History of Virginia
Founding of Virginia
The first English charter in what would become Virginia was awarded to the London-Virginia Company in 1606. In 1609, a second charter was made, and expanded further on the claims and boundaries of the first charter. The London-Virginia was one of the two primary companies that England allowed to operate in America (the other being the Plymouth Company of New England).
The London-Virginia company administered the colony from 1606 until the company's dissolution in 1624. Mismanagement and financial loss were the primary reasons for the company's disbandment. However, wanting to keep the claims made James I of England placed the area under direct crown rule.
The neighboring Dutch colony of New Netherland experienced tremendous growth after it was granted its own representative government in 1656. In response, no new charters would be created in Virginia to shore up protection over English claims, and all colonial power was delegated and centralized to a single governor.
The boundaries between Spanish Florida and Virginia remained unclear throughout the rest of the 17th century. It was only in 1700 that the borders were settled in the resulting treaty of the Spanish Succession Crisis .
Attempts at Independence
First Anglo-Virginian War (1833-1834), Washington's Rebellion and the First Virginian Republic
Fireworks and drum beating could be heard throughout the city of Williamsburg on October 28, 1833. The popular folk tune, “My Sweet Lady,” was played by bands as marching soldiers passed through the streets. Crowds gathered to hear speeches by the men who just signed “The Proclamation of Secession.” There were twenty-three signers total. The most famous of them was Jonathon Fairfax of Shenandoah. He was young (only 35 years old), wealthy, adventurous, and intellectual. Then there was the Commander-of-the-Militia, William Washington. He had served in the British army for ten years and was seen as the best military mind in Virginia.
The cause of this celebration was the independence of Virginia from their mother country, Great Britain. The Slave Abolition Act had been hotly protested in the colony, where one-fifth of the population was enslaved. Tobacco plantations had given the colony its foundation while cotton was making its fortune. Many in the colony knew it was only a matter of time before complete abolition in the British Empire. There were protests and riots after the end of the African slave trade in 1807, though many of the largest slave owners found themselves in a great position to operate the domestic slave trade. These were the same men who now rebelled against Great Britain.
The Royal Governor, Lord Fitzwilliam, panicked and sailed to New England. Most of the British Army was located in the west, guarding against potential Native raids. Rebel groups quickly seized most of the major cities in the following weeks with little resistance, except for Henrietta, where Loyalists under Richard Churchill put up a tough fight before they fled the city.
The Prime Minister, Lord Holland, and King Charles III were both outraged by the act of treason and by the purpose behind this. Charles III promised not only to cease the disorder in the colony but bring its leaders to justice. A fleet was sent to blockade the coast, and an army was formed to retake the colony. Virginia had hoped that New England would join them in rebellion and perhaps join them in a new union, but that would never be. New England had too many prominent abolitionists like Daniel Adams, leader of the House of Commons in New England, who welcomed Lord Fitzwilliam in Boston. Virginian ships began to raid British cargo leaving the city before the British armada arrived the following March.
On April 2, 1834, the British won a spectacular victory under Lord Somerset at the Battle of Williamsburg. General Washington was forced to abandon the most populous and wealthiest city in Virginia. Rebels fled the nearby areas while loyalists, and more important, slaves, flocked to the British. Somerset issued an order promising land for slaves that fought back against their masters. The Spring Uprising, lead by Joshua Freedman of Carpenter, began on April 28. The white population abandoned the town, and his army began to march east towards the British line. Several other towns, predominantly in the south, faced similar slave revolts.
The Battle of Vernon on July 5 would spell the end of the rebel army as it was not only a bloody defeat but saw the capture of Washington. He would be treated as a gentleman, allowed to send letters unmolested to friends and relatives even while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Addressing the people of his homeland, “The dream of a free republic now lies with you, my children. I will no longer be with you. My story ends here. There is no turning back. Virginia must be a free nation or a servant.” During his trial, his closing remarks of motivations and honor brought many onlookers to tears, but it would not spare his life. He was hung on November 1.
The destruction of Washington’s army and his capture would force the surrender of any other rebel groups in the colony while many fled for the safety of the New Netherlands or Florida. Not one of the signers of the Proclamation would be allowed a pardon. Any slave owner who had participated in the rebellion would lose not only their land and human property but not be compensated for it and most likely face a trial for treason. Their lands were divided up among the former slaves that had worked the plantations. With their new freedom, many Black Virginians began to move further west and south away from the more populated areas of Virginia in hopes of starting their communities. Their success in forging these new towns was primarily due to the protection of the British army, whose control would be absolute. Virginia’s charter was revoked, and it was under the direct control of the royal governor with loyalists filling any position for a colonial government
Signers of The Proclamation of Secession.
