Turning Points in Virginia History

Virginia has perhaps 15,000 years of unwritten history, to be deciphered through archeology. Since the arrival of Europeans, we have documented how various groups of people jockeyed for political and economic advantage. The style of government in Virginia today and the boundaries of the state have been shaped by 400 years of competition for power and control.

A different political culture could have evolved in Virginia, and perhaps altered the development of the Federal government. It was not predestined that Virginia would end up as a representative democracy, with a vibrant two-party system competing in peaceful elections.

Through most of Virginia's existence, the democratic process for selecting public officials has been limited. We have zigged and zagged to this point. Understanding those turning points illuminates how we ended up here, and perhaps hints at where we are headed next.

Powhatan Creates An Paramount Confederacy

The Start of Democracy

Failure of the Native American Military Option

Bacon's Rebellion

The Taming of the Royal Governors

Tobacco Inspection - Finally

The War For - Land Grants?

A Successful Revolution - But What Changed?

Importation, Manumission, Colonization, Black Codes, and the End of Jim Crow

The Two Constitutions That Failed to Satisfy the Western Counties


The Rise and Fall of William Mahone and the Readjusters

The Byrd Organization

Massive Resistance

"Armageddon" in 1973

The Wilder Surprise

Government and Politics
Virginia Places