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Questions about Virginia.
  1. Was Virginia the site of the first Thanksgiving?
  2. What native tribes originally inhabited Virginia? Are any still here?
  3. What is the meaning of the name Virginia?
  4. Virginia state emblems, symbols, seal, animals, song, etc...
  5. What is Virginia's state nickname?
  6. Why is Virginia called a commonwealth? What other states are commonwealths?
  7. Where can I find statistics about the population of Virginia cities and counties and other types of statistics - schools (SOLs), taxes, etc.?

1Was Virginia the site of the first Thanksgiving?

Arguably, yes. According to It Happened First In Virginia, by William O. Foss , pp. 240-243, "The first Thanksgiving in America took place on December 4, 1619, at the Berkeley Hundred, a plantation located on the James River, halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg. . . . two years before the first harvest feasting of the Pilgrims and Indians at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621."

2What native tribes originally inhabited Virginia? Are any still here?

See The Hornbook of Virginia History, pp. 4-9, for a concise description of native tribes inhabiting Virginia at the time Europeans first arrived in the new world:

Today, some fifteen thousand descendants of five Powhatan tribes (the Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Nansemond, Pamunkey, and Rappahannock) as well as of several other Indian groups reside in Virginia, some of them on the Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservations in King William County. Although the land that became the commonwealth of Virginia was home to numerous Native American tribes, only eight since the early twentieth century have maintained active, formally organized tribal governments recognized by the Virginia General Assembly: the Chickahominy and the Chickahominy Eastern Division, the Mattaponi and Upper Mattaponi, the Monacan, Nansemond, and Pamunkey, and the United Rappahannock. While the Pamunkey, Mattaponi, and Upper Mattaponi live primarily in King William County, the Chickahominy and Chickahominy Eastern Division are in Charles City and New Kent Counties, respectively. The Monacans reside primarily in Amherst County, on or near Bear Mountain; the Nansemonds in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach; and the United Rappahannock in an area between the Rappahannock and Mattaponi Rivers in Essex, King and Queen, and Caroline Counties."

See also "Indian Virginians" - A Resource Guide on the Library of Virginia website for further information.

3What is the meaning of the name Virginia?

"Virginia was named for Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was known as the Virgin Queen. Historians think the English adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh suggested the name about 1584. That year, Elizabeth gave Raleigh permission to colonize the Virginia region."

Source: Jordan, Daniel P. and Robert W. Morrill. "Virginia: Old Dominion." World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 20, p. 398. Chicago: World Book, Inc., 2001.

4Virginia state emblems, symbols, seal, animals, song, etc...

For information on the Symbols and Emblems of the Commonwealth, including many "official state" designees, visit Capitol Classroom.

The state of Virginia no longer has an official state song. History of Virginia's old state song and search for a new one can be found on the 1998 State Song Competition page. The choice of a new state song has been postponed.

5What is Virginia's state nickname?

From the Hornbook of Virginia History, 4th ed., page 88:

The most popular and enduring of Virginia's many nicknames is the Old Dominion. While this name clearly refers to Virginia's status as England's oldest colony in the Americas, it is impossible to trace the origin of the term with precision.. In 1660 Charles II acknowledged a gift of silk from "our auntient dominion of Virginia." In 1663 Virginia's new seal bore the motto En dat Virginia Quintum (Behold, Virginia gives the fifth), recognizing the colony's status alongside the king's other four dominions of England, Scotland, France and Ireland. As early as 1699, the phrase "most Ancient Colloney and Dominion" appeared in official state documents.

For the origin and meaning of the term "The Commonwealth of Virginia" see question 1 in the Government section below.

Other nicknames for Virginia include Mother of Presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, and Wilson), Mother of States (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin), Mother of Statesmen, and the Cavalier State.

6Why is Virginia called a commonwealth? What other states are commonwealths?

According to the Hornbook of Virginia History, 4th ed., page 88:

"A commonwealth is 'a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people.' The term as an official designation was first used in Virginia during the Interregnum (1649-1660), the period between the reigns of Charles I and Charles II during which parliament's Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector established a republican government known as the Commonwealth of England. Virginia became a royal colony again in 1660, and the word commonwealth was dropped from the governor's full title. When Virginia adopted its first constitution in 1776, the term commonwealth was reintroduced, most likely to emphasize that Virginia's new government was based upon the sovereignty of the people united for the common good, or common weal. The designation commonwealth of Virginia has been used in official records ever since. Three states beside Virginia adopted the appellation commonwealth: Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania."

7Where can I find statistics about the population of Virginia cities and counties and other types of statistics - schools (SOLs), taxes, etc.?

For population, business and geography statistics for the Virginia and its localities go to U. S. Census Bureau Virginia QuickFacts.

Statistics about Education, for example number of students, student /teacher ratio, or SOL scores, can be found at the Virginia Department of Education Data and Publications Web page.

Check Virginia Statistics on the Internet for a list of statistics produced by Virginia State Agencies.

For in-depth statistical information about Virginia, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia has developed a definitive publication, now available online.

VASTAT - This great web directory resource contains hundreds of links to over 30 topics concerning Virginia and the United States.