1. Adam Passenger of Tidewater (Executed by hanging)
2. Alexander Church of Piedmont (Fled to New Netherlands)
3. Charles Stewart of Shenandoah (Fled to New Netherlands)
4. Clark Wright of Spotswood (Fled to New Netherlands)
5. David Morgan of Alexandria (Killed at the Battle of Vernon)
6. Edward August of Shawnee (Executed by hanging)
7. George Mason of Tidewater (Died of illness during the war)
8. George Smith (Killed at the Battle of Henrietta)
9. Jack Pleasant of Shawnee (Killed at the Battle of Vernon)
10. Jacob Douglas of Shenandoah (Missing at sea)
11. Jacob Robinson of Bedford (Killed during Spring Uprising)
12. James Smith of Chickasaw (Fled to New Netherlands)
13. Johnathon Matthews of Carolina (Fled to Florida)
14. Jonathon Fairfax of Shenandoah (Fled to New Netherlands)
15. Lawrence Jenkins of Piedmont (Killed at the Battle of Williamsburg)
16. Louis Randolph of Spotswood (Fled to Florida)
17. Luke Goode of Chickasaw (Fled to New Netherlands)
18. Nicolas Sullivan of Carolina (Fled to New Netherlands)
19. Richard Glass of Piedmont (Died of illness during the war)
20. Stephen Dickinson of Spotswood (Unknown)
21. Thomas Rhodes of Bedford (Executed by hanging)
22. William Washington of Alexandria (Executed by hanging)
23. William Wayne of Alexandria (Killed at the Battle of Williamsburg)
Reconstruction can be broken into two phases. The first, Somerset Reconstruction (1834-1844) was a harsh occupation of the colony. Somerset was made Royal Governor of Virginia and ruled completely by decree. Though officially the rebel government disbanded, fabians continued to fight on. Though by 1838, no real fighting occurred. Somerset leg harsh scorched earth tactics against rebel communities. Burning fields and hazing houses of suspected rebels. This gained him little love from the locals, but in his view, he had not come to be love but to subdue.
60% of landowners (minus the black population) in each province had to take a Loyalty Oath before their Provincial Council could be reestablished. An additional "resistance tax" was placed on those who did not take the oath. In addition, no man who served in the rebel government or military could serve in politics or the military again. This skewed the potential nominees to primary merchants, artisans, and industrialists. This group had the least to gain from separation from Great Britain. The Virginian economy was based on slave labor and what it could produce. Merchants did well selling that product, but they would be cut off from British trade and protection. Industrialists found it hard to set up roots in Virginia with the slave labor mindset pressed into the population. The only honorable work was to farm and then to move up to running a plantation. A factory system was nearly impossible.
If the non-slave owning elite were looked down upon before the war, then afterward, they were downright hated. On November 1, 1835, the first day of the Provincial Council of Alexandria saw a riot in Williamsburg. The Council Chamber was stormed, and soldiers were sent in to end the riot. Twenty-five Virginians were killed in the All Saints Massacre. Outrage spread throughout the colony, but it fell on deaf ears. So were the demands by the Provincial Councils. Though once powerful positions in the colony, Somerset did not care what they wanted nor had to say. Any hope that those like Churchill had in crafting a new aristocracy in Virginia were dashed. While the old was bloodied and scattered into the wind.
Most of those who signed the Proclamation either died in the war or were arrested and executed. The rest escaped mainly to New Netherlands or Florida. Many others fled as well, some taking their slaves. Despite the practice being illegal in New Netherlands, some hoped for an exception given the circumstances but most believed that their slave would stick by their masters' side while free. As a result, many blacks left as soon as they reached freedom. During Reconstruction, many trickled back to Virginia while others established themselves in New Netherlands.
Unlike the white population, black Virginians saw economic prosperity and broad political freedom. Joshua Freedman led the Black Exodus of former slaves from the northern parts of the colony, where they were held in bondage to further south. After the British victory, Freedman had gained a sizeable amount of valuable land, and many of his comrades would stay. He refused, believing that their former masters would never accept them as free, let alone as equals. Freedman sold his land to friends and took hundreds of people with him away from the populated region of the colony. They settle near mountainous areas. The land was less suited for cash crops, but they could sustain themselves. The British also aided them. Somerset motivations for such wide assistance have been argued by many, but most agree that it was to spite the white Virginians. Freedman and his followers received seeds, work animals, tools, and, most importantly, guns.
