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General Virginia State History

The history of America is closely tied to that of Virginia. Native American people living in what now is Virginia at the time of the English colonization were the Cherokee, Chesapeake, Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Meherrin, Moobs, Nansemond, Nottaway, Pamunkey, Povic, Powhatan, Occoneechees, Rappahannock, Saponites and others.

At the end of the 16th century, when England began to colonize North America, Queen Elizabeth I of England gave the name "Virginia" to the whole area explored by the 1584 expedition of Sir Walter Raleigh along the coast of North America. The name eventually applied to the whole coast from South Carolina to Maine. The London Virginia Company became incorporated as a joint stock company by a proprietary charter drawn up on April 10, 1606. The charter granted lands stretching from approximately the 34th parallel north to approximately the 45th parallel and from the Atlantic Ocean westward.

In the Colonial period. Jamestown, founded in 1607, was the first permanent English settlement in North America and slavery was introduced there in 1619. The surrenders ending both the American Revolution (Yorktown) and the Civil War (Appomattox) occurred in Virginia. The state is called the "Mother of Presidents" because eight chief executives of the United States were born there.

Virginia sent delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, beginning in 1774. On June 12, 1776, the Virginia Convention adopted the Virginia Declaration of Rights written by George Mason, a document that influenced the Bill of Rights added later to the United States Constitution. Then on June 29, 1776, the convention adopted a constitution that established Virginia as a commonwealth independent of the British Empire.

Patrick Henry served as the first Governor of the new commonwealth from 1776-1779, and again from 1784-1786. The capital of Virginia was moved to Richmond in 1780 at the urging of the governor, Thomas Jefferson, who was afraid that Williamsburg's location made it vulnerable to a British attack during the American Revolutionary War.

On April 17, 1861 Virginia became one of the states that seceded from the Union and operated independently until it joined the Confederacy during the Civil War when it turned over its military on June 8, 1861 and ratified the Constitution of the Confederate States on June 19, 1861.

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