colony.' The people came and 'none or very few' failed to sign an oath that pledged them to aid in the Indian war, to oppose the governor, and to resist any effort that England might make to suppress Bacon until the king could be acquainted with the 'grievances' of the colony. The young leader then made his fatal mistake. He seized the British guardship, put two of his lieutenants in command, and sent it across the bay to capture Berkeley without first removing the British captain. Upon arrival at the eastern shore, the captain delivered the ship to the governor, and Bacon's men were held captive. When Berkeley returned to Jamestown, Bacon followed and stormed the capital. Berkeley fled to the guardship, and Bacon set fire to Jamestown. From Berkeley's home, Green Spring, 100 years before another Virginian phrased the Declaration of Independence Bacon issued a proclamation declaring that, should Berkeley be upheld by England, Virginians must defend their liberties or abandon the colony. The young leader then set out upon a grand tour of Virginia. In Gloucester County he was stricken with a fever and died before his leadership could be challenged by the king.

Virginia's second rebellion against autocracy ended with the terrible vengeance of an old man who believed that the divine right he represented had been defied. In demented fury Berkeley hanged without trial more -than 20 men and confiscated the property of many others. Charles II snorted in disgust upon hearing the news: 'That old fool has hanged more men in that naked country than I have done here for the murder of my father.' Recalled to England, Sir William Berkeley died within a year. In Virginia, however, a fire had been rekindled, which succeeding decades of conservatism were powerless to extinguish.

Although self-government in Virginia was immediately threatened, the uprising served as a warning to other governors and prepared Virginia to accept joyfully the expulsion of James II. In particular the experience created among the poorer planters a sense of solidarity. Bacon's Rebellion was the first organized and violent resistance on a large scale to British authority in America. Out of the confusion following Berkeley's departure emerged a succession of even more incompetent governors who, as royal 5,ents through the decade preceding the 'Glorious Revolution,' despoiled the colony and sought to destroy popular government in Virginia. Against even the determination of James II, however, the burgesses successfully defended their two most precious prerogatives: control over general taxation and initiation of legislation.

After the trying first years, life in Virginia had soon taken on-except for the effects of Negro slavery and eighteenth-century affluence-the character it retained in Tidewater even after the newer colonists of Piedmont and the Valley altered radically the total picture. In the seventeenth century Virginia society had been divided into three main classes: a small group, privileged and secure, if not wealthy; the vastly preponderant yeomen, who were to become a true middle class after slavery had been thoroughly introduced; and the indentured servants. Static among the non-free laborers was the Negro minority. Members of the miniature aristocracy owned large, but rarely enormous, tracts of land, stretching back from the wooded banks of the great rivers or on navigable tributary creeks, and lived in comfortable houses. No one had very many slaves or the more usual indentured servants. A few leaders managed a little better, usually by doing something besides raising tobacco. Planter William Fitzhugh practiced law and engaged in trade; William Byrd I traded and speculated in frontier land. These big planters monopolized the seats in the governor's council and, with him, ran the colony. M. Durand-a Huguenot forerunner of the French to come later observed in 1687: 'There are no lords, but each is a sovereign on his own plantation. The gentlemen called Cavaliers are greatly esteemed and respected, and are very courteous and honorable. They hold most of the offices in the country.'

Mention of books from the earliest days and the existence later of fair-sized libraries indicate a respectable level of education among the few. Many small collections of books were recorded during this period. In 1667 a Mr. Matthew Hubard died in possession of more than 30 volumes, including John Smith's Historie of Virginia and the poetry of John Donne; and an inventory of Colonel Ralph Wormeley's library in 1701 listed above 500 titles. The officeholding planters of substance had their children taught at home and frequently sent eldest sons to schools in England. In 1681 there had been an abortive attempt to establish a printing press in the colony. Without luxury and reduced to bare necessities for the majority, life in seventeenth-century Virginia was not, however, without merriment. There was time for a good deal of drinking, it seems, and a good deal of convivial visiting. And everybody smoked. A decade after Bacon's Rebellion, M. Durand could say in a pamphlet designed to attract his persecuted co-religionists: 'The land is so rich and so fertile that when a man has fifty acres of ground, two men-servants, a maid and some cattle, neither he nor his wife do anything but visit among their neighbors . . . When a man squanders his property he squanders his wife's also, and this is fair, for the women are foremost in drinking and smoking.'

In 1682 another rebellion was launched by Virginians. Bumper crops and the failure of the government to authorize a year's cessation brought the price of tobacco in London down to the point of crisis. Taking cessation into their own hands, desperate planters rode through the night tearing up tens of thousands of young plants. It took several months and the execution of six 'plant-cutters' to discourage the practice. Robert Beverley, formerly a loyalist, suspected of instigating the riots, was imprisoned. This unofficial crop control was only a temporary and slight tonic. Lord Culpeper, a proprietor of the Northern Neck and then governor, wrote the Privy Council in 1683, the year following the Tobacco Riots: 'I soe encouraged the planting of tobacco that if the season continue to be favorable . . . there will bee a greater cropp by far than ever grew since its first seating. And I am confident that Customs next year from thence win be -C50,000 more than ever heretofore in any one year.' Though admitting that 'the great Cropp then in hand would most certainly bring that place [Virginia] into the utmost exigencies again,' he promised to put down any disturbances that might result! The effect on the Exchequer of the consequent decline in price of tobacco was offset by raising the rate of customs, already over 300 per cent. Taxes in Virginia were also raised.