Black land ownership in Virginia went from 2% in 1830 to 31% in 1840. Land ownership was a stable of Virginia society, but it was near religious for Black Africans. Unlike white Virginians, the goal was not to enlarge one's land at the expense of others. Smaller holdings, some even communal, were what was cherished. Though the family who owned them would never be rich, they would be independent.
However, not all would experience such great times. Slave owners who remained loyal or quickly submitted to British rule saw less of their land taken or none at all. Slaves were left with the option of leaving with little to nothing or staying on the plantation. Some would try to find work in cities at factories. The few that existed refused to hire blacks or faced violent retribution if they did.
Those who escaped, like Fairfax, continued to write about Virginia's freedom. His "Reflection on Virginia" would become the basis of the new government. Though many of his colleagues argued that the British superior numbers or the Spring Uprising caused them to lose, he put it plain and simple. "Virginian unity does not exist. Allegiance did not exist to a nation but a few parcels of land that man calls home. After that, nothing seemed to matter." The Provinces would not work together to fight against the British was his argument, nor did the government they set up (basically the Provincial Councils without the Governorship) have the power to force them to.
Somerset Reconstruction came to an end on March 2, 1844, with his death. There was much rejoicing in Virginia. Some of those in exile returned. If Somerset's replacement were anything like him, they would have quickly left, but he was not. The Earl of Huntingdon had a much softer approach to the colonies' affairs military-wise. He removed nearly half the soldiers stationed in the colony, believing it to be pacified. He was correct in that any rebel group that remained would not attack the British. However, he was mistaken about engaging in any terrorist activities.
The town of Redtorch, Bedford, was founded by black Virginians. It was small and prosperous but located much further from any friendly community, making it vulnerable. They arrived after midnight on August 4. Two hundred riders of the League of Redemption. They stormed Redtorch, killing everyone they could get. The men and women of Redtorch put up a fight, but it was not enough. Over a hundred lives were lost that night before the attacker left.
News of the Redtorch Massacre or Night of Redemption by its perpetrators spread like fire across Virginia. Freedman asked Lord Huntingdon for assistance, but he never responded. This turned the most loyal group in the colony against him. Freedman, however, was not going to flee nor go down easy. His people developed a checking-in system to respond to potential attacks. When a carrier spotted a large movement on riders headed towards Galleon, he alerted others. Before Galleon could be completed sacked, hundreds of black militiamen came to the town's aid and threw back the invaders. Despite this victory, things were not as stable as they may have seen for the black community.
South Tussenland caused a whirlwind of emotions. The introduction of Zoekerism was outright rejected by some leaders like Freedman, who saw it as heretical. This caused bloodshed between Zoekerist and more traditional Christians. With the independence of South Tussenland in 1850, many black Virginians thought it was best to leave Virginia. Once again, Freedman was against it. He refused to leave the home he owned and built. He promised to die in Virginia, and he would. On January 20, 1851, while visiting Bricker, a town of blacks and whites, Freedman was shot by an unknown assassin. Members of the League to Zoekerist were blamed, but no proof was ever found.
The key failures of Reconstruction are as follows:
1. Lord Somerset's military occupation of the colony, though succeeded at temporarily ending the conflict, failed at gaining the respect, let alone the love of the people, and when the military presence was diminished, the violence returned.
2. Lord Somerset also failed to replace the slavocracy of Virginia with a new loyal elite but instead sidelined them at any chance of improving the colony.
3. The skills of writers such as Fairfax to keep the independent spirit throughout Reconstruction prevented many from going back under British authority.
4. Lord Huntingdon's abandonment of black communities pushed the most loyal groups in the colony towards independence and the most radical to pick up arms for it once again.
Many argue that there could have been no successful Reconstruction and that Virginian independence would be achieved whether in a few years or hundreds. But the war with Qing would bring about its flourishing.
Irokee-Virginian War 1848
The western half of Virginia up to this point was not purely Virginia. Most of Pollock, Kingston, and Cherokee were also claimed by the Dutch, specifically the Protectorate of Irokesenland. The Irokees had been allied with the Dutch since the mid-1600s, but they were mostly under Dutch dominion. In addition, the Dutch were facing issues of their own. War seemed imminent between Netherlands and Spain. As Reconstruction in Virginia relaxed, so did the movement into the contested territory. By 1848, the British outnumbered Dutch settlers two-to-one.
Despite wishing to still punish the colony for its rebellion, the British saw an opportunity to weaken the Dutch and gain some more territory. Negotiations primarily through Lord Huntingdon would deliver the rest of the colony’s territory. One of the few accomplishments of his time as governor. Dutch settlers would be given equal treatment under the new government and their property respected.
