Introduction

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Virginia (ə/ (About this sound listen)), 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 as of 2017 is over 8.4 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

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

painting of men along a line of artillery

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Selected picture

An Antares rocket carrying Orb-D1 launches from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, Virginia
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

An Antares rocket carrying Orb-D1 launches from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, Virginia on September 18, 2013

Did you know...

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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:

Dogwood
Cardinal
Virginia Quarter

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TopicsRivers | Governors | Colony | Rights | Homes | Colleges & Universities | Counties | People
RegionsAppomattox Basin | Eastern Shore | Middle Peninsula | Northern Neck | Northern Virginia | Piedmont | Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians | Shenandoah Valley | Southside | Southwest Virginia | Tidewater
MetrosAbingdon | 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
CountiesAccomack | 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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Cities
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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