George Rogers Clark: Riches To Rags

Every war has its share of forgotten heroes. Every single person who served as a representative of the United States in any conflict is a hero, and some of those who are forgotten are those who were survivors and did heroic deeds of leadership and sacrifice, and yet time and generations fade those memories.

George Rogers Clark is one of those unfortunately forgotten warriors. He is most known these days as the father of explorer William Clark (of Lewis & Clark fame), but there is more to him that has been revealed in recent years. He is actually one of the more important role players in the Revolutionary War, but was lost in a “wilderness” of the new country and thus perhaps didn’t get the due he deserved.

Clark was born in 1752 in what was known as Virginia, though he grew up and became a member of the militia in the area currently called Kentucky (not Nashville), and he wound up leading a small militia detachment in securing what was called “northwest territory” of the fledgling nation.

Clark became the highest ranking military officer in the “northwest territory,” which was basically the area known today as Illinois, Ohio and Indiana. He served with great valour, leading his ragtag band into his greatest accomplishment of capturing Fort Sackville from the British near Vincennes, Indiana, in the dead of winter 1779.

His work in the area contributed to that land being awarded to the United States upon the British surrender in the Treaty of Paris which was signed in 1783. Not only were the colonies free, but Clark’s military work and leadership gave the United States even more territory that would contribute to the further expansion and essentially took the British out of the United States as it’s known, leaving only French and Spanish territory.

Shortly after that, Clark was removed from his leadership position in the northwest militia because of accusations of being drunk on duty. He fought by demanding a formal investigation into the charges, but no inquiry ever came and he was forced to resign in disgrace. He returned to private life in Kentucky after the Revolutionary War ended, and he was part of a commission that allotted land parcels to those in his militia and fought for him in the 1778 and 1779 campaigns, settling the area across the Ohio River from Louisville.

This was something that Clark took seriously, as he and his man fought for the colonies with no pay, and ultimately they never got paid for their military work and sacrifice on behalf of the Revolutionaries.

After that, Clark was helpful in reaching treaties with regional tribes as part of a commission that negotiated peaceful living along the Wabash River. However, he eventually returned to military life when the treaties weren’t being honored, and he led a detachment in Kentucky on a retaliation march through several Indian villages to protect the settlers in the region.

However, several of the militia members questioned his authority and ended up pulling off a mutiny. He then had to abort the mission and he went back to Vincennes to protect the area with a garrison before heading back to Kentucky.

At this point, Clark fell into rags as a campaign was undertaken to destroy his reputation as a leader and as a military man, which did succeed to a certain extent. He wrote a memoir about his Fort Sackville campaign to buttress his image, but ultimately he fell into disgrace and wound up trying to regain his fortune by working with Spaniards to help settle areas in Louisiana and elsewhere. He then had several attempts to settle Americans in Spanish territory, but he was rebuffed each time by President George Washington, starting in 1793.

He was finally given his due for his service to Virginia with a sword and half-pay annually, but it was in 1812, 25 years after his service and three years after a debilitating stroke and amputation of a leg that left him as an invalid. He died of a stroke in February 1818 at the age of 65. But his legacy was the establishment of American territory outside the 13 original colonies, which helped lay the groundwork for Manifest Destiny.

Who Was Captain John Smith?

Many people who have had a passing interest of U.S. history know about Jamestown, Va., as the first European settlement on the American mainland starting in 1607. Due to religious persecution in the British homeland, these settlers decided to take their chances in a new world and try to live the life they wanted for themselves and their brethren.

For those who generally have thought that any town, village or city should have its own mayor, one could say that Captain John Smith was the “mayor” of this pioneering settlement, the first permanent English settlement in North America.

Smith had several roles – explorer, soldier and author. His life is colorful, but he is most known for his work in the Jamestown settlement. But how did he get there in the first place?

Smith did not want to be a farmer like his father, so when his father died, 16-year-old John saw that as an opportunity to leave for France to become a sailor, but he instead found himself on the battlefield, fighting for the French in its battles with the Spanish.