The Dutch, however, were not the biggest issue. The Irokees were not united on the issue. Those who refused to leave were led by a young Mohawk named Prester John. Despite his name, he was furiously opposed to Christianity and any other European ways of life. He first became known to the British after the Twin Rivers Massacre, in which 35 settlers, including women and children, were slaughtered.
Richard Churchill, now a member of the Governor’s Council, pleaded with Lord Huntingdon to send a force to quell the Ironkee threat. Instead, he believed that the Dutch were responsible for controlling the Ironkee and sent a diplomat demanding they handle this. For three months, the Ironkee continued to raid across western Virginia. Finally, however, a joint force of Anglo-Dutch militia led by Peter Kwast defeated Prester John at Gronekill. They burnt his body and his warriors in a mass pyre. This was the last real conflict between Native Americans and European settlers and a signal of the ending of British rule in Virginia. The lack of British military response for the Irokee War and relaxed militia regulations allowed Virginia to rebuild her strength for the next military confrontation against the British.
Second Anglo-Virginian War (1852-1854)
The China War was not unexpected. The British and Dutch were attempting to subdue each other in Asia for quite some time. With the destruction of a British ship en route to Canton by the Dutch, the whole world was dragged into war in 1850. In Virginia, the people were more oblivious about the situation. China was not a huge trader partner with them, nor were the Dutch much of an enemy. Some youth did join the British military seeking adventure and riches, but the war was nothing but an occasional news story for many.
The realization so dawned upon Jonathon Fairfax as he wrote his paper “Statements Regarding the Virginian People.”
“I have talked to many of our countrymen recently. A not one, from gentlemen to lowest dregs, has uttered a single word about the war in China. I have not heard a mother’s cry for her fallen boy nor the stories of the glory of those who have returned. The reason is clear. This is not our war. It will not be our victory and certainly not our defeat. It is as if this war was waged by people so alien to us that we more in common with those who dwell on the moon.”
Too many, it became clear. The Virginian people were no longer the same as those in Britain. The Loyalists learned this as well. As the war in China continued, more British soldiers left the colony to fight. Local autonomy began to reemerge. Loyalists in some towns were thrown out, but in others, mostly Tidewater, they resigned any position they may have had. Though Richard Churchill was far from the first man to leave office, he was the first of the Governor’s Council to do so, which caused a storm of others to do so and support independence.
Churchill’s nature had not changed. He always thought about what was best for him. Loyalty to Britain twenty years ago had secured him one of the highest positions in the colony, and abandoning it now may help him still. This turncoat way may have gained hatred from more puritan revolutionaries, but not that many. He protested British treatment of Virginia that kept the colony subservient, especially on economic issues. The appeal of a more industrialized Virginia had grown on many in urban cities that the British would never support. His dreams would never come to be if he did not make friends quickly. He tried first with Alexander Cross.
Cross was one of the signers of The Proclamation of Secession. Churchill described him as “the most wicked man that ever lived.” His early history is unknown. Cross was hired as a clerk at a general store at the age of 15. He gained a scholarship to Saint John’s College and became a lawyer. He was considered one of the best orators of his generation and had a taste for dramatics. Cross married into one of the wealthiest families in Virginian, the Sumter family. He was the first of the exiles to return to Virginia. In secret, he left New Netherlands and arrived back home in January 1852.
Churchill attempted to embrace Cross through a letter, but Cross rebuked him harshly. Churchill then went to Fairfax, who was living in New Amsterdam. Fairfax was a bit more skeptical about returning to Virginia as he barely escaped with his life before the British burnt down his estate. Nevertheless, Churchill informed him that the political climate was ready for independence and argued their cooperation would guarantee its success this time.
After taking care of some affairs, Fairfax returned to Virginia on February 13. Unlike Cross, it was no secret. People lied up for miles to witness his Glorious Return with Churchill at his side, and they made their way to Jamestown for another convention. Knowing what was too soon happened, Lord Huntingdon left for New England as Lord Fitzwilliam had done before. He would never return.
Though many have painted this as a time of merry and celebration, black Virginians remember it quite differently. Black communities in and around Jamestown were attacked first and spread across the rest of Virginia. Hundreds died, and landowners lost their property. Churchill condemned these acts as it would lose them credibility on the world stage, and he was able to get Fairfax on his side. The attacks would fizzle out.
The Independence Assembly met on March 1. The old proclamation was used as a draft, but some editions were made. The role of slavery was minimized, and the abuses of Reconstruction were added. The names of the original signers were added back along with an additional twenty-five new signers. Independence was officially declared March 4, and Peter Kwast was made Commander-of-the-Militia. His job was relatively easy as most of the British soldiers still in Virginia were Virginians who quickly joined the cause. New Netherlands would be the first nation to recognize Virginia on March 12, and soon the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Tussenland would join.
