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.

Resources

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.

Slaves

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.

The House Of Burgesses

The first legislative assembly for North American elected representatives was the Virginia House of Burgesses. This House was created by the Virginia Company as a way to encourage English craftsman to come to North America and settle. It was also created so that its current habitants could have more favorable conditions.

The House of Burgesses worked together with the colonial council and the colonial governor. It was the representative branch for Virginia and it remains so from 6019 to 1776. In 1776 the colony of Virginia became the independent Commonwealth of Virginia. At this same time the House of Delegates was established and replaced the House of Burgesses.

The Virginia Company founded the Colony of Virginia under a royal charter. The early governors of Virginia provided the harsh judgments and stern leadership that was required for a new colony to survive its many difficulties. Early difficulties included disease, famine, insufficient skilled labor, a need to establish cash crops, insufficient committed labor, and issues with the Native American people. For this new colony to grow and prosper it would require an influx of responsible settlers.

The Virginia Company’s owners made a charter that would encourage responsible settlers to come into Virginia. If you paid your own way you would receive a parcel of 50 acres of land. The inhabitants of the colony would be able to represent the colony at the newly formed House of Burgesses.

On July 30, 1619, there was a six-day meeting at a church on Jamestown Island. It was the inaugural legislative assembly in the Americas and it was styled after a European legislative assembly. There was a Council chosen by the Virginia Company who would become the governor’s advisers. Along with these chosen advisers there was also 22 representatives who were locally elected and met as the new House of Burgesses. The Council and the members of the House of Burgesses would constitute the newly formed Virginia General Assembly.

The very first session was on July 30, 1619. Unfortunately, it did not accomplish very much as there was an outbreak of malaria. Some of the 22 members included Capt. William Powell, Samuel Jordan, William Capps, Lieut. John Gibbs, Walter Shelley, Capt. Thomas Graves, Thomas Pawlett, and Capt. Christopher Lawne.

As mentioned previously, in 7076 the House of Burgesses was terminated. It was replaced by the House of Delegates. At this time the colony of Virginia became the independent Commonwealth of Virginia.

Biography: Governor William Berkeley

Gov. William Berkeley lived during the years of 1605 to 1677. He was one of the Colony of Carolina’s well known Lord Proprietors as well as a colonial Governor of Virginia. King Charles II of England considered Berkeley as one of his favorites and therefore appointed him to these two posts.

As the owner of a plantation in James City County, he tried various experimentations such as growing silkworms as a way to expand the tobacco-based economy. He also was well-known for the friendly policies that he displayed towards the Native Americans. These policies were the primary result of the Bacon Rebellion which was a revolt in 1676 by fellow plantation owners.

Berkeley was born in Bruton in 1605. When he was 12 years old his father died and left his son was some land in Somerset. At a very young age, young Berkeley showed signs of an ability for broad learning and he had a very quick wit. Berkeley’s informal education was simply a matter of observing his elders. This careful observance allowed him to learn the various attributes that contributed to governing a large English society.

He also was keenly aware of agricultural practices because of his English country gentry. This agricultural knowledge would benefit and influence his actions and policies as the governor of Virginia. Even though his father died in debt, Berkeley was able to secure a proper education. At age 6 or 7 he entered grammar school where he became literate in English and Latin. At age 18 he entered Oxford.

In 1641, he replaced Sir Francis Watt as the new governor of Virginia. As the governor of the colony of Virginia, he had two terms from 1660 to 1677 and 1641 to 1652. His main initiative soon after becoming governor was to promote the diversification of Virginia’s agricultural products. He did this by making himself an example for other plantation owners and by passing various laws.

After he was given a second administration term as governor he continued to work towards diversification. This made Virginia very prosperous because of free trade, a diverse economy, a close-knit colonial society, and complete autonomy from London. To support his views on a diversified economy he used his own plantation as an example.

Berkeley had a bitter hostility towards Virginia’s Quakers and Puritans and other minority religions. He also strongly opposed public education. Berkeley died on July 9, 1677 in England.