In 1689, however, Virginia made a fresh start. Amid rumors of a projected Indian-Catholic massacre and threats of another revolt, the happy news arrived of the expulsion of James II and the peaceful accession of William and Mary. Later that year the passage in England of the Bill of Rights cleared the way for Anglo-American progress. In 1693 education was given a real impetus in Virginia by the founding of the College of William and Mary, the second college in America. Finally, the beginning of the new era was marked symbolically by the removal in 1699 of the capital from Jamestown to Williamsburg. By 1700, when the population had reached about 70,000, the most important new trends were under way: quantity production of tobacco on a vast scale; the consequent growth of slavery as the foundation of the colony's economy with the parallel suppression of Virginia's sturdy yeomanry; the immigration of new racial elements; and westward expansion.

The essential history of Virginia from 1690 to 1776 is a record of the economic and territorial expansion of a maturing colony. Henceforward tobacco dominated Colonial Virginia. A comparatively prosperous decade following the Revolution in England was terminated by the War of the Spanish Succession (Queen Anne's War), which virtually closed most of the ports of Europe to British trade and thus deprived Virginia of a world market. Cut into by export duties in Virginia and the tax on tobacco entering England-6oo per cent by I 705-profits almost vanished. It became clear that America's real enemy, responsible for adverse legislation, was the middle class in England, made up of businessmen who were determined to force empire trade through English channels at all costs. Negro slavery was the inevitable answer to Virginia's economic impasse. After 16oo, and especially after 1710, the proportion of Negro immigration rose sharply. Negro slaves increased from about 5 per cent of the population in 16 70 to 9 per cent in 1700, 2 5 per cent in 17 15, when they numbered about 23,000 against a total population of about 95,000, and to about 40 per cent by the middle of the century. Having prospered briefly after 1689, the hardy, independent 'peasantry' never recovered from the blow inflicted by the Spanish War. Many migrated to other colonies, particularly Pennsylvania, but most of them either sank to become the new class of 'poor whites' or rose to become petty, slaveholding planters.

The colony did not come into its 'great days' easily. Overproduction soon resulted from the importation of too many slaves, and a semi-prohibitive duty was imposed in 1710. Many attempts to limit or prohibit the slave trade were obstructed by the British government, which acquired a monopoly of the valuable traffic in slaves in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. Tobacco depressions gave a slight encouragement to the development of manufactures-in spite of opposition in England-and to the export of naval stores and other raw materials. Governor Spotswood established the first successful smelting furnace in 1715, and other furnaces were set up a few years later in the Valley of Virginia. Except for coarse 'Virginia cloth' and farm implements, however, manufacturing made small headway in Colonial Virginia, without skilled artisans or an invigorating climate. During this period pirates also interfered with trade, but Governor Spotswood did much to discourage piracy when he destroyed Blackbeard and his crew in 1718.

Regulation of the tobacco trade became a necessity. From about one and a third million pounds in 1640, exportation had risen to more than 18,000,000 pounds by 1688, to considerably more by 099, and-after the war slump-had climbed back to about 20,000,000 pounds in 1731. A new inspection law, enacted in 1730 through the efforts of Sir John Randolph sent to London by the general assembly to present the case of Virginia planters, brought about an era of prosperity by providing for the issuance of notes in receipt for crops stored in public warehouses. In 1755, when there were about 175,000 whites and 120,ooo Negroes in the colony, more than 42,000,000 pounds of tobacco were exported.

Geographic, racial, religious, and social changes marked the first half of the eighteenth century. Steadily new plantations were developed as the frontier was pushed westward. Governor Spotswood and a cavalcade mixing business with pleasure paid the first formal visit to the Valley in 170. As early as 1650-5 1, however, Abraham Wood and Edward Bland, seeking a new fur-trading field distant from the encroachments of Maryland, had made into the southwest a journey of exploration, which was followed sporadically by other pilgrimages. In 17 28 William Byrd II headed a commission that surveyed the Virginia-North Carolina line from the ocean about 240 miles westward. By this time pioneers from Tidewater had begun to take up Piedmont land. Large grants, made in 1749 to the Loyal Company and the Ohio Company, threw much of the western territory into the hands of speculators and stimulated exploration. That year Christopher Gist reached the falls of the Ohio, the site of the present Louisville.

During the period 1699-1755 several racial strains, other than the African, were added to the English stock of Virginia. From the beginning, small groups of foreigners had come to the colony; eight 'Dutchmen' and Poles, sent over in 16o8 to make 'soap-ashes' and glass; a few Frenchmen in 1620 to help found a silk industry; and from time to time a sprinkling of Swedish, Polish, German, and other artisans. Elias Legardo, Joseph Moise, and Rebecca Isaacke, who arrived from England in 1624, were the first Jews to reach Virginia. The last of many convicts-felons or rebellious victims of oppression, who were shipped out frequently over a period of about 6o years against the protest of Virginians-were 52 Scottish prisoners in 1678, probably Covenanters. Throughout the seventeenth century small groups of intransigent Irish had been sent over as political prisoners. In 1699, however, members of the first large influx of foreigners began to come: French Huguenot refugees fleeing from persecution following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The small groups of Germans, who came in 1714 and 17,7 to settle at Germanna, the site of Governor Spotswood's iron furnaces, later joined their compatriots in the Valley. Scottish immigrants constituted another valuable ingredient in Virginia's new 'melting pot.' Having previously ventured across the Atlantic in search of religious freedom, these Presbyterians came freely after the Toleration Act was passed in 1680 and on equal terms with the English after 1707, when the Union of Scotland with England was accomplished.