Black Virginians supported independence. Not only from Great Britain but Virginia as well. After hearing the news of independence, black representatives from across Virginia came to Woodfern, Bedford, to discuss what should be done. On May 6, they declared the creation of the Black Republic of America composing of Cherokee, Bedford, and Carolina. General Kwast, only real engagement during the war was not against the British but fellow Virginians. The Battle of the Maw occurred on July 20, and BRA forces were routed in a vicious fight. Churchill, fearing the worst may happen, came along to negotiate peace.
Churchill was not as progressive on his views of race as many have claimed. He knew that the black population of Virginia was too large to fight. It would drain the nation’s resources and keep it stuck in the last era. Churchill negotiated with the leaders of the BRA, promising them a fair trial for their surrender and the continued protection of black rights as they were. Bedrock and Cherokee had some of the lowest voting requirements in the former colony. The new government Fairfax had in mind, having the black vote would aid Churchill nicely.
The negotiation really did not matter. Five out of the twelve signers of the BRA’s declaration were captured, and the army had splintered off. Sporadic skirmish and raids continued but nothing large scale for the duration of the war. The captured leaders of the BRA were given a trial as fair as possible for treason, but they were found guilty and executed.
The main war occurred at sea. The Virginian Navy was all but a few retired British frigates. However, that was all that was necessary as raids in the Caribbean and New England were successful, and privateers in Asia hurt the British war effort. Though Virginians like to show that their superior fighting spirit won the war, the British had larger issues to deal with, and the colony’s rebellious nature was too much to deal with any longer. They would officially recognize Virginia as independent on September 19, 1854.
Independent Virginia (19th Century)
The Second Virginian Republic (1854-1875)
Legislature 1 (1854-1857)
Throughout most of the war, the Independence Assembly governed Virginia, but as it became known that the British were far more distracted in China, most thought a more official government was needed. No political parties had formed at the time. Even during the colonial days, most politics operated on a more personal or coalition style. However, fractions were forming.
Two groups would emerge during the early days of the Second Republic that would dominate its existence. The Passionists were led by Jonathon Fairfax and Alexander Cross and the most influential group during the war. They were Traditional Liberals, believing that the government's role was to protect the rights of individuals against threats, including itself but that the government should be kept as small as possible. The other group was the Rationalist led by Richard Churchill. They were Advance Liberals believed that the government was there to protect the rights of individuals but also promote the general welfare, namely by supporting the nation's economic interests.
Despite being a champion of Traditional Liberal thought, Fairfax was perhaps the least orthodox of its members. He saw the failures of the First Republic that followed Traditional Liberalism too much. His national government was given much more power and with a position of President representing the nation as a whole. Fairfax also supported greater voting rights but left that up to the individual provinces. Bedrock and Cherokee were the only provinces at first that allowed all landowning men the right to vote. Carolina required a hundred acres of land to vote.
Citizens could vote for their Provincial Council, Provincial Courts, National Diet, and the President. Other positions such as mayors or sheriffs were left for the provinces to decide. The Provincial Council and Provincial Courts were left almost intact as before except for the removal of laws forbidding those who participated in the First Republic. The National Diet worked similarly to the British House of Commons and elected the Prime Minister, the head of government. The President was meant to be the head of state, and most responsibilities dealt with foreign affairs. The appointing of Prime Ministers, their cabinet, and the approval of laws was also their duty but meant to be more ceremonial.
The creation of the National Council was something Fairfax did not have in mind. Many opposed to the too democratic nature of his government thought that a balance between the will of the masses and the provinces was needed. Today, this seemed just like a way to keep elites in greater power in the government, but too many, the fear of national abuse was real. Members of the National Council would be elected from the Provincial Council. If one was NCM, they were also a PCM. The role of the National Council was to supervise the actions of the National Diet. Laws had to have the approval of the National Council or at least three-fourths of the National Diet to go to the President. The National Council and the Provincial Courts also sent members to the National Courts.
Elections were agreed to occur every three years for the National Diet, Provincial Councils, and Presidency. The Provincial Courts were lifetime appointments though the National Courts had a ten-year term limit. The first election occurred during the spring of 1854. Fairfax won his seat from Willow, Shenandoah, and Churchill from Inner Henrietta, Tidewater. Cross instead ran for President. The Presidency was designed to be subservient to the Prime Minister, and many qualified men decided that the National Diet or National Council was preferable.
