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Lesson No One

In: Social Issues

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Virginia Introduction and General Statistics

“We are all Americans; we are all Virginians.” These were the words of Senator and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine during his 2012 campaign for Senate. Kaine was trying to appeal to the Virginians’ desire for bipartisanship in the incredibly negative election, but his words have a larger meaning. Virginia is a special state. Throughout its fascinating 400-year history, Virginia has had special influence in establishing and developing the cultural and political values that have shaped the country at large. Virginia was the first permanent English settlement in America. It was home to the first representative government in the New World. Many of the nation’s founders, whose words and actions have de-

fined the American spirit, came from Virginia. Virginia has produced eight Presidents, more than any other state. Virginians led the

way in filling America’s western frontier, spreading their way of life to the South and Midwest in the early nineteenth century. Virginia was the site of the most important battles of the Civil War. From its founding in 1607 to the Civil War, Virginia held more influence than any other part of the country. Virginia’s influence faltered, however, in the mid-nineteenth century. As the authors of Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia, 1607-2007, one of the most important recent works on Virginia history, argued, the state lost its way due in part to

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its alliance with the losing side of the Civil War. Ultimately, the state’s greatest flaw, its promotion of slavery and racial discrimination, was its undoing. The state, which had always existed amid the contradiction between slavery and freedom, exchanged its greatness for mediocrity. For a century, Virginia wavered, always looking back to the Lost Cause of the Civil War,…...

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