After returning to England, he was drawn to help the Christians in the Holy Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire starting in 1600. After detouring to serve on a pirate ship, Smith finally got to the fight and  earned several awards for bravery while fighting in Slovenia, Transylvania (now Romania) and Hungary, and he was most proud of his promotion to “captain,” which he kept the rest of his life.

After being captured by the Turks and forced into slavery, Smith escaped when he subdued his master, finding his way back to England in 1604 (at age 24). There, he befriended a Captain Gosnold, who was looking to develop an English colony in Virginia. Impressed by Smith’s military service, Gosnold invited Smith on one of the three ships that contained more than 100 settlers which set sail for America in December 1606.

Smith was named to the initial seven-member council that ran Jamestown in the early months, but with in-fighting and the death of Captain Gosnold, the village suffered – not to mention shortage of food, a brutal winter and disease which killed off two-thirds of the original settlement group.

After about a year, and an encounter with Pocahontas and her father Chief Powhatan, Smith was soon named president of the settlement and head of the council. This is when communal living ended, as Smith instilled a rule that “he who does not work, shall not eat” in order to improve food production, and build work ethic in the village which drove up production of products to be sold back to England, development of new crops and construction and rebuilding of the fort that they had lived in prior to a fire.

Smith managed the village until 1609 when he was injured in a gunpowder incident and was sent back to England. He wanted to return to America, either at Jamestown or another settlement, but heturned away until he took a voyage of his own in 1615 to map out the northern part of Virginia which he called New England.  He was passed over by Miles Standish for the role of military advisor for the Plymouth settlement, but those Pilgrims did utilize Smith’s maps of the area to establish its foundation for success in what would soon be called Massachusetts.

He wrote books about his various adventures, and died in London in 1631.

Popular Religions In Colonial Virginia

Religion was an important part of living in a colony and shaped how settlers led their lives on a day-to-day basis. It was something that was passed on from their time in Great Britain.


Christianity was the primary religion in Colonial Virginia, and the emphasis was towards the Anglican Sect. This was the churn settlers had to follow as it was back home in Great Britain.

It was in 1624 when the word came down to legalize the importance of going to church and making sure it was maintained. The settlers had to make sure they were paying tax, and it was directed towards the upkeep of the church. This included those who were not from the sect.

Over time, a lot of attention was moved towards separating church and state.

The settlers wanted to maintain power over the church to make sure it was not centralized and controlling funds. They were able to do this with legal changes over time. In Corpus Christi Deo, Amen.

Protestant Sect

Colonial Virginia was not reserved to one sect, and it was home to many Protestants at the time.

It took over a hundred years for the sect to gain independence and make sure it was treated fairly. There was a political battle at the time to make sure it was turned into reality.

Native Americans and Africans

While the settlers were shaping religion in the land and Christianity remained the most popular, there were other religions on hand too. The Native Americans believed in their religious views and felt strongly about upholding them even as the settlers came to their land.

The same applied to the slaves that were being brought in from various African nations.

They were not looking to convert to Christianity and wanted to follow the religious practices they had followed back home in Africa.

It was around the 18th century when a lot of these individuals were converted to Christians. A lot of effort was made to ensure religious freedom was offered during this time, but most stated it was superficial and not applied. The settlers were still dismissive of those religions.

As the religions settled into place and the area developed, it became apparent the division between church and state was present. Most families were keeping their religious views private in the colony. Slaves felt it was appropriate to draw towards Christianity and they did in droves.

This led to how the colony shaped for the rest of the century.

Virginia: The State Of Many Nicknames

Depending on the topic you’re talking about or what time in history, there are many different nicknames that you might hear the state of Virginia go by. Presidential historians, of course, recognize Virginia as the State of Presidents since 9 different U.S. Presidents have all hailed from this state. Football fans might call it a Cavalier state or a Hokie state, but the truth is that the older nicknames from the state’s days as an actual English colony are far more historically interesting and impressive.

Several Different Names
The colony of Virginia went by several different nicknames or “official” names in the beginning. While most were simply a variation of the basic state name, there are some others that went a different direction based on the influences of history at that time.

