Introduction

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Virginia (/vərˈɪniə/ (About this soundlisten)), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U.S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population is over 8.5 million.

The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution. In the American Civil War, Virginia's Secession Convention resolved to join the Confederacy, and Virginia's First Wheeling Convention resolved to remain in the Union; that led to the creation of West Virginia. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.

Selected article

"Surrender of Lord Cornwallis" by John Trumbull
The Siege of Yorktown, or Surrender of Yorktown, the latter taking place on October 19, 1781, was a decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis. The culmination of the Yorktown campaign, it proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in North America.

French and American armies united north of New York City during the summer of 1781, moving south toward Virginia. The Comte de Grasse arrived at the Chesapeake Bay at the end of August, bringing troops and providing a naval blockade of Yorktown, after which the Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. With the British defense weakened, on October 14, 1781 Washington sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses. The British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on the 17th. The surrender ceremony took place on the 19th; Lord Cornwallis, claiming to be ill, was absent from the ceremony. Negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Selected biography

John Floyd crop.jpg
John Floyd (April 24, 1783 – August 17, 1837) was a Virginia politician and soldier. He represented Virginia in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 25th Governor of Virginia. During his career in the House of Representatives, Floyd was an advocate of settling the Oregon Territory, unsuccessfully arguing on its behalf from 1820 until he left Congress in 1829; the area did not become a territory of the United States until 1848.

In 1832, Floyd received votes for the Presidency of the United States, running in the Nullifier Party. He carried South Carolina and its 11 electoral votes. While governor of Virginia, the Nat Turner slave rebellion occurred and Floyd initially supported emancipation of slavery, but eventually went with the majority. His term as governor saw economic prosperity for the state. He is the namesake of Floyd County, Virginia.

This month in Virginia history

19th-century painting depicting the marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe

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Turning Vanes - GPN-2000-001918.jpg
Credit: NASA

Turning vanes inside one of the wind tunnels at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia

Did you know...

BB7 Louisa WJGrimes.JPG

Fact sheet

  • Capital: Richmond, Virginia
  • Total area: 110,862 sq.mi
  • Highest elevation: 5,729 ft (Mount Rogers)
  • Population (2010 census) 8,001,024
  • Date Virginia joined the united States: June 25, 1788

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Topics Rivers | Governors | Colony | Rights | Homes | Colleges & Universities | Counties | People
Regions Appomattox Basin | Eastern Shore | Middle Peninsula | Northern Neck | Northern Virginia | Piedmont | Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians | Shenandoah Valley | Southside | Southwest Virginia | Tidewater
Metros Abingdon | Blacksburg | Bluefield | Bristol | Charlottesville | Culpeper | Danville | Fredericksburg | Front Royal | Harrisonburg | Leesburg | Lynchburg | Martinsville | Marion | Poquoson | Radford | Richmond | Roanoke | Staunton | Suffolk | Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads | Warrenton | Washington, D.C./Northern | Waynesboro | Williamsburg | Winchester | Wytheville
Counties Accomack | Albemarle | Alleghany | Amelia | Amherst | Appomattox | Arlington | Augusta | Bath | Bedford | Bland | Botetourt | Brunswick | Buchanan | Buckingham | Campbell | Caroline | Carroll | Charles City | Charlotte | Chesterfield | Clarke | Craig | Culpeper | Cumberland | Dickenson | Dinwiddie | Essex | Fairfax | Fauquier | Floyd | Fluvanna | Franklin | Frederick | Giles | Gloucester | Goochland | Grayson | Greene | Greensville | Halifax | Hanover | Henrico | Henry | Highland | Isle of Wight | James City | King and Queen | King George | King William | Lancaster | Lee | Loudoun | Louisa | Lunenburg | Madison | Mathews | Mecklenburg | Middlesex | Montgomery | Nelson | New Kent | Northampton | Northumberland | Nottoway | Orange | Page | Patrick | Pittsylvania | Powhatan | Prince Edward | Prince George | Prince William | Pulaski | Rappahannock | Richmond | Roanoke | Rockbridge | Rockingham | Russell | Scott | Shenandoah | Smyth | Southampton | Spotsylvania | Stafford | Surry | Sussex | Tazewell | Warren | Washington | Westmoreland | Wise | Wythe | York
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Alexandria | Bedford | Bristol | Buena Vista | Charlottesville | Chesapeake | Colonial Heights | Covington |Danville | Emporia | Fairfax | Falls Church | Franklin | Fredericksburg | Galax | Hampton | Harrisonburg | Hopewell | Lexington | Lynchburg | Manassas | Manassas Park | Martinsville | Newport News | Norfolk | Norton | Petersburg | Poquoson |Portsmouth | Radford | Richmond | Roanoke | Salem | Staunton | Suffolk | Virginia Beach | Waynesboro | Williamsburg | Winchester
Colleges & Universities Appalachian School of Law | Averett University | Bluefield College | Bridgewater College | Christendom College | Christopher Newport University | College of William & Mary | Emory and Henry College | Ferrum College | George Mason University | George Washington University Virginia Campus | Hampden–Sydney College | Hampton University | Hollins University | James Madison University | Liberty University | Longwood University | Marine Corps University | Mary Baldwin University | Marymount University | Norfolk State University | Old Dominion University | Radford University | Randolph–Macon College | Randolph–Macon Woman's College | Regent University | Roanoke College | Saint Paul's College | Shenandoah University | Southern Virginia University | Sweet Briar College | University of Mary Washington | University of Richmond | University of Virginia | University of Virginia's College at Wise | Virginia Commonwealth University | Virginia Community College System | Virginia Intermont College | Virginia Military Institute | Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Virginia State University | Virginia Union University | Virginia Wesleyan University | Washington and Lee University | Westwood College


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