Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
VIRGINIA, one of the thirteen original states of the American Union. Its area formed part of a general grant of James I., April 10, 1606, to two companies, controlled by a general council appointed by the king, the whole grant covering the Atlantic coast from north latitude 34° to north latitude 45°. The special grant to the "London company," with which we have to do, included the mainland and islands between latitude 34° and latitude 41°, or from about Cape Fear to Long Island sound; and the special grant to the "Plymouth company" extended from latitude 38° to latitude 45°, or from the mouth of the Potomac to the northern boundary of Vermont. Between latitude 38° and latitude 41°, where the grants conflicted, neither company was to plant a colony within 100 miles of a colony previously planted by the other. Under this grant settlement was begun at Jamestown, May 13, 1607, May 23, 1609, a supplementary charter defined the limits of the colony, as stated below. March 12, 1611-12, a further charter gave power to convene a colonial assembly, or "great and general court," with power to legislate, provided the laws were not contrary to the laws and statutes of England; and under this charter the first legislative assembly in America met at Jamestown, June 30, 1619, being composed of a council named by the company, and a house of burgesses (see
—BOUNDARIES. The charter of 1609 defined the colony's limits thus: from point Comfort, all along the seacoast to the northward 200 miles, and all along the seacoast to the southward 200 miles, "and all that space and circuit of land lying from the seacoast of the precinct aforesaid, up into the land throughout from sea to sea, west and northwest." The boundary lines were evidently not to be parallel lines: one was to be a westward line, and the other northwesterly. If the new colony was to have any limits whatever on the west it would seem most natural that the northerly boundary should be the westward line, and the southerly boundary the northwestward line, to intersect it. Virginia would thus have been a comparatively small colony, of a triangular shape. But the colony, resting on the words "from sea to sea," and interpreting them to mean "from the Atlantic to the Pacific," instead of from the Atlantic around the compound boundary line to the Atlantic again, made the southern boundary the westward line, and the northern boundary the northwestward line, thus making her territory grow constantly wider as it went westward. She was compelled, indeed, to yield to the royal prerogative of taking back presents, and her 200-mile limits were interfered with on the south by the grant of Carolina (see
—CONSTITUTIONS. 1. The provincial congress, June 12, 1776, adopted a bill of rights, which has been retained in subsequent constitutions, but modified in 1867. Its most important sections were the third, which declared the right of the people to alter, reform or abolish their government at their own wills and the fourteenth, that no government separate from or independent of the government of Virginia should be erected or established within the limits thereof. The two were in effect a declaration of independence. (See
—GOVERNORS. Patrick Henry, 1776-9; Thos. Jefferson, 1779-81; Thos. Nelson, 1781; Benjamin Harrison, 1781-4; Patrick Henry, 1784-6; Edmund Randolph, 1786-8; Beverley Randolph, 1788-91; Henry Lee, 1791-4; Robert Brooke, 1794-6; James Wood, 1796-9; James Monroe, 1799-1802; John Page, 1802-5; Wm. H. Cabell, 1805-8; John Tyler, 1808-11; James Monroe, 1811; George W. Smith, 1811-12; James Barbour, 1812-14; Wilson C. Nicholas, 1814-16; James P. Preston, 1816-19; Thos. Mann Randolph, 1819-22; James Pleasant, 1822-5; John Tyler, 1825-7; William B. Giles, 1827-30; John Floyd, 1830-34; Littleton W. Tazewell, 1834-6; Windham Robertson, 1836-7; David Campbell, 1837-40; Thos. W. Gilmer, 1840-41; John Rutherford, 1841-2; John M. Gregory, 1842-3; James McDowell, 1843-6; Wm. Smith, 1846-9; John B. Floyd, 1849-52; Joseph Johnson, 1852-6; Henry A. Wise, 1856-60; John Letcher, 1860-64; William Smith, 1864-5; Francis H. Pierpont, 1865-8; Henry H. Wills, 1868-70; Gilbert C. Walker, 1870-74; James L. Kemper, 1874-8; F. W. M. Holladay, 1878-82; Wm. E. Cameron, 1882-6.
