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The Commonwealth of Virginia or simply Virginia (named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was known as the Virgin Queen), is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States and Mid-Atlantic States. It is one of four states that use the name commonwealth. It is the 12th most populous state.

The Colony of Virginia was the first part of the Americas to be colonized permanently by England—laying the foundation for the British Empire—and was nicknamed the Old Dominion by King Charles II. It is one of the original thirteen colonies of the United States and was the tenth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788. In 1861, Virginia was the eighth state to secede from the Union and its capital, Richmond, became the national capital of the Confederate States of America.

Virginia is known as the "Mother of Presidents", because it is the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson), more than any other state, including four out of the first five, six out of the first ten, seven out of the first twelve, and eight of the first twenty-eight. Virginia has also been known as the "Mother of States", because portions of the original Colony subsequently became Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia as well as some portions of Ohio.

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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

Portrait of Angus McDonald
Angus McDonald (1727 – August 19, 1778) was a prominent Scottish American military officer, frontiersman, sheriff and landowner in Virginia.

During the Jacobite rising of 1745, McDonald fought as a lieutenant under the command of Charles Edward Stuart in the Battle of Culloden, after which, he was "attainted of treason." He fled Scotland, departing from Inverness for the Colony of Virginia in 1746 at the age of 18.

McDonald moved west into Virginia's interior and entered the military service of the colonial government under Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie, receiving the rank of captain. McDonald served in the French and Indian War under General John Forbes in which he was in command of a company of Scottish Highlanders. Following the war, McDonald retired with the rank of captain in 1763.

In 1765, McDonald returned to military service when he was commissioned by Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron as a major in command of the Frederick County militia. Lord Fairfax also appointed McDonald as an attorney and land agent for his Northern Neck Proprietary.

Governor John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore commissioned McDonald in 1774 as a ranking military officer of an expedition (known as "McDonald's Expedition") to promptly organize and recruit settlers west of the Allegheny Mountains to defend settlements from Native American attacks. McDonald completed the expedition, which met its goal of temporarily relieving western Virginia frontier settlements from attack.

McDonald received a personal letter from General George Washington in 1777 appointing him a lieutenant colonel in a battalion of Thruston's Additional Continental Regiment under the command of Colonel Charles Mynn Thruston. Despite his loyalty to the American Revolutionary cause, McDonald refused Washington's appointment. McDonald was later appointed by Washington to serve as a lieutenant colonel in command of Virginia revolutionary militia forces during the American Revolutionary War. He also served on various revolutionary committees throughout the war.

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Reflecting cavern lake.jpg
Credit: David Jones

Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia, one of the many limestone caverns in the Shenandoah Valley

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Rapidan Camp, Shenandoah National Park

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

State symbols:

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Colleges & Universities Appalachian School of Law | Averett University | Bluefield College | Bridgewater College | Christendom College | Christopher Newport University | College of William and Mary | Emory and Henry College | Ferrum College | George Mason University | George Washington University Virginia Campus | Hampden-Sydney College | Hampton University | Hollins University | James Madison University | Liberty University | Longwood University | Marine Corps University | Mary Baldwin College | Marymount University | Norfolk State University | Old Dominion University | Radford University | Randolph-Macon College | Randolph-Macon Woman's College | Regent University | Roanoke College | Saint Paul's College | Shenandoah University | Southern Virginia University | Sweet Briar College | University of Mary Washington | University of Richmond | University of Virginia | University of Virginia's College at Wise | Virginia Commonwealth University | Virginia Community College System | Virginia Intermont College | Virginia Military Institute | Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Virginia State University | Virginia Union University | Virginia Wesleyan College | Washington and Lee University | Westwood College Of Technology

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