The National Diet was composed of 286 members (one from each county), and the National Council was composed of 90 members (ten from each province). Fairfax had the most support in the National Diet, but to the shock of many, he refused to take the position of Prime Minister. He believed that the threat of an invasion was still too large for the nation to divide itself into political infighting.
Fairfax invited Churchill to join him in his government. The Fairfax-Churchill government would govern Legislature I. President Cross would effectively be useless as, besides for a few independents in the Diet and Council, most supported the government. During that time, they passed the Five Glorious Acts.
The Capital Act: The Old City of Jamestown within the city of Williamsburg was established as the national capital.
The Election Act: After victory in the 2nd Anglo-Virginian War, Independence Day was established as election day for national offices
The Coinage Act: Establishment of bimetallism in Virginia and the standards banks would need to follow to print coins
The Land Expansion Act: This opened up western lands for settlement with national government support. It was offered only to white Virginians.
The Internal Trade Act: Barred provinces from establishing tariffs or additional taxes against other provinces
Legislature I was a relatively peaceful time for Virginia. Those who opposed each other treated each other with respect and attempted to compromise when they could. Despite the successes of Legislature I, there was unable to answer three fundamental questions. What were the rights that the national government was meant to protect, how would the national government fund itself, and what was the status of black Virginians?
The national government was meant to be superior to the provinces but not the individuals. The National Courts were not designed to bring charges against citizens, only the provinces if they defied national laws. Rights like trial by jury or freedom of speech were meant to be handled at the provincial or county level. This, however, became difficult to continue.
After the Capital Act was passed in 1854, nearly a quarter of Williamsburg was transferred over to Jamestown, including many residencies that did not wish to be part of the capital. They protested the act and even rioted in 1855. When local officials refused to do anything about them, President Cross ordered the army to end the riot and arrest the leaders. They were arrested, denied bail, and sent to a military court. The province of Alexandria sued the national government on their behalf, claiming they denied them their rights as a resident of Alexandria. The National Court ruled on the side of Alexandria that the national government would have to respect rights given to citizens by their provinces.
This complicated matters as each province gave its residents different rights. Bedford had some of the strongest landowning rights in Virginia. The province could not take any land away from residents regardless without their consent. When the national government attempted to build a fort near Samson, a large black Virginian community, the forced acquisition of land from the owners was nullified. Land Expansion Act of 1855 required the national government to purchase land from the western provinces before they could sell it back. This was even more difficult due to the lack of government funds.
The abuse of royal governors for their salaries was an issue in the past, so the duty of paying for the national government was left to the provinces. The National Diet would write up a bill and divide it as equitably as possible between the province. However, not everyone agreed on the division. Pollock and Kingston refused to pay for maintaining the navy as they lacked a coast and many provinces began to set up their own taxes and tariffs against nations and other provinces to generate revenue. They were as the issue of how one could pay for anything.
The Pound Sterling had been the dominant currency throughout Virginia, and the government did not give itself the power to create one. There were three major banks at the time. The Bank of Henrietta, the Milton Bank in Williamsburg, and the Dutch Bank (Roosa Bank) in Bovenstadt. There were several small banks around the nation as well, but the biggest three controlled most of the currency in Virginia. Each printed their own money, coins, and banknotes, with little supervision at first.
The debate of a national bank was what most point to as the beginning of the end of the coalition government. The Rationalist supported a national bank that would set the standards of the nation's economy, while the Passionists were fearful of rural dependency on the banks. Many Rationalists had more invested for their smaller regional banks to remain as were so Churchill would get what he wanted.
However, a compromise was created with the Coinage Act of 1856. Banks had certain laws when it came to printing and issuing banknotes and coins. The Internal Trade Act also forbade provinces from taxing goods from other provinces though they could continue to do so against foreign nations as long as they were selling in that province.
The two major black banks, the American Bank (Christian) and Haven Bank (Zoekerist), issued their own currency, still called Blacknotes, in opposition to the Virginian government. Many black Virginians would style themselves as Americans before Virginians as the hostility in the nation had only increased since the war ended, as did the spread of Zoekerism. Though the violence between them was not as bad as during the leadership of Joshua Freedman, as they had to deal with outside threats more, there were still divisions.
The government of Virginia refused to recognize Zoekerism as a religion, and attempts to set up places of worship were meet with violence. Fairfax meet with Pastor Lucas Elder, the spiritual leader of many black Africans, offering support to curb the rise of Zoekerism, including provincial recognition of black churches, marriages, and baptisms. Despite Fairfax's somewhat favorable treatment of religious matters, he would do nothing for political equality.