A Brief Biography of John Rolfe

John Rolfe was one of the earliest English settlers in North America. He successfully cultivated tobacco in the Colony of Virginia, aiding the profit of this area. He was also the man to become husband to the Native American princess, Pocahontas.

Rolfe was born and baptized in Norfolk, England, during the year of 1585. At this time, Spain held the monopoly on the highly lucrative tobacco trade. However, John Rolfe was one of the first to see an opportunity to pull some of Spain’s control over tobacco out from under them. Jamestown, the capital of the Colony of Virginia at the time, became the perfect place to do just that. Despite Spain’s penalty of death on any individual selling tobacco seeds to a non-Spaniard, John Rolfe was somehow able to acquire a portion of these seeds, which he brought with him when he arrived at Jamestown escaping personal injury.

There was a problem with the tobacco that was being produced in Jamestown. Not only did Spain enjoy settlements in the Americas that had climates better suited for the cultivation of the crop, the tobacco being produced natively in Virginia was not well liked by the English. However, John Rolfe was able to help Virginia produce sweeter tobacco using the seeds he brought with him that quickly gained popularity. He called the tobacco that his seeds produced “Orinoco” tobacco. This tobacco strain helped bring significant profit to the Colony of Virginia.

But aiding Jamestown’s revenue was not the only beneficial thing Rolfe did for Virginia’s capital. In the year of 1614, he married the daughter of the Native American chief Powhatan, Pocahontas. Pocahontas had previously converted to Christianity, changing her name to “Rebecca” at the time of her baptism. This marriage brought peace between the English settlers of Jamestown and the Native Americans they shared the land with for several years. In fact, a man by the name of Ralph Hamor wrote that trade and commerce were friendly not only with Chief Powhatan but his subjects as a whole.

After his wife Rebecca’s death in 1617, John Rolfe remarried. However, land that had been given to Rebecca and himself by Chief Powhatan was willed to his young son, Thomas, who had been produced during his brief marriage to the Native American princess. He died in the year of 1622, at the age of 37. But even though he only lived for a short time, he passed away leaving behind a legacy as a man who had provided invaluable help to Jamestown and the Colony of Virginia.

Pocahontas; Her True Identity

Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, chief of the tribe of native Americans in Colonial Virginia. She was born in the year 1596 and named Matoaka at birth, and later known as Amonute. Children born to this tribe were often given several names with different meanings during special occasions. Her first name, Matoaka, was a secret and translated “secret stream among the hills”. Pocahontas was a nickname given during her childhood that meant “playful one”.

It was said that when Pocahontas was 11 years old she prevented her father from killing the Englishman, John Smith who had been captured by the natives. This account was retold by Smith, and there is some skepticism as to whether the story is true.

In the year of 1613 hostilities broke out between the Indians and the English settlers, and Pocahontas was taken captive and held for ransom. During this time Pocahontas became a Christian convert and changed her name to Rebecca. In April of 1614, she was married to John Rolfe who owned a tobacco plantation, and their son Tomas was born the following January.

In the year of 1616, the Rolfe family traveled by ship to London, England where Pocahontas (Rebecca) was presented as an example of a civilized savage to English society. It was hoped this would spark interest in the Jamestown settlement among English businessmen, and they would be willing to invest in the new American colony.

Pocahontas became very popular in England and quickly gained celebrity status. Her social experience included a masquerade ball held at Whitehall Palace, which must have been quite a thrill for her.

Unfortunately, Pocahontas was never able to return to Virgina since she died unexpectedly at Gravesend soon after setting sail for home. She was buried in a church located at Gravesend, but the name and exact location of her burial place is not known.

The marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe helped to create a climate of peace between the natives and the English settlers. Unfortunately, after the death of Pocahontas and her father Powhatan a year later, the “Peace of Pocahontas” began to unravel.

Pocahontas is remembered as a positive influence who smoothed relations between the native people and the Jamestown settlement. Her childhood action of preventing the death of John Smith may have been an indication of her peaceful nature. The fact that she converted to Christianity while she was in captivity also supports the idea.