Virginia State Overview

By | October 5, 2022

In the east of the United States of America lies the federal state of Virginia along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It borders the states of West Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. Virginia entered the Union on June 25, 1788, becoming the 10th member state of the USA. The state was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

The surface of the state is very fragmented, in the coastal area we find extensive lowlands that turn into gentle hills rising to the Appalachian Mountains, more precisely the Blue Ridge Mountains with the highest peak, Mount Rogers, measuring 1746 meters above sea level. The coast of the Atlantic Ocean is very indented and deep gulfs form here. In Virginia, the climate is mild along the coast, the climate is harsher in the mountainous regions. The James River, Rappahannock River, Potomac River, and Shenandoah River flow through the state. Numerous lakes were also created here, such as the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Gathright Dam (Lake Moomaw), John H. Kerr Reservoir, John W. Flannagan Reservoir, Pound Lake or Philpott Lake.

Virginia was the first British colony in America. The first settlers came here in 1607 and started building small villages. However, they were plagued by frequent epidemics, famines and raids by Indians who did not want to give up their land. White settlers established tobacco plantations here, thanks to which they gained prosperity and high profits. They could thus develop cities, culture and education.

Virginia no longer wanted to be under the rule of the British and therefore tried to become an independent state during the Revolutionary War. In 1781, a decisive British defeat took place at Yorktown. In 1778, the importation of new slaves was prohibited, but slavery itself was still left. In 1861, Virginia stood at the head of the Confederacy and Richmond became the capital.

The early 20th century saw the development of coal mining, non-ferrous metals and other industries, removing dependence on tobacco production. Paradoxically, World War II brought the greatest economic growth to Virginia, as numerous military bases were built here and shipbuilding on the Atlantic coast also developed. Today, the extraction of industrial raw materials continues, and the chemical, shipbuilding, electrotechnical, woodworking, tobacco, food and textile industries are also important. Agriculture is focused on growing corn, tobacco, cotton, grain, fruit, and raising pigs and cattle.

Around 7.2 million people live in Virginia, with a population density of 63 people per square kilometer. 84% of the inhabitants are Christians, Protestants and Roman Catholics predominate here. About 12% of the population has no religious affiliation.

The capital of Virginia is Richmond, founded in 1737, which today has approximately 1.2 million inhabitants. Several major banks and large law firms are headquartered in Richmond. Therefore, the economy is booming here. However, the city also lives from tourism. In addition to the capital city, Virginia is also interesting for its history, which you can get to know, for example, in the city of Williamsburg. This city has been reconstructed to have the same appearance as in the 17th century. A large number of tourists are also attracted to the Mount Vernon monument. Other major Virginia cities are Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Alexandria, Portsmouth, Roanoke, and Lynchburg.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is an important place in Virginia, because it was here in 1865 that the American war between the North and the South ended.

General Robert E. Lee, as the leader of the Army of Northern Virginia (South), intended to join Johnston’s army and try to attack the Northerners with him. But he did not have enough men and his march was constantly slowing down. However, General of the United States Forces (North) Ullyses S. Grant kept pushing him until he finally managed to cut Lee off from both Johnston and Davis. It was then that Lee, as the first general of the Confederacy, received an offer of surrender, but he had no one to consult about the possibility.

His reply, dated April 7, 1865, read, “What are the terms of the surrender?” Two days later, Lee met with Grant at the McLean House in Appomattox Court House, and Lee finally signed the surrender. However, the mandatory transfer of the cord to the winning opponent did not take place, to this day it is not known why. Maybe Grant forgot about him or did it out of respect for Lee. Southern officers were allowed to keep their sidearms, horses, and other property. The soldiers, at Lee’s direct request, also kept their animals.

At Appomattox, Lee’s career as a soldier ended, after the war he was amnestied and became commandant of the military school in Lexington, where he served until his death in October 1870. On April 26, in the solitude of Durham Station, North Carolina, General Johnston also surrendered to General Sherman. During May, the other southern commanders also surrender. After the surrender of Lee, President Lincoln begins to think about how to reintegrate the seceded states into the Union. They must accept the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, and reject the Confederate war debts. But Lincoln’s plans are thwarted by his death, which will meet him on April 14 at Ford’s Theater at the hands of the fanatical Southerner John Wilkes Booth. He flees after the murder, is only caught in Virginia, where he is surrounded in a burning barn and shot. His last words were: “Tell mother I’m dying for my country. I thought

The place where the American Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 is today under the protection of the National Park Service. There is a visitor center where those interested can watch a short film about the course of the battle and the significance of this location. Not far from Appottomax, there is also the grave of banjo popularizer Joel Walker Sweeney, who lived between 1810 and 1860. He converted this originally African musical instrument from 4 to 5 strings and actually created today’s version from it. He played this instrument on tour with the circus.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park