By far the largest and most far-reaching infusion into Virginia's racial stock, however, was the invasion of the tramontane Valley by Germans, Scotch-Irish, English Quakers, and a scattering of Welsh Baptists, who had settled in Penn's tolerant colony. About 1730, just when outpost settlement advancing from Tidewater had reached the mountains on the east, these people-industrious merchants, yeomen, and peasants-began a migration into the Valley that continued in full spate beyond the middle of the century. These nonconformists brought a dissent that was to destroy the Anglican establishment and a tough philosophy that was later to override Tidewater and take the lead in revolt against British oppression.


By the middle of the eighteenth century Colonial Virginia had achieved its heyday. Affluence had polished the manners and enriched the life of old Tidewater and newer Piedmont gentry, while a 'hardy race had settled in the Valley; and beyond the mountains hunters and pioneers were pushing toward the Ohio.' Estates had expanded along with tobacco production and slavery until several nabobs held vast domains. Upon these rose the great Georgian Colonial houses of eastern Virginia, most of which were built between I 73o and I 76o. Libraries grew in number and size. William Byrd 11, with nearly 4,000 volumes, owned the largest, perhaps, in America at the time. As early as 1724 the Reverend Hugh Jones was recording: Families...live in the same neat manner, dress after the same Modes, and behave themselves exactly as the Gentry in London; most Families of any Note having a Coach, Chariot, Berlin, or Chaise.'

Virginians preferred the country. The well-known mansion of brick or stone, with its various outbuildings, was the center of an almost self-sufficient community. Poor farmers lived in small houses of frame or brick, far more numerous than the 'great' houses. Stories were long told of remote planters haunting the nearest roadside to watch for the weekly stage, hoping to find a traveler who could be persuaded to stop over for a day or a week or a month. Early in the century Governor Spotswood had 'showed small Concern in reporting that upon an official Occasion he had entertained four Hundred Guests at Supper.' Colonel James Gordon of Lancaster County noted one day in his diary: 'No company, which is surprising.' During this mid-eighteenth century period, life in the Valley was vastly different from that in the Tidewater. The Germans, who peopled the lower region, and the Scotch-Irish, whose province became the upper Valley, brought traditions of hard work from their native lands. They built small stone houses that were strongholds against the Indians, still inhabiting this frontier country. just behind the vanguard of these industrious folk sprang up mills, furnaces, forges, and even small factories. The rich land was turned rapidly into profitable farms. Nonconformist churches soon flourished here, and education was not far behind.

Defense of Virginia's western frontier in the 1750's provided a seminary for the Revolution. The French and Indian War, begun in 1754, schooled Americans to fight British regulars and thrice baptized in leadership their future commander in chief. Land was behind it all. The Anglo-Americans were pushing farther and farther westward into the 'Great Woods'; while the French, having long intended to make the Alleghenies-if not eventually the ocean-their eastern boundary, were setting up outposts in territory already granted to the new land companies. By 1753 the French had begun stirring up unfriendly Indian tribes and pushing eastward to implement their claim to the Allegheny westward. On the basis of the royal charters of 1606, 1609, and 1612, Virginia laid claim-later established-to the West and Northwest as far as British territory extended. Twice Governor Dinwiddie had sent George Washington out to protect the interests of Virginia and the land companies-the first time to deliver a formal protest and soon afterwards to join Colonel Joshua Fry's small force. Washington fell into command when Colonel Fry was killed accidentally. A fort, originally planned by the British at the site of the present Pittsburgh, had been built by the French and named Duquesne. The French, advancing from their stronghold, forced Washington to evacuate Fort Necessity, which he had built at the present Farmington, Pennsylvania. Because the British Government was eager to prevent backdoor encroachments of the French, General Edward Braddock and British troops were sent to Virginian 1755 to lead an offensive. With two complete regiments of regulars, several companies from Virginia and two other colonies, and with Washington on his staff, Braddock reached a spot near Fort Duquesne in July. The general led his redcoats forward in formation to engage the French and Indians. Surrounded by an enemy hidden behind trees, his men were cut to pieces as they fled, and General Braddock was mortally wounded in the rout.

Washington, left once more in command, was soon re-commissioned as a colonel and made commander in chief of Virginia forces. Troops were collected and drilled and forts were built along the immediate frontier. Though attempts were made to take Fort Duquesne, it was not occupied until late in 1758 and then only after the French, deserted by their Indian allies and hotly engaged farther north by the British, had blown it up. Washington and his Virginians were first to enter the smoking ruins. This war, which ended in America the following year on the Plains of Abraham and was formally closed by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, marked Virginia's coming of age. The defeat of the British leadership and British regulars in 1755 had vindicated 'bush-fighting' and given Americans a new self-confidence. Events during these war years had revealed also the need and the value of intercolonial cooperation.