In fact, there were four main names that the colony went by in the 1500’s and 1600’s prior to the century that led up to the American Revolution. “The Virginia Colony” was one of the names, giving a full reminder of the type of territory Virginia was with an emphasis on a lack of independence. Likewise “The Province of Virginia” basically serves the same territorial naming.

However, there were a couple other names that definitely stretch it out a little bit more such as:
– His Majesty’s Most Ancient Colloney (and yes that is the correct spelling that was used at the time)
– The Dominion & Colony of Virginia

These were certainly more formal names that push a lot more intent of formality across, but one that stuck out as a nickname above the rest came in the form of “Old Dominion.”

Old Dominion
The nickname for the colony of Virginia of “Old Dominion” actually was partially from a formal title that was given as a form of appreciation. During the English Civil War the colony of Virginia was stalwart in its position as being loyal, and because of their loyalty to the challenged monarchy, Charles II granted the colony of Virginia a title. That title, as you probably guessed, was “Old Dominion.”

Even today Virginia’s official nickname is the “Old Dominion State,” there is a major university named Old Dominion, and the University of Virginia’s mascot is a Cavalier – or a “Charles Supporter.” In other words, the very identity that resulted in the then colony and now state getting the title that would become their official nickname.

While Virginia is known by many nicknames, it’s hard to argue with Old Dominion as being the primary one of note.

Virginia Is A Commonwealths State

There are 4 of the states in the U.S. that consider themselves Commonwealths. The 4 states include Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (not Kansas City, Missouri). The designation Commonwealth has no constitutional impact but rather it emphasizes that these 4 states have a government that is based on a common consent of its residents.

This is in opposition to the Commonwealth that was legitimized by their previous Royal Colony status. This previous status came from the King of England. The word Commonwealth is an English term that signifies the common “welfare” or “wealth” of the public. Today, we find that most people do not perceive a distinction between Commonwealth or state.

A state, on the other hand, is a political association that has a specific dominion over a certain geographic area. This dominion will include a variety of institutions that have the authority to make rules and laws to govern the people of that geographic area. The status of a state may often depend on its being acknowledged by a group of other states.

The Commonwealth of Virginia goes back all the way to its independence from England. On June 29, 1776, Virginia established its first constitution and the new name the Commonwealth of Virginia. The origin of this Constitution and Commonwealth were mainly attributed to the British Parliaments continual effort to apply burdensome taxes following the Indian in French war.

Virginia’s House of Burgesses opposed this taxation without representation. Two of the colonists who spearheaded this opposition was Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry. They along with other Virginians started to coordinate opposition actions in 1773. They were joined by other colonies in this opposition against taxes. The following year they sent a team of delegates to the Continental Congress but the results were nonproductive.

The Royal Governor dissolved the House Burgesses in 1774 but the revolutionary leaders continued using a form of government by means of the Virginia Conventions. A convention on May 15, 1776, made a declaration of Virginia’s independence from England. They then adopted Virginia’s declaration of rights from George Mason and this also included a new constitution.

After the House of Burgesses was dissolved a new House of Delegates was formed. The newly formed House of Delegates worked together with the Governors Council to make the Virginian General Assembly. This combination of government was founded in 1619 and is considered to be the oldest legislature in all of the Western Hemisphere.

Virginia: Home of More Presidents Than Any Other State

Virginia has been the home state to more U.S. Presidents than any other with a total of 9 holders of the highest executive office all coming from this Southern state. This shouldn’t necessarily be surprising as Virginia was one of the largest and most important of the original 13 colonies. However, not all the Presidents are equal in fame and renown. Let’s take a look at the most famous of the Virginia Presidents.

George Washington
It’s hard to get more famous than the first President of the United States. General George Washington not only led the colonies to victory, but he served two terms as the first President and willingly stepped down after two terms to start the important tradition of the peaceful transition of power. He is considered the father of the nation and one of the truly great Founding Fathers.

Thomas Jefferson
Many of the early Presidents hailed from Virginia and Thomas Jefferson is one of the most famous. Known as one of the major Founding Fathers he presided over the Louisiana Purchase to expand west and entailed many early laws and traditions that would become a crucial part of the nation’s history and governing tradition.

