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Virginia History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Virginia
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Virginia history.
The geographic region now known as Virginia is inhabited for at least 3,000 years by groups of Native Americans, including the Algonquin, the Iroquoian, and the Siouan. Much of eastern Virginia is inhabited by the Powhatan Confederacy, which is largely destroyed by European settlers by 1646.
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.
16th Century Virginia History Timeline
1558 - Queen Elizabeth succeeds Queen Mary.
1563 - Charles Fort abandoned.
1565 - St. Augustine established.
1567 - John Hawkins departs on third voyage.
1568 - Hawkins fights Spanish at Battle of Vera Cruz, later set ashore at Tampico, Mexico, where three of his men began a 12 month march to the north, reaching Cape Breton.
1576 - Martin Frobisher's first voyage.
1577 - Martin Frobisher's second voyage.
1580 - Sir Francis Drake returns to England from voyage around the world.
1583 - Sir Humphrey Gilbert's voyage to Newfoundland and his ship was lost on the return voyage.
1585 - Raleigh's fleet of seven vessels under Richard Grenville and Ralph Lane, with 108 men, reach Roanoke Island in June.
1587 - John White with 150 men, women, and children sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to plant the Cittie of Raleigh on the Chesapeake Bay, landed at Hatorask on July 22.
1590 - John White returns to Roanoke Island.
1592 - Capt. Christopher Newport sailed for the West Indies
1596 - Capts. Amias Preston and George Somers sail to the West Indies.
17th Century Virginia History Timeline
1606 - Fleet leaves London on December 20
1612 - John Rolfe exports first crop of improved tobacco.
1619-1632 - First Legislative Meeting – Jamestown Virginia's General Assembly met for eleven years in the choir of the church at Jamestown. This building was the only one large enough to hold the Council, the Governor, and the 22-member House of Burgesses (as it was known until 1775).
1632-1656 - First State House - Jamestown. The Council and the House of Burgesses met in the colonial governor's home (Sir John Harvey), at his expense. They used this house until 1656.
1656-1660 - Second State House - Jamestown. The second state house lasted just four years. They are still unsure of the exact location of this house. It was destroyed in 1660.
1660-1665 - During these five years, the legislature met in
one of the
1665-1676 - Third State House - Jamestown. The third capitol was located about a half mile west of the first state house. This building and the Jamestown settlement were burned in 1676 during Bacon's Rebellion.
1674 - The Bacon rebellion fights for colonial rights in Western Virginia
1676-1685 - The first Assembly after the fire was held at "Green Spring." This is where the governor lived, which was outside of town. As buildings began to go up in Jamestown again, the legislators met once more in taverns and in private homes.
1685-1699 - Fourth State House - Jamestown. The fourth capitol was built on the ruins of the third. They met here for 14 years. In 1699, this last Jamestown state house went up in smoke. Its foundations were found and identified in 1903. Jamestown was no longer the capital after the fire that burned this 4th state house.
1693 - The College of William and Mary is founded
18th Century Virginia History Timeline
1699-1704 - In 1699 the town of Williamsburg was established and was designated as the capital of the colony. The General Assembly met temporarily in the Wren Building at The College of William and Mary.
1704-1747 - Fifth State House - First Williamsburg Capitol. This brick capitol was in the form of an H, each wing of which was two stories high. There were many visitors to Williamsburg when the General Assembly was in session. In 1747 this capitol was destroyed by fire.
1732 - Birth of George Washington. George Washington was born
in Westmoreland County on February 22, 1732. He was the 1st US President,
1747-1753 - After the capitol building in Williamsburg was destroyed by fire, Virginia's legislators again met in the Wren Building at The College of William and Mary.
1751 - Birth of James Madison. James Madison was born. James Madison, at 5-foot, 4-inches, was the shortest president.
1753-1780 - Sixth State House - Second Williamsburg Capitol.
The sixth state house was built on the same site as the fifth and was
built in the same H shape, but was not as elaborate. When the state
government moved to Richmond in
1758 - James Monroe born in Westmoreland County, Virginia with items he purchased at an auction of possessions belonging to the executed Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
1770 - William Clark born in Caroline County. Soldier, explorer; born in Caroline County, Va. He shared command of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition (1804--06) with Meriwether Lewis. William Clark is also known for his fine maps and illustrations of the animals of the territory.
1771 - Richmond Flood
1773 - William Henry Harrison was born at Berkley Harrison served as US President for 31 days before he died of pneumonia. He died on April 4, 1841, the first President to die in office.
1774 - Meriwether Lewis born in Albemarle County, Virginia
1776 - Virginia adopts its first constitution and declares independence
1780-1788 - The Capitol – Richmond. Richmond was established
as the new capital. The General Assembly met in a building at the corner
of Pearl (now 14th) and Cary Streets until permanent buildings were
built. In 1781 with the threat of British invasion and possible captivity,
the legislators met in Charlottesville, but the lawmakers were not safe
there either. They escaped and met on June 7 at the Episcopal church
in Staunton – prepared to flee farther west if necessary. In October
the Assembly moved back to Richmond, in their "temporary capitol". This
temporary capitol was demolished sometime before 1851 and is now marked
1784 - Zachary Taylor born in Virginia. The first time Zachary Taylor voted was when he voted for himself in the 1849 presidential election.
1788 - June 25 - Virginia entered Statehood Virginia becomes the 10th state.
1788-1904 - First Permanent Capitol – Richmond. The capitol,
designed by Thomas Jefferson, is modeled after the Maison Carrée in
France. In the center of this building is the life-size statue of George
Washington (made by Houdon). In this area there are also busts of the
seven other Virginia-born presidents and of Lafayette (a French volunteer
who fought for America and for Virginia during the American Revolution).
The General Assembly met here for 116 years, except
1789-1797 - George Washington served as President of the United
1790 - John Tyler born in Virginia. John Tyler was the first Vice President to become President due to the death of his predecessor-William Henry Harrison.
19th Century Virginia History Timeline
1831 - Nat Turner led a slave revolt
1873 - Virginia writer and poet Ellen Glasgow born Writer, poet; born in Richmond, Va. She grew deaf starting in 1889. She wrote poetry, essays, and short stories.
1876 - Coal Discovered in Southwestern Virginia
1877 - Richmond Flood
1895 - Association for the Preservation of Virginia's Antiquities (APVA) is created.
1899 - The brick church and the Ambler House are all that remains to indicate the past of Jamestown Island. Mr. and Mrs. Edward E. Barney give 22.5 acres on Jamestown Island to the APVA.
20th Century Virginia History Timeline
1901 - Began passing Jim Crow Laws, created segregation
1902 - Constitution of 1902
1903 - Maggie Lena Walker opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank for African- Americans.
1904 - Present Day Capitol - Richmond. In 1904 extensive renovation
and additional construction to the Capitol were begun. Wings were added
1913-1921 - Woodrow Wilson served as the 28th President of
the United States
1914 - World War I begins in Europe; Woodrow Wilson (from Virginia) president
1917 - US declares war
1918 - World War I ends- US and allies wins!
1920 - 19th Amendment- women can vote
1929 - Great Depression starts; people lost jobs
1936 - Richmond Flood
1939-40 - Aline Black and Melvin Austin go to court to secure equal pay for Black teachers in Norfolk, Virginia.
1941-1943 - Pentagon built in Arlington. The construction of the Pentagon was ordered by Brigadier General Brehon Sommervell. It was to consolidate 17 War Department buildings and cost $83 million dollars.
1941-1948 - Black parents and students fight for busing, equal facilites, and equal curricula.
1941 - December 7th - Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese; US declare war
1943 - July 10 - Arthur Ashe born in Richmond, VA. Arthur Ash was the first and only African-American male tennis player to win the "Gentleman's Singles" title at Wimbledon. In 1975 Ashe was ranked No. 1 in the world.
1945 - End of World War II
1950 - School desegregation begins in Virginia when the first Black student attends the Law School at the University of Virginia.
1953 - The first Black student is admitted to Virginia Tech.
1954 - May - Segregation declared unconstitutional
1958 - Virginia declares no integrated schools would receive funding
1959 - Some schools desegregated (in Norfolk, Charlottesville, and elsewhere), but Prince Edward county closes its schools rather than comply with court ordered desegregation.
1960's - Most schools in Virginia integrated
1962 - Washington Dulles Airport opened. This terminal was designed by Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen.
1981 - December 28 - Elizabeth Jordan Carr born in Norfolk. She was the 1st American test tube baby.
1989 - L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia becomes first African American elected governor.
1992 - In Bermuda, the Sea Venture's contents are recovered and fully documented.
1990-1994 - Douglas Wilder served as Governor of Virginia.
A Richmond attorney, Governor Wilder served in the Senate of Virginia
and as Lieutenant Governor before becoming the first elected African-American
1999 - September 6 -Ten year Old Enters College Gregory Smith (10), boy genius, began his first day of class at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland.
21st Century Virginia History Timeline
2003 - Over 1 million customers lost electricity due to Hurricane Isabel
US History Overview
The word History comes from the Greek word historía meaning "to learn or know by inquiry." History is not static. It's fluid. It changes and grows and becomes richer and more complex when any individual interacts with it.