Ten black NDMs were elected for the National Diet. Six from Bedrock, three from Cherokee, and one from Carolina. All were Rationalists. They were denied access to the House of Burgess when they arrived for Legislature I. When they tried the next day again, they were meet by a crowd and attacked. James Long of Abel and Rob Luck of Samson were killed. The others would not attempt to return but would instead vote by letter. The Rationalists were mixed in their response. Some did not want them in the government, while those like Churchill saw this as a political defeat. Despite issues in the national government, many provincial councils had black members that suffered no issues.
Legislature I was one of the most successful and peaceful legislatures of the Second Republic. It has been labeled by many as the Righteous Legislature, and many hoped that it would last. That great political infighting could be avoided. Unfortunately, the different views of the Rationalists and Passionists would be too great. By the next election things would collapse.
Legislature II (1857-1860)
The Ballot Riot of Baldwin, Carolina, set off alarms across the nation. The local Passionist newspaper, Baldwin's Dictate, had been ransacked and burnt down. At the time, most ballots were printed off by newspapers and distributed by party officials to their supporters. The Passionist had lost most of theirs as the election was underway. Passionist voters began to demand ballots given out by the Rationalists, but they refused. Fighting soon broke out between the groups. Twelve men would die during the fight. The Rationalists were accused of having burnt down Baldwin's Dictate to steal the election, but nothing was proven. Churchill condemned this as an assault on the election and promised more secure elections in the future.
After the election, the Rationalist began to champion the Three Reformers:
1. The use of a secret ballot in national elections
2. The elimination of property requirements to vote
3. Equal population for the constituencies
The first point had been experimented with in different counties and would become the law in Cherokee in 1859. Most Virginians would have to publicly declare who they voted for on their ballot, which led to intimation during election days. Both parties were responsible for this, and both had some support within their ranks to allow this. The Passionist were dead against the elimination of property rights to vote. They believed that only those who had a stake in the nation's success were those who owned land as they were attached to it.
The creation of more equal constituencies was something that the Rationalists desperately needed. National elections were based upon counties and created during colonization. Each county elected a single NDM despite considerable differences in population. For example, Henrico County had a population of nearly 50,000, while nearby Ilchester had only 15,000. Henrico voted Rationalist while Ilchester voted Passionist, but both sent a single NDM to the National Diet. The unity that existed during the 2nd Anglo-Virginian War had made the county system appealing to many. However, the widen fractions put the more urban areas at a disadvantage which tended to vote Rationalist.
The Passionists had a clear majority in the 1857 election. Alexander Cross was once again elected as President as an independent. He requested that a government be formed by the National Diet just as he did in the last election. This time, however, Fairfax took up the position of Prime Minister and formed a purely Passionist Government. Churchill would become the Leader of the Opposition for the meanwhile. This surprised many as, despite the obstacles the two parties were facing, their leaders seemed to be on the same page about unity.
Many speculate that it was Churchill who had called for the end of the Coalition. That Churchill preferred to obstruct Fairfax in his efforts and be out of power than help himself but be Fairfax's second. This would be a poor time for such a split in the national government. The Canton War had ended in Anglo victory, and they could turn their attention back towards their former colony. The British had no intentions of retaking Virginia, but they would regain financial losses from them.
In 1858, they began to seize cargo belonging to Virginian merchants that owned outstanding debts to the British. Even those who did not owe the British money saw cargo, namely cotton, taken with claims that the original owners had debts. The Treaty of Boston stated that debts be settled by the individuals involved and that the governments would not obstruct the collections of debt. However, many Virginians simply refused to even negotiate, and the British took matters into their own hand.
Inside the House of Burgess, the Passionist demanded war. Many believed that the 2nd Anglo-Virginian War solved nothing as no real fighting had occurred, and the British still believed that they could control them. Fairfax was less enthusiastic about a fight. His Secretary of the Admiralty, Michael Sherman, informed Fairfax that Virginia lacked the sailors, ships, and funds to go to war with Great Britain and would be unable to defend itself. Most of the nation knew this but still, calls for war echoed.
The Rationalists were quieter on this. Churchill himself believed that the merchants who refused to pay back what they owed, many he knew, had deserved it. Despite his voters being primarily affected by this, he knew showing any support for military action would only lead to a Virginian defeat and his fall from power. He was silent not because he was cowardly but because he knew anyone who spoke was doomed.
The Hornet-Banner Affair occurred on April 19, 1858. The HMS Hornet attempted to stop the VS Banner off the coast of New England. The Hornet's pursuit turned into a battle that the Banner won. Unfortunately, they were greatly damaged too and ran aground. The local town of New London responded by boarding the ship, capturing the crew, and destroying the Banner.