James Madison
The 4th President of the United States, Madison believed in many of the policies that Jefferson enacted and continued to push the U.S. forward. Not only did he push these policies and oversee the founding of a second national bank, but he kept the helm as the nation went to war with Britain again in what would become known as the War of 1812.

James Monroe
The last of the Founding Father Presidents, Monroe helped encourage early infrastructure growth through the collection of limited tolls (national taxation was not a viable tool back then). He oversaw the passage of the Missouri Compromise as well as weathered the young nation through its first economic depression, due in large part to wars in Europe.

Woodrow Wilson
The last of the Virginia Presidents, Wilson took the helm of the nation in the beginning of the 20th century and led the United States as they would eventually become involved in World War I. While he was a champion of the League of Nations, he wouldn’t be able to rally up the necessary support to make it pass.

3 Other Virginia Born Presidents

  • William Henry Harrison (Shortest Presidential term as he died after 30 days)
  • John Tyler
  • Zachary Taylor

Trade And Exports In Colonial Virginia

Colonial Virginia was an important part of Great Britain’s economic setup.

It was used as a way to invest money into new land and acquire resources that would be employed in the colony and back home in Great Britain. It was a win-win for the parties involved and a significant investment for the monarch at the time.

Colonial Virginia didn’t limit itself when it came to trade and exports as they spread their wings making sure all opportunities were managed and assessed including intellectual property.

Southern Colony

Colonial Virginia was located in the South making it unique compared to some of the other locations.

It had access to different resources that were worth investing into and brought back great returns. The colonies in the South included Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.


As mentioned, the resources in this Southern colony were unique to it making the exports a dominant economic driver.

These resources included:

1) Cotton
2) Lumber
3) Tobacco
4) Indigo (Dye)
5) Farm Products
6) Fur
7) Rice

It was these resources that were used as the heart of the exports and remained in great demand. They were able to bring in a lot of funds with the help of these resources.


It is important to remember, the driving force to accumulate and manage these resources were done on the slave plantations.

At the time, the colonies were working with slaves to drive up production and make more with increasing demand. It was a business decision at the time, and they were able to milk it.

Features of The South

What made exports from this region exquisite and unique?

It had to do with the lay of the land as that was what made it easier to grow resources such as rice, cotton, and lumber. They had access to fertile soil that was easier to manage and promoted growth. The weather was excellent, and that didn’t harm their exports either.

In general, Virginia was described as having good weather, fertile soil, swamps, long rivers, and hilly plains.

Route for Exports

Where were the exports going?

There was a “triangle” when it came to the trades, and all parties were receiving something out of the exchange.

The route included Africa, North America, and Europe.

Africa received textiles and goods, North America received slaves, and Europe received selected resources (sugar, tobacco). It was easy for all parties to benefit except for the slaves.

The Virginia Company And The Royal Colony Of Virginia

While the United States may be only a bit more than 200 years old, there’s still a lot of history shoved into that small time span. This is especially true of the north eastern coast. That’s the area where the United States was born, so you’d better believe it has some solid history!

The state of Virginia started its life as the colony of Virginia. But not every colony was under the crown when it first started, and Virginia is one of those colonies.

The Birth of the Colony of Virginia

The Virginia Colony was founded by the Virginia Company, but it wasn’t the only colony founded. The Virginia Company also established Jamestown and Popham Colony. These colonies were started for profit, with the settlers growing what they could in order to trade.

Unfortunately, Popham Colony failed. There was famine and disease, not to mention the Powhatan tribe who rightfully owned the land. Jamestown very nearly failed, though was saved by the last minute arrival of more settlers and supplies. While the Virginia Colony was still sustaining itself thanks to the profitability of tobacco, King James 1 stripped the Virginia Company of their charter. He cited the egregious failure of the other two colonies as the reason, and it’s hard to argue.

Under Control of the Crown

In the year 1624 the Virginia Colony became what was known as a crown colony. Also referred to as a royal colony, this was a colony that was under administration by the crown rather than whatever local system of government the original founders had instituted.

