From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Virginia Portal

Location of Virginia

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Its geography and climate are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay. The state's capital is Richmond. Its most-populous city is Virginia Beach, and Fairfax County is the state's most-populous political subdivision. Virginia's population was over 8.68 million, with 35% living within in the Greater Washington metropolitan area.

Virginia's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607, the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent English colony in the New World. Virginia's state nickname, the Old Dominion, is a reference to this status. Slave labor and land acquired from displaced native tribes fueled the growing plantation economy, but also fueled conflicts both inside and outside the colony. Virginia was one of the original Thirteen Colonies in the American Revolution, and several Revolutionary War battles were fought in in Virginia. During the American Civil War, Virginia was split when the state government in Richmond joined the Confederacy, but many of the state's northwestern counties remained loyal to the Union, separating as the state of West Virginia in 1863. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following the Reconstruction era, both major political parties are competitive in modern Virginia. (Full article...)

Selected article

Harry F. Byrd, Sr., architect of the policy of "massive resistance"
The Stanley plan was a package of 13 statutes adopted in September 1956 by the U.S. state of Virginia designed to ensure racial segregation in that state's public schools despite the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). The legislative program was named for Governor Thomas B. Stanley, who proposed the program and successfully pushed for its enactment. The Stanley plan was a critical element in the policy of "massive resistance" to the Brown ruling advocated by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. (pictured). The plan also included measures designed to curb the Virginia state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which many Virginia segregationists believed was responsible for "stirring up" litigation to integrate the public schools.

The plan was enacted by the Virginia Assembly on September 22, 1956, and signed into law by Governor Stanley on September 29. A federal court struck down a portion of the Stanley plan as unconstitutional in January 1957. By 1960, nearly all of the major elements of the plan (including the litigation curbs aimed at the NAACP) had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal and state courts. The constitutional invalidity of the Stanley plan led new governor of Virginia, James Lindsay Almond, Jr., to propose "passive resistance" to school integration in 1959. The Supreme Court declared portions of "passive resistance" unconstitutional in 1964 and again in 1968.

Selected biography

Grace Sherwood (c. 1660 – c. 1740), known as the "Witch of Pungo", is the last person known to have been convicted of witchcraft in Virginia. A farmer, healer, and midwife, her neighbors accused her of transforming herself into a cat, damaging crops and causing the death of livestock. Sherwood lived in Pungo, Princess Anne County(today part of Virginia Beach).

She was charged with witchcraft several times. Sherwood's first case was in 1697; she was accused of casting a spell on a bull, resulting in its death, but the matter was dismissed by the agreement of both parties. The following year she was accused of witchcraft by two neighbors; she supposedly bewitched the hogs and cotton crop of one of them. Sherwood sued for slander after each accusation but her lawsuits were unsuccessful and her husband had to pay court costs. At her eventual trial in 1706, Sherwood was accused of bewitching Elizabeth Hill, causing Hill to miscarry. The court ordered that Sherwood's guilt or innocence be determined by ducking her in water. If she sank, she was innocent; if she did not, she was guilty. Sherwood floated to the surface, and was convicted.

Freed from prison by 1714, she recovered her property from Princess Anne County, after which she lived on her farm until her death in 1740 at the age of about 80. On July 10, 2006, the 300th anniversary of Sherwood's conviction, Governor Tim Kaine restored her good name, recognizing that her case was a miscarriage of justice.

This month in Virginia history

Lithograph depicting the Battle of Hampton Roads

Random Virginia article

Things you can do

Selected image

Humorous sign at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
Credit: NASA

A humorous sign seen during the launch of an Antares rocket at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island

Did you know - load new batch

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

State symbols:

Virginia Quarter


Related portals

Virginia topics


Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:

Discover Wikipedia using portals

Purge server cache