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VIRGINIA is the oldest American colony and its recorded history famously began at Jamestown, just off the Chesapeake Bay, with the establishment in 1607 of the first successful British colony in North America. Though the first colonists hoped to find gold, it was tobacco that made their fortunes – as Native Americans were driven off their land and slaves were imported from Africa to work the plantations. Many of the wealthy Virginian planters had an enormous impact on the foundation of the United States: Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison among them. Later, as the confrontation between North and South over slavery and related issues grew more divisive, Virginia was caught in the middle, but joined the Confederacy when the Civil War broke out, providing the Confederate capital, Richmond, and its military leader, Robert E. Lee. Four long years later, Virginia was ravaged, its towns and cities wrecked, its farmlands ruined and most of its youth dead.

 

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