In the case of Virginia, the crown allowed the then governorship to continue their duties. The House of Burgesses took up governorship of Virginia in 1619 and maintained those duties all the way to the American Revolution. Jamestown remained the capital all the way up until 1699. At that point, the capital was switched to Williamsburg. In modern times, the state of Virginia boasts the city of Richmond as its capital.

As you can see, Virginia has a huge amount of history. It’s been under multiple forms of government and leadership, and has managed to survive. Even through the early times when disease was rampant and it was difficult to get crops to grow, Virginia managed to survive and thrive. So come see beautiful Virginia for yourself, and take some time to experience history as it exists around you.

What Was the Great Awakening?

The Great Awakening was time of widespread spiritual renewal that swept through the American Colonies during the early 1700s. This period of time was characterized by a large abandonment of the established churches by a good portion of the Christian community who grew weary of the sense of complacency in the church. These would adopt another form of worship characterized by emotional or “fervent” prayer.

It began with great evangelists and orators in Europe like the Wesley brothers or George Whitefield but it soon spread through to the colonies of New England. The new wave of spiritual renewal ushered in a wave of spiritualism that was strikingly different from the somber piety of the Puritan Church that was the accepted norm before the 1700s.

What caused the Great Awakening?

Throughout the 17th century Europe had seen some of the most devastating religious conflict since the Spanish Inquisition, a criminal defense. It came all culminated in the Glorious Revolution in 1688, where the Church of England was established as the ruling church in England. After this point any other form of worship was suppressed.

Rather than attain a sense of spiritual union, the result of this was a sense of complacency in which the church was nothing more than a social duty where all meaning was lost in a series of dry traditions and practices. It was only after this had continued for almost 60 years did the people feel the need for a widespread spiritual awakening.

What were the most significant effects of the Great Awakening?

The biggest effect that the Great Awakening had in the American Colonies was pulling them together in preparation for the upcoming war of independence. The important precedent set by the Great Awakening was that if your churches or authorities re not living up to their responsibilities they should be challenged and abandoned.

Through the Awakening the American Colonies came to understand the power to change things rested in their hands alone. This was soon applied to the business of governing. It was here the idea that the freedom and rights to rule were better kept close at hand rather than coming from a monarch or bishop across the sea.

Within a few short generations, the colonists had agreed that they did not share the same religious or political ideals with their government back in England. In many ways, the Great Awakening made it possible for the American Revolution.

Who Was Robert “King” Carter And Why Was He Famous In Virginia?

Robert “King” Carter was probably most well-known for being the richest man in Virginia. His accumulation of wealth began with the death of his older brother who had inherited their father’s estate which was passed on to Robert. He later inherited his younger half-brother’s estate as well and managed the estates of nieces.

He continued to accumulate land and wealth and upon his death it is estimated that he owned around 295,000 acres. His wealth and land ownership afforded him standing in the community to allow him to start a public career. His first public appointment was as Justice of the Peace in 1691.

After a number of other public appointments, his next significant step was as Treasurer to the House of Burgesses. After ensuring that there were no other candidates available, he later became the Speaker of the House of estate planning and elder law. It is speculated that without his wealth, he would not have risen so high in public office.

Upon the recommendation of Governor Nicholson (even though he was opposed to many of Nicholson’s policies), Carter was appointed to the Governor’s Council in 1699 where he served until his death. His opposition and influence later led to the dismissal of Nicholson, although indirectly. He also later opposed Lieutenant Governor Spotswood, and after the death of Lieutenant Governor Drysdale, became the senior member of the Governor’s Council.

As such, he was elected president of the Council, in effect making him the acting Governor for the period of one year between 1726 and 1727. After this, he continued to serve on the Council even though his health had begun to fail. In fact, his service did not stop until 5 weeks before his death.

His use of wealth and influence also did not stop with his own personal rise in public office. At great expense, he purchased the office of Secretary of the Colonies for his only son from his first marriage to Judith Armistead, John Carter. Charles and Landon Carter, 2 of his 5 sons from his second marriage also continued into public office as representatives in respective counties.

The name of Carter became synonymous with wealth and influence and the family became well-known in the different counties across Virginia. In fact, it was his accumulation of wealth, political power and imperious character that afforded him the nickname “King”, which still follows him today.