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Location of Virginia
Location of Virginia

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. 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 population was over 8.65 million, with 36% of them living in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.

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 English colony in the New World. Virginia's state nickname, the Old Dominion, is a reference to this status. Slave labor and land acquired from displaced native tribes fueled the growing plantation economy, but also fueled conflicts both inside and outside the colony. As one of the original Thirteen Colonies, during the American Revolution, it became part of the United States in 1776. During the American Civil War, Virginia was split when the state government in Richmond joined the Confederacy, but many of the state's northwestern counties wanted to remain with the Union, helping form the state of West Virginia in 1863. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following the Reconstruction era, both major political parties are competitive in modern Virginia. (Full article...)

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Fort Jackson highlighted on an 1865 map
Fort Jackson was an American Civil War-era fortification in Virginia that defended the southern end of the Long Bridge, near Washington, D.C. Long Bridge connected Washington, D.C. to Northern Virginia and served as a vital transportation artery for the Union Army during the war. Fort Jackson was named for Jackson City, a seedy suburb of Washington that had been established on the south side of the Long Bridge in 1835. It was built in the days immediately following the Union Army's occupation of Northern Virginia in May 1861. The fort was initially armed with four cannon used to protect the bridge, but these were removed after the completion of the Arlington Line, a line of defenses built to the south. After 1862, the fort lacked weapons except for small arms and consisted of a wooden palisade backed by earthworks. Two cannon were restored to the fort in 1864 following the Battle of Fort Stevens. The garrison consisted of a single company of Union soldiers who inspected traffic crossing the bridge and guarded it from potential saboteurs.

Following the final surrender of the Confederate States of America in 1865, Fort Jackson was abandoned. The lumber used in its construction was promptly salvaged for firewood and construction materials and, due to its proximity to the Long Bridge, the earthworks were flattened in order to provide easier access to Long Bridge. In the early 20th century, the fort's site was used for the footings and approaches to several bridges connecting Virginia and Washington. Today, no trace of the fort remains, though the site of the fort is contained within Arlington County's Long Bridge Park, and a National Park Service 2004 survey of the site indicated some archaeological remnants may still remain beneath the park.

Selected biography

Pocahontas by Unknown, after the 1616 engraving by Simon van de Passe.jpg
Pocahontas (born Matoaka, and later known as Rebecca Rolfe, c. 1595 – 1617) was a Virginia Indian notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tidewater region of Virginia. In a well-known historical anecdote, she is said to have saved the life of an Indian captive, Englishman John Smith, in 1607 by placing her head upon his own when her father raised his war club to execute him.

Pocahontas was captured by the English during Anglo-Indian hostilities in 1613, and held for ransom. During her captivity, she converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca. When the opportunity arose for her to return to her people, she chose to remain with the English. In April 1614, she married tobacco planter John Rolfe, the first recorded interracial marriage in American history. In 1616, the Rolfes traveled to London, where she became something of a celebrity. When the Rolfes set sail for home, Pocahontas died at Gravesend of unknown causes, where she was buried. Numerous places, landmarks, and products in the United States have been named after Pocahontas. Her story has been romanticized over the years, and she is a subject of art, literature, and film.

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001111-N-0000D-002 CVN 76 Under Construction.jpg
Credit: United States Navy

Superstructure being hoisted onto an aircraft carrier during its construction at the Newport News shipyard

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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

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