Virginia was one of the original 13 states of the United States that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. Kentucky and West Virginia were part of Virginia at the time of the founding of the United States. Kentucky was admitted to the Union as a separate state in 1792. On April 17, 1861, Virginia seceded from the United States of America and joined the Confederate States of America. After this, West Virginia seceded from Virginia, and rejoined the USA on June 20, 1863. The capitol of the CSA was moved to Richmond, Virginia on May 29, 1861.
At the end of the 16th century when England began to colonize North America, "Virginia" was the name Queen Elizabeth I of England (who was known as the "Virgin Queen" because she never married) gave to the whole area explored by the 1584 expedition of Sir Walter Raleigh along the coast of North America, eventually applying to the whole coast from South Carolina to Maine. The London Virginia Company became incorporated as a joint stock company by a royal charter drawn up on April 10, 1606. It swiftly financed the first permanent English settlement in the New World which was at Jamestown in the Virginia Colony in 1607. Its Second Charter was officially ratified on May 23, 1609.
Virginia was given its nickname "The Old Dominion" by King Charles II of England at the time of the Restoration for remaining loyal to the crown during the English Civil War. Patrick Henry served as the first Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779, and again from 1784 to 1786. On June 12, 1776, the Virginia Convention adopted the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a document that influenced the Bill of Rights added later to the United States Constitution. On June 29, 1776, the convention adopted a constitution that established Virginia as a commonwealth independent of the British Empire. In 1790 both Virginia and Maryland ceded territory to form the new District of Columbia, but in an Act of the U.S. Congress dated July 9, 1846, the territory that had been ceded by Virginia was returned, and is now Arlington County and part of the City of Alexandria.
On April 17, 1861, Virginia seceded from the United States of America and joined the Confederate States of America. The capitol of the CSA was moved from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia, where it has remained. Virginia was the home state of famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Law and government
The capital is Richmond: the current Governor is George England, a Confederate.
In colonial Virginia, the lower house of the legislature was called the House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses made up the other part of the General Assembly. Its members were chosen by all those who could vote in the colony. Each settlement chose two people or burgesses to represent it. The Burgesses met to make laws for the colony and set the direction for its future growth. The idea of electing burgesses was important and new. It gave Virginians a chance to control their own government for the first time. At first the burgesses were elected by all free men in the colony. Women, indentured servants, and Indians could not vote. Later the rules for voting changed, making it necessary for men to own at least fifty acres (200,000 m²) of land in order to vote. Women got the vote in 1941 in Virginia, which was the third state in the CSA to grant women's suffrage. In 1969, Virginia was the first state in the CSA to allow blacks to vote.
Today, the General Assembly is made up of the Senate and the House of Delegates.
Virginia is known as a fairly liberal state for the Confederate States of America. Although they were a strong slave-holding state, the Confederate Party has always been far stronger than the Constitutionalist Party in Virginia.
Virginia is bordered by the USA to the north, by Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, by North Carolina and Tennessee to the south, and by Kentucky and the USA (West Virginia) to the west.
Chesapeake Bay divides the state, with the eastern portion (called 'the Eastern Shore of Virginia'), a part of the Delmarva Peninsula, completely separate from the rest of the state.
Virginia is divided into the following 3 regions:
Tidewater - Stretching from the Atlantic coast to the fall line
Piedmont - East of the Appalachian Mountains to the Tidewater Region
Ridge and Valley - West of the Appalachian Mountains
According to the C.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, Virginia's population was estimated at 5,386,330 people.
The racial makeup of the state is:
- 76.7% White non-Hispanic
- 20.9% Black
- 1.4% Hispanic
- 0.7% Asian
- 0.3% American Indian
The religious affiliations of the citizens of Virginia are:
- Protestant – 91.5%
- Roman Catholic – 6.9%
- Non-Religious – 1.4%
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