Discovering the History of Virginia

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Virginia is a state unlike any other!  From the sublime weather to the deep and troublesome history, it’s a great space to get to know the country as a whole while studying one single state. 

These are the most important things to visit and consider while in Virginia and why they matter.

Home to the Earliest Colonies

Virginia is often thought of as the nation’s birthplace since the first Jamestown colony was built and lived.  This colony arrived in the early 1600s and was capable of sustaining itself for a couple of years.  Local indigenous people helped for the first winter when the drought started, but the support ended after the colony became distrustful.

Although the colony ended in both tragedy and moving on to another area of the country, it’s an important place to stop and get to know. So much of the city is gone, but some portions of it still stand and allow you to walk where the first settlers did four hundred years ago.

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The Way It Became Close to the Nation’s Capital 

Many don’t know the history of how Washington DC landed against Virginia, and it’s an interesting story that’s been covered in anything from Hamilton, the Musical, to many books and movies.  

Although buying real estate in Arlington is easy, it was harder to make this area a capital when it started in the late 1700s.  When the current US Constitution was being created, many rules and settlements were made that allowed for banks and financial information to stay in NYC and Philadelphia: but for the nation’s capital to slide down the Potomac into Virginia.  

There are countless museums and exhibits you can visit to learn more about this portion of history in the area, and it’s a large piece of pride for those who live here.

History Before Settlers

People have lived on these lands for over 17,000 years.  Shown in everything from paintings and art to human remains, you can see marks of the three original tribes who called this area home.  The Algonquian, Siouan, and Iroquoian lived in organized villages and towns along the ocean and rivers.  

You can see pieces of their history in everything from the layout of the cities to the countless artifacts that now sit within museums and exhibits in most of the larger towns in the area.  There’s a long history before Europeans arrived, and visiting will give you the chance to learn all about it.

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Top Destinations to Visit

If you’ve never been to this great state, it’s okay to want to lean into the tourist trap locations!  The Shenandoah National Park, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and the Arlington National Cemetery are some of the top places to visit.

It’s a good idea to interchange fun and sad and moving locations as much as possible to keep your trip interesting without allowing it to get too low or heavy.  As important as it is to learn about our nation’s past, it’s also important to remember how much we’ve grown and changed in the last four hundred years.