—POLITICAL HISTORY. For the century succeeding the opening of the conflict with the mother country, 1760-1860, the whole policy of Virginia is expressed in the declaration of her bill of rights, "that no government separate from or independent of the government of Virginia should be erected or established within the limits thereof." Under the colonial system the resistance to encroachment was directed against the king's governors, and under the constitution against the federal government; and the only period during which the Virginia policy ever had full and free play was that of the confederation and the few years of loose alliance that preceded it, 1775-89. Size, population, wealth and concurrence of sentiment among leading men made Virginia the great exponent of "state sovereignty." (See that title.) For such a rôle her colonial history went far to prepare her. The character of her immigration, its sympathy in blood, breeding and prejudices with the English royalist party of 1620-80, and the final impress given to the mould by the establishment of a state church, were all calculated to make Virginians fully conscious of their own importance, and ready to maintain their individual opinions. Further, the necessarily backwoods character of Virginia life, the absence of any such object of loyalty as a personally present king, and the introduction of negro slavery, tended to exaggerate in the Virginian the personal characteristics of his English prototype, while it took away the checks which had operated upon the latter: and the English royalist was metamorphosed into the Virginia democrat. Virginia democracy was thus not based on any Calvinistic view of the universal equality of men in their infinite inferiority to their Maker; nor in any theoretical love for humanity: it was rather a general agreement by all white Virginians to recognize one another's feeling of individual importance, and to support the state government under which that feeling found the safest shelter. John Randolph's exclusive application of the expression "my country" to Virginia, only voiced the conscious or unconscious feeling of all Virginia democrats.
—The political history of the state until 1881 was therefore that of the democratic party. Its electoral votes and its state government were steadily of one party, and only an occasional congressman among the opposition varied the general rule. The state's ratification of the constitution in 1788 was only accomplished by a meagre majority of ten votes (see
—The Virginia influence was not altogether undisputed, even in its own state. The greatest of Virginians, Washington, was a federalist, and so were John Marshall, Charles Lee, Henry Lee, and (after parties had fairly developed) Patrick Henry. The general prevalence of the Virginia influence in national affairs after 1800 soon wiped out the last trace of federalism in Virginia, but at the same time it prepared the way for a Virginia schism. As the leaders, Jefferson and Madison, became more absorbed in national politics, more dependent on northern democrats, and more neglectful of their state, an ultra Virginian faction, "republicans of the old school," or "quids," appeared, headed by John Randolph, and including also Tazewell and John Taylor. Their public defection took place in March, 1806, and from that time they spared no effort to secure the presidency in 1809 for Monroe, a candidate of far less ability than Madison, but recommended by his long absence from national politics and his supposed devotion to his state. But the defection was a failure. In January, 1808, the Virginia legislature nominated Madison for the presidency, and the nomination was repeated, two days afterward, by the congressional caucus. (See
—But the general spread of democratic ideas, and the decrease of the state's comparative importance, had already doomed the influence of Virginia. In 1817 it was hardly able to nominate Monroe for the presidency, and its lame success in that year, as well as in 1821, was due mainly to the influence of tradition upon the new men and new states in politics. Republics are not always ungrateful, and it was not until the last Virginia leader had been duly honored that the field was field to be fairly open for others. From that time Virginia was no longer to be the "Mother of Presidents." With one accidental exception, the sceptre was to be transferred to other states. In 1790 she was the first of the states in population: in 1830 she was third, New York and Pennsylvania having outstripped her. Changes had also been taking place within the state. The western part of the state (now West Virginia) had more than three times as much population in 1830 as in 1790, while the eastern part of the state had increased very little; and yet the apportionment of representation remained fixed as in 1776. The crying need of a reform in this respect brought about the convention of 1829, one of the most distinguished assemblages of able men that ever met in any state. The desire of each section to be well represented sent to the convention Madison, Monroe, Marshall, John Randolph, Giles, Mercer, Tazewell, John Taylor, Garnett, Leigh, and all the ablest men of the state. The object of the delegates of the western and middle sections was to base representation on white population only for both houses; the eastern delegates wished for the "federal basis," including three-fifths of the slaves. The former plan, as in South Carolina (see that state) would have given the taxing power to the western and middle sections, while the east held the taxable property. At first the convention