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State Facts - History Firsts
State Facts - History Firsts

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Virginia State Facts - Virginia History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these Virginia history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name Virginia
Capital Richmond
Location
Region
37.53105 N, 077.47458 W
Middle Atlantic
Constitution Ratified 1970
Statehood June 25, 1788
10th state
Number of Counties 96 Counties in Virginia and 40 Independent Cities
Largest County
(by population)
Fairfax County
969,749
396 sq. mi.

Virginia History Firsts & State Facts

  • 1607 - One of the 13 original colonies, Virginia was the first part of the country permanently settled by the English, who established Jamestown on the banks of the James River in 1607.
  • 1619 - The first Thanksgiving in North America was held in Virginia in 1619.
  • 1693 - The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg is the second oldest in the United States, it was founded in 1693. The list of patriots who studied at William & Mary is long and distinguished and includes three American Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler, sixteen memĀ­bers of the Continental Congress, four signers of the Declaration of Independence, four jusĀ­tices of the Supreme Court of the United States, including John Marshall, and many members of Congress, cabinet members, and diplomats. Additionally, George Washington received his surveyor's license from the College and after his Presidency served as the College's Chancellor.
  • 1775 - Patrick Henry delivered his famous "Give me liberty or give me death!"speech before the second Virginia Convention at St. John's Church (formerly Henrico Parish) in Richmond on March 23, 1775.
  • 1781 - On October 19, 1781, following three weeks of continuous bombardment, British General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington in the Battle of Yorktown in Virginia, essentially bringing the American Revolution to an end.
  • 1788 - 10th of the 13 original colonies, Virginia was admitted to the union June 25, 1788.
  • 1791 - Arlington County was originally part of the ten-mile square parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be part of Washington, DC. The US Congress returned that portion of the land to the "Commonwealth of Virginia" following a referendum among its citizens.
  • 1792 - Virginia's borders have expanded and contracted numerous times since its inception as the first of the 13 original colonies. In 1792, nine counties known as the Kentucky District of Virginia entered the union as the state of Kentucky, and in 1863, western counties of Virginia were approved to enter the union as the state of West Virginia.
  • 1861 - Because of Virginia's prestige, the Confederate capital was moved on May 21, 1861, from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond.
  • 1862 - On March 9, 1862 at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac) met in one of the most famous naval engagements in US history. Their battle, the first of its kind between metal armored vessels, changed for all time the nature of naval warfare.
  • 1863 - Western counties of Virginia were approved to enter the union as the state of West Virginia.
  • 1864 - The Arlington National Cemetery, one of America's most renowned military cemeteries, was originally built in the early 19th century as a mansion by George Washington's adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis. Robert E. Lee, who married Custis' daughter, Mary Anna, lived in Arlington House at various periods until 1861, when Virginia seceded from the Union and the couple vacated the estate. On June 15, 1864, the property was established as a military cemetery.
  • 1865 -
    • Robert E. Lee, Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered his men to Ulysses Grant, General-in-Chief of all United States forces, on April 9, 1865 at the Appomattox Court House.
    • Waynesboro was the site of the last major battle of the Civil War in central Virginia, the Battle of Waynesboro in 1865 between Generals Jubal Early and Philip Sheridan.
  • 1888 - Union Passenger Railway was the first successful electric street railway transit agency. It was formed in 1888 at Richmond.
  • 1918 - The American dogwood (Cornus florida) was designated as Virginia State Floral emblem
  • 1930 -
  • 1933 -  First US aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger launched from Newport News, Virginia
  • 1964 - Opened in 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is 18 miles long and has two bridges and two mile-long tunnels. It extends over the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and connects the cities of Cape Charles and Norfolk.
  • 1950 - The Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was adopted as Virginia State Bird
  • 1956 - The Dogwood (Cornus florida) was designated as the Virginia State Tree
  • 1964 - Opened in 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is 18 miles long and has two bridges and two mile-long tunnels. It extends over the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and connects the cities of Cape Charles and Norfolk.
  • 1966 - The American Foxhound (Canis lupus familiaris)  was adopted as the Virginia State Dog
  • 1974 - The Oyster Shell (Crassostraea virginica) was designated as Virginia State Shell
  • 1982 - Milk becomes Virginia State Beverage
  • 1986 - Blue Ridge Institute in Ferrum is Virginia State Blue Ridge folklore state center
  • 1988 - The Chesapeake Bay deadrise is designated as Virginia State Boat
  • 1991 -
  • 1993 - The Chesapecten jeffersonius was adopted as Virginia State Fossil
  • 1994 -
  • 1995 - The Wood Brothers Racing Museum and Virginia Motor Sports Hall of Fame, located in Patrick County is Virginia State Motor sports museum
  • 1996 -
  • 1940;1997 - "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia" by James A. Bland - Adopted as state "song". Re-designated as state "song emeritus". Originally titled "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny" is Virginia State Song emeritus
  • 1997 - Virginia War Museum, Newport News  is adopted as Virginia State War memorial museum
  • 1999 - Artisans Center of Virginia, Waynesboro is Virginia State Artisan center
  • 2001 -
  • 2007 - Virginia Covered Bridge Festival, Patrick County Virginia becomes State Covered bridge festival
  • 2008 - Patrick County is Virginia State Covered bridge capital of the Commonwealth
  • 2009 -
    • Page County becomes State Cabin capital of Virginia
    • The Richland Coal Miners' Memorial, Richlands is designated as Virginia State Coal miners' memorial
  • 2010 -
    • Honor and Remember Flag was adopted as Virginia State Emblem of service and sacrifice
    • Virginia Beach is the largest city in Virginia. Its population is expected to surpass 500,000 residents by 2010.
  • 1993;2011 - Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) Originally adopted as official fish. Changed with adoption of saltwater fish in 2011. Virginia State Fish (Freshwater)
  • 2011 - Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) is designated as Virginia State Fish (Saltwater)
  • 2013 - The Virginia Shakespeare Festival is adopted as Virginia State Shakespeare festival
  • 2014 - The Highland County Maple Festival was designated as Virginia State Maple festival

