Welcome to Virginia Colony!
Welcome to Virginia... the oldest English lands in the United States! Until the 1600s, "Virginia" referred to all of the lands England laid claim to on the entire Eastern coast of North America. In 1606, the land was split into two parts by a royal charter which allowed two branches of the Virginia Company to found colonies on the coast of North American. One branch of the Virginia Company -- the London Company -- founded Jamestown Settlement in 1607. The other branch -- the Plymouth Company -- created Popham Colony in 1609.
Of the two colonies created by royal charter to the London Company and Plymouth Company in 1606, Popham Colony (in present-day Maine) was disbanded after only one year. However, Jamestown Settlement, founded by the London Company, survived and grew. The original purpose of the settlement was to form a colony to take advantage of the natural resources in North America and ship them back to England.
The settlers consisted of farmers from England and woodcutters from Poland. Starting the colony was difficult, because they faced dangers from the wilderness, Spanish ships, and Native American tribes who tried to drive them away. Almost half of the original settlers had died when John Smith told his famous story of being attacked by the local Powhatan tribe and then being saved when the young daughter of the chief, Pocahontas, begged her father to spare Smith's life. Smith eventually returned to the colony and eventually became governor of Jamestown, saving the colonists from starvation by trading with the local tribes for corn.
Middle Plantation was a fortified settlement located between the James and York rivers in the 1600s. When the Jamestown Statehouse burned down in 1698, Virginia Colony moved the government to Middle Plantation, which was renamed Williamsburg. This new building was the first building named a "capitol" in America. At that time, the architect of the building, Henry Cary had also been working on the 2nd college in America: The College of William and Mary.
Click here to take a tour of Colonial Williamsburg. Find the Capitol. It was here that gentlemen of Virginia unanimously spoke for American independencethe first colony to speak for American independence in the colonies.
Yorktown was founded in 1691 as a port to ship tobacco back to England, and was named after the English town "York." In the middle of the 1700's it was very successful, with 200-300 buildings and almost 2000 people. In 1781, one of the last major battles of the American Revolutionary War happened here. General Washington and French General Rochambeau combined forces to overcome British General Cornwallis. Although he surrendered, the Revolutionary War continued on for more than a year, although the Siege of Yorktown was a major turning point against the Loyalists.