The Library of Virginia
Portrait of Sir William Berkeley Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677) was governor of Virginia longer than any other man, from 1642 until 1652 and from 1660 until his death in 1677. He advocated economic diversification and promoted trade between the colonists and the Virginia Indians. He allowed the two houses of the General Assembly to develop into a responsible and mature parliamentary body that legislated in the interests of the great planter families who dominated Virginia politics throughout much of the colonial period. Berkeley generally discouraged the persecution of religious minorities and steered a middle course between the factions during the English Civil Wars. His leadership taught Virginians how to settle differences peacefully or to live with differences that could not be settled peacefully. Although Bacon's Rebellion of 1676 almost destroyed Berkeley's legacy, the political culture that Berkeley helped create survived for two centuries.

Oil on canvass. 
By Harriotte L. T. Montague, 
after original by Sir Peter Lely. 
Library of Virginia.

Related Resources

Virginia Cavalcade, Autumn 1994

Virginia Cavalcade, Summer 1998