More Virginia History Firsts & State Facts

  • Virginia was named for England's "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I.
  • The major cash crop of Virginia is tobacco and many of the people who live there earn their living from the tobacco industry.
  • Jamestown, the first of the original 13 Colonies was founded for the purpose of silk cultivation. Silk to be traded with the Court of King James. After blight fungus destroyed the mulberry trees (silkworm food), sericulturist planted tobacco as a cash crop.
  • Jamestown was the first English settlement in the US It was also the first capital of Virginia.
  • Virginia is known as "the birthplace of a nation".
  • Eight United States Presidents were born in Virginia: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.
  • Six Presidents' wives were born in Virginia: Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, Rachel Jackson, Letitia Tyler, Ellen Arthur, Edith Wilson.
  • Seven Presidents are buried in Virginia: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Tyler, Taft and Kennedy.
  • The present state capital in Richmond was also the capital of the Confederacy.
  • The Atlantic Flyway, a route for birds migrating along the Atlantic coast, crosses Virginia, and the state provides important resting and feeding grounds.
  • The State nickname is "Old Dominion".
  • The State flower is not really a flower, but the blossom of the dogwood tree, which is also the state tree.
  • The first peanuts grown in the United States were grown in Virginia.
  • The Blue Ridge Mountains are located in Virginia.
  • The American Revolution ended with the surrender of Cornwallis in Yorktown.
  • Virginia was the site of the surrenders ending the American Revolution (Yorktown) and the Civil War (Appomattox).
  • Tobacco was once Virginia's sole economic crop.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is the world's largest bridge-tunnel complex.
  • Patrick Henry made his "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech in St. John's Church in Richmond.
  • Government employment, especially the Federal government and military, has replaced tobacco as the state's number one industry.
  • Jamestown was the first English settlement in the US It was also the first capital of Virginia.
  • Virginia has had 3 capital cities: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Richmond.
  • Virginia is the home base for the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet.
  • The Virginia state motto is "Sic Semper Tyrannis". (Thus always to tyrants)
  • The states of Kentucky & West Virginia were formed from sections of the state of Virginia
  • About 1/2 of all the people in the United States live within a 500 mile radius of the Capital of Virginia.
  • Virginia has had 3 capital cities: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Richmond.
  • Richmond was also the capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War
  • Over 1/2 the battles fought in the civil war were fought in Virginia. Over 2,200 of the 4,000 battles.
  • In Virginia more people work for the United States government than any other industry. About 1/4 of Virginia's workers.
  • Virginia's largest private employer is also the world's largest ship building yard.
  • Virginia is the home base for the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet.
  • The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • The Pentagon building in Arlington is the largest office building in the world.
  • The Pentagon has nearly 68,000 miles of internal telephone lines.
  • Dulles International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world.
  • General Thomas Jackson got his nickname "Stonewall" in Manassass. The site of 2 major Civil War Battles.
  • Yorktown is the site of the final victory of the American Revolution.
  • Virginia has been dubbed the "Internet Capital of the world".
  • The Atlantic headquarters of NATO is located in Norfolk.
  • The Great Dismal Swamp is in Virginia near the North Carolina border.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is the world's largest bridge-tunnel complex.
  • Wild Ponies have roamed freely on Assateague Island for centuries.
  • The world's only oyster museum is on Chincoteague Island.
  • Busch Garden's Old Country Theme Park is located near Williamsburg.
  • President Thomas Jefferson designed his own home and called it Monticello.
  • George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, is located in Virginia.
  • Patrick Henry made his "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech in St. John's Church in Richmond.
  • Bristol is legally two cities but they share the same main street. One in Virginia and one in Tennessee each with its own government and city services.
  • Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls has an early 19-century wooden water wheel and operating gristmill. The old Miller's House features an exhibit about the process of milling and the families who operated the mill.
County Information and County History
State Facts
History Firsts
State Fun Facts - History Firsts
History firsts and fun facts: popcorn triva that you always wanted to know about the United States of America.
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