inclined toward compromising by giving a white basis of representation to the house, and a federal basis to the senate; but in the end the eastern delegates succeeded in establishing the artificial apportionment already detailed, which deprived their section of comparatively little political power. Slavery had been the secret of the difficulty. East and west of the Blue Ridge the white population was not far from equal; but the latter section had comparatively few negroes, while the blacks outnumbered the whites in the former, and three-fifths of them counted under the federal basis, which governed quite closely the apportionment as it was settled. The constitution had hardly been adopted when Virginia was startled by an unsuccessful negro insurrection in Southamption county, near Norfolk, in August, 1831, under the lead of one Nat Turner. When the legislature met, the western delegates at once took the insurrection as a text, and an animated debate followed for several weeks, in which every plan for abolition was proposed and advocated. At last this extraordinary discussion, the only one of its kind ever held in a southern legislature before 1865, was stifled, and never revived—Until about 1835 democratic control of the state was hardly disputed: the popular vote for Jackson in 1832 was 75 per cent. of the total vote. During Jackson's second term the whig party of the state was developed, and, though it never fully controlled the state, it was able to give its opponent battle on even terms for nearly twenty years. It contested every county of the state: in the eastern part it gained votes through the desire of many slave-holders for a system of internal improvements which should offset the exhaustion of land, and check emigration; in the western and middle sections it was aided to some extent by the traditional opposition to the usually democratic tidewater counties; and the nullification element, John Tyler being its best known exponent, gave it some assistance. At first it was strong enough to elect Tyler and B. W. Leigh to the United States senate, and to make Gilmer governor; and in 1840 its presidential electors were defeated by only 1,392 votes out of 86,394. Thereafter it remained an opposition party, with about 47 per cent. of the total vote. Its best known leaders were Tyler, Leigh, John Minor Botts, Preston, Stuart and Faulkner, those of the democrats being W. C. Rives, Dromgoole, Mason, Hunter, Bocock, Letcher and Wise. After 1849 the whig vote decreased, and after 1853 most of its former leaders became democrats. But some, not choosing to take that course, adopted the "know-nothing" organization (see
—As the sectional disputes of 1850-60 began to verge evidently toward war, Virginia strove hardest to avert that calamity. (See
—Throughout the war, Richmond was the capital of both the state and the confederacy, and all the political feeling of the state was concentrated upon the prosecution of the war, with very little friction between the two authorities. In May, 1865, President Johnson refused to recognize Gov. Smith, and the Pierpoint administration took its place without dispute, and held it for two years. During this time the state's idea of reconstruction was fully carried out; the constitution of 1864, with its prohibition of slavery, was accepted, but the test oath was abolished, the proposed amendment to the constitution of the United States was voted down, and stringent vagrant acts were passed for the control of the freedmen. In March, 1867, the state government came under the reconstruction laws. (See
—For nearly ten years the state remained democratic in all elections, the dominant party taking the name "conservative." The republican vote was at first large, but was continually in the minority, except in the election of four of the nine congressmen. In 1874 the democrats secured eight of the nine congressmen, and thereafter the republican vote was of little importance. The most troublesome problem for the successive legislatures was that of the state debt. It amounted, Jan. 1, 1871, to $47,390,840.93, of which about $37,200,000 was for debt contracted before April, 1861, and for lapsed interest thereon. March 30, 1871, a bill was passed to fund two-thirds of this amount (leaving one-third as the proportion of West Virginia) into bonds whose coupons should be receivable for state taxes. The popular objections to this seem to have been mainly as follows: that the receipts from state taxation, at the rate of fifty cents on $100, were regularly about $2,500,000 per annum; that the expenses of government and public schools were about $1,600,000; that the interest on the funded debt would be about $1,800,000; and that the state was absolutely unable to increase the rate of taxation so as to make up the deficit. The whole question evidently hinges on this last assertion, whose truth can not well be proved or disproved: it is only certain that no such assertion would have been made by the ancient commonwealth. The passage of the funding bill at once went into politics, and the next legislature, March 7, 1872, repealed the "tax coupon" feature of the law. But, before the repeal, about $17,000,000 had been funded in tax coupon bonds, and the state court of appeals decided that a repeal as to them would be a breach of contract and unconstitutional. Still, the legislature was unable or unwilling to lay taxes sufficient to pay the interest, and the constant receipt of coupons for taxes kept the treasury in a state of chronic bankruptcy. In 1873 an act was passed to pay one-third of the interest, after government expenses should