The West had become a permanent scene of action. No sooner was the Treaty of Paris signed than George III issued his restrictive proclamation of 1763, prohibiting trade with the Indians or grants of land beyond the Alleghenies. This challenge trod on too many Virginia toes to be taken seriously, but settlement was further opposed by a renewal of border warfare with the Indians. Other troubles were in store for Virginia. In 1769-70 the Walpole Company was formed by associates in England and France, as well as in America, who began negotiations for a tract on a scale that would have dwarfed its predecessors. When it became generally known that 20,ooo,ooo acres within Virginia's domain were involved, and that the king contemplated a new colony to be known as Vandalia, opposition flared. Even reactionary Governor Dunmore, who arrived in 1771, took Virginia's part in protests that ran on into 1773-74 and forestalled the enterprise.

A long series of frontier 'outrages' became general war again in 1774. Governor Dunmore led a detachment of Virginia troops into the West and ordered Major Andrew Lewis forward with another. While the governor was negotiating peace with the Indians at a point some distance away, the Battle of Point Pleasant took place on October 10 at the junction of the Ohio and Great Kanawha Rivers, and the Indians were driven back across the river. The whole campaign may have been intended to divert public attention from the political crisis then at hand. Nevertheless, pacification followed speedily in the West, and it was possible to form the County of Kentucky in 1776, before troubles-incident to the Revolution-broke out again on the frontier.


No sooner had the curtain fallen on the prologue, with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, than it rose on the first act of the pre-Revolutionary drama. Young Patrick Henry shouted the first frank challenge at the king. Failure of the tobacco crop had obliged the Virginia assembly in 1758 to pass the Two Penny Act, providing that for 12 months obligations should be paid in currency at the rate of two pence per pound of tobacco, the price of which had then risen to six pence per pound. The clergy complained to the Board of Trade and Plantations and, after the king vetoed the act, brought suit for their usual quantity of tobacco and for damages. When Patrick Henry appeared for the defense in the Parsons' Cause in Hanover County in 1763, he spoke so eloquently, declaring that 'by this conduct the King, from being the father of his people, had degenerated into a tyrant and forfeited all his right to his subjects obedience,' that the crowd broke into a tumult. The jury's award of only one penny damages to the plaintiff amounted to denying the right of the king's action. Already the old order was on the way out.

Although Anglo-American economic rivalry was the basic cause, expenses resulting from the war and consequent taxes became the occasion for the quarrels with the British Government, which believed itself justified in taxing America to help pay its own debt. The colonies held an opposite opinion. The Sugar Bill in 1764 was the first of many attempts to tax the colonies without their consent. The Virginia assembly was the first legislative body to take an official step in facing the Stamp Act issue. Burgesses and council protested against both the Sugar Bill and a proposed stamp tax as violations of constitutional rights, asserting that no subjects of Great Britain could justly be made subservient to laws passed without their consent.

The Stamp Act, passed in March 1765, evoked an immediate response from Virginia. Patrick Henry on May 29 stirred the Virginia general assembly to pass the Virginia Resolves on the following day, setting forth Colonial rights according to constitutional principles, and carried mainly by the representatives of a united interior, voting against those from eastern Virginia. 'Caesar had his Brutus,' cried the young orator, 'Charles I his Cromwell, and George III-may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.' Governor Fauquier was obliged to dissolve the assembly, but the die had been cast. Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts declared, 'Nothing extravagant appeared in the papers till an account was received of the Virginia Resolves.' Nine years later Edmund Burke in his speech on Colonial taxation gave Virginia credit for arousing the general resistance to the Stamp Tax.

In the decade that began in 1764 Virginia continued to lead constitutional opposition to the new British policy. On February 8, 1766, the Act was flatly outlawed by the Northampton County court, which declared that 'the said act did not bind, affect, or concern the inhabitants of this colony, inasmuch as they conceive the same to be unconstitutional, and that the said several officers may proceed to the execution of their respective offices, without incurring any penalties by means thereof.' On February 27 the outstanding planters of northeastern Virginia, led by Richard Henry Lee, met at Leedstown in the Northern Neck is strong-and leveled against the Stamp Act resolutions that embodied the principles later written into the Declaration of Independence. Another association in Norfolk, the 'Sons of Liberty,' met on March 31 and made similar protests. The most important single instrument, however, to form American opinion during this period was probably An Enquiry into the Rights of Ike British Colonies, a pamphlet in which Richard Bland presented in March 3, 1766 the first printed argument that Virginia, like the other colonies, was 'no part of the Kingdom of England,' but united with the British Empire solely through its allegiance to the Crown-a doctrine the American people afterwards accepted as the ground upon which they resisted Parliament. This was a remarkable statement of the political theory actually underlying the Empire but not recognized by statute until 165 years later.

Virginians were delighted at the repeal of the Stamp Act on March 18, 1766. After more than a year of surface tranquility, the Revenue Act was signed by the king on June 29, 1767. This external tax on glass, paper, white lead, painters' colors, and tea gave rise to memorials from burgesses and council and to protests from county after county.

In the autumn of 1768 Lord Botetourt arrived as Virginia's new governor. Leadership was slipping into the hands of a new element from Piedmont and farther west. When news reached Williamsburg early in 1769 of the order to transport the Boston rioters to London for trial, Virginians were incensed. The assembly, meeting in May, drafted resolutions condemning the attempt to transport Americans across the sea for trial, claiming the right of the colonies to concerted action and appeal, reiterating the exclusive right of the colony's assembly to levy taxes. Sympathetic Governor Botetourt was obliged to dissolve the disloyal burgesses, who withdrew to the Raleigh Tavern, where they signed a strict agreement not to import any slaves, wines, or British manufactures. The Non-Importation Agreement was soon adopted in all the colonies. The British Government was forced to give up the idea of transporting the patriots of Massachusetts for trial and by April 12, 1770, had rescinded all except the tax on tea and the principle involved. Beloved Governor Botetourt having died, haughty Lord Dunmore reached Virginia late in 1771. A royal order forbidding assent to any restriction of the slave trade led the Virginia assembly in February 1772 to send the king a petition, in which the trade was castigated as a 'great inhumanity' and one endangering 'the very existence of your Majesty's American dominions.'