Jamestown demanded war while London demanded an embargo, and Fairfax knew which one could match its threats. President Cross sent two representatives, Jacob Reign of Reston, Alexandria, and Philp Richards of New York, Shenandoah, to negotiate terms with the British. They agreed that the Virginian government would assume the debts that its citizens and provinces owed creditors, which added up to £10 million.
Today, many concluded that avoiding war was the best possible outcome. Many Virginians at the time were outraged by this act. Chief among the Passionist dissenters was Matthew Washington, grandson of the hero of the 1st Anglo-Virginian War. He condemned Fairfax for betraying the legacy of many Virginians who died for their freedom by not refusing British demands. Washington and his Radical Passionist motioned for a vote of no confidence against Fairfax. While his splinter group and some Rationalists voted in favor, it was defeated, but it was a blow to Fairfax's self-confidence.
Cross' reputation, too, was damaged by his role in avoiding war. Churchill since the division between the President and Prime Minister. He attempted again to reach out to Cross, and this time he accepted it. When the Supply Bill of 1859 came to his desk, he rejected it, stating it gave a disproportional amount to paying off British debt. He would also refuse to appoint James Warren as Secretary of Justice, believing he was unfit for office. Fairfax's government was in crisis.
There was nothing in the constitution preventing Cross from acting this way, but Fairfax threatened to have him removed from office if he continued to abuse his power. Churchill swept in to compromise with the two. The Supply Bill was changed to reflect Cross's wishes, and Warren was appointed. However, Fairfax's support for more payments towards the British did not help his image, and Warren would turn out to be a terrible Secretary of Justice. He would steal a fortune from the government before dying in a duel with his mistress's husband in Kingston in 1866.
Fairfax saw the writing on the wall. Churchill and Cross would run his government into the ground unless the Passionist could gain a larger majority in the next election which he doubted they would. He saw more of his party supports flock to Washington and decided he would not run for the National Diet in 1860 nor any other office. He would enter into early retirement or political exile to some. He had full confidence that the Virginian Republic would be able to manage without him and that despite their differences, Churchill had good intentions for the nation, but he warned him about Cross. "The man is devious, lacking proper ethics in any matter," he wrote Churchill hoping he would cut ties. Most believe that Fairfax did not know Cross very well and hope that he could divide the two, but Churchill had his own plans. Legislature II is often be called the Ruinous Legislature.
Establishment of Salvatia (Virginian Colony)
By the time of independence, 26 percent of the entire population were either former slaves or descendants of former slaves, mostly of African origin. Although there was no official data, it was believed that a huge majority of the former slave population were adherents to the Zoekerist ideology, a quasi-religious philosophy originating in South Tussenland that centers around the idea of African empowerment and slave emancipation.
Throughout the 1800s, Zoekerism had thrived in South Tussenland. The philosophy gradually spread throughout North America, especially in Virginia. In the Republic of Virginia, despite slavery being abolished in the 1830s (during British rule), the government saw Zoekerism as a threat to order. In order to accommodate the rise of Zoekerism in Virginia and also to satiate their colonial ambitions, the colony of Virginian colony of Salvatia was established on the African West Coast. Salvatia was portrayed as the "Promised Land", an escape from slavery, the land of universal emancipation, among others. While the government did not force the Afro-American population to emigrate, they encouraged this by providing monetary incentives to would-be emigrants. Salvatia had attracted mostly English-speaking followers of Zoekerism (as South Tussenland predominantly spoke Amerikaens). However, despite the encouragement by the Virginian government, less than 20 percent of the Afro-Virginian population would attempt emigration to Salvatia, and only 6 percent of that portion would stay permanently.
3rd Anglo-Virginian War (1874)
Throughout the early 1870s, Britain expressed concern over the growing Zoekerist influence in East Africa. In March 1874, Lord Belmont of Britain allegedly sent the Virginian government an ultimatum to stop sending colonists to Salvatia. Receiving no response from the Virginian government by the end of the month, British ships started attacking Virginian ships en route to Africa. In July of 1874, British forces from the Gambia marched south to Salvatia. They occupied the Salvatian outposts of Clarke and Grandchurch after a minor skirmish with Virginian soldiers. British troops attacked and occupied the fort in Victoria. In September of 1874, Virginia conceded defeat and ceded Salvatia to the British. Salvatia was annexed as a British protectorate, and would be one of the colonies in what would become British West Africa.
Prohibitionist Rule and Increased Segregation
(WIP - Prohibitionist party comes into power.)