Virginia

The archaeologist who discovered the real Jamestown debunks myths and answers long-puzzling mysteries about North America's first successful English colony

A southern writer analyzes the handicaps unwittingly laid on the general by President Davis

A diminutive, persuasive Virginian hijacked the Constitutional Convention and forced the moderates to accept a national government with vastly expanded powers

On May 5, 1787, James Madison arrived in Philadelphia. Read more >>

The vivacious Sally Fairfax stole the young man’s heart long before he met Martha

ON MARCH 30, 1877, the New York Herald, one of the largest newspapers in America, printed a passionate love letter that had been written on September 12, 1758. Surely not hot news, you might ask? The Herald ’s editors knew what they were doing. Read more >>

Sharp business skills ensured the first president’s phenomenal success

America’s greatest leader was its first—George Washington. He ran two start-ups, the army and the presidency, and chaired the most important committee meeting in U.S. history, the Constitutional Convention. His agribusiness and real estate portfolio made him America’s richest man. He was as well known as any actress, rapper, or athlete. Men followed him into battle; women longed to dance with him; famous men, almost as great as he was, some of them smarter or better spoken, did what he told them to do. He was the Founding CEO. Read more >>

If the colony had collapsed the English might not have been established as the major colonial power in North America

If Jamestown, England’s first permanent colony in the New World, had failed 400 years ago—and it came within a whisker of being abandoned on any number of occasions—then North America as we know it today would probably not exist. Read more >>

New research shows that Lee's momentous decision to fight for the South was far from inevitable

One April afternoon in 1861, a proud man in his early fifties strode nervously across the portico of his home, too distracted to appreciate its sweeping view of the Potomac. He had an elegant military bearing and dark looks of a stage star, but on this day his genial face was shadowed by worry. Read more >>

How Jamestown Got Us Started

We’re not used to measuring history in great swaths of time in this country, where a hundred-year-old house is considered an ancient survivor. So it was with a sense of going back in time twice over that I read about Virginia’s Grand National Jubilee of 1807. Read more >>

It is a place of noble harbors, a convergence of strong rivers and a promontory commanding a wind-raked bay; a shoreline enfolding towns older than the Republic and the most modern and formidable naval base on earth; a spot where a four-hour standoff between two very peculiar ships changed the course of warfare forever—and the breeding ground of crabs that people travel across the country to eat. Fred Schultz explains why the fifth annual American Heritage Great American Place Award goes to

Twice wholly destroyed and twice rebuilt, Norfolk is again redefined and in the midst of an ambitious rehabilitation. Read more >>

In Virginia, a quarrel is going on about who can be allowed to lie in a family graveyard. Because the family is Thomas Jefferson’s, the outcome of the dispute is important to every American.

From Richmond to Appomattox Court House, roads unchanged for 140 years tell the story of the final days, the final hours of the Confederacy

It’s hardly more than the size of your bedroom, half of it living quarters, the rest the office. “What about a bathroom?” I ask National Parks Ranger Tracy Chernault. Read more >>

COMING TO TERMS WITH THE MOST COMPELLING AND MYSTERIOUS OF CIVIL WAR HEROES

“THERE WAS A WITHCERY IN his name,” a Mississippian wrote, “which carried confidence to friend and terror to foe,” Northerners victimized by Stonewall Jackson’s daring thrusts were hardly less laudatory. Gen. Gouverneur K. Read more >>

A CENTURY AGO you’d eat steak and lobster when you couldn’t afford chicken. Today it can cost less than the potatoes you serve with. What happened in the years between was an extraordinary marriage of technology and the market.

King Henri IV of France was a great king. Read more >>

The young German fought for American Independence, went home, and returned as a man of peace

Georg Daniel Flohr, a butcher’s son, enlisted at nineteen in the Regiment Royal-Deux-Ponts, a German outfit in the service of France, and came to America in 1780 with the Comte de Rochambeau’s army to help the Continentals in their struggle against Great Britain. Read more >>

He told Lincoln he was better than any other officer on the field at Bull Run and got the Army’s top job. He built a beaten force into a proud one and stole a march on Robert E. Lee with it. He was twenty-four hours away from winning the Civil War. Then he fell apart.

THIS SPRING, THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF JEFFERSON’S BIRTH, RESTORATION BEGINS ON POPLAR FOREST, WHICH HE ONCE CALLED “THE BEST DWELLING HOUSE IN THE STATE, EXCEPT THAT OF MONTICELLO.” WHILE THE WORK PROGESSES, THE HOUSE IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, AND ITS GHOSTLY EMPTINESS HEIGHTENS THE SENSE IF ITS ORIGINAL OCCUPANT.

Only rarely did Thomas Jefferson speak directly of his second home, Poplar Forest, referring rather to “my property in Bedford” or employing some other casual euphemism. Read more >>

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the most controversial historical novel in memory, the author of The Confessions of Nat Turner speaks of a novelist’s duty to history and fiction’s strange power not only to astonish but to enrage

Twenty-five years ago this November, I found myself in Ohio, where I was being awarded an honorary degree at Wilberforce University. Read more >>

The author joins the thousands who feel compelled to trace the flight of Lincoln’s assassin

The first non-children’s book I ever read was Philip Van Doren Stern’s novel The Man Who Killed Lincoln. How it fell into my hands I cannot say. Read more >>

The Colonial Revival was born in a time of late-nineteenth-century ferment, and from then on the style resurfaced every time Americans needed reassurance

What would you do if you owned a Rembrandt that had been painted over by Picasso? Read more >>

How to know the unknowable man

In 1905, on a visit to Richmond, the noted man of letters Henry James was struck by the sight of the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee high atop its pedestal overlooking Monument Avenue. Read more >>

During three days in May 1863, the Confederate leader took astonishing risks to win one of the most skillfully conducted battles in history. But the cost turned out to be too steep.

The ability of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson never showed itself more vividly than during three days of battle in May 1863 around a rustic crossroads called Chancellorsville. Read more >>

At war’s outbreak a frightened commander was ready to give away the Union’s greatest navy yard

The calamity was already full blown when Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861. South Carolina had left the Union three months back, and six states had followed her out. Read more >>

The pilasters and pediments of an architecture perfectly suited to our eighteenth-century aristocracy flourish in today’s skyline and suburb

From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past

The first settlers marked the borders of their lives with simple fences that grew ever more elaborate over the centuries

Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote Robert Frost, and he meant that fences did more than just enclose space; like his woods and roads, they bounded a social and psychological landscape. Read more >>

A pictorial history of the state from discovery to the Revolution

Everything depended on a French fleet leaving the Indies on time; two American armies meeting in Virginia on time; a French fleet beating a British fleet; a French army getting along with an American one; and a British general staying put.

Long after midnight, October 23, 1781, hoofbeats broke the silence of slumbering Philadelphia’s empty streets. Read more >>

How the happy combination of a millionaire and, a parson gave us Colonial Williamsburg, a place of surpassing loveliness—and a continuing reminder of what a truly bold enterprise our Revolution was

Colonial Williamsburg, as everybody knows, is the monumental historic re-creation of the onetime capital of colonial Virginia, the place where young Thomas Jefferson listened at the door of the House of Burgesses while Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act, t Read more >>