Early in 1773 Virginia took a step that was to organize revolution. Renewal of the threat to transport Americans for trial in England emphasized the need for greater co-operation among the colonies. Led by Richard Henry Lee, a group of legislators, including Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Mason, proposed-and the legislature created-a standing committee of correspondence, representing the lower house, to inform the other colonies through similar committees, which they recommended be set up, of Virginia's reaction to the latest moves of the British ministry, to receive theirs in return, and to keep in touch with Virginia's London agent. Unlike the local and unofficial committees of correspondence, originated by Samuel Adams a year earlier to consolidate anti-British sentiment in the faction-torn townships of Massachusetts, this Virginia committee was an official, centralized body modeled on the permanent standing committee originated in 1759 to correspond on similar business with an agent in London. This committee, active until 177 2, left four of its members to the new committee. The effort to transport Americans for trial was abandoned, and before the year was out Parliament repealed the duty on tea-not without retaining, however, the three-penny custom collectable in American ports. Associations against tea drinking were revived. Virginia had its 'tea-party' near Yorktown, similar to the one that took place in the Boston harbor.

From the moment in May 1774 that news reached the colonies of the Boston Port Bill, closing that harbor in punishment of the tea dumpers, events moved swiftly to successive climaxes. The Virginia assembly resolved to set aside June 1 , when the bill was to take effect, as a day of fasting and prayer. Governor Dunmore dissolved the legislature, and members gathered the next day at the Raleigh Tavern, declared common cause with Massachusetts, recommended that a general congress be held annually, that no East India Company commodity be imported, and advocated a general commercial boycott of Great Britain. Revolution was in the air when Virginia's first convention met in Williamsburg on August I, pledged supplies to Boston, suspended transatlantic debts and commerce, and elected delegates to a continental congress. Peyton Randolph of Virginia was made president of the First Continental Congress held in Philadelphia in September. Here Washington, without pretensions of eloquence, shone as a man of 'solid judgment and information., At the Second Virginia Convention, opening on March 20, 1775, Patrick Henry again was the central figure of high drama. Giving his impassioned plea for 'embodying, arming and disciplining' Virginia militia, he closed with the fiery words:

Gentlemen may cry 'Peace! Peace!' but there is no peace. The war is actually begun . . . Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God I know not what course others may take, but, as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

Patrick Henry's resolution was adopted and steps were taken for establishing manufactories to make both arms and other commodities that had formerly been imported from England.

On April 20 Governor Dunmore provoked the first armed resistance in Virginia by ordering the gunpowder stored in the public magazine in Williamsburg to be removed to a warship. Although the governor filled his palace with marines and threatened to 'proclaim liberty to the slaves and reduce Williamsburg to ashes' if he or his affairs suffered any injury, he was forced by the approach of Patrick Henry at the head of troops from Hanover and other counties to pay L320 for the powder. As soon as the little army had dispersed, his lordship declared Henry an outlaw matching Governor Berkeley's treatment of Bacon just a century earlier. The burgesses, called by Lord Dumnore to consider Lord North's proposals, met once more on June I. They rejected the 'Olive Branch' and, to defray the expense of the late Indian war, proposed a tax of 9 5 per head on imported slaves. To protect the slave trade the king's representative exercised his veto power for the last time in Virginia. When the burgesses were ready for his assent to bills passed, the governor refused to leave the Fowey, the ship to which he had fled on the night of June 8, and the burgesses adjourned on June 2o, never to meet formally again. On June 15 the Continental Congress had elected George Washington commander in chief of American forces. The Third Virginia Convention, meeting in July, quickly provided for a committee of safety, for the raising of regular regiments, and for dividing the colony into 16 military districts. Lord Dunmore retired to Norfolk, where--lacking troops--he remained inactive for several months among a nest of Tories.

Meanwhile the Fourth Virginia Convention passed scathing resolutions condemning Lord Dunmore and announcing that the people of Virginia were ready to protect themselves 'against every species of despotism.' In November the ex-governor had declared the colony to be in revolt and had proclaimed all slaves in Virginia free. On December 9 his defending forces were routed at Great Bridge by 'shirt men,' militia acting under the Committee of Safety. Having taken to his ships, he bombarded Norfolk or New Year's Day. It was not until the following July, however, that he was finally driven from the Chesapeake. Washington, having invested Boston in November, drove out the British under General Howe by March 1776 Virginia had sent up supplies as well as Daniel Morgan with his frontier marksmen, who could pick off captains at 'double the distance of common musket shot.' Morgan had soon gone on to distinguish himself before Quebec, carrying Virginia's offensive far afield.

Virginians remained ideologically in the forefront of opposition. Radicals were at the helm when the Fifth Virginia Convention opened in Williamsburg on May 6,1776. Declaring on May 15 the colony a free and independent State, the Convention instructed Virginia delegates in Congress to propose separation from Great Britain. In obedience to the mandate from his State Richard Henry Lee rose in Congress. On June 7 and proposed independence, contraction of foreign alliances, and establishment of a plan of confederation. Three days later, a committee was appointed to draft a declaration of independence. On June 12 the Virginia Convention, serving as a legislative body, adopted George Mason's Bill of Rights and on June 29 approved a constitution. The bill of rights and the constitution were to serve as patterns for other States and for the Nation itself. Lee's resolutions were adopted on July 2, 1776 and, when Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress on July 4th the United States of America was born.

For the next three years, while the war was being waged north and south and Virginia was contributing her full share of men and treasure and defending the western frontier, her legislators were laying the foundations of a new society. The progressives, led by crusading Thomas Jefferson, went far toward destroying the old regime. The new government, which endured without change for 54 years, consisted of a house of delegates, with the sole power to originate legislation; a senate, in place of the former council; a council of eight, limited to an executive function; and a chief magistrate. Both council and governor were chosen, the governor yearly, by the two houses voting together. When the legislature met in October 1776, several courts were set up immediately, and Jefferson, Pendleton, and Wythe were given the task of revising the whole body of Virginia law in conformance with the new constitution. By a legislative act of 17 78 Virginia became the first State in the world to make a person engaged in the slave traffic guilty of a criminal offense. An amendment, however, that proposed freedom for all children born to slaves after the enactment of the bill was defeated. The laws of entail and primogeniture, legal basis of a social hierarchy, were abolished by bills that Jefferson presented now and that were passed a few years later.

Besides sending aid to the theaters of conflict north and south, Virginia began waging single-handed a war in the West, where the British occupied a chain of forts from Detroit to Kaskaskia. On the strength of the battle of Saratoga, in which Daniel Morgan and his riflemen were important factors, Virginia sent into the Northwest George Rogers Clark in command of four companies. On July 4) 17 78, General Clark surprised the fort at Kaskaskia and shortly afterward entered Vincennes without opposition from the friendly French residents. Later, during Clark's absence, Vincennes was retaken by British Governor Hamilton. On February 24, 17 79, Clark returned, surprised the small garrison, and sent Hamilton to Williamsburg as a prisoner. Forts built to the mouth of the Ohio enabled Clark to hold the territory until the end of the war.

In May 1779 actual conflict was carried into the heart of Virginia, when Sir George Collier sailed into Hampton Roads With 2,000 troops. Using Portsmouth as their base, they raided surrounding country, destroyed the navy yard at Gosport (Portsmouth) and large quantities of stores. When reinforcement from Sir Henry Clinton in New York failed to arrive, the attempted blockade of Virginia was abandoned, and the colony's trade with the West Indies, now an American lifeline, continued.

Following a summer of American reverses on several fronts, rumor spread in 1780 that dismemberment of the Continental union and devastation of Virginia were planned. In October, General Alexander Leslie, having entered the Chesapeake with 3,000 troops, made Portsmouth his base. Upon news of the British defeat at King's Mountain, however, Leslie went south to join Cornwallis. At the end of December, Benedict Arnold with about 1,000 troops appeared in the Bay, advanced by water and land to Richmond, where he burned stores, and then established his base at Portsmouth. General William Phillips, joining forces with Arnold, undertook raids on a larger scale. At Petersburg, Phillips died a week before CornWallis's arrival there on May 20, 1781. After General Nathanael Greene's move into the Deep South had left Virginia uncovered, General La Fayette, commanding part of the Continental army, came to Virginia, advancing southward as far as Petersburg. Nearly 7,000 strong and well armed, the British began their pursuit of La Fayette, who retreated toward Fredericksburg, was joined by General Anthony Wayne, and then continued southwestward. Cornwallis dispatched Colonel John G. Simcoe with 500 men to Point of Fork to destroy an arsenal and stores that General von Steuben was unable to defend, and Colonel Banastre Tarleton with 250 men to Charlottesville to capture Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia legislature. Reunited without these prizes at Elk Hill, the British moved eastward toward Williamsburg, followed by La Fayette, whose troops numbered about 5,ooo after General von Steuben had joined him.

On July 4 Cornwallis left Williamsburg, paused near Jamestown, where a part of his forces fought the inconsequential Battle of Greenspring, crossed the James, and proceeded to Portsmouth and thence to Yorktown, which the entrenched as a naval base.

With the arrival Of 3,000 French regulars from the fleet under Admiral de Grasse, the initiative slipped irretrievably into the hands of the patriots, who strung themselves out across the peninsula. Washington and General Rochambeau arrived on September 15, and seven days later the Continental army reached Jamestown by water from the North. While the French fleet prevented the arrival of British re-enforcements, the combined American and French forces began on September 28 to converge on Yorktown. The siege ended on October 19, with General Cornwallis's surrender.


In the movement toward stronger union that resulted in the adoption of the Constitution, Virginia again played the leading part. Under the Articles of Confederation the Government was without power to regulate trade, raise revenue, or make foreign treaties-all pressing needs. James Madison, justly called the father of the Constitution, introduced into the Virginia general assembly in 1785 the resolution inviting commissioners from Maryland to meet with commissioners from Virginia to discuss common problems of trade and navigation. The conference, which opened in March at Alexandria and was continued at Mount Vernon, resulted in a plan for the two States' joint regulation of commerce and was the first step toward permanent union of the thirteen commonwealths. On January 21, 1786, the general assembly of Virginia adopted resolutions inviting all other States to meet for the purpose of considering the trade of the United States. Five States sent commissioners to the Annapolis Convention of September 11-14, 1786. Though navigation and commerce were still the points at issue, Washington and Madison were seeing the meeting of rep representatives of the several States as another step toward a stronger union. At Annapolis the Virginians were reinforced by Alexander Hamilton of New York. The convention adopted Hamilton's address that pledged the delegates to endeavor 'to procure the concurrence of the other states in the appointment of commissioners, to meet at Philadelphia, on the second Monday in May next to take into consideration the situation of the United States.'

George Washington was elected president of the convention that opened in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787. Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia presented the 'Virginia Plan,' which incorporated James Madison's ideas and furnished the basis of deliberations. Madison spoke more frequently than any other delegate, kept copious notes that have enlightened historians, and wrote 20 Of the 85 Federalist papers, which created a public opinion favorable to the adoption of the Constitution. The seven Virginia delegates-George Washington, George Wythe, George Mason, James Madison, Edmund Randolph, John Blair, and James McClurg fought for the inclusion of a bill of rights, for the immediate cessation of the slave traffic, and for a progressive program of abolition. Because a bill of rights was omitted, because the Deep South and New England traders forced a compromise that continued the slave traffic until 18o8 and failed to provide for the ultimate abolition of slavery, and because a mere majority of Congress was permitted to determine tariff policies, George Mason and Edmund Randolph refused to sign the instrument. James McClurg and George Wythe were absent. George Washington, James Madison, and John Blair signed, believing that the faults could be corrected immediately by amendments.

Virginia was the tenth State to ratify the Constitution. Meeting on June 2, 1788, the rank and file of delegates to the State convention split on sectional lines, Tidewater and the northwest favoring ratification, while Piedmont and the slaveless southwest, refusing to sanction the compromise between commercial North and plantation South over slavery and the tariff, fought for a second convention and revision. Among the leaders, Mason and Henry, encouraged by Richard Henry Lee writing from Chantilly, directed the opposition; Madison, Wythe, Pendleton, Henry Lee, and even Randolph, backed up by Washington's letters from Mount Vernon, conducted a successful defense. The attempt by the Northeastern States, acting through John Jay in 1786, to surrender navigation on the Mississippi to Spain had aroused such suspicion of New England's intentions that it took all of visionary Madison's persuasive talents to win ratification at last on June 26 by a small margin, and then only with the assurance that the first Congress would submit to the States amendments constituting a bill of rights, and with the clear proviso that the people of Virginia could cancel ratification setting up the Union 'whenever the powers granted unto it should be perverted to their injury or oppression.' The convention suggested 40 amendments, which were the bases of the 10 that became the Bill of Rights in the Constitution-the firs nine introduced by James Madison and the tenth by Richard Henry Lee..Meanwhile Virginia had been undergoing important geographical changes. Byrd's line between Virginia and North Carolina was extended west in 1779, although the exact location was disputed for another century; and the north-south boundary between Virginia and Pennsylvania, agreed upon that same year, was run in 1784-85. Within a year of the peace treaty, which recognized Virginia's claims, the Old Dominion surrendered the entire Northwest Territory -- the vast section between the Ohio River and the Canadian border west from Pennsylvania to the Mississippi, and including the Great Lakes area-to the United States. In 1792 Kentucky became a State, thus fixing the limits Virginia preserved until 1861. Meanwhile, an interior change of territorial status had taken place-the disappearance of the great proprietary of the Northern Neck. Taken up first in 1673 by Thomas, Lord Culpeper, who acquired five-sixths of the territory from the original grantees, the proprietary had passed in 1689 by marriage into the family of the fifth Lord Fairfax and was abolished by the general assembly in 1786.

George Washington, who took office as first President under the new Government on April 30, 1789, exerted a calming influence upon a decade of growing pains and political turmoil. Back from Paris in December 1789, Thomas Jefferson was appalled at the antidemocratic spirit he found in the highest places. Three months later Washington chose him Secretary of State. In opposition to Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, he began to marshal the growing ranks of antifederal. extremists who were to overthrow the conservatives in i8oo. In the meantime the conservatives were ascendant. Led by Hamilton, they forced through the Assumption Bill in 1790, which Virginia and the other Southern States, with the exception of South Carolina, opposed on the ground that their debts were almost paid and the Government's assuming the debts of the Northern States inflicted an unfair hardship upon the South. As a sop to the agrarian opposition, they threw in the Southern choice of a site on the Potomac for the National capital, for which Virginia had already ceded territory. The next year Jefferson fought Hamilton's creation of the Bank of the United States. When war broke out between England and France in 1793 and John Jay negotiated a thoroughly Federalist treaty with England, attitudes split squarely; the banking and commercial imperialists, led by Hamilton, sympathized with England; the agrarian progressives, led by Jefferson, remained true to the cause of revolution and to America's old ally. In 1796 President Washington, having served two terms, retired to Mount Vernon, expressing regret that the 'increasing weight of years' admonished him 'to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made,' but over Adams's administration he watched benevolently. In 1798 the Federalists enacted the infamous Alien and Sedition Laws, which made it possible to deport persons of less than 14 years' residence and to throw into jail others who should express un-American sentiments-in other words, ideas openly and severely in opposition to administration policies.


The accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson's administration, antithetical to that of Adams, were the clear articulation of democratic philosophy, the acquisition of a vast territory, and the futile enunciation of the principle that peace was more to be desired than the profits of commerce. This man who had sprung from privileged aristocracy had from his youth espoused the cause of the masses. Upon assuming office, he discarded the monarchical rituals that had characterized the first two administrations and at once abolished from public entertainments an precedents as to rank and distinction. Opposed to the aristocratic doctrines of Alexander Hamilton and distressed because of Washington's conservatism, he had left the cabinet in 1794. As vice president during Adams's administration he had fought the Alien and Sedition Laws and had drafted the Kentucky Resolutions that eloquently protested the silencing, as he said, 'by force and not by reason the complaints and criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of our agents.' The first of the alien laws, raising the number of years for naturalization from 5 to 14, was repealed in April 1802; the third, permitting the President to order 'dangerous' aliens out of the country, died at the end of the two-year period to which it was originally limited; and the sedition law, classifying as a crime criticism of the Government and of Federal officials, expired in March r8oi. The establishment of a citizen's right to expatriation was a further expression of Jeffersonian democracy.

In acquiring the Louisiana Territory, Thomas Jefferson exceeded his constitutional authority to the great advantage of the United States. Robert R. Livingston, whom Jefferson had appointed minister to France, had expressed naive faith in existing treaties and apparently did not share Jefferson's belief that French occupation of Louisiana would be 'very ominous to us. 'An ocean, moreover, separated Jefferson from Livingston, and letters were in danger of interception. So the President sent to France as an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary another Virginian-his trusted friend, James Monroe-without written authorization to purchase the whole territory. Livingston, somewhat piqued, tried to consummate the purchase while Monroe was on the ocean, but failed. So, to the vision of Thomas Jefferson and the immediate diplomacy of James Monroe belongs the credit for striking the bargain by which the United States almost doubled its area for the sum Of $15,000. Though the Constitution gave the Federal Government no authority to buy and hold territory, Jefferson decided to postpone asking Congress to pass an amendment lest Napoleon change his mind. Jefferson sent two Virginians, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, to explore the vast western territory. The expedition started from the mouth of the Missouri in the spring of 31804, and the explorers returned to the vicinity of St. Louis in the fall of i8o6, having reached the mouth of the Columbia River.

Napoleon's Berlin and Milan Decrees and the British orders in Council -three decrees that restricted American trade and led to the impressment of American soldiers and the search and seizure of American ships brought about the Embargo Act of 1807, which Jefferson considered preferable to war. Off the Virginia capes the American Chesapeake had been fired upon by the British Leopard, with consequent fatalities and the impressment of American sailors. When the money changers cried for war, Thomas Jefferson substituted economic sanctions. America's experiment was doomed to failure, however, for the New England traders and owners of vessels were so vociferous in protest that Congress in 18og repealed the Embargo Act and, hoping to stimulate home manufactures, passed in its stead the Non-Intercourse Act.

Jefferson's mantle fell in 1809 upon the shoulders of another Virginian, James Madison. The peace policies of Jefferson collapsed during Madison's administration, chiefly because the popular demand for war made inroads upon the thinking of cabinet members and lawmakers. In June 1812 Congress declared a state of war to exist between the United States and Great Britain. Again the Virginia coast became a British target. In February 1813 Admiral George Cockburn, commanding British vessels, entered the Chesapeake, made headquarters at Lynnhaven Bay, landed a force of 1,800 men, and plundered coastal plantations. In April the British SI. Domingo captured the U.S.S. Dolphin in the Rappahannock River. In June, though Cockburn had been reinforced by Admiral Borlasse Warren, the enemy fleet was repulsed in its effort to take Norfolk and Portsmouth. A few days later, however, Cockburn successfully pillaged the little town "Pioneers and restless settlers moving from the more populated settlements of New England and Pennsylvania drifted down the Valley of Virginia into western North Carolina. Later, they migrated back into the Cumberlands, into pockets of the Blue Ridge and a vast hinterland between Virginia and West Virginia. This was a region of deep hollows, swift streams, verdant forests, and hard living-the haunt of game and legends, overhung with blue mists and smoke from stillhouses and cabins perched precariously on mountain slopes."

A proud people, not vain or impeccably attired as were the lowland planters, the mountain folk retained all the mannerisms of isolated and nonconformist sects, whose beliefs were largely formed by a wilderness environment and strict adherence to Biblical laws. Although the kinship between lowlander and mountain whites was close, mountain folkways remained earthy and rough; their speech and manners hardened; the minuet became a jig; and sentimental arias were replaced by original story-ballads dealing with a regional legend, a feud, or an individual feat. Divided by geographical and cultural barriers, the people developed customs, games, songs, and patterns of speech, art, and work that indicated the culture of a particular time and place.

The industrial revolution, bringing with it a challenge to old methods of manufacture and agriculture, spread its influence into outlying villages and towns, until the structure of rural life showed the effects of an expanding civilization. In the hills, this change marked the end of pioneering. It marked the end, to a large extent, of the independence and isolation that were so much a part of the hill people. 'Furriners' came and went in increasing numbers, leaving behind them their own restlessness, a desire usually confined to the younger generation-to escape a rather monotonous and impoverished life and join kinsmen or friends outside. Machinery planted the food and machinery prepared the food for use. Patches of sorghum and tobacco disappeared; the spinning wheel and flax gave way to store bought goods; snuff came in cans, and a plug or twist of factory made tobacco supplied the stains on the filling-station stove; squirrel-path roads were straddled by Model T's; magazines of the confession type.