History and Facts on Virginia

Capitol Building, Richmond

In 1607, the first permanent English settlement in America was established at Jamestown. The Jamestown colonists also established the first representative legislature in America in 1619. Virginia became a colony in 1624 and entered the union on June 25, 1788, the tenth state to do so. Virginia was named for Queen Elizabeth I of England, the “Virgin Queen” and is also known as the “Old Dominion.”  King Charles II of England gave it this name in appreciation of Virginia’s loyalty to the crown during the English Civil War of the mid-1600s. Virginia is designated as a Commonwealth, along with Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. In 1779, the capital was relocated from Williamsburg to Richmond.

The cornerstone for the Virginia Capitol Building was laid on August 18, 1785, and the building was completed in 1792.  Modeled after the Maison Carrée at Nîmes, France, the Capitol was the first public building in the United States to be built using the Classical Revival style of architecture.  Thomas Jefferson designed the central section of the Capitol, including its most outstanding feature: the interior dome, which is undetectable from the exterior. The wings were added in 1906 to house the Senate and House of Delegates.  In 2007, in time to receive the Queen of England during the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement, the Capitol underwent an extensive restoration, renovation and expansion, including the addition of a state of the art Visitor’s Center that will ensure that it remains a working capitol well into the 21st Century.  The Virginia state Capitol is the second oldest working capitol in the United States, having been in continuous use since 1788.

More information on the Capitol building can be found at http://www.virginiacapitol.gov.

Eight U.S. Presidents were born in Virginia: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson, giving Virginia the nickname the “Mother of Presidents.”

Virginia is also known as the “Mother of States.”  All or part of the following eight states were formed from western territory once claimed by Virginia:  Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Information accurate as of December 2023