have been paid—a proviso which effectually nullified the law. In 1877 a final effort was made to increase revenue by a liquor law (the Moffett act), which compelled liquor sellers to register sales by means of a mechanical register upon the counter: but this only produced about $500,000 annually, insufficient to make up the deficit. In March, 1878, a bill was passed offering to the bondholders refunding bonds with interest at 3 per cent. for eighteen years, and 4 per cent. for thirty-two years thereafter. The probability of a settlement on some such basis crystallized the opposition into a "readjuster" party, led by William Mahone. It made some little effort in the election of 1878, though Gov. Holliday, the debt-paying candidate, was elected by 101,940 out of a total vote of 106,329. In the following February the "readjuster movement" took complete shape, as the final "McCulloch bill" was being perfected. This act, passed March 28, 1879, and accepted by the bondholders, provided for forty-year refunding bonds, with interest at 3 per cent. for ten years, 4 per cent. for twenty years, and 5 per cent for ten years, coupons receivable for taxes. The interest would thus have been about $900,000 annually for ten years, and there would have been little danger of a deficit. But the readjusters, in addition to the standing claim of inability to levy a higher rate of taxation than fifty cents on $100, denounced the tax coupon feature of the act as "against public policy, and degrading to the state and people." On this issue they obtained a popular majority in the election of November, 1879; and by a coalition of their forty delegates with the seventeen republican members they obtained a majority in the lower house of the legislature. They have since controlled the state, though the "debt-paying" electoral ticket, recognized by the national democratic committee, was successful in the presidential election of 1880. In December, 1879, Mahone was elected United States senator, and when his term began, in March, 1881, he at once ranged himself with the republicans, declaring that he had been elected as a readjuster, not as a democrat. Since that time, the fusion of the readjusters and republicans has been complete, and has controlled the state. In November, 1881, it elected Governor Cameron by a vote of 111,473 to 99,757 for the "funder" candidate, Daniel, and obtained a majority in both branches of the legislature. Riddleberger, who was the framer of the bill passed in 1873, was sent to the United States senate for the term beginning in 1883. But the defection of a few of their number during the session prevented the readjusters from carrying out their debt programme, and the future of the party is very uncertain. Its leaders are supported by the national administration, which is republican, and yet the fusion between readjusters and republicans has never been more than a mechanical mixture, and there are many signs of its breaking asunder. While it lasts it at least secures the free exercise of the right of suffrage to the negro voters of the state.
—In addition to the names of Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, John Randolph, Tyler, Wirt and Washington (see those names), the following have been among the more prominent of the state's political leaders: William S. Archer, whig congressman 1820-35, and United States senator 1841-7; Philip P. Barbour, democratic congressman 1814-25 and 1827-30, and supreme court justice 1836-41; Theodorick Bland, anti-federal delegate to congress 1780-83, and congressman 1789-90; Thomas S. Bocock, democratic congressman 1847-61, confederate congressman and speaker of the house 1862-5; Alexander R. Boteler, whig and "American" congressman 1859-61, confederate congressman 1862-4; John Minor Botts, whig congressman 1830-43 and 1847-9, and an open opponent of secession throughout the rebellion; James Breckinridge, federalist congressman 1809-17; Matthew Clay, democratic congressman 1797-1815; George C. Dromgoole, democratic congressman 1835-41 and 1843-7; John W. Eppes, democratic congressman 1803-11 and 1813-15, and United States senator 1817-19; Charles J. Faulkner, whig and democratic congressman 1851-9, and minister to France 1859-61 (see
—See 2 Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; 2 Hough's American Constitutions; Neill's History of the Virginia Company (1869); H. B. Adams' Influence of Maryland (boundary of Virginia); Stith's Early Settlement of Virginia (1747); De Haas' Early Settlement of Virginia; 1 Force's Tracts (Bacon's rebellion); 3 Sparks' American Biography, 2d series (Life of Bacon); C. Campbell's [Early] History of Virginia; Beverley's History of Virginia (to 1706); Keith's History of Virginia (1738); Burk's History of Virginia (continued by Jones and Girardin to 1781); J. W. Campbell's History of Virginia (to 1781); Jefferson's Notes on Virginia; Howe's Historical Collections of Virginia; Meade's Old Churches and Families of Virginia (1857); Grigsby's Convention of 1776; Debates and Proceedings of Conventions (1788, 1829-30, 1850, and 1867); Nicolson's Debates in the Virginia Legislature (1798); Dew's Review of Debates in Virginia Legislature of 1831-2; Foote's Historical and Biographical Sketches of Virginia; Virginia Historical Register (1848-53); Howison's History of Virginia (to 1847); Carpenter's History of Virginia (to 1852); Dabney's Defense of Virginia; Botts' History of the Great Rebellion; Virginia: A. Geographical and Political Summary (1876